Warning: Southern Baptist Church devastated by Identity Politics, Social Justice Theology and no this isn’t a post about First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida.
Rod Dreher’s blog at The American Conservative provided the sad tale of a Southern Baptist Church collapsing thanks to Social Justice Theology. A Southern Baptist congregation with a statement of faith “borrowed from the Gospel Coalition’s website” was split when the “church got woke.” It is a common story. As a church embraces liberal politics, the church declines.
It is inevitable.
And the Dreher post sums up the church’s decline nicely in pointing out how Wokeness drove people away. In the span of five years, according to the writer, his church went from orthodox to Woke. The church went from promoting orthodoxy to naming an elder who rejected the infallibility of Scripture and the complementarian view of the sexes.
It is a stunning decline.
But it is a decline repeated around the country. We hear more and more stories of this. Just last month, the Southern Baptist Convention was rocked as SBC Elites smeared some members of a church as racists during the turmoil at First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida.
But, back to the post on Dreher’s blog.
And I put in the only thing that matters to some denominational elites. It crashed the revenue, err, I mean offerings.
According to the post, “I know from a limited data-set that donations went down as Wokeness went up. But I’m almost afraid to say that because it’s not really the point. The real issue is the absolute loss of the Gospel. If it takes money to get people to pay attention, I’ll convince people with that. I just don’t know how to make people see what’s going on.”
This mirrors research showing that Mainline denominations declined as they embraced liberal politics. (Typically, conservative Protestants claim that theology drove the decline of mainlines, and that is true, but it is only part of the story.)
One scholar noted, “But, it was in the Vietnam era, when a large numbers of Protestant leaders actively campaigned against U.S. military policy, that for many churchgoers the opposition went too far. As Cambridge University historian Andrew Preston has written, ‘Divisions between liberal clerics and conservative congregants had always existed…but they were rarely as wide as on Vietnam.’”
The divide was so large it led to an exodus where conservative mainline churchgoers migrated to evangelical and conservative churches supportive of the Religious Right typified by Jerry Falwell.
“Mainline Protestant denominations, however, did not fare as well. They went into decline, losing nearly one in six members between 1970 and 1985. In the same years, Evangelical churches grew by double-digit percentages. They welcomed Americans who had abandoned mainline denominations to protest the liberal views of clergy on many social issues, including the Vietnam War. These churches supported the religious right and its brand of conservative politics.”
And notice the tricky way that liberals hide behind orthodox language to disguise their liberal thinking. It is what destroyed the mainlines and it is what will destroy the SBC. (You can read more about this topic of liberal politics and the coming decline of the SBC.)
And check out Dreher’s blog post. It is an important first-hand account of the decline.