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52 Responses

  1. Dan from Georgia says:

    Looking forward to reading the “Churches twice as likely to fear refugees as help them…” article.

    Funny, I thought that God was for the foreigner, stranger, misplaced, downcast, and refugee. I guess fear Trumps faith.

  2. Josh the Baptist says:

    Man, that Russell Moore article is fantastic.

  3. Josh the Baptist says:

    For 1,000 missionaries and their families, David Platt is the devil.

    I, for one, appreciate his integrity. While hurting for those who have lost their positions, I understand that he was faced with the awful task of figuring out how to pay 5,000 missionaries when our churches had only given enough support for 4,000. It is a rough reality, but it is financial integrity and transparency like this that keeps us from falling into the GFA’s of the world.

  4. Babylon's Dread says:

    The SBC has been in decline since the days of her infighting. The moderates predicted that when the conservatives ran out of bogeymen they would find new ones. The resurgence of Calvinist theology among the seminaries has not produced a revival in the churches. SBC is a denomination in decline not because of liberalism but because of conservatism.

    I was their son for 26 years. They let me know there was no place for me so I left. I love the Baptist for their love of scripture, of the local church, of missions, of the Lord Jesus. I left them because of their narrowing interpretations of what those same scriptures express.

    The future is not bright but then that may indeed be the case for the whole church in America.

  5. Babylon's Dread says:

    So apparently the morphing of the word ‘evangelical’ has disaffected Russell Moore. We have seen this before. Think of the changes in the way we refer to the American black community. So now we evangelicals see our designations being fouled and we want to re-imagine ourselves. It is kind of a conservative PC thing. Don’t call me evangelical, call me “gospel Christian.” I think he missed the memo that “Christian” is not so Christlike either.” We are all the same. We want to control the narrative by controlling the categorical designations.

    Just Call Me For Supper Dread

  6. Josh the Baptist says:

    The SBC is in decline, but much slower than the mainline denominations. I think the main problem is saturation. An organization can only be so big. I’m not concerned about the decline, but do hate it for the missionaries who are having to retire early. I’m sure God still has plans for them.

  7. Steve Wright says:

    I watched a video just yesterday of hundreds of almost exclusively young Middle Eastern men literally seeking to break down the national barrier gate and storm into the country while the police in full riot gear tried to stop the invasion with as little violence and bloodshed as possible. Greek Macedonia border.

    For 3 months we have watched Europe and stuff like this. If you missed you go. (Note – from the Economist not some right wing rag)

    Even as Mrs Merkel was speaking, about a thousand men, described by police as mainly migrants of north African or Arab origin, began massing between Cologne’s railway station and cathedral, where fireworks were about to begin. Around midnight they broke into clusters and formed huddles around women who had turned out to celebrate. They then set upon the women, harassing and groping them, stripping them of clothing and valuables. One victim was raped. Of the more than 600 women who have since come forward, many described the ordeal as “running the gauntlet”.

    The news took four days to get out. Inexplicably, Cologne’s police initially reported “relaxed” festivities. (On January 8th Wolfgang Albers, the local police chief, was suspended for this and other failings.) The public news networks were also slow to pick up the story, providing grist for the conspiracy mills of populists who denounce the mainstream media as a politically correct “liars’ press”.

    Christ also said to be wise as serprents….it is easy in the comfort of an American living room to answer a phone survey…another thing to live in the chaos. And in Europe, the ramifications are just really beginning.

  8. EricL says:

    I echo BD @4. My first church home was SBC and I still remember fondly my first pastor, a man of integrity and warmth who tried to talk to everyone in the congregation (about 600) every Sunday. He would shake hands, clap you on the back, give you a bear hug, and share an infectious smile. He might not always remember your name, but he knew who you were, recalling details from your life story. He was also a good teacher; I learned the basics of the faith under his leadership. Pastor Cliff had a shepherd’s heart.

    His replacement was a huge fan of John MacArthur, a neo-Calvinist before that term even existed. He grew the church to over a thousand and killed off most of that fellowship and warmth. It no longer felt like a family. He was in love with knowledge and fancy Greek terms and “right” doctrine. He converted the church from congregational rule to elder/pastor rule. My spiritual life was crushed under his leadership. He had a professor’s heart.

