Friday, November 8, 2019

The Reputation of the Church

I'm coming to believe that we ought to just stop it already with our efforts to "protect the reputation of the church." In saying this, I have in mind both the sex abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention and a Quick to Listen episode about NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements)" (Quick to Listen is a podcast by Christianity Today). Here are three quick thoughts about why I'm increasingly skeptical about efforts to protect the reputation of the church.

  1. It can be really hard to separate the reputation of the church from my reputation as pastor. The most nefarious things out there are the occasions when I use God or the church as an excuse to cover my own sinfulness.
  2. An awful lot of what is hurting the reputation of churches today consists of things people have done to protect the reputation of a church.
  3. Jesus built the church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it…what do you think you have to add to that level of protection?

Let's let Jesus worry about the reputation of His church. Let's worry about our personal holiness and our submission to Him, and then let's see if that doesn't work out better.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Interacting with Beth Moore's Remarks about Complementarianism at the 2019 ERLC National Conference

During her presentation at the 2019 ERLC National Conference in Grapevine, TX, Beth Moore deviated from her assignment to speak about her opinion of complementarianism. She clearly stated that she had done so without having been asked to speak on this topic, that she had not cleared her remarks with the ERLC staff, and that she was taking sole responsibility for what she was saying.

She also, acknowledging that many might disagree with what she was about to say, expressed a hope that people who were disposed to disagree with her would listen carefully to what she had to say and engage in discussion about her remarks.

I am writing today to do just that. I’ve deliberately allowed some time to elapse since she made her remarks, because I’ve not found myself to be all that skilled at the business of issuing a “hot take,” and anyway, there seems to be no shortage of labor in that industry that would demand my trying to perfect the craft. I have stood to the side to let others offer play-by-play and color commentary.

Also, I am writing in the hope of generating a dialogue that is conducted both in good faith and in a gentle spirit. I wish to be fair in what I write, knowing that the Lord is near and is watching. To put my cards on the table, I also wish to write in a way that is exemplary of what I wish Christian online discourse were like, but often find that it is not.


One might broadly define complementarianism as the idea that binary gender among humans is God’s purposeful choice. Human beings are male and female—no matter how controversial this statement might bewilderingly be today, this is the rather pointed teaching of scripture. Complementarianism may be more than, but certainly is no less than, the idea that gender is indeed binary, that gender corresponds to biological sex, that maleness and femaleness have meaning in the eyes of God (which may or may not correspond to human beliefs about what constitutes true maleness or true femaleness), and that God has chosen the male-female creation of mankind because it pleased Him that humanity exist in both maleness and femaleness. Certainly there is variety among male humans and among female humans, but there is also commonality. Complementarianism rests upon a foundational idea that the commonality is good, important, and brimming with implications for living.

Applied more specifically to ecclesiology, complementarianism is the idea that church roles can be and are often gender-specific. The office of pastor, complementarians believe, is not an office that a woman can rightfully occupy. Complementarians believe that the Old and the New Testaments make hierarchical distinctions on the basis of gender in the spheres of home and church. Men are commanded to give leadership in these societal structures.

Varieties of complementarianism exist. Some believe that the hierarchical distinctions based upon gender should extend not merely to home and church but also to government and every other aspect of human society. Such complementarians would not vote for a woman to be president, while other complementarians would not believe it to be sinful to elect a woman to be president. Varying kinds of complementarians deal differently with passages about head coverings, about adornment with jewelry or makeup, and about whether, when, and how woman can speak in the church assembly.

Here’s the kind of complementarian I am (because it’s good to be forthcoming about the perspective from which one writes). I believe that the office of pastor is limited to men. I do not believe that this is limited to the “senior pastor” (indeed, I don’t think that such a thing as a “senior pastor” even exists as a biblical office); rather, I believe that every pastor should be male. I believe that the function of the expository teaching of the scriptures to men or to the gathered congregation (i.e., “preaching” as we generally mean it) is a function that is limited to men. All of our women who teach Sunday School at FBC Farmersville teach classes comprised of minors or exclusively of women.

And yet, women give testimonies, sing, speak in our business meetings, give leadership to committees, and may even speak in worship services in ways that do not constitute the expository teaching of the scriptures in our judgment. For example, Dr. Amy Downey, an expert on Maimonides, on Judaism, and on bearing an evangelistic witness to people of Jewish descent, recently taught us on a Sunday night about modern Jewish beliefs, the nature of Judaism after Maimonides, and best practices for sharing the Christian faith with modern Jewish people. Mine is the kind of complementarianism that would not invite Dr. Downey to preach Hosea 8 on Sunday morning but would invite her to teach about Reform Judaism on Sunday night. Dr. Downey not only knows more about contemporary Judaism than I know; she knows more about it than I want to know. I’m thankful for her expertise; I’m thankful for my church’s opportunity to benefit from it.

If I worked at the family lamp factory and if my sister were the boss, I could gladly work for her without any qualms. If God would resurrect Margaret Thatcher and bring her across the pond, I’d gladly cast my ballot for her for President of the United States.

That’s the kind of complementarian that I am.

I know that there are complementarians who apply the idea of purpose in gender more strictly and in more areas than I do. I know that there are complementarians who apply the idea of purpose in gender more leniently and in fewer areas than I do. I’m still willing to call such people complementarians to the degree that they are comfortable with gendered hierarchy of some sort in home and in church.

Complementarianism and Beth Moore

Is Beth Moore a complementarian? She says that she is. In her remarks she quite clearly described her desired impact as a plea to rescue complementarianism from abusive corruptions rather than as a plea to abandon complementarianism for being abusive.

It seems to me from a distance that Beth Moore is a complementarian in this sense: She would refuse an invitation to become a pastor at a church because she would not believe that, as a woman, she should accept it. I’m speculating as I write that, and she’s free to correct me if I have misunderstood. If I understand her correctly at this point, then this is a belief that we share with other complementarians.

Beyond this idea, she and I hold some different ideas, from what I can tell:

  • As she encounters women who have occupied or are occupying the office of pastor, she feels comfortable interacting with them in ways that appear to be an endorsement of their pastoral ministries. In other words, she appears to be a women who would not accept a pastorate but would accept a sister who would accept a pastorate. I, on the other hand, would not endorse the ministry of a woman serving as a pastor.
  • She feels comfortable providing the expository teaching of scripture to gathered congregations and/or to mixed-gender Christian groups. I do not believe that she should do so.

