“In one sense, I don’t have a dog in the SBC fight. But this all dishonors Christ and His church. So it becomes the prerogative and duty of other Christians to protest for His sake. I’m grateful that so many more prominent voices than mine have done exactly that. We aren’t taking this lying down even if we can’t change the outcome.”
Don Green, Pastor, Truth Community Church
The dishonorable, anti-biblical, and unChristlike scandals currently plaguing the Southern Baptist Convention are not merely denominational matters only. As numerous speakers on the platform of the recent SBC Convention pointed out, “The world is watching.” While that is certainly true, what is more true – and of significantly more eternal gravity – is that the Lord Himself is watching. As Pastor Don Green points out, those faithful servants of the Lord outside the SBC are watching too because it is the “duty of other Christians to protest for His sake.”
In the scandalous aftermath of the recent Convention, scores of faithful pastors in sound SBC churches are praying, pondering, and pursuing guidance of a multitude of counsel about what they should do. Should they lead their churches to disfellowship from a denomination which has clearly signaled its continued pursuit of a theologically liberal, biblically detached, culture embracing trajectory? Or should they, instead, stay and fight?
If We Leave, What Do We Do About Missions?
For some in this predicament the matter of missions is of paramount importance. By remaining in the SBC, despite all its evident tolerance for ministerial malfeasance and its carnal obeyance to culture, at least churches in the SBC have an outlet to support missions. Such would seem a likely and reasonable consideration.
The SBC, of course, has long been recognized for both a vigorous domestic and international missions effort. Local churches seeking obedience to the Great Commission have found a mechanism of stewardship in their giving to the SBC’s Cooperative Program which funds both its International Mission Board and North American Mission Board. A genuine question for these pastors and churches is how their financial missions support might be faithfully directed should they find egress from the denomination necessary.
But there is more to faithful missions stewardship that just the financial side. There is also the matter of the biblical integrity of the message being proclaimed. No stewarding virtue of faithfulness is to be had should a church simply give to missions without regard for the message of those missions. After all, Christians are commanded by Scripture to have no part in the works of darkness.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Eph. 5:11
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness. Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial?” 2 Cor. 6:14-15a
Should a church be found funding a false gospel, their stewardship would be nothing short of disobeying a clear command of Scripture by supporting Satan rather than Christ. It is a serious matter. No faithful first-century church, for example, would be found supporting the Judaizer Mission Board, particularly after Paul anathematized their gospel message.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8-9
If You Stay, What Do You Do About The Gospel?
The domestic missions efforts of the SBC are funneled through the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and its Send Network. The funding of this missions enterprise is massive. The reported 2020 operating income for NAMB, according to the official SBC Annual Report, surpassed $129 million. The overall assets of the agency exceed $438 million. In 2020, it ought be noted, NAMB, through its church planting Send Network, states it planted 588 churches. The raw revenue-to-plant ratio would mean that, for this non-profit missions agency, for each $220,000 in annual revenue, one church was planted.
Surely such a massively funded missions entity is regularly, faithfully, Scripturally scrutinized for not only fiduciary integrity, but also, and much more importantly, biblical fidelity. The central question which faithful pastors and churches considering possible departure must ask about this behemoth enterprise isn’t ‘where would we give our missions money if we leave?’ Rather the question is, “Are the missions we are currently financially supporting in the SBC faithful to the Lord and His biblical gospel?’
In other words, the question is this: Is the gospel being preached by SBC missions the biblical gospel? When that question is asked, and when the North American Mission Board particularly is held up to dutiful, Berean scrutiny, the answer is an overwhelming “NO!”
A Gospel So Corrupted An Apostle Would Curse It … And Has
“The gospel is not good news without spiritual redemption and restoration. But the gospel is also not good news without emotional, economic, and social restoration as well.”
President of the Send Network of the SBC’s North American Missions Board
Ponder the quote given above from the President of NAMB’s Send Network. If you recognize something in it which the Apostle Paul would have included in his Galatian anathema, you would be correct. Realize then that those words are uttered by Dhati Lewis, the presidential point-man for the church planting activities of NAMB. Those anathema-worthy words come from a well-platformed entity leader with a salary paid by missions dollars donated when plates are passed in local Southern Baptist pews. To be clear, Lewis’ view of the gospel is not biblically pure, and Southern Baptist churches are paying for it not to be.
By his resume, Lewis would seem to rightly have a Great Commission focus. He received a Doctorate of Ministry in Great Commission Mobilization from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has a Master of Arts in Cross Cultural Ministries from Dallas Theological Seminary. Additionally, Lewis is the lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, itself a Send Network church plant. But what his impressively credentialed bio won’t tell you, though his cited quote above might imply, is that Dhati Lewis is a woke works gospel proclaimer.
“To the Christian, there is nothing wrong with being woke. In fact, I believe when we care about injustice, heaven smiles with the grin of a thousand horizons.”
Preston Perry, as quoted by Dhati Lewis in Advocates: The Narrow Path To Racial Reconciliation
In 2019, B&H Publishing, an imprint of SBC Lifeway Christian Resources, published Advocates: The Narrow Path To Racial Reconciliation authored by Dhati Lewis. As its title might suggest, Lewis largely defines the primary duty of the Christian as being an advocate. The core issue for the Christian advocate is, of course, social justice. Or, to be more specific, in the popular, culture-driven narrative of the SBC proper, the core focus of advocacy is racial reconciliation.