    There will always be a fondness in my heart for the SBC, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to one of their congregations. Too many of them have followed the same path as my old congregation: a road to dry doctrine. Killed by conservatism, indeed.

  9. Josh the Baptist says:

    The idea that conservatism is the problem in the SBC is…really interesting.

    The SBC is 170 years old in May. Do you know of other organizations that old that continue growth?

  10. Josh the Baptist says:

    And not that I think everything is great in the SBC, don’t get me wrong. But the fact that a 170 year old organization with 15 million members isn’t growing rapidly shouldn’t be shocking to anyone.

  11. EricL says:

    Josh, the SBC has lost about a million members since 2005 when they topped out at about 16.5 million. It is still the largest Protestant denomination in the USA- by far- but it is sadly in decline. I don’t think the swing to neo-Calvinism and pastor-rule has helped any of that, but I’m biased against both.

    I sincerely hope the Southern Baptists right their ship and start growing again. They are needed, so very needed.

  12. dswoager says:

    In my area of almost seems like the SBC is the “denomination that must not be named”. I was attending and active at my first SBC church for probably over a year before someone brought up the denomination. In the SBC church plant that I was a part of, we actively avoided mentioning the association.

    It seemed kind of odd to me, but I think that I also kind of get it.

  13. Josh the Baptist says:

    1. Yes, we are in decline. No doubt about that. It is a slow decline in comparison, but certainly a decline nonetheless.

    2. Calvinists have always been a part of the SBC. There have been more higher profile SBC Calvinists in the past 30 years than there were in the 30 years prior. That is probably correct.

    3. The vast majority of SBC churches are still congregational. VAST majority. There has never been a denominational rule on polity, but it is still dominated by congregationalists.

    4. The SBC will not be righted, because there is nothing major wrong. We are just too old and too big. We won’t start growing again. All man-made organizations will come to an end. No problem there. There will be new guys with great ideas who love the lord, and there will be something different and better than the SBC. The gates of hell will not prevail, afterall.

  14. Josh the Baptist says:

    ds – true! And a strange phenomenon indeed. There was even a big movement a couple of years ago to change the entire name of the convention.

  15. EricL says:

    If the Southern Baptists do changed their name, I hope they don’t follow in the footsteps of the much-smaller Baptist General Conference. They became “Converge Worldwide” in 2008. It makes them sound like a youth group or the latest hipster conference.

    Talk about running away from your heritage…

  16. Josh the Baptist says:

    SBC will not be changing the name. It was voted down. Churches were given the option of using a dba of Great Commission Baptists instead. I haven’t seen anyone use that.

  17. dswoager says:

    I think that it was for two different reasons though, thinking back on it. The first church was the result of a recent church plant merging with a dying church, so I think they were potentially having some identity issues… It also happened to be very personality driven, it was pastor so and so’s church rather than an SBC church. However, even though the church remained very pastor centric, as time went by, they seemed to fly the SBC flag more proudly.

    The church plant was in an urban setting which was transitioning from being largely poor and black to being heavily young hipsters, and given that the SBC is known to lean heavily to the right, I think that we likely kept that pretty close to the chest just in interest of having people give us half a listen.

  18. Em says:

    Ericl’s #8 reinforces my conviction that pastors and teachers – in a church of any size other than ‘small’ – need to be 2 separate offices… perhaps, we’re not defining the role of Bishop correctly? … dunno

    praying for Michael as i type this morning

  19. dswoager says:

    Em, I’m in total agreement. I think that we have the tendency to lump way too many of the roles within the church into the person of the pastor. My first “lead pastor” was clearly an evangelist at heart who was obviously stretched in teaching, and didn’t seem very interested in much personal “shepherding”. The associate pastor at the same church was much closer to what I would consider to be a pastor, was able to teach, though I wouldn’t necessarily consider it his overall strength. The pastor of the church plant that I was a part of was actually officially the “teaching elder”, though he still accepted pastor like a title, his strength was as a teacher, to the point that I think he would have been better off as a professor than a pastor.