Also, from what I can tell, she and I agree in some ways that we differ from other complementarians.

  • Neither she nor I believe that women should wear distinctive head coverings in worship.
  • Neither she nor I believe that women must be silent during church business meetings nor that they should otherwise refrain from speaking in general at church.

So, to sum up, Beth Moore says (or, at the very least, strongly implies) that she is a complementarian. I receive this as a true statement. I think that she and I occupy different points within the area of complementarianism (and, of course, I wish that she agreed with me), but I do not believe those differences to be so profound as to make one of us a complementarian and the other of us an egalitarian.

Complementarianism and Abuse

Beth Moore asserted in her remarks that certain corruptions of complementarianism lead to or exacerbate the abuse problem that the Southern Baptist Convention faces. I think that perhaps I agree in part and that I disagree in part.

I disagree in part, particularly to the degree that we are talking about sexual abuse. It is a woefully underreported fact, but boys and men are victims of sexual abuse in churches, too. Sexual abuse is not about love and it is not about theology; it is about domination and violence. It transcends the boundaries of gender in selecting victims. Complementarianism is not the culprit here.

I disagree in part also because Bill Hybels is no complementarian, and yet credible accusations have arisen that he has perpetrated abusive behavior in his role as a pastor. Just as abuse transcends the boundaries of gender in selecting victims, it also transcends the boundaries of theological position with regard to those who are perpetrators.

I agree in part, particularly to the degree that we are talking about spousal abuse. If there is a critique here to make about the conference in general or about Beth Moore’s presentation, it may be that it was not always altogether clear whether we were talking about child sexual abuse or spousal abuse. It seems plausible to me that some aberrations of complementarianism probably serve as false justification for those husbands who wish to behave in a domineering and abusive manner toward their wives.

Complementarianism is not abuse, and in her remarks Beth Moore made this absolutely clear. Any online reactions that suggested otherwise were false and misleading.

Complementarianism and a Low View of Scripture

Egalitarianism is the idea that all roles in the church are open to both genders (or even, in some quarters of Christianity, the rejection of a binary system of gender). Beth Moore complained that Southern Baptists have unfairly associated egalitarianism with a low view of scripture. Please note, she also clearly said that she is a complementarian and not an egalitarian. With this point she seemed to be defending others, not defending herself. With regard to her point, I think she has said a thing or two worth hearing, but in the end, I think that she and I probably disagree about this.

Within the Southern Baptist Convention, there has indeed been a very high correlation between the advocacy of egalitarianism and a low view of scripture. Beth Moore herself is soon participating in the Kyle Lake Center National Preaching Conference (November 19) at my alma mater, Baylor University. Baylor has promoted the idea of egalitarianism. It’s pretty “meta” that Beth Moore will be preaching about preaching at a National Preaching Conference there. This is a pretty explicit exploration of the differences between us about complementarianism.

Baylor University promotes a low view of scripture. I base this observation upon two sources of evidence. First, I was a student at Baylor University, and as a student there, I was taught that the first eleven chapters of the Bible have no basis in historical events, that Abraham was never told by God to sacrifice Isaac, that Jesus probably walked on a sandbar, and not on the water, and that Biblical teachings about sexual ethics must be subordinated to what secular sciences can uncover about the causes and motivations of human sexuality. I was there; I know whereof I speak.

Second, Baylor has just in the past few months released a new study Bible containing many of the same ideas that I just rehearsed. In particular, the Baylor Study Bible explicitly denies the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. The study notes in that Bible reflect precisely what I was taught as a student at Baylor between 1988 and 1991.

Baylor is not alone. I could not, if pressed to do so, identify a single institution promoting a low view of scripture in American Evangelicalism that does not also promote egalitarianism. There simply is not, to my knowledge, such a thing as a low-view-of-scripture-but-complementarian institution. Conversely, I also cannot immediately identify in Southern Baptist life any institution with a high view of scripture that is promoting egalitarian views.

In Southern Baptist life, there is a high degree of correlation between a low view of scripture and egalitarian views, and I do not believe that I misrepresent anyone when I say so.

On the other hand, Beth Moore does have something of a point if one broadens his or her perspective beyond Southern Baptist life (which, obviously, is something that she has done, which may go a long way in explaining her statements). The Assemblies of God, for example, have a de jure egalitarian theology (although some within the Assemblies of God have pointed out that they are quite overwhelmingly de facto complementarian), and the Assemblies of God denomination is not at all, by what we usually mean to signify with the term, a group that holds a low view of scripture.

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to hold a low view of the Bible to disobey it. Discernment bloggers have an ostensibly high view of scripture, but their Bibles have Philippians 4:5 in them just like the rest of ours (“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” NASB).

To the degree that anyone is saying, “Everyone on the planet who holds egalitarian theology also has subscribed to German Higher Criticism and the concomitant low view of scripture,” that person is overstating the case, and Mrs. Moore’s point of critique is well-taken.

To the degree that anyone is saying, “There is a high correlation between egalitarian theology and a subscription to German Higher Criticism, especially within the Southern Baptist Convention,” that person has offered a point of view defensible from the evidence, I believe.

Rather than either of these things, I’d prefer to say, “Everyone who holds egalitarian theology is not dealing forthrightly and submissively with a number of key biblical texts, nor with the witness of scripture in general.“ This is a more forceful way to say, “I believe that the Bible teaches complementarianism,” but the difference is one of tone, not of content. I don’t want to adopt an egregiously aggressive or offensive tone, but neither do I want to concede the point, if that’s what Beth Moore is suggesting, that there is no connection whatsoever between fidelity to the Bible and complementarianism.

The topic of gender roles in scripture represents one of several asymmetries in the Bible that are, I would assert, undeniable. There is the Jew-Gentile asymmetry. The Jews are God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, every apostle (the highest authority in the church and those to whose teachings we adhere today) was Jewish. Praise God, we have been grafted in as Gentiles, but there’s no confusion as to who is the branch and what is the tree. And when all is said and done in the end, we will live in a New Jerusalem with a foundation and with gates emblazoned with exclusively Jewish names. Gentiles are not BAD in the Bible, and in both Old Testament and New, God expresses a desire and implements a plan to bless and love Gentiles right alongside Jews, but there is a clear ordering of Jew and Gentile expressed, also. “To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

There is a homosexual-heterosexual asymmetry in the Bible. Only good things are said about monogamous, loving heterosexuality. Only bad things are said about homosexuality.

