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Southern Baptist Seminaries and “Birth Gender”

For a long time, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was thought of as a bastion of liberalism. According to an article published at its own website:

“When the seminary began in 1859, founders James P. Boyce, John R. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr. and William Williams established the school with a confession of faith to define its theological commitments and to set boundaries of acceptable belief for the faculty. But, despite their precautions, as the school grew, many of Southern Seminary’s faculty members departed from the school’s confession. By the 1960s, most of the men and women on faculty were thoroughly and decidedly liberal in their theological commitments. And this progressive trajectory continued into the 1980s.”

During the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention, there was talk of just letting the liberals have the school. It was that bad. Personal accounts about SBTS from Southern Baptists of the era can be downright shocking. An account published at The Cripplegate states:

“During (the) liberal domination of SBTS, teachers disavowed the bodily resurrection of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, and other key tenets of the faith. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, anecdotally remembers that there was a vivid opposition against the Gospel at Southern.”

Wayne Barber, the former pastor of Woodland Park Baptist church in Chattanooga, TN attended SBTS during it’s liberal heyday. His 2009 account is just as disturbing.

“I’ve been to seminary in the days seminaries weren’t the place to be. Thank God for what He’s doing in the Southern Baptist Convention right now, and I hear in other seminaries, as well. But He’s turned it around and made it much more solid. But in the days that I went to seminary it was the JDE and P theory. ‘Our mother which art in heaven,’ and that Browning’s works in the Old Testament were probably more inspired than most of the Old Testament. That’ll bless you. “

The director of missions in my county Baptist association, David Franklin is an SBTS alum from its liberal days. He makes it a point not to tell people that he went there. He even thinks that its current President, Albert Mohler is a liberal. Of course, Franklin’s opinion is in the minority. Albert Mohler is widely considered to be one of the most conservative men in the denomination. It is Mohler who is largely credited with purging SBTS of its liberal faculty and putting it back on a biblical track. However, Mohler, who has now been president of the school for over a quarter century, may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Currently, the admissions page at SBTS asks potential students to identify their “birth gender”…as if, biblically, there was some other kind.

There are five other Southern Baptist seminaries, NOBTS, SEBTS, SWBTS, MBTS, and Gateway. SEBTS, SWBTS , and MBTS do not initially ask prospective students for gender. Gateway and NOBTS ask prospective students for their “gender” (not their “birth gender”). Albert Mohler podcasts daily about Christian worldview issues. He has been outspoken about the effects of what he calls “the moral revolution” in American society.  A primary issue of this “moral revolution” is the popular rejection of God-given binary gender. Mohler, in his podcast, has consistently taken a biblical position on gender issues, affirming that God has created humans “males and female”. Yet the admissions page at his own seminary, unique among its peers, asks applicants for their “birth gender”.

One might argue that asking applicants for their “birth gender” is an inherent rejection of the moral revolution and the very idea that one may justly choose his (or her) gender rather than accept the one God assigned him (or her) birth. SBTS only accepts “birth gender”.  Conversely, one could argue that an emerging group of progressive managers at SBTS have bent the school’s admissions page to the standards of the world.  The idea that one could a gender different than the one which matches one’s biological sex should be rejected.  Imagine if the school asked students the name of their “opposite sex spouse”.  To do so would be to imply that there exists something other than a spouse of the opposite sex.  In God’s created order, there simply does not.  In God’s created order gender is assigned at birth by the providence of God.  Sociologically minded observers may be quick to point out that sex is a biological contract while gender is a social construct.  Such a point isn’t lost on this other; such a point is deemed irrelevant.  

Of course, the obvious questions should be asked, “Why would anyone who believes that he can pick his own gender be applying to a Southern Baptist college in the first place?” Shouldn’t SBTS be expecting conservative students to apply?  Southern Baptists should be careful to ensure that progressives and liberals are not making their own resurgence at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Southern Baptists should also be wary of recent increases in the female enrollments of schools primarily intended to train pastors.  SBTS recognizing the existence of a superfluous “birth gender” could be the first step in a movement back towards the left.

The text of SBTS’s student conduct policy in the areas of Sexuality and Gender is as follows:

Southern Seminary’s code of conduct regarding sexuality and gender identity is grounded in our longstanding institutional religious identity and is explained in the official “SBTS Policy on Sex, Sexuality, and Gender Identity.” In employment and in student life, we regard sex at birth as the identification of the given biological sex of each member of our constituency. Any blurring of the boundary between maleness and femaleness, such as identifying oneself as a transvestite, transsexual, or transgendered, is contrary to biblical standards. We must view the actions or intentions of those seeking fundamental changes of any kind from one’s sex at birth as a rejection of the biblical and theological understandings to which Southern Seminary is committed, and hence as grounds for removal from consideration for employment for an employment applicant and/or from consideration for enrollment for a student applicant, and as grounds for termination of employment for a current employee (faculty or staff) and/or termination of enrollment of a current student. The same is true for persistent or exaggerated examples of cross- dressing, or other expressions or actions that are deliberately discordant with birth sex. All students and employees are responsible for notifying the Seminary of any violation of this policy, past or present. Decisions will be handled on a case-by-case basis in a pastorally sensitive manner.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.


David Barton, Bartow Baptist Pastors, and the Pentecostals

This week, the associational missionary of the Bartow Baptist Association and several Bartow Baptist pastors traveled to Washington, DC to meet with our local congressman and Republican political operative David Barton. Barton regularly draws crowds of pastors to Washington DC though his “Wallbuilders” organization for historical lectures and meetings with conservative politicians. According a first-hand source, “50 pastors and leaders of Bartow County made the trip” which included what one Bartow Baptist pastor described as “a life-altering private tour that included the floor of the House and an explanation of the REAL background of our country’s Christian heritage.” This is disturbing news for Bartow Baptists