"Hold our feet to the fire."
A heresy that threatened the Early Church, and which has continued to raise its ugly head at various times even since its condemnation by the Council of Antioch (AD 264) and the Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), is that of Sabellianism. A form of Modalism advocated in the 3rd century, Sabellianism teaches that the Godhead is a monad, expressing itself in three modes: as Father in creation, as Son in redemption and as Holy Spirit in sanctification. It is completely outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy.
I find it highly ironic that the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination whose leadership has taken doctrinal dispute so seriously over the last three decades, has failed to take heresy seriously. Those affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (Moderate/Liberal) wing of the SBC have been removed practically from the life of the denomination. Their representatives have been removed from positions of responsibility and their offerings have been rejected generally because of their views on the nature of Scripture. Now that they have been ousted, many of the denomination’s leaders are targeting some fellow Inerrantists over the issues of Calvinism and Charismata. A few have even made the accusation that the teachings of predestination and election are heresy (despite the fact that Scripture and Church History stand as witnesses against such an outrageous claim). So, while Moderates have been rejected from denominational life for real and perceived Liberalism and while Calvinists and Charismatics are being maligned as those on the fringe of doctrinal acceptability, the SBC leadership has failed to take a stand against actual, historical heresy.
Nearly two years ago I attended the “Younger Leaders Dialogue” meeting held at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. During that meeting Scott Maize refuted an appeal by one of the participants to let go of the inerrancy issue and to be accepting of a more inclusive and diverse theological spectrum, stating, “I don’t think the question is to open this thing up wider. The reason some of us are here today is because men went before us in faithfulness to doctrine.” I concurred, but went further, questioning the integrity of well-known Southern Baptists who join with professed Christian leaders who have heretical convictions. I implicitly noted the participation of a mega-church pastor from Dallas (Jack Graham) who is a frequent guest on TBN with such non-/anti-Trinitarians as Benny Hinn and T. D. Jakes, with whom he has partnered.
Jimmy Draper, then the President of LifeWay, agreed. He noted, “The Baptist Faith & Message is (LifeWay’s) guide. We don’t sell Benny Hinn in our bookstores,” and added that the SBC entity gave up $500,000 in potential sales by refusing to carry Joel Osteen’s best-selling Your Best Life Now. He went on to say, “We try to hold standards, but you’re right to hold our feet to the fire.” Next month, in that very facility where this dialogue was held, the Sabellian T. D. Jakes will address the Creative Church Conference. He will be joined by SBC luminaries Ed Young, Jr., and Ed Young, Sr. Others have also pointed out the problem with this coalition, and Ken Silva’s title on the subject is quite apt, “I’m a Christ follower, who cares who God is?”
It is time for leaders within the SBC to decide whether they really want to contend for the faith. It is time to hold their feet to the fire.