There is a male-female asymmetry in the Bible. Much like the Jew-Gentile asymmetry mentioned above, this is not an asymmetry in which being either male or female is a bad thing, but the asymmetry remains nonetheless. There simply is no passage in the scriptures reading anything at all like, “Let a man learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a man to teach or to exercise authority over a woman; rather, he is to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12, ESV, genders switched by me). We can have a discussion about how much the Bible is complementarian in favor of male authority, but no one anywhere can conduct any credible discussion about how much the Bible is complementarian in favor of female authority. The best an egalitarian can do is try to argue that this asymmetry is meaningless and to try to empty it down to neutrality.

But to do that—to endeavor to dilute what were (apparently) strict prohibitions in the minds of apostles until they are thoughts with no practical impact upon the operations of modern churches—is not to promote a high view of this particular passage of scripture. It is not necessarily, in every case, German Higher Criticism, and that ought to be acknowledged in order to deal accurately and fairly with the topic, but neither is this a way of valuing all of scripture. It’s more of a postmodern than a classically liberal way of lowering the value of the Bible.

If I am correct in saying this, then I must hurry to note that I cannot say it with any arrogance. Sinner that I am, I try to rationalize away scripture daily—multiple times daily. I do it when I am in a hurry behind the wheel of my car. I do it when I am angry and I want to say so in a way that gratifies my flesh. Yes, I do this same violence to scripture myself. Someone who holds egalitarian views will doubtless want to point this out. I am inconsistent. I admit it.

But shouldn’t our response to inconsistency be to encourage one another toward a more consistent obedience rather than a more consistent disobedience? Help me be more consistently obedient by pointing out my inconsistencies. By doing so, you will do me a favor.

And so, I actually do believe that there is a correspondence between egalitarian belief and a misuse of the Bible, although I do readily acknowledge that not all egalitarians follow the teachings of German Higher Criticism or related daughter ideologies (although a great many do).


Dialogue means that the conversation goes in two directions. I want to emphasize that I have prepared this response not because Beth Moore is under my authority such that she must listen to me. Not at all. I’m not her pastor. I’m not her husband. I’m merely her brother. I rather prepared this response because (as I said at the beginning) she expressed a desire that some of us who disagree at least partially with her should consider and respond to what she has said about complementarianism.

Frankly, I’ve been disappointed in the way that some of that has taken place. Pastors ought not to be female, but neither ought they to be boorish or quarrelsome. Disagreement can be fair, respectful, dignifying, and sober-minded. I can say in good faith that such a conversation has been my objective. I welcome critiques of these quickly-scribbled, weakly-attributed thoughts that I have assembled, not in the hope that I might be vanquished, of course, but in the hopeful expectation that careful dialogue among fellow believers can be a good and beneficial thing, pleasing to our Father.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Occasionally I will run into someone who knows my resume better than he knows my ministry: "You're a National Merit Scholar, a University Scholar at Baylor, a PhD from SWBTS in Church History…I wonder how much Church History your church has been taught."

The answer? Probably less than yours.

Don't get me wrong; I LOVE Church History. And yes, there actually are some stories from the history of Christianity that make their way into my sermons, lessons, or counseling sessions. For example, I've found that the story of Monica and Augustine can be very encouraging to mothers who are worried about their sons' misbehavior. But my sermons are not overburdened with illustrations from Church History 101.

It's not that I'm lazy in sermon preparation. I do not miss illustration efforts by McBeth or Gonzales or Eusebius on accident. I'm deliberately avoiding these things. I'm pushing back against the constant urge to carpet bomb our congregation with Luther stories or Spurgeon quotes or Origen anecdotes. As a pastor and preacher, I have made it my job to un-know a lot of what I know, so to speak.


"For I decided that around y'all I would un-know everything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2, my own translation that you should probably never be caught using in public)

Paul had a resume, too. Hebrew. Pharisee. Gamaliel. Perfectionist. Paul could have spent HOURS filling in all the blanks for his Gentile converts about Jewish ideas concerning the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. I do not doubt that his doing so would have led to the accumulation of a small, devout following of the Truly Interested. But he believed that un-knowing was an important tool in ministry. This was not a regression toward ignorance. Paul's training shows up all over his epistles. Rather, it was a progression toward focus. It was the removal of unnecessary weight so that the plane could fly higher, car could go faster, boat could sail more gracefully.

Obviously, "un-knowing" is not something that we can practice literally and deliberately. I still know what I learned at SWBTS. When I reach the point that I do not know any of it, the causes will be things beyond my control. I can't LITERALLY un-know. What's more, I can't even entirely suppress what I've learned. Academic training affects my ministry every day in a million ways. It's just that those ways are, for the most part, furtive. There are mistakes that I don't make because I know that Roger Williams disproved that way of thinking a long time ago. There are people whom I do not follow because they remind me a little bit of Benjamin Bogard. Get all of the education that you can. It can and often does make a positive impact upon ministry, but sometimes (often?) it does so best from the background.

God did not give me a congregation so that I could have all of the benefits of being a Church History professor without having to grade papers or sit on the curriculum committee; God entrusted me with a flock so that I could feed them, love them, and point them toward the Chief Shepherd. They need to know Jesus Christ and the gospel.

So, to my pastor-brethren who are really smart and who have some areas in which you've cultivated expertise and leadership credentials—history, languages, systematics, politics, sports, beard-grooming, or whatever else—I appeal to you to take up the study of un-knowing if you haven't already. This important tool, once mastered, will bless your congregation and will bless you.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Still Thin-Skinned After All These Years

Credit for this post goes to a friend who, weathering some storms in ministry, recently asked me, "What does it take to grow a thick skin?" I'm basically setting forth my reply in writing, with some added material that comes from having had several days to reflect upon what I said.

