Over the past few years I have taught on and laid out some thoughts on the subject I call “Living in Babylon.” Over the past few years there has been a testing of what I have called “culturalized Christianity.” If this is something that is new to you, I suggest looking at my podcast page and listening to some episodes with the “Living in Babylon” title in it to get the idea of what I am laying out.
Basically, I felt a few years ago the white conservative American church was more “culturalized” than it wanted to admit and there was a window of opportunity for repentance and renewal. If we didn’t take that opportunity, we would be moved into a spiritual Babylonian captivity of our own making.
While opportunity after opportunity arose for a call for repentance, the culturalized American church refused to respond in repentance. It kept doubling down on the old systems and it has been a picture of Old Testament Israel and the hardening of spiritual hearts like I’ve just not seen before. It’s been incredibly hard to watch.
It is quite possible that this week may be the most clear example of the choice for culturalized Christianity as over 16,000 delegates meet in Nashville for the Southern Baptist Church annual convention. This denomination, touted to be the largest Protest denomination in the U.S., has been a picture of all I’ve tried to say for the past few years. And this convention looks be a “showdown” over an opportunity for awakening… or the hardening of hearts to keep their own idols. (If that sounds harsh, that is not nearly the harshest sentence I could have written.)
It is incredibly difficult to summarize the issues facing the SBC this week in this post, so I will simply refer you to David French’s post that summarizes the issues well.
This is a denomination that was formed out of strife before the Civil War. One part of the former denomination was against slavery, the other part of the former denomination was for slavery. The pro-slavery group became the Southern Baptists. Big surprise.
This is also a denomination that has held to what can be kindly called “complimentarianism,” believing that women cannot preach or teach in a church. Now, up until this year, this was the denomination of Beth Moore, who is a very popular Bible teacher. As long as she taught at women’s conferences and didn’t pastor a church, that seemed to be okay. But when she began calling out racism and misogyny in the church, she became a pariah.
This is also the denomination that was exposed (pun possibly intended) for covering up hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by its pastors over the years because pastors can shift churches and their previous records (and sins) are unknown to the church they go to.
In short, this week represents a gathering of the white American conservative church that manifests a good deal of the issues the larger culturalized American church has refused to bend on and what happens this week may be a view to the hardening of hearts.
Will they have the courage to call out systemic racism or fold into the fear of the word “woke?”
Will they have the courage to call out the systemic problems that have allowed for sexual harassment and the covering up of abuse or will they continue to shove out voices like Beth Moore?
From David French’s article:
It’s just wrong to equate the conflicts outlined above as fights between “liberals” versus “conservatives” or as the “woke” versus the “anti-woke.” It should never be considered ideological to endeavor to respect and protect victims of sexual abuse. And to denigrate good-faith efforts to achieve biblical justice and racial reconciliation as “woke”—when all sides agree on the authority of scripture—is to substitute name-calling for argument.
For the SBC and for the culturalized church in America, repentance is necessary. Accountability is imperative.
What will we see this week?