In the 2006 preface to his biography on John Calvin, Steve Lawson wrote, “As the pulpit goes, so goes the church…In this hour, pastors must see their pulpits again marked by sequential exposition, doctrinal clarity, and a sense of gravity regarding eternal matters. This, in my estimation, is the need of the hour.”
16 years later, this need has only grown exponentially. This is particularly true in my own convention of churches, the Southern Baptist Convention. In the last few years alone, we’ve (we = the SBC) had unqualified men preaching (included here would be those who’ve committed sexual sin in their ministry position). We’ve had our current president and the previous president say sexual immorality is something God “whispers” about. We have a man preaching this year in Anaheim who says same-sex attraction is not a sin. We have had women filling pulpits.
On top of this, it seems we don’t fully understand the priority of and power that comes from the preaching of God’s Word. We’ve had churches do summer movie series instead of preaching the Word of God. We’ve had churches have political rallies instead of preaching. We have churches that cancel their Lord’s Day services altogether around Christmas time.
Furthermore, too many churches that do preach don’t rightly herald the Law and Gospel or they water down the gospel or they are afraid to address sins head-on as God’s Word addresses them. The problems in our pulpits are numerous.
Praise God it is certainly not this way in every Southern Baptist Church! But the problem is significant enough that I have written a resolution for our meeting this year in Anaheim and have submitted this to the Resolutions Committee.
The point is, as our pulpits go, so go our churches! It’s not “only” the pulpit’s fault when a church or convention of churches is unhealthy, of course. But there is no way to seriously address change in a church or group of churches without making sure we understand the sacredness of the pulpit and use it as the Lord intended.
With this in mind, I invite our readers to pray along with me that this will be brought out and voted on by the Messengers in Anaheim. I know that it would pass easily. However, I know that as easy as this should be to accept and urge churches toward, we sadly do not have the type of leadership in the Platform that will be willing to address these sorts of problems. Nevertheless, I am praying it will be brought out and that by sharing it in places like here all Bible-believing churches, not just the SBC, will take heed.
Resolution on the Sacredness of the Southern Baptist Pulpit
Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists today stand in a long line of godly men, some known, and many unknown, who passionately, boldly, and unwaveringly preached the unsearchable riches of Christ to generations before us, and
WHEREAS, God has ordained the preaching of His inerrant, infallible, necessary, clear, authoritative, and sufficient Word as a means to reaching the lost (1 Cor. 1:21, Rom. 10:14, Acts 13:44-48), reproving, rebuking, and exhorting believers (2 Timothy 4:2), and maturing the Church (cf. Eph. 4:11-16), and
WHEREAS, inherent in the solemn charge of 2 Timothy 4:2 is a priority, urgency, readiness, and perseverance in preaching, and
WHEREAS, God has in specific times past such as in Nehemiah 8 and Jonah 3 or more recently on American soil in the Great Awakenings, brought about great revival and/or repentance of many persons through the heralding of His Word, and
WHEREAS Our Baptist forefathers such as Benjamin Keach (1640-1704), understood rightly that Pastors “must be very laborious and constant in preaching the word,”1 and the Scriptures show us that Pastors ought to be devoted “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4), and
WHEREAS, Messengers to the 2007 SBC Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX urged “pastors to preach the whole counsel of God, not only passionately inviting people to Jesus, but also prophetically declaring biblical truth concerning the burning moral issues that are being debated in the culture and government,” and
WHEREAS, We live in an age of unprecedented godlessness and rebellion in America, and
WHEREAS, The ultimate goal of preaching is bringing glory to our holy triune God who is worthy of all the care, devotion, integrity, due diligence, and commitment to the sacred duty of preaching that men can muster, now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, CA, June 14-15, 2022, recognize, appreciate, and revere the sacredness of our churches’ pulpits, and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call upon all Southern Baptist churches to only allow qualified, godly men to preach from their pulpits during their Lord’s Day gatherings, and be it further
RESOLVED, That these messengers strongly repudiate all spurious, deceitful, or apathetic methods, practices, or attitudes, when it comes to preaching God’s Word including, but not limited to, sermon plagiarism, laziness in preparation, prayerlessness, softening the Lord’s position on any one sin or group of sins, surrendering to the fear of man, and employing any godless ideologies for interpretation of Biblical passages, and be it further
RESOLVED, That we implore SBC pastors who are guilty of these offenses to remember God’s grace, to rest again in Christ, to repent, and as applicable to immediately mortify temptations for worldly popularity and/or to swiftly lay aside any lesser duty detracting from the sacred responsibility of preaching, and be it further
RESOLVED, That we entreat all SBC pastors to respond to this present culture’s continued dismissal of God’s Word as well as this world’s constant pressure to soften and compromise God’s Word by courageously preaching the full counsel of the Scriptures all the more fervently, with holy zeal and urgency unto the glory of God, eschewing all gimmickry and totally resisting every temptation to substitute preaching the Bible with anything else, and be it further
RESOLVED, That we also urge all SBC pastors with the deepest possible earnestness to take evermore seriously the sacredness of their pulpits and this noble obligation of the exigency of preaching the Word of God, and be it further
RESOLVED, That we appeal to all SBC churches to pray for their pastors, understanding their own struggle with sin and need for our Lord’s grace, and to be willing to assist these men in keeping the pulpit and the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified (cf. 1 Cor. 2:2) as one of the highest priorities of their ministries, and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we warn pastors, churches, entity leaders, and all others in the Southern Baptist Convention that to neglect this sacredness of the pulpit is to incur the judgment of God and is ultimately to the demise of our beloved convention.
1 Benjamin Keach, An Exposition of the Parables and Express Similitudes of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (London: Aylott and Co., 1858), 512.