The way I weather a crisis has changed down through the years, but I have not yet grown a thick skin. In other words, in some ways I experience hurt and disappointment in just the same way that I did when I was 22 and when Tracy and I went to our first church together, and in some ways that experience has changed.

What Remains Unchanged

It still hurts. That hasn't changed. It hurts every time someone leaves my church. It hurts every time someone criticizes me behind my back. It hurts every time someone says something negative about my church. Perhaps a day is coming when it won't hurt any more, but I can't detect any indicators of that day's arrival. Not only does it still hurt; it still hurts just as much as it did back then.

I wonder who I would be if it didn't? Would that make me an unfeeling automaton managing the affairs of an organization rather than an under-shepherd who loves the sheep? Would I be a jaded, calloused, bitter survivor just biding my time until I could afford to get out? As things stand, I still care and therefore it still hurts. Just as much. Sometimes MORE than it did before.

What Is Now Different

Alongside the hurt, there used to be a lot of fear back when I was younger. I can identify at least two ways in which I was afraid during my earlier crises in ministry.

First, I was afraid that I would be fired and then unemployed. How would I provide for my family? How would I fulfill my calling? Would any church consider hiring me if I were to get the boot from my present church? What would I do? Let's call this fear about the consequences.

Second, I was afraid that maybe my critics were right and maybe I actually am a failure at ministry. What if it would be best if I couldn't get another ministry job? What if I am doomed, if I remain in ministry, to be the ruination of a string of churches foolish enough to hire me? Let's call this fear about my competency.

Although the hurt remains, these fears for me are mostly gone. I've just realized some things along the way that have helped me.

As to my fear of the consequences, down through the years I've watched as some real jerks, having been rightfully booted from one church, have been able to find another church right away. This summer has involved the revelation in the news how we have infamously done this with regard to sexually abusive pastors, but this weakness in our polity extends far beyond sex abusers. There are people who abuse no one sexually but who abuse a lot of people spiritually, and yet they seem able to keep moving from one church to another.

So, I finally came to conclude, if such people can find churches who will hire them, then probably so could I. I'm no longer afraid that one problem at one church would utterly shipwreck my ability to pursue my calling.

As to my fear concerning my professional competency as a pastor, although I have retained an awareness of personal weaknesses in ministry (and I'm trying to work on those), this fact dawned upon me: There are some 42,000 or so churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. I dare to be boastful in this way—I do not believe that I am the 42,001st worst pastor in the SBC. And if I am not the 42,001st worst pastor in the SBC, then so long as I remain biblically qualified for ministry, there is a church in our convention of churches who needs me.

God does not require perfection in me. God is the one who supplies perfection in the gospel equation. He needs my surrender to His will and my willingness to endure hardship like a good soldier. He'll put me where He needs me, and I'll try to be faithful there to serve.

I didn't realize back when I was younger how much it was the fear, not the hurt, that was tormenting me. The hurt…well…hurts. There's no denying that. But the fears can terrify a hurting person. Taking away the fears makes a big difference. They have gone away, in part, because of the realizations that I mentioned above. They have also gone away thanks in part to a growing faith on my part. My faith in God has grown. I believe that He will take care of me. Also, over the course of two decades, my faith has grown in the people whom I serve as pastor. I'm not the only one in our congregation who loves Jesus and is trying to do the right thing. Assuming the worst about what they will do is foolish and disrespectful.


Maybe this will be helpful to someone this morning (after all, today IS Monday). Don't worry too much about thickening your skin. You may find that bolstering your faith and pondering upon some facts will be all the help that you need.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

NeverTrump Deserter

There's a substantial chance that I'll vote for Donald Trump in the next presidential election.

In a way, that's not all that remarkable. Millions of people all across the country will do that. Not all of them, however, ever wrote anything like this. I am defecting from the NeverTrump state. Here's how and why.

A Choice, Not an Endorsement: My largest concerns about voting for Donald Trump the last time around had to do with the negative impact upon my testimony that would come from endorsing someone with the character flaws that President Trump has demonstrated (see the aforementioned link). That is still a concern. And I would still vote for Mike Pence over Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee over Donald Trump, Ben Sasse over Donald Trump, and the list goes on. But I doubt that any of them will run in this election cycle. I voted for Evan McMullin in the previous cycle, but following his Twitter feed has not made me long for him to have won. I reject binaryism—vote your conscience, OK—but I also acknowledge that most independent candidates don't undergo the same sort of vetting that a major party candidate will undergo, and are therefore more of an unknown commodity than will be the GOP and Democrat candidates. So, I'll have to make a choice on election day, and facing the field that we are presently facing, I'll likely vote for Donald Trump.

Checks and Balances: I disagree with Donald Trump about immigration. Donald Trump hasn't gotten much done on immigration. I disagree with Donald Trump about religious liberty for Muslims. Donald Trump hasn't been successful at infringing upon the religious liberty of Muslims. Our system of checks and balances has been successful in some ways. I'm sure that bothers Donald Trump and some of his supporters. For me it clears some space to consider voting for him.

Surprising Successes: I doubted Donald Trump's sincerity about abortion. I still note that not much has been gained in that area, but President Trump has been as pro-life as any other president of my lifetime, measured by accomplishments, and even if he isn't the guy driving things forward, the pro-life movement is moving forward these days. I thought he would betray the pro-life cause boldly. I misjudged him. President Trump has also offered real leadership in the area of prison sentencing reform. I know that Dwight was sorely concerned about how President Trump's administration would affect African-Americans. I haven't noted any major statistical increase in violence against black people under President Trump than existed under President Obama, and considering things like the First Step Act, I'd like to hear an updated, fact-based case for how African-Americans are worse off in terms of employment, justice, health, or welfare today than they were four years ago. Some of the statistics that I've examined seem to suggest the opposite.

President Trump's Supreme Court nominees have been a bit of a mixed bag so far, but I'm generally pleased with what he has done to the Court and would like to see what he could accomplish if there were a RBG vacancy in the next four years. My expectations were really low, and President Trump has been a better president than I thought.

