A few days ago, Pastor Josh Buice, a pastor at Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA, (and founding organizer of the annual G3 Conference), released a statement which made the rounds on social media. In that statement, Buice details his and his church’s decision to leave the Southern Baptist Convention.
At first, I was content to let others respond and many did it well. I thought, “Good. They said what I would have said, and they said it better than I would have said it.” But I felt uneasy about not saying anything. Part of me wanted to address the statement thoroughly and point out the points of flawed logic and some of the misinformation.
As I thought about it, that prospect became too time consuming, and it would only frustrate me. Instead, I chose to respond by outlining what I love about the SBC. I tried to put out a small Twitter thread on why I love the SBC, but it quickly grew to that infamous “this Twitter thread should’ve been a blog post” size. So, here’s the blog post.
(At Least) 10 Reasons Why I Love the SBC
I love the SBC. I’m a proud SBC pastor of a historic SBC church. The church I pastor was constituted in 1788 which means that it predates the SBC like Buice’s church. Also, like Buice’s church, my church has a longtime affiliation with the SBC. I love my denomination. Here are at least reasons why I love the SBC, and there are, of course, reasons within reasons. Here is why I’m proud to be a Southern Baptist.
(1) I love the SBC because the Great Commission is at the heart of everything we do. This is evident not only in the fact that we also call ourselves Great Commission Baptists, but in our repeated emphases as a Convention on evangelism and missions. The Great Commission is the heartbeat of the SBC and I love that.
(2) I love that the SBC draws the circles both big enough and small enough. We draw the circles the right size which which allows churches to cooperate for the sake of missions by agreeing on the majors, allowing disagreement on the minors, and in all things pursuing love. I love that we follow the NT model of cooperation for the sake of mission. That said, I love the SBC’s Cooperative Program. From the tuition reduction it provides (of which I have been a tremendous beneficiary) to the way it puts boots on the ground on the mission.
(3) Third, speaking of the Cooperative Program, I love the SBC because we give through the CP to support some of the best schools and entities in the country. Starting with the seminaries, I think all six of our Southern Baptist seminaries are phenomenal institutions.
(4) I love our seminary presidents. I love the six men we have leading our SBC seminaries. God has so incredibly gifted them with leadership and vision. Drs. Akin, Allen, Dew, Greenway, Iorg, Mohler—all of them are men that I respect highly and think they are doing an incredible job leading their respective institutions. I think their continued enrollment records speak for themselves.
But I also appreciate their leadership through unprecedented times. I confess I don’t see any validity in the charge that they are letting social justice, Marxism, and/or critical race theory “infiltrate” Southern Baptist institutions. The seminary presidents themselves have denounced CRT/I in a public forum, on stage, at the annual meeting. All six seminary presidents affirmed the statement which was released and in which all six seminary presidents publicly stated their opposition to CRT/I.
I’m thankful for their helmsmanship. Since I have had the distinct pleasure of obtaining three degrees at Southern Baptist institutions, I also have the distinct pleasure of being able to recommend all our six seminaries to anyone who asks my opinion. I am also grateful for the fact that I don’t have to feel shame or regret at not recommending my alma maters. There are undoubtedly some who feel that way, but I don’t. I consider it an extreme joy to recommend Southern Baptist seminaries!
(5) I love our seminary professors. I think, no, I know, we have some of the best evangelical scholars on the planet who not only love the Lord, love his Word, but also love pastors, missionaries, and the local church. They are men women from whom I receive counsel even to this day—not because I called or text—but because of something they said or taught in a class 13 years ago.
(6) I love the seminary students. The students in our seminaries will go on to do incredible things for the Lord. Some of the best future/current pastors, missionaries, youth pastors, executive pastors, Sunday school teachers—and the list goes on—are being trained and equipped to be faithful gospel witnesses in an increasingly challenging world.
(7) I love SBC laypeople. I love how, despite their intelligence being repeatedly questioned when a vote doesn’t go the way a small sub-group wants it to go, they still seek to do the right thing by God’s grace regarding abortion, racial reconciliation, and sexual abuse. I love that SBC laypeople understand that the church has a mission, the Great Commission, and they are willing.
(8) I love our SBC entities. I love the work our entities are doing—all of them, yes, all of them, yes, even the ERLC! I marvel at how God is using GuideStone, NAMB, the IMB, Send Relief, WMU, and, yes, even the Executive Committee with all the drama of recent months. Eventually, with the EC the right thing was done and it was a step in the right direction. Of course, there still remains a lot of work to be done but I’m hopeful that Southern Baptists will see it through to the end.
(9) Specifically, I love the IMB—nothing against the other entities! Having worked with different IMB missionaries through the years, they are some of the best missionaries on the field. They are doing incredible work. I am continually astonished at what God is doing through them and then I get so excited because I know that through the CP and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving, that I and our people played a part in it.
On a personal note, I’m so thankful to participate and pray through the work the IMB does. In the past, I’ve worked/talked with IMB missionaries in East Asia, France, and Central America. And in my interactions, I’ve been continually impressed with their humility, love, genuineness, and heart for the people they are seeking to reach.
I love the IMB and how they are striving to connect churches with missionaries and the work on the field. For example, next Tuesday night, January 11th at 10PM EST, I’m excited to sit on what is being called a “Prayer ZoomRoom” virtual event which IMB workers are putting on prayer session for the mission work in Taiwan (you can register here). It’s very much an understatement to say, but I love this idea!
(10) I love the outlook for the SBC. I love the type of men I see God raising up. I see younger pastors whom God is raising up. They are men who are willing to do the right thing no matter the cost. Some complain about the “11th commandment,” but I see no such fear and cowardice because what I see is the next generation of pastors standing up for sex abuse survivors, even if it means fighting parliamentary tooth and nail against those who would seek to thwart the will of the messengers.
I see the next generation being more cautious about conflating the gospel and politics. I love that the upcoming generation sees it as possible to both hold to biblical doctrine fiercely while also being incredibly gracious and humble.
Not only do I love the outlook for the SBC because of the men I see being raised up, but I also love the type of women I see God raising up. The robust complementarianism that I see in the SBC now is refreshing. I love seeing seminary presidents and professors affirming explicitly their desire to train women in theology and biblical studies, especially the instances I’ve seen at SWBTS and SEBTS.
I love SBC and I love the people in my own church. They are people who love God’s Word, love living in community, and love participating in God’s mission. They are wise, common sense, and salt-of-the-earth people. They are farmers, teachers, professors, and stay-at-home moms–but they are able to participate in the Great Commission by partnering with other churches for the sake of the gospel.
I’m sure Pastor Buice and others like him intend to act for good. At the very least, they are following their conscience which I admire and I definitely respect. I certainly won’t fault him for leading with and through his convictions in this matter. I will say that I appreciate Pastor Buice’s concern for truth and for God’s Word, his respect for the pulpit and preaching, and his high view of the local church.
When it comes to the SBC, however, I don’t see any downgrade. I see disagreement–strong disagreement. I just see the SBC from a different perspective. To me, what seems to have happened is the circles were drawn smaller to exclude a large portion of the SBC. One should not be surprised that after a while, that circle began to feel like it was not part of the SBC at large.
I’m thankful and grateful to be a part of what God is doing through Southern Baptists around the world. I love the SBC. While others may feel the need to part ways, I wish them and their churches all the best. I, for one, will be striving to lead our people to greater participation in all these good and wonderful aspects of SBC life.