Lewis argues for “holistic reconciliation (involving restoration and justice, both individually and systemically).” He promotes a “holistic” gospel that must include “emotional, economic, and social restoration as well.”
“Did you know Christ is a woke Jew from Galilee?”
Dhati Lewis, From the Advocates chapter: “Where Does God Want Us To Be?”
Where There’s Woke Smoke, There’s Woke Works
In a stunning whistleblower expose, Kyle Whitt recorded a thoughtful video recounting his church planting activities through, and interaction with, the Send Network. He particularly notes the interaction he had with Dhati Lewis who responded to sincere questions Whitt had regarding his concern about the social justice slant of the instructional resources provided to him by the Send Network. Whitt’s observations directly correspond with the social justice theme of Lewis’ book.
Whitt states that Lewis told him that “holistic restoration is not a work of those who have been saved by the gospel, but that is the gospel.” In other words, the biblical gospel Whitt understood, taught, and proclaimed was incomplete. “When you tell someone,” Whitt says, “that they have a partial gospel or half-gospel, you are telling them that it is false.”
Yet, according to Lewis, the traditional “by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone,” “repent and believe” biblical gospel that has been proclaimed for two millennia is, in fact, false precisely because it is incomplete. In fact, this position is not merely Lewis’ perspective, it is also the promoted perspective of NAMB’s Send Network.
It is directly from a NAMB resource that we find the new improved social justice SBC gospel, supported, don’t forget, by SBC tithes and offerings. The booklet “Send Network Values” includes a chapter entitled “Restoration Through The Great Requirement.” The chapter is authored by Lewis. Here is a lengthy, but contextually necessary, excerpt from its introductory paragraphs:
“Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Save the soul, and the rest will follow?’ This unfortunately characterizes the historic actions of many American evangelicals. We’ve reduced the gospel to the Great Commission, ‘Go therefore and make disciples,’ and the Great Commandment, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength … and love your neighbor as yourself.’ Yet, in all our evangelistic zeal, we have tragically missed a key component of the gospel: restoration through the Great Requirement.
We see the Great Requirement in Micah 6:8:
Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.
God requires us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him. The Great Requirement does not happen separately from our commission and commandment. When each are done biblically, they are intricately tied together. Simply put, making disciples should be an expression of loving God and our neighbors and always should lead toward holistic restoration. In the same way, holistic restoration should be an expression of loving God and our neighbors and always should lead toward making disciples.” (Emphasis Added)
The chapter continues with Lewis detailing the “holistic” gospel he’s touting. He emphasizes several component “pillars” including the spiritual, the emotional, the economic, and the social. Each pillar is a key element of his comprehensive “holistic” gospel. The church planter, the disciple-maker, who neglects a pillar is, as was suggested to Whitt, operating with a partial gospel. Without all the parts, in other words, it is a false gospel.
Great Commission + Great Commandment + Great Requirement = Gospel ??
Skip back up a bit and re-read Paul’s Galatian anathema and then realize that what Lewis posits, both in his book and his “Great Requirement” NAMB article, is nothing short of “a gospel contrary to the one” the church has received. Paul says “let him be accursed.” Perhaps Lewis’ augmented “holistic” gospel seems reasonable, noble, and even represents a favorable response to the still popular evangelical question “What would Jesus do?” But what Jesus would do is exactly what His Holy Spirit inspired Paul to do. He anathematizes it. He curses any augmentation to the gospel, either by addition or deletion. And the biblical gospel, lest we forget, never includes works. Never. But the gospel of SBC missions? Works founded, works friendly, and works focused.
Lewis is much like what Paul faced with the Galatian Judaizers. Those infiltrators did not expressly deny the gospel preached by Paul, but they explicitly destroyed the gospel preached by Paul by augmenting it with the rituals of Judaism, in particular circumcision. As J. Gresham Machen observed, “The Judaizers attempted to supplement the saving work of Christ by the merit of their own obedience to the law.” In the Judaizers case, it was the law of God. In Lewis’ case, its the law of critical race theory. In both cases, it is apostolically anathematized. Grace plus works is no longer grace, and it isn’t the biblical gospel either.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ must be defended in every generation. It is always the center of attack by the forces of evil.” R.C. Sproul
If you are a Southern Baptist pastor or member, consider what your missions dollars have just paid for. You have a salaried NAMB employee telling you that you have “reduced the gospel” and “missed a key component of the gospel.” You have just funded the North American Mission Board in producing, distributing, proclaiming, and training church planters with a works-based, social justice gospel.
But go a step further and consider the even greater implications. Your church was founded with a faulty gospel. It has continued with a faulty gospel. You have, almost certainly, been saved by a faulty gospel. To take Lewis’ notion to its logical end, your church is an unfaithful church because it has omitted social justice from the gospel. And because you individually have believed a faulty, incomplete gospel, perhaps even your own salvation is bogus.
Do you actually believe that? And better yet, do you want to support that corrupted gospel with your Cooperative Program missions giving? Regardless of whether your church remains in the SBC, by supporting this, are you not taking part in the unfruitful works of darkness? This is a most serious matter because the gospel is the most serious message, both of grace and of condemnation, (John 3:18) given us by God. A faithful “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) must not compromise.
This is Part 1 of a series of articles focusing on the compromised gospel currently promoted by SBC missions. Stay tuned for the release of the next part … coming soon!
The following links point to resources used in research for this series. As you read future Parts, please refer back to this page for links. These links may be updated as future Parts are released.