Within the last several days, there have been a couple of interesting developments in the Southern Baptist Convention.
First, recall that Brent Leatherwood is the chairman of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. This is the entity that engages in lobbying and public policy advocacy.
Mr. Leatherwood and his family were part of a tragic event with which we are all familiar. It turns out that his three children attend the school in Nashville where the transgender person killed multiple children and staff. That was a traumatic experience for anyone to endure.
In the wake of that event, Mr. Leatherwood has used his high-level position with the Southern Baptist Convention to call upon Tennessee state legislators to enact gun control. He sent a letter on official stationary to elected officials requesting that gun control measures be enacted.
The second matter also raises concern. Recall that the Convention had made the decision to dis-affiliate Saddleback Church in California because of its decision to hire female pastors. Rick Warren, who has retired from the ministry, says that he is going to appeal this decision. This appeal will likely be considered at the annual meeting in New Orleans in June. Saddleback is the megachurch he used to pastor for many years.
In the case of Mr. Leatherwood, he took action at a time his family had experienced trauma secondary to a mass shooting event. This inevitably would cloud his perceptions; and it was profoundly wrong for him to speak for the convention under these circumstances. Many rank-and-file Southern Baptists would strenuously disagree with what he did. And the biblical basis for his stand is shaky, at best. But he was installed in his position by the moderate/ liberal leadership within the Convention.
With regard to Mr. Warren’s plans, he is clearly outside of scriptural instruction. Ministers, church leaders and congregants in local Southern Baptist churches need to attend the Convention en masse to vote down his appeal (presuming it will be heard) and to put the Convention on a better path.