Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Open Letter to Frank Page and Kent Shirley

I've been Southern Baptist for about ten years. Not by my design, but by God's. It was the closest church in our neighborhood that had acceptable doctrine. Unfortunately, starting in the southeast, the SBC has been infected with young Emergent pastors passing themselves off as orthodox. And now the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the missions director in the Grand Junction, CO area have embraced the Emergent, as well.

Over the last weeks I have contacted them by email. Kent Shirley from Colorado has not answered. Dr. Frank Page, the president of the SBC has answered, but his answers seemed evasive. And he has not answered my last email. I have tried to give the president the benefit of the doubt. But I think it is obvious from his emails that he is not interested in seriously considering a change. So I have composed an open letter for the both of them.

Open Letter to Frank Page and Kent Shirley

As a Southern Baptist, active in preparing the next generation of youth to hold fast that which was once delivered to the Saints, I am dismayed to learn that you have actually embraced the Emergent/ing. They actively seek to replace that clear message once delivered with postmodern deconstruction. I beg you to reconsider.

The end result for the SBC will be like the liberal Protestant denominations. There will be no next generation, a fact I think is self-evident.

Dr. Page, you have said that you welcome Emergents and their influence into the SBC. You appreciate their "contributions."

Which ones exactly? Their derision of doctrine? Their licentious approval of sexual perversion? The introduction of Eastern Mysticism by Rob Bell to the youth? Brian McLaren’s well-known denial of the substitutionary atonement? The work of Tony Jones to introduce Contemplative Prayer to young people? Shall I continue? This is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. We can take up the "biblical" panentheism of Mike Morrell, or the profanity of Mark Driscoll and David Sherwood, who also glorifies sodomy.

It is said that to "reach" the postmodern unbeliever, we must take on his language and way of thinking. Not being a young man, I have befriended or known drunks, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, pimps, prostitutes, and atheists. Would you apply that logic to these groups? Should I get a harem so I may effectively witness to a pimp? Get drunk for a drunk? Deny the Lord to win an atheist?

Emergents either deny the truth, deny its importance, or deny its knowability in order to communicate it well to those that think the same. You don’t see a logical (never mind biblical) problem with that?

It is further said that the Emergent/ing pronounce against many of the evils in the modern Evangelical church. So do atheists, Mormons, JW’s, and Jay Leno. Shall we welcome Kingdom Halls into the SBC as long as they "support the Cooperative Program" and have "biblical methodologies" as you say? I have Mormon neighbors. Shall I give them your number?

It is also said that a new strain has emerged from the Emergent called the Emerging and they are much better. Emergent Lite. They believe in truth, they just do not know much about it or are not willing to say it much because that is offensive to postmoderns. Paul, on the other hand, counted on the power of a set of propositions he called the gospel to save. And he didn’t seem to avoid the offense of the cross. He was beaten most places he went. Remember that from the book of Acts? Are the Emergent/ing folks smarter than Paul? They’re certainly not braver. Not saying the gospel is a better way to convert others than saying it? Can potential converts simply surmise it from our pasted-on, ultra-loving smarmy face? Perhaps we can be "missional" and hint at it while we smile a lot, do good works, and read a short article by an Emergent author glorifying the latest doctrinal or behavioral aberration from Spencer Burke.

Paul demanded that believers confess Christ. Out loud. In public.

As much as possible in light of these things, I want to show deference to you, Dr. Page, for two reasons. First, we are to be submissive to those in spiritual authority. Second, perhaps you were not as aware of the poisonous nature of the Emergent as I.

In reference to your authority it is obligatory for an overseer to uphold the standard of truth. You have not.

Is it of no concern to you that you share in their evil work simply by letting them in? Perhaps you remember II John 10-11. "If any man comes to you, not bearing this doctrine, do not receive him into the house and do not speak to greet him. For the man speaking to greet him has fellowship in his evil works."

Apparently it is just fine with you that John O’Keefe openly glorifies the drug culture, Communism, and homosexuality and has been able to remain an SBC pastor for some time now.* Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy entreats us to stop telling folks about Jesus as personal savior and to stop worrying about saving folks from hell. Instead, we are to be "missional," a term currently in vogue with mollifiers in our SBC colleges and seminaries.

In regard to the possibility of ignorance, you could be excused for not knowing of the Emergent. However, being in your position it is your business to know these things. Of all SBC-ers, you are to be the most diligent watchman on our SBC wall. You are not.

Doctrinal compromise to show exaggerated numbers may boost our reputation in many quarters, but it damns the next generation.

What do you think will come of any church or movement that takes on the doctrine of those who deny doctrine? Do you really expect that the children of those who deny that we can know truth will be able to enunciate the doctrines of their parents or even ascertain that which cannot be spoken? On what basis do you think they will build their churches in their generation? Have you forgotten that Christianity is a confessional religion? That means doctrine taken as absolute truth expressed propositionally. Am I right to assume (by outward appearance) that this problem matters little or not at all to you as long as the numbers reflect well on you during your watch? After all, your picture will remain up at SBC headquarters along with a shining record of growth, right?

Don’t be foolish. God will not allow any church to long linger while ashamed of "Me and My words." He will be ashamed of us! Wood, hay, and stubble stack high, but burn hot. We will join the Laodiceans in God’s spittoon, later to be thrown before the stench of our disobedience becomes too vile for God to stomach. God will call real saints who will obediently bring every thought captive to His lordship. They will tread upon our dust, evangelize those whom we ignored for lack of a message, shame our cowardice with the suffering we refused to endure, and teach the doctrines we trivialized while we await our certain, final, and dreadful judgment.

Praying for your repentance,
Phil Perkins.

*Recently I learned that O’Keefe is making a move. So perhaps that problem has been addressed. If so, I thank you.

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