Infanticide: In 2016 I had reckoned the Democrats as the party of the status quo ante with regard to abortion. Boy, was I wrong! The Democrats have demonstrated a clear agenda in the direction of infanticide. Roe v Wade is not enough for them. Also, the Democrats are now demonstrating even stronger advocacy for Socialism, which is totalitarian at its heart. With their hard lurch to the Left, Democrats have changed the moral math of our electoral equation, in my estimation. I thought it mattered for the sake of my testimony and for the sake of righteousness to distance myself from Donald Trump in 2016. In 2020, I feel more strongly about distancing myself from the Democrats and the increasing moral darkness of their platform. With regard to his personal character, President Trump is no better of a man than I thought he was, but he's also no worse than I thought he was. Democratic politicians, on the other hand, have done what I thought was not possible: They have shown me that they could be even worse than my lowest-of-the-low expectations of them.

Allegiance: In 2016 I voted as I did because I didn't owe my allegiance to the GOP. My vote has to be earned. Perhaps the NeverTrump movement shouldn't be surprised at the existence of defectors, because neither did I pledge any sort of allegiance to that movement. And that's a movement that has yielded very little in terms of positive leadership for our nation. I do not anticipate any good NeverTrump choices to occupy the ballot in this cycle. NeverTrump, like any position with room for the word "never," was a position at the far end of the spectrum. I do not know anyone who is more NeverTrump today than they were in 2016. Is that even logically possible? The only possible direction for movement was a softening of resistance in the President's direction.

Conclusion: I still have grave reservations about the President in all of the areas that you might expect: his Twitter, his immigration policy, his emotional stability, his instincts toward fear-mongering and demagoguery, his clear yearnings toward fiat rule. I am not promising my 2020 vote to the President. He still has to earn it. But—and this might very well be a canary in the coal mine situation for our Republic—I can imagine a lot of scenarios for 2020 in which President Trump might clearly be the best choice of those listed on the ballot. So, with apologies to all of those who remain in the movement, I have concluded that never is a long, long time, and I cannot say that I would never vote for President Trump for re-election.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Stained Glass and Shoddy History

Being on sabbatical has brought me blissful isolation from most things ongoing in the SBC. If it is big enough to hit my Google News feed, however, then it pops up into my field of view in the morning. Some of the news that comes my way is encouraging. Some of it is downright dismal. Most of the dismal news has been baseball-related, but for this unsavory tidbit ("Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Displays Stained-Glass Windows Recently Removed from Southwestern Seminary") the only connection to baseball I could discern was my imagination of what a Paul Goldschmidt line drive would do to a stained-glass window.

From the article:

At Liberty University’s Baccalaureate Service on Friday night, President Jerry Falwell made a bold statement to the Southern Baptist Convention when he displayed two stained-glass windows that were recently removed from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s chapel. The windows feature Liberty’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, and Dr. Jerry Vines, who delivered the Baccalaureate address.

The two windows were part of a larger collection that honored the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence among Southern Baptist churches. Installed only a few years ago, the Falwell window was made possible by financial contributions from Liberty University.

President Falwell said that “unfortunately, a new generation has taken the Convention away from those values in many ways.” He said the windows have been “removed by the new regime.”

The first SBC Annual Meeting I ever attended was in St Louis, MO, in 1987. I attended the convention meeting with my pastor. I was seventeen years old. I voted for Adrian Rogers. Dr. Jerry Vines was elected to serve as president the very next year.

I care about the Conservative Resurgence.

So, because I care about the Conservative Resurgence, I would like to make a few observations about what Falwell has said, and about the general mood of the convention regarding the Conservative Resurgence.

Stop Saying the Stained-Glass Windows Honor the Conservative Resurgence

The stained-glass windows at SWBTS are not a collection of windows "honoring the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence among Southern Baptist churches." Period. Full stop.

Rick Warren had a stained-glass window at the SWBTS chapel. Where was he during the Conservative Resurgence? Nowhere I know. Search in vain for his name in any history of the Conservative Resurgence.

Frank Page had a stained-glass window at the SWBTS chapel. Where was he during the Conservative Resurgence? For this one, I actually DO know. I've had a lot of people talk to me about his window in light of his ending, but we ought to talk about his beginning. He was getting a Ph.D. in ethics at SWBTS under T.B. Maston, writing a dissertation friendly to the idea of women pastors. Frank Page was not friendly to the Conservative Resurgence.

By the way, I don't mean to take cheap shots at Dr. Page here. He claimed to have changed his position later. I 100% take him at his word for that. I'm just trying to lead us to do good history, not to attack anyone.

Speaking of that, let's talk about Jerry Falwell. Jerry Falwell was a leader in America. He was a leader in conservative politics. Jerry Falwell was not a "[leader] of the Conservative Resurgence among Southern Baptist churches." Jerry Falwell wasn't a Southern Baptist at the time. His church wasn't a Southern Baptist church at the time. He never served on any SBC committee or board during the Resurgence. He never presided over any SBC Annual Meeting. I do not deny that there is perhaps some way that the things that Jerry Falwell was doing were intertwined with the things that the ACTUAL leaders of the SBC Conservative Resurgence were doing, but there is a difference, if you wish to do careful history, between leading a movement on the one hand and leading some other related movement on the other hand.

Of course, the one way that my observation about Falwell would NOT be true is if you can't see any difference between Falwell's Moral Majority political movement on the one hand and the ecclesiological movement that was the Conservative Resurgence on the other hand. But if you can't see any difference between them, then you need to get some new spectacles. They were friendly to one another, but they were not the same thing.

Dr. Jerry Vines, on the other hand, WAS a leader of the Conservative Resurgence. As were many of the people depicted in the windows. But the three that I've mentioned are not the only people depicted in the windows who will not be mentioned in any serious history of the Conservative Resurgence.

So, to recap, the window collection includes (a) some real leaders of the SBC Conservative Resurgence, (b) a man who was AWOL during the SBC Conservative Resurgence, (c) a man who was, by any fair measure, on the other side during the SBC Conservative Resurgence, and (d) a man who wasn't even a Southern Baptist during the SBC Conservative Resurgence. These are not stained-glass windows honoring leaders of the Conservative Resurgence.

They are stained-glass windows honoring people for whom there existed someone willing to pay money to depict them in a stained-glass window in the chapel, regardless of their relationship (or lack thereof) to the Conservative Resurgence.