  20. filbertz says:

    Alan’s piece on depression is a stark reminder that canned platitudes and formulaic approaches are worthless, counterproductive, misnamed ‘fixes’ pawned off as ‘ministry’
    to those who suffer. Much rich thought to mull over in this one. Many thanks.

  21. Francisco says:

    Just to add a little to Eric’s #8

    I’m learning that the basis of the Church as defined by Paul in 1Cor12 is a family. As shepherds we get to the point where we need to make a decision between having a strong platform ministry or the biblical pastoral ministry that Christ has called us to. We have to admit that a platform ministry is dependent upon filling seats while a pastoral ministry is dependent upon loving others and relationships with the members of the flock.

    While people can still be blessed and grow within a mega church environment folks can often remain anonymous with a pattern of coming and going but without growing spiritually or accountability. Whether we want to admit or not the basis of the Megachurch model is a “platform ministry” often based upon showmanship and entertainment. In the larger church or mega church model it is actually the small group leaders who essentially are “the pastors” since they are the ones who know the members and who minister to them. While the larger corporate church model can often offer more activities and programs people often show up to do their performance and then go home without really connecting with others or growing spiritually.

    On the other hand there many small Christ exalting fellowships that comprise the backbone of the Church but where the pastors effectively carry out their relational and functional responsibilities that come with the calling of a pastor.

  22. Michael says:

    Just a quick note…
    I made it through the procedure without issues and I’m home resting.

    Thank you all for the prayers, my friends.

  23. Josh the Baptist says:

    Great news, Michael! Take it easy.

  24. dswoager says:

    Glad to hear that things went well Michael.

  25. JoelG says:


  26. Paige says:

    Oh thank you for the update on your procedure…. been praying for you this morning..

  27. The Dude says:

    Glad to hear things when well.Relax and heal.You can catch up on your reading.

  28. Em says:

    #22 is good news from the other end of the PNW – thank you, Michael for the update
    prayer and thanks to God continue

  29. Babylon's Dread says:


    Thanks friend… Depression IV was an attempt to push it some. I think mostly I have worn people out with the subject. But the posts will be there. Thought I would get more feedback on the part where I noted that depressive people do not consider all the effects as destructive and in fact feel some loss when it subsides.

  30. Jean says:

    #22, Praise the Lord!
    Very happy to have something to be happy about this afternoon.

  31. Babylon's Dread says:


    I think you are sober minded about the SBC. I think you are also correct about the longevity and the inevitable lifecycle.

    However, what I am saying is that the SBC seems to be more and more apt to drawing smaller circles. You need doors and bridges not walls and barriers. Let me push my thought.

    First, the name, Southern Baptist Convention, to be unwilling to change that in an era where parochialism is so unfriendly to masses is irresponsible. The name tethers the SBC to history but it separates it from the mission. I am a Mississippian born, bred, educated and departed. I love my state like no other. I love the south but it carries so much baggage. If you are on mission to the world have a name that reflects it. Being a Southern Baptist in the West is like being a Red Sox fan in Yankee stadium. You can be tolerated but never really embraced. The refusal to change the name was destructive to the mission.

    When I was in the SBC here in the west, not only did the churches NEVER refer to the SBC except in their huddles, they wouldn’t even plant churches with Baptist in the name. Every church plant I was aware of in my state avoided the name Baptist altogether. The church planters knew it was small-minded and small thinking. They also were not big givers to the mission agencies. Why? Partly, because you had to emphasize the denomination and thereby the NAME. I would love to see the stats on new churches mission giving today and 30 years ago.

    Small circles, Baptist quickly moved to silence charismatics, (which they retreated on slightly) to silence women, and to silence dissent. Small circles… get small results.

    Calvinism has indeed always been around. It mostly lived in the pop fringes of the denomination and hardly any of it was the 5 point kind. The purge of the seminaries brought doctrinaire calvinism and gave young pastors a passionate agenda to take into these traditional churches. Result? More church fights more splits more defections.

