The SBC Report on Sexual Abuse
We have been waiting for months for the Report of the Independent Investigation to detail sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention and the response to that abuse. That report was released yesterday afternoon; I read it with great interest and a broken heart. The report is full of abuse, pain, cover-up, and sin. Every Christian must mourn the shocking mistreatment that so many precious people received at the hands of those charged with their care.
The report is long and complex with many details, but at the risk of oversimplification, I want to communicate the report’s findings in one sentence. For years a group of leaders in the Southern Baptist Executive Committee resisted openness, transparency, and protection of sexual abuse victims out of a...
Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
Every year at Easter, Christians celebrate the historical, literal, physical, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was really dead, and he really came back to life. He is alive now and reigning in heaven, and we are awaiting his historical, literal, physical, and bodily return to earth to reclaim his bride.
The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns, every person who has believed in him will be transformed and will receive a glorious and perfect resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). There is another resurrection that Christians experience, however. It is the resurrection...
The previous posts in this SBC Survival Series on abuse, the ERLC, the Baptist Faith and Message, and race might all seem a little discouraging. Emphasizing all we must overcome might seem overwhelming. It is true that we have much to overcome in the serious problems we are facing as a convention. The problems are not overwhelming, however.
Our Hope in Times of Hardship
You begin to see that the problems are not overwhelming when you notice a common thread in each of the issues I addressed.
Overcoming our division on the issue of abuse requires setting aside our efforts at personal kingdom-building to focus on preaching Jesus to abused people. Division regarding politics can only be overcome as we focus on Jesus more than partisan political bickering. We must preserve our commitment to Jesus...
Divisions Over Race
Division over the issue of race is one of the greatest threats to unity in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This breaks my heart.
Some of that heartbreak goes back to something I learned from my mom in childhood.
Before my mother became a Christian, she would never have been confused with a virtuous woman, but with all her faults she was never a racist. My mom won scorn and lost friends when she invited an African American woman to join her and several other women at a party in our home in Kentucky. Several of the women were embarrassed, some of them left, and all of them talked about it. My mom knew it would happen and did not care. She loved her friend and thought the fault was with the women who were wrongly offended.
That example always meant a lot to me. It...
Unity and Truth
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is as divided now as it has been at any point since the conservative resurgence. That resurgence began in the 1970s, long enough ago that we can no longer take for granted that it is understood by the youngest in denominational life. The conservative resurgence began in response to division in the SBC, and that division was over theology.
On one side of the division were the liberals (called moderates) who proved to be the minority in Southern Baptist life but had taken over leadership of various institutions in the SBC. On the other side of the division were the conservatives, a majority of those in the convention, who were unwilling to allow the convention to slide into liberalism and death.
Conservatives knew that if the SBC was going...
The Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Since last week the world has held its breath as Vladimir Putin engaged in a reckless, corrupt, shocking, and terrifying invasion of Ukraine. Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see where this all goes. The reality is that nobody knows. Now that the invasion has begun, not even President Putin knows how this will end.
As I have been watching the news and trying to think through a faithful, biblical response, I have been transfixed by the way several striking images are illustrating the headlines. I want to point to three images from three news stories that help identify three faithful Christian responses to this tragedy.
Response 1: Heartbreak
The first image is absolutely horrifying. It is a picture of a nameless and defenseless woman that was released...
On Friday, February 25, I took the latest step in the long journey I have been on regarding my health. Because so many have reached out about how I am doing, I wanted to share an update with you.
Here is the update.
In 2017, I began experiencing concerning spasms on the right side of my body. For a brief period, the doctors suspected something terrible like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or a tumor, but quickly ruled these problems out. Eventually, they discovered that the problem was a dislocated cluster of blood vessels in my brain that was putting pressure on one of my cranial nerves.
Once the problem was discovered we began a lengthy season of discovering how to treat it. We met with numerous neurosurgeons and tried several different medical interventions to seek...
Christians, Politics, and Division
Politics is tough for Christians.
On a good day, it can be surprisingly challenging for Christians to know how to apply biblical truth to political issues. For example, there is no doubt about the biblical commands for generosity (Luke 3:11). But how does this command to generosity impact our political engagement? Some Christians apply this by enthusiastically participating in the government-funded welfare state. Others apply it by objecting to that welfare state so that their resources can be preserved from the government and freed up for private generosity in their church and other ministries.
My point is not that there is no right answer to that dilemma, but that this is just one political issue where Christians have regularly disagreed.
A Convention in Trouble
The Southern Baptist Convention is in more trouble than we have seen in a long time. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of our convention is at stake. Southern Baptists have always been able to resolve their problems, and I have confidence that we can again, but this urgent moment is going to require the very best of each one of us.
A great deal depends on how we address several issues in Anaheim this June. I have already addressed the importance of leadership. In the weeks ahead, I am going to address several other problems that Baptists must begin to solve as we prepare to meet in Southern California this summer.
One of the most significant issues is abuse.
A Sad History of Abuse Scandals
The Roman Catholic scandal of priest abuses was breaking when I...
The Sexual Revolution
Almost everyone I knew thought homosexuality was wrong when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. Of course, we all knew some who identified as homosexual, but I knew no one who either boasted about it or was mistreated because of it. The majority who thought it was wrong had an unspoken agreement to live and let live with those who disagreed.
Today, my kids are growing up in a culture with the opposite mindset. Homosexuality, as well as the other expressions of LGBTQ+, are not hidden, and are not just accepted, but are celebrated. Today kids feel pressure to engage in fawning acceptance of the lifestyle, and to experiment with it themselves. Anyone, whether a child at school or an adult in the workplace, is strongly and coercively discouraged from expressing any kind...