These observations are simply factual. Please remember, you can acknowledge these facts (some of which are pretty much indisputable) and still remain hopping-mad at the removal of the stained-glass windows if you like. But fidelity to the ideals of the Conservative Resurgence is absolutely not (as some people seem to think) part-and-parcel with fidelity to these stained-glass windows.

Indeed, to my way of thinking, I've always seen these windows as the worst possible way to try to remember the Conservative Resurgence, even if participation in the project HAD been limited to REAL leaders in the Conservative Resurgence. If I were planning a series of stained-glass windows to honor the Conservative Resurgence, I would have designed windows featuring scenes from the Bible that men like Ralph Elliot thought were pure fiction: the six-day creation of the world, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, the angel preventing Abraham from offering up Isaac.

To my way of thinking, the ONLY people who ever characterized the history of the Conservative Resurgence as a movement to aggrandize and lionize men were the liberals who opposed the Conservative Resurgence. Why on earth should we adopt their narrative? As a supporter of the Conservative Resurgence, I have always understood it to be a battle for the Bible. If we're going to choose stained-glass as the medium for remembering the Conservative Resurgence, wouldn't it be better to depict the Bible in those windows, if we're really trying to remember a "Battle for the Bible"?

At least, that's the way that I see it. If you have a different point of view, then why don't we do this: I won't falsely and maliciously characterize your perspective on the windows, and you don't falsely and maliciously characterize mine. Let's try that out and see if it isn't the Christ-honoring thing to do. Surely anybody who cares about honoring Christian leaders in stained glass ought to care more about honoring Christ in what we say, right?

And if you are one of those who feel differently about it, you have my sympathy. Really, you do. It's embarrassing to have taken down something that was put up to honor you. I'm so sorry. I always knew that if the windows came down, there would be a risk that people I care about would be hurt. Alongside that fear, though, was the fear that if the windows stayed up, someone somewhere might think that look at them and think that they were learning the history of the Conservative Resurgence. Given the seminary's mission as an educational institution, I'm thankful that someone has successfully averted that fate.

Stop Suggesting That Advocacy for Victims of Church Sex Abuse Betrays the Conservative Resurgence

Taking you back for a moment to my seventeen-year-old self in 1987, I supported the Conservative Resurgence because I supported the inerrancy of the scriptures. I went off to Baylor a year later and learned forever how desperately needed the Conservative Resurgence was as I sat in Freshman Old Testament class and listened to Dr. Wally Christian as he derided those who (like me) believed in the truthfulness of the Genesis accounts. A lot changed for me between 1987 (at St Louis) and 1988 (at Baylor).

At Baylor, I came to be acquainted with Schleiermacher and Ritschl and Tillich and Barth. The ideas promoted by these men were, in many ways, the target of the Conservative Resurgence. The more I learned about them and their influence, the more convinced I became that I was right all along in supporting the Conservative Resurgence.

But before I went to Baylor? Back when I was a teenage-preacher in Northeast Arkansas? You could've convinced me that Schleiermacher was a brand of bratwurst. I knew absolutely nothing about German theologians or higher criticism.

But that doesn't mean that I wasn't in the battle.

To seventeen-year-old me, the "Battle for the Bible" was not a battle against the philosophies of Schleiermacher, Ritschl, and Tillich. To me, in my daily life, it was a contest against the philosophies of Bocephus, Cindy Lauper, and Boy George. The people I wanted to see won to Christ—the people around me who were rejecting the truthfulness of the Bible—were rejecting it so that they could get all their rowdy friends to come over tonight or because they just wanna have fun.

The pastor or Sunday School teacher or seminary student who is bedding 15-year-olds left and right is no less at war with the Bible and with the Lord than was Ralph Elliott. They just wanna get rowdy and have some fun, no matter whom it hurts. They have to be defeated, for their own good and for the good of the churches, but most of all, in defense of these victims. May God forgive us for some of the ways that some of them have been treated. As an aside, it is a wicked thing to break people and then blame them for being broken. But I digress.

In any event, there just cannot be a Battle for the Bible that isn't ready to sally forth to war against people like those abusers. There are things that are not really within our power to do to oppose these predators. Our polity is what it is, and I believe that it is biblical and good. By the way, I actually think that if we leaned IN to our polity, it would do more good than leaning out from it would do. Nevertheless, I confess that there are things we cannot do. But I plan to find whatever I can do and prosecute it with extreme prejudice. I do not mind doing battle for the Bible against all foes, whether they be liberal theologians or sexual predators.

An acquaintance with the Continental Theologians came to me later, but the battle between the Bible and worldliness never left me. So, when I do things to try to put an end to sex abuse in SBC churches, I'm not doing it because I'm "woke"; I'm doing it because I'm still a Conservative Resurgence Warrior. That's who I am. That's what I plan to be.

Ten years ago, I didn't care what Wade Burleson thought about it.

Now I don't care what Jerry Falwell, Jr, thinks about it either.

NOTE: I'm still on sabbatical, and I won't ever, in the history of man until Jesus comes back, be looking at these comments. So, I'm turning them off. Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

I Found Something I Could Do

At our upcoming Spring Trustee Meeting, I will be bringing a motion to revoke the degree that SWBTS granted to Mark Aderholt. In this post I will explain the rationale behind this action as it is grounded in SWBTS's governing documents and the current state of our laws as I understand them. The motion that I will bring is, of course, just a motion from a solitary trustee. I will not be able to blog about any aspect of how the Board responds to or processes my motion. My purpose in authoring this post is simple: The Southern Baptist Convention has been through a lot of difficulty with regard to past instances of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. I think that a lot of Southern Baptists wish that they knew something that they could do. I think maybe I found something that I could do, and I'm hoping that you'll be encouraged by that.

The Mark Aderholt Story

If you read the newspaper accounts of his indictment (click here) and of his arrest (click here), you'll be introduced to the broad details of the story of Mark Aderholt. I have invited Anne Marie Miller to share her story with the Academic Administration Committee of the Board of Trustees in our upcoming meeting. Here's what I expect her to tell us.

In 1996-97, Aderholt was a student at SWBTS. In response to Miller's desire to start a See You At The Pole event at her public school, Aderholt initiated a relationship with Miller. He soon led the relationship to become sexual. He was 25. She was 16. Later, when Miller was herself in her 20s, the significance of the age differential became clear to her, and she realized the (criminal) wrong in what Aderholt had done to her. She then told her story for the first time. Aderholt was working for the IMB by then. The IMB investigated the claims, and at the end of their investigation, Aderholt was no longer employed by the IMB. He found employment with the state convention in South Carolina, but no longer. Now he is under indictment for his alleged behavior with Miller.

