Though I’ve heard it asserted a hundred times, I do not think the SBC needs a “New Conservative Resurgence.” Liberalism is not making a comeback in our convention. It just isn’t so.
We are a convention of men and women who believe the Bible. We have some varying viewpoints on issues, but we share a belief that the Bible is free of errors and is the absolute standard of truth. We are complementarians who believe the pastoral role is reserved for men. Yes, there are differences of opinion on the fine points of that stance. May a woman ever ascend the pulpit? Does the restriction include all pastoral staff positions or just the Senior Pastor/Lead Pastor/Top Dog position? We are uniformly conservative on the political spectrum, though again, we find room to differ about how loyal to the GOP the SBC should be or whether Donald Trump was fit for office. Those opinions don’t change the fact that essentially all Southern Baptists are political conservatives. It stretches the limits of logic and integrity to label fellow Southern Baptists as liberal. Our leaders are conservative. Our seminaries are conservative. Our professors are conservative. Our pastors are conservative. Our people are conservative.
We need a conservative resurgence like Elon Musk needs a cash infusion.
We do need a resurgence, though. It isn’t a Conservative Resurgence – that Resurgence already surged. We need something more important, more significant. We need a “New Biblical Resurgence.” I’m not talking about some kind of resurgence of systematic theology. We already do a great job of throwing around our theological systems and beating one another over the head with them. We use the term “Sufficiency of Scripture” as a weapon in our internecine political battles. We need less of that, not more. What we need is a biblical resurgence, one in which we put into reality the words of James 1:22.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
Is that not what we’ve become – self-deceivers who revel in our knowledge of God’s word but who so often fail to do what we know? Please do not take this as a remonstrance. I am frustrated with me. One of the reasons I’ve been writing less recently is that I have been struggling to deal with my own attitudes toward those I think are in the wrong. I believe there are bad actors in the SBC, people doing wrong, acting contrary to God’s word and God’s will. However, if I respond in the flesh, in ungodly ways, and justify my behavior because, “they are worse,” how can I expect God’s blessing? If I am not walking in holiness, in the power of the Spirit, in the ways of God, how can I point the finger at those whose actions I believe are wicked?
We need, and yes I need, a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE! Call it a revival if you wish, but that language is so overcooked these days it may have lost its meaning to us. Yes, I’d love to see a mighty movement of God among us, but I am talking of something simpler. What if we, you, me, all of us, just started DOING what the Bible said more radically, more faithfully, more carefully, in our churches, in our convention, and even in our social media interactions!
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE in which we cease giving lip service to the sufficiency of Scripture and abandon our hearts to the full counsel of God’s word. We need a resurgence of holy and obedient living that negates any kind of justification or rationalization for my actions because of someone else’s, a passion for Christ that governs every word, every thought, and every letter I type online!
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE that causes us to love Jesus with white-hot intensity and to love the church with equal fervor. We need a biblical resurgence that moves us to do more than talk about “the Gospel,” but actually share it with sinners who need Christ. We need a biblical resurgence of holiness and godliness that causes us to walk daily in the ways of God.
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE that causes us to take seriously the message of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
All our words, and actions, no matter how impressive or heroic, are worthless unless they come from selfless love. No matter how huge my platform or how wide the reach of my words, it counts for nothing if selfish ambition instead of love for Jesus and others is not at the root of all I do.
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE that causes us to examine our actions in light of the two lists of behaviors in Galatians 5. Paul identifies the works of the flesh which seem to mark our interactions on social media and in our convention all too often, “hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy…” Does anyone want to argue that Baptist Twitter and blog conversations do not evidence the works of the flesh?
We are commanded to walk in the fruit of the Spirit, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Would that these became more common. This is what we need to see.
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE that causes us to take seriously Paul’s warning to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2
Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.
How did we get to the place where being quarrelsome, condemning, argumentative, and vicious online was seen as maturity, a mark of discernment? Paul told us in no uncertain terms not to be this way. He said such behavior was disqualifying for elders. Instead, we were to gently (lovingly, kindly) instruct those who oppose the truth – to seek to restore, not to condemn and anathematize. We must speak the truth in love.
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE that causes us to take Jesus’ words from Matthew 5 seriously.
“You have heard the law that says, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.
How often do we pray God’s blessing on our enemies? How often do we seek to show them love, to bless them in the name of Christ? Are we not simply ignoring God’s word?
We need a NEW BIBLICAL RESURGENCE that causes us to obey the admonition of Romans 12:19,
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
Never take revenge. Never strike back. Return good words for evil. Gentle words for harsh.
I could go on, but I believe I have laid out my thesis. I don’t think we have a “conservative” problem. We have an obedience problem. It isn’t that we do not BELIEVE the Bible, but that we do not OBEY it. We hear the word but do not do it.
We don’t need to fight with one another over political loyalties. We don’t need to bash one another over the head. We need to believe what we believe and live out what we say we believe.
All the “conservativism” in the world will not help a disobedient people. Too often, we diagnose the wrong problem and so we seek the wrong medicine. Our problem isn’t liberalism, it is disobedience to God’s word. It’s fleshly behavior. It’s sin. There’s only one solution to that.
A New Biblical Resurgence. In my heart. And yours.