By Lonnie Wilkey
According to a news release from the organization, “A significant number of pastors and laymen, motivated by a passionate desire to keep the Southern Baptist Convention anchored to the inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word, have formed the Conservative Baptist Network (CBN).
“The network is the product of a grassroots movement that developed organically in the hearts and minds of devoted Southern Baptists who have become concerned about the current direction and perceived future of the convention.”
The news release also noted that a number of Southern Baptists “are concerned about the apparent emphasis on social justice, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and the redefining of biblical gender roles.”
As a result of those concerns, “many fear that these issues have received more attention than evangelism and spiritual renewal — the emphases that helped to make Southern Baptists the largest evangelical denomination in the nation,” the news release continued.
At the 2019 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Ala., messengers passed Resolution 9 “to the dismay of a large number of messengers,” according to the CBN news release. The release noted, “In defending the resolution the chairman insisted that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are simply analytical tools. However, they are far more than just tools; they are ideologies that have their roots in Neo-Marxist, post-modern worldviews. While the committee may have meant well in presenting the resolution, many messengers left Birmingham confused about Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, and others left feeling that they had been misled or deceived.”
Tennessee Baptist Convention messengers at their annual meeting in Knoxville in November adopted a resolution overwhelmingly denouncing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.
The TBC resolution defined CRT as “a secular worldview used by some in social sciences to analyze marginalized populations by categorizing differences among peoples, especially race and gender.” The resolution noted that intersectionality “arises from dialogue regarding CRT and focuses on the overlapping categorizations within CRT.”
Shawn Allred, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kenton, who introduced the resolution at the TBC annual meeting, said he is “thankful to see that there is a group of like-minded conservative Southern Baptists that are seeking to stand up for what is right and against any present and future unbiblical ideologies that attempt to move us away from our beliefs that Scripture is sufficient for all things including social maladies.”
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, offered his observations on the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I respect the autonomy of the local church and I respect the autonomy of each SBC entity. While there are some in the larger SBC family that have made claims or taken actions that have prompted the decision to form the network, I largely believe the SBC as a whole is still a strongly conservative voice in the larger evangelical community,” Davis said.
“I can absolutely affirm that the direction of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and the Tennessee Baptist Convention is to stay rooted in Scripture and to stay focused on the most challenging issue before us; seeing Tennesseans saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship.
“Beyond that, we want to see new churches planted and see plateaued and declining churches revitalized. We are determined to make Christ known by serving churches,” the TBMB leader stressed.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, issued a statement in response to the news of the formation of the Conservative Baptist Network.
“The Southern Baptist Convention is at her best when churches are partnering together for mission and standing on the inerrant, infallible, sufficient Word of God. Regardless of our secondary affiliations or networks, we must continue to uphold the Baptist Faith and Message, cooperating with one another for the purpose of seeing every person reached for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation.
“As I told our SBC Executive Committee members last September, I will be bringing a major five-year vision to them on Monday night, Feb. 17, at our next EC meeting. Since I arrived at the EC, I have worked diligently on moving us towards a clear, concise and compelling unified Great Commission vision. Anyone who has questions about our future together, please stay tuned, because on Monday night, it is my prayer we will bring absolute clarity about the future direction of the SBC. If the SBC EC approves this vision on Tuesday, Feb.18, we will recommend it to the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. Now is the time for all of us to come together around the heartbeat of missions and evangelism,” he said.
The CBN website notes that the organization is Southern Baptist and is “an avenue where like-minded pastors, churches, organizations and individuals can partner together voluntarily to influence the SBC to fulfill the Great Commission.”
The website also informs that the new network is not “ a new denomination, a blog or social media page existing solely to air grievances, a competitor with other like-minded ministries or a group exclusive to one soteriological view or another.”
The CBN news release noted that pastors are asking, “Is the SBC on solid theological and organizational ground? Should we continue to support the Cooperative Program? Are our values accurately represented in our institutions? We have had one Conservative Resurgence. Is it time for a second?”
Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La., is the spokesman for the Conservative Baptist Network.
“We are concerned about the current road our Southern Baptist family is traveling. It is a road that is twisting what God’s Word is saying about things like human sexuality, biblical race reconciliation and socialistic justice.”
Southern Baptists basically have three choices, Jurkovich said: stay in the convention and do nothing, walk away and leave billions of dollars of assets and mission passion and evangelism strategy to ideologies that will lead the SBC into irrelevancy or “stay and stand and by standing, make a difference.
“I believe that is what most Southern Baptist pastors and churches want to do, but they are not sure if they stand, who will stand with them. Well, I want you to know that I am willing to stand and there are many others who are ready to stand with you,” Jurkovich said in the CBN news release.
The stated purpose of the CBN is listed on the website: “The Conservative Baptist Network is a partnership of Southern Baptists where all generations are encouraged, equipped and empowered to bring positive, biblical solutions that strengthen the SBC in an effort to fulfill the Great Commission and influence culture.”
Among those who have gone on record in support of the new network is Michael Spradlin, president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova. “Mid-America was founded to advance the Great Commission and stand for the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. The Conservative Baptist Network supports these Scriptural convictions, and I’m encouraged they are bringing members of the SBC together to support these values,” he said.
Chuck Kelley, retired president of New Orleans (La.) Baptist Theological Seminary, endorsed the CBN on a video on the website.
He observed Southern Baptists are not seeing people reached for Christ as they once did. “We are not seeing the harvest we have not seen through most of the years of our existence. It is time for Southern Baptists to catch a fresh fire, to get re-ignited for our passion for souls and our desire to reach the lost in our neighborhoods and our communities as well as those at the ends of the earth.
“That’s what has me excited about the CBN, a group of people who understand that we must do better at reaching our nation and reaching our world … than we are doing right now because we have this amazing gospel that is still transforming lives,” Kelley said.
For more information about the Conservative Baptist Network, visit www.ConservativeBaptistNetwork.com. B&R