SWBTS's Governing Documents

The Bylaws of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary explicitly state that, regardless of his or her academic achievements, no student is eligible for graduation if the faculty has reason to question whether the student's conduct or character are unworthy of graduation. This has been an explicitly stated element of the governing documents of SWBTS since, as far as I can tell, the founding of the school.

It is not some forgotten aspect of our Bylaws, either. From time to time down through the years, we have expelled students for violations of the conduct that we expect from SWBTS students. Regardless of their grades or of the number of credit hours that these students had accumulated, they did not receive academic degrees from SWBTS.

Mark Aderholt, however, did receive a degree from SWBTS. This was not because SWBTS came to a different conclusion from the IMB when we investigated Aderholt's relationship with Miller. Rather, we have never conducted any investigation into Aderholt's relationship with Miller. We never received any report of any such relationship. If Aderholt was conducting a sexual relationship with Miller, then Aderholt knew full well that his behavior was grounds for his expulsion. If anything like what Miller claims happened at all, then Aderholt deliberately concealed his behavior from SWBTS in order to avoid expulsion and to obtain, in the end, a SWBTS degree.

The Law of the Land

Educational institutions can legally revoke degrees that have been obtained fraudulently.

Sometimes fraudulently obtaining a degree means submitting a plagiarized thesis or dissertation. But the freedom afforded to educational institutions by American law to revoke degrees is broad. An early case, much quoted in subsequent cases, is Waliga v. Board of Trustees of Kent State University, in which the court stated:

Academic degrees are a university’s certification to the world at large of the recipient’s educational achievement and fulfillment of the institution’s standards. To hold that a university may never withdraw a degree, effectively requires the university to continue making a false certification to the public at large of the accomplishment of persons who in fact lack the very qualifications that are certified. Such a holding would undermine public confidence in the integrity of degrees, call academic standards into question, and harm those who rely on the certification which the degree represents. (emphasis mine)

The court in Waliga made explicit mention not only of the receipient's educational achievement, but also of the institution's standards. The fraudulent receipt of a degree can mean more than academic misconduct. In the 200 case Harwood v. Johns Hopkins University, the court upheld JHU's right to withhold a degree from a student who, after completion of his degree, shot and killed another JHU student. Just one year before, in 1999, the case Dinu v. President and Fellows of Harvard College upheld Harvard's right to withhold a degree from two students who had stolen money from Harvard Student Agencies. Lexington Theological Seminary v. Vance (1979) upheld a religious school's right to withhold a degree from a homosexual student based upon religious convictions, and the cases Goodreau v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia (2000) and Yoo v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2004) affirmed the right of institutions not only to withhold degrees not yet awarded but also to revoke for non-academic misconduct degrees already granted.

If Mark Aderholt obtained his SWBTS degree fraudulently, then SWBTS has the right to revoke that degree. If Mark Aderholt concealed a sexual relationship that he was conducting with Anne Marie Miller, then he obtained his degree only by way of preventing the school from being aware of his behavior. Such a concealment would amount to fraudulently obtaining a degree from SWBTS.

The Only Question

So, the only question is whether things happened as Miller has claimed.

As mentioned before, the International Mission Board previously investigated these claims, and the results of their investigation (as those results have been reported) found that Miller's claims were more credible than Aderholt's denials. Tarrant County has found her claims to be credible enough to arrest Aderholt and indict him.

I find her story to be credible. I believe her.

Certainly, if her story is credible enough to launch a process that ended his employment at the IMB and credible enough to launch a criminal prosecution, it is credible enough for me to launch a process at SWBTS to consider the revocation of Mark Aderholt's degree.


In a December 19, 2018, article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Miller encouraged victims of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct to come forward with their stories. "I think they’ll find a lot of people standing beside them (when they do so)," she said.

Among my other reasons for bringing this motion to our board meeting, I'd like to do my part in helping Miller's prediction come true.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Heritage of SWBTS Continues

Yesterday the Board of Trustees of SWBTS elected Dr. Adam W. Greenway as the ninth president of the seminary (See coverage in Baptist Press here).

The reception of the news has been overwhelmingly positive both across the campus and across the convention. There have, however, been a few expressions of concern. I write today to address them briefly. Although worded in different ways (Southern takeover, Mohler takeover, Calvinistic takeover, etc.), the expressions of concern yield themselves, I believe to analysis that distills them into two basic loci of angst: First, does Greenway's election at SWBTS represent a departure from the historic character of SWBTS in regard to the school's mission and theology. Second, does Greenway's election serve anyone else's interests more than it serves the interests of SWBTS.

Let me say first of all that I went into this process with a clear procedure in mind for myself: Before I even knew who our candidate would be, I resolved that ANY candidate would be a no-vote from me until he earned my yes-vote. I can say with a clear conscience that Dr. Greenway and our new Provost, Dr. Randy Stinson, received at my hand the most thorough vetting I knew how to give. I asked all of the questions: the polite ones and the rude ones, the sophisticated ones and the blunt ones. If I did not offend them at any point in the past two weeks, it is because they are gracious, not because I didn't try. :-)

Who Is Served by Adam Greenway's Election

Although none of us as of yet can know (less than 24 hours into his administration!), I am hopeful that his election will serve the Kingdom of God, the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe that he will be successful in attracting new students. I believe that he will be successful in raising funds. I believe that he and Dr. Stinson will successfully build the faculty—and by "build the faculty" I mean build faculty morale, congeniality, effectiveness, and spiritual maturity.

I have served for a decade on the board of our seminary, and nobody there is serving anyone's interests other than those of Southwestern. We would not have risked what we have risked and we would not have subjected ourselves to what we have endured for any other reason. That this board has given such overwhelming and enthusiastic support of Dr. Greenway is evidence that he has convinced us that his election serves the interests of SWBTS above all others.

Whither the SWBTS Heritage?