    I would have gladly stayed in the SBC had there been a seat at the table. Had the SBC gone big tent instead of small they could have had a thriving charismatic renewal among their numbers. I would say without fear of contradiction that hundreds of thousands of SBC members defected over matters of the gifts of the Spirit.

    A true big tent mentality would have included Calvinists, noncalvinists, charismatics, and traditionalist. Had the moderates, many of whom are hardly defectors from the faith, been given a place at the table they too might have stayed. Small circles, small thinking, small results.

    Josh you are a good soul and I am not writing to reject you. I am simply saying that the Baptist are not declining by natural processes they are dying by sickness and amputation like a careless diabetic who won’t listen to the doctor.

  32. Babylon's Dread says:

    Yikes that was way too long

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Big tent is not all it’s cracked up to be. In many cases just a minimal whiff that you have heard the name Jesus Christ get’s you in.
    Hence the big Christian tent in the GOP.

    Also, what if you think that “a thriving charismatic renewal among their numbers” is detrimental to the faith? Do you open up the tent just for the sake of the “big tent.”

    You have been critical of Calvinists and dispensationalists over these many years — do they have an equal sitting under your big tent (your big tent being both your individual church and the Renewal Movement in general?

    Growth for growth sake is probably sin. Inclusion for inclusion sake is probably sin.

    Pastoral ministry is in the dumper – strategic ministry rules the day.

  34. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    When I was leaving my last SBC they were considering removing “southern” from their name. There were some who wanted the baptist part gone also. I should look up the websie and see what became of that. It was 18 yrs ago.

    But hey, many Calvary Chapels long ago removed that title so as to not be labels. I think Greg Laurie was the first if not Mike MacIntosh.

  35. Babylon's Dread says:


    What you raise is what they thought.

    We were cancerous and needed to be excised.

    All I know is that Here I Stand… alive kicking and following Jesus… still.

    I have indeed criticized both calvinists and dispensationalists my point on that matter is that when we were baptists the inclusion of both those groups was common. The denomination made no exclusive statements on those matters. We all lived in a big raucous tent.

    The denomination has since codified calvinism in the institutions, excluded charismatics, ordaining women and clarified their narrowness on inerrancy. Before those things were left as local church matters.

    The denomination is in decline because they chose to be in decline. Less people = less money = less mission support = the mess they are in. And Josh rightly says that it will not be reversed.

    My point is that it was doctrinally unnecessary for them and it was culturally inevitable by their narrowness.

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Ug – so I looked them up. Now this church was and perhaps still is the largest SBC in the Inland Empire (4,000) – which is metropolitan Riverside and San Bernardino counties

    They were called Magnolia Ave Southern Baptist Church — now they are Magnolia Church with a new logo.

    So I look back and perhaps it was this way when I was there – but they preach the Christian and not the Christ. But when you preach about the people … well they like that. “Hey, let’s talk about me.” – fills up the big tent

    Their January sermons
    A vision for a fresh start
    A vision for joining God in mission
    A vision for our church
    A vision for our community
    A vision for our nation

  37. Jean says:

    It would have been nice if the sermons were titled “Christ’s vision….” Vision casters make me uncomfortable.

  38. Steve Wright says:

    MLD…a couple of those churches dumped the name because too many people in So Cal were confused when they were going to a wedding or funeral – true story. (Can’t speak for the two you mentioned per se..but I have spoken to a couple pastors 20 years ago who did for that very reason)

    And then there was the issue of multiple CCs in the same city, the first one there got (and usually kept) the name

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I have been looking further. Holy Cow! did I believe this?
    Does anyone here think this is how you become a Christian?

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    Dread, I always appreciate the spirit in which you write. No need to worry about my feelings of rejection. I truly enjoy the conversation with someone who is knowledgeable as you are.