Dr. Greenway's remarks at the post-election press conference should answer this question far better than I can. He spoke of the heritage of Southwestern in terms that should resonate clearly with all true Southwesterners. He spoke of Carroll and Scarborough, Conner and Garrett, Baker and Estep, Fish and McDowell, Naylor and Vaughan and Tolar. He spoke of a national seminary located in Fort Worth, Texas, that spans the globe and leads the convention.

If he can mobilize the ideas of these men and vector it toward that vision, then I think we can safely say that the future of SWBTS will align well with her heritage.

For my part, I am excited to watch and see what happens.


So, brothers and sisters in the SBC, if you have wondered whether those concerns that I mentioned at the top of this article are valid, permit me to address two groups of us who sometimes harbor such concerns:

There are those of us who leap to such conclusions because, deep down inside, we enjoy doing so. If that is the nature of your heart, then I cannot help you.

There are those of us who fret over such possibilities because our love for SWBTS and our gratitude for what the Lord did for us there is so profoundly deep and has tendrils that reach so inextricably into all that we are and all that we do. We feel a solemn duty and precious calling to protect her from harm. If that is the nature of your heart, then I can honestly say before God that I feel exactly the same way. I can say that I left no question unasked and no possibility unexplored. I can say that I am hopeful today that God has good things in store for SWBTS under the leadership of Dr. Adam W. Greenway.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

2016 Proposed Resolution on Sexual Predation in the Southern Baptist Family

In 2016 I offered this resolution at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. It did not make it out of the committee. It seems highly relevant today. Nothing in here violates our polity or any other aspect of our ecclesiology whatsoever. The resolution respects local church autonomy while recognizing that autonomous churches have the right not to be affiliated with wrongdoing churches.
On Sexual Predation in the Southern Baptist Family
May 17, 2016
Whereas any act of sexual predation is a sin and an abomination, and many acts of sexual predation constitute crimes; and,
Whereas all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands have laws requiring certain professionals to report suspected sexual abuse of children, and twenty-seven states specifically require clergy to report suspected sexual abuse of children; and,
Whereas Article XVII of The Baptist Faith & Message expresses our common belief that “it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience [to our civil government] in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God”; and,
Whereas God has commanded us to “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-14, NASB); and,
Whereas Article XV of The Baptist Faith & Message expresses our common desire to “oppose…all forms of sexual immorality”; and,
Whereas God has commanded us to address sin on the part of elders, when sufficiently corroborated, with public rebuke and to do so without bias or partiality (1 Timothy 5:19-21); and,
Whereas Article VI of The Baptist Faith & Message affirms our common belief that pastors must be those “qualified by Scripture,” which reminds us that pastors must be “above reproach” and “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2, HCSB); and,
Whereas anecdotal reports of predatory sexual behavior toward both minor and adult members of churches by clergy or church staff are widespread; and,
Whereas woefully common are anecdotal reports of efforts by churches to prevent the reporting of predatory sexual behavior to legal authorities, to hide sexual misconduct from the members of churches, or to forestall the public release of information regarding sexual misconduct on the part of church leaders; and,
Whereas such reports, when they involve churches in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention, damage the Convention’s credibility in its efforts to call to salvation a world full of people who are enslaved to sin and are often involved in destructive sexual practices; and,
Whereas failure to mourn over and take appropriate disciplinary action toward persistent, unrepentant sin is evidence of spiritual arrogance (1 Corinthians 5:2); and,
Whereas the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has reported to the Convention in 2008 that “The governing documents [of the Convention] in their present form already permit messengers attending any annual meeting to move to withdraw fellowship from any affiliated church for any reason,” and that, “declaring a church not to be in ‘friendly cooperation’ with the Convention would certainly be justified in any specific case where a church intentionally employed a known sexual offender or knowingly placed one in a position of leadership over children or other vulnerable participants in its ministries”; now, therefore, be it
Resolved that we, the messengers of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, regard any pastor’s involvement in any extramarital sexual relationship to be disqualifying for the office of pastor, and that we further regard any pastor’s involvement in any sexual relationship with any member of his church other than his wife to constitute an abuse of his pastoral authority over the congregant, a betrayal of his pastoral relationship with the entire congregation, and a reproach upon his service in the office of pastor; and be it further
Resolved that we regard such misconduct to be so severe as to warrant action by churches to terminate the employment of pastors who behave thusly and to revoke their ordinations; and be it further
Resolved that churches who knowingly ordain or hire into pastoral office those who behave thusly are churches whose faith and practice do not identify closely with The Baptist Faith & Message as it pertains to pastoral qualifications; and be it further
Resolved that churches who knowingly prevent people from reporting cases of sexual misconduct are churches whose faith and practice do not identify closely with The Baptist Faith & Message as it pertains to the role of God-ordained civil government; and be it further
Resolved that we encourage fellow believers to consider whether churches and parachurch ministries that have demonstrated a pattern of placing sexual predators into positions of influence or intimidating or otherwise silencing victims of sexual predation are unworthy of support or patronage unless they repent; and be it further
Resolved that we humbly call to the attention of the various boards of trustees, state conventions, local associations, and local churches within the Southern Baptist family the degree to which churches and parachurch ministries who willfully enable, tolerate, or cover up sexual misconduct are corrosive to the collective Southern Baptist witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further
Resolved that we affirm a consideration of the highest standard of ethics regarding the prevention and reporting of sexual predation as relevant information when considering “all questions of cooperation among the different entities of the Convention, and among the entities of the Convention and those of other conventions, whether state or national”; and be it further
Resolved that we would benefit greatly from hearing the stories of churches and institutions who have handled well the discovery of sexual misconduct in their congregations; and be it further
Resolved that, recognizing that false accusations of sexual predation do sometimes occur, we affirm thorough investigation by trained investigators working for the proper authorities rather than avoidance or suppression of accusations as the most reliable means to discover both false accusations and valid accusations for what they are; and be it further
Resolved that we commend to those who have acted as sexual predators the way of regeneration for those who are lost, and for all, repentance, spiritual growth, and vigorous accountability in a church family as the only hope for victory over the pernicious snare of sexual temptation; and be it finally
Resolved that we humbly and gently commend the way of apology and repentance to our sister churches and to various parachurch institutions who have failed to handle appropriately the discovery of sexual misconduct in their congregations or institutions.