    About the name – “Southern”. You are correct. It does not fit in any of the areas we won’t to go. For mission’s sake alone, it would probably be wise to adopt a new name, or as most new church pants do, just don’t include the name at all. I’ve been involved with 4 SBC church plants in my county in the last 20 years. None have anything resembling Baptist in their name. Saddleback, Elevation, New Spring, all SBC too. No baptist in the name. Very little mention of SBC ever. That’s probably wise.
    My church is 130 years old and does have Baptist in the name. In our small, rural, community I don’t think it hurts.
    My reasons for wanting to keep the name convention wide, however, are quite different. We initially formed because we wanted to keep our slaves. The northern Baptists were condemning slavery, and that didn’t work for us. Now, we admitted to that fact, have apologized, and have made some strides to include African-Americans among our ranks. To me, now, to change the name would seem dishonest. It’s like a scar, or perhaps a scarlet letter. I don’t feel that morally we can afford to leave it behind. So, it is a strnage conundrum.
    As to your diagnosis of the convention…maybe. To some degree you are certainly correct that we are infected with a deadly poison. I don’t doubt that at all. How much that is pushing the decline versus natural causes, I don’t know. I would still fit in the SBC even if it were tiny. I believe what they believe. At some point the SBC will pass away, if the world survives long enough. I’m fine with that. At one point, we were the hot movement. Those days are long gone. There is no going back. The good news is that 10’s of thousands of churches have been planted in the wake, and people are coming to know Christ in those churches. Maybe someone who comes to Christ in one of those churches will start the next big movement. Call it something else, who cares. Expand the Kingdom.

  41. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – That’s a very simple version, but it will work.

  42. Babylon's Dread says:


    Thanks for the response.

    Your nuanced reason for keeping Southern in the name is appreciated and not something I would have thought.

    My love for the SBC is not changed the people are the salt of the earth and the best church members any pastor could have. All my churches were kind and supportive despite my deficiencies.

  43. Josh – on the how to become a Christian – I thought it odd that there is no mention of the word, the holy spirit – nothing about Jesus converting people – just what I do.

    But more strange was this disclaimer – “PARENTS: remember it is not your job to “save” your child – it is God’s!” – it makes it sound like it is my job to save me by following the ABCs yet for children it all rests with God – it’s God who saves.

    I say baptize the little critters and get it over with. 😉

  44. Filbertz says:

    I don’t have the experience with depression, so your insights are intriguing as they are different from the typical. I am a bit puzzled with the scant response, but perhaps not.

  45. Babylon's Dread says:

    I just think I raised a couple of issues that depressed people do not talk about. It is hard to admit that the thing which causes so much suffering has some ironic aspects. I think many depressed people do not express the full range of things they feel.

  46. Em says:

    just came off of reading Pastor Hawkins on depression… i will have to think on this… one take away at the moment is, and there may be exceptions, suicide can have nothing to do with outside events…
    then, too, what triggers one’s state of mind can come from many sources…
    the advice to just be there for a depressed person, if you are a part of their lives, even if you can’t do something to make it better …
    just random thoughts here – open to correction

    an excellent “article”

  47. London says:

    BD, I also think it was that you were posting those on FB where there is no chance to be replying anonymously. People might not be ready to post about depression in a place where their friends, family, co-workers etc are able to see what they have to say about it.

    Personally, I got what you meant when you were saying that people who are depressed hyper aware etc, but I’m not quite sure that I agree that once that cycle is over, people are disappointed that it’s gone. I’m not sure how I would describe it, but that part didn’t “feel” quite described the way I’ve experienced it.

    I think probably there’s different experiences for different people.

  48. Babylon's Dread says:

    I was not universalizing the experience of depression I was expressing some of the oddities and ironies that can be associated with it. I do not mean that people should read it as a uniform experience.

    On another note

    Saeed Abedini emerged on Fox

  49. London says:

    It wasn’t a criticism.

  50. Babylon's Dread says:

    Of course not, it was a helpful comment and made me think again. If I universalize I know that I am out of bounds on such things.

  51. Josh the Baptist says:

    Dread, the depression articles have been great. There is still too much stigma attached for a guy like me to go public on facebook, unfortunately.

    You are correct, in my depressed years art would flow out of me nonstop. I was terrified that if I lost that inner darkness, I would lose the creativity. That is the main reason, that and shame, that I fought getting treatment for so many years.

  52. Babylon's Dread says:


    Golden words … thank you for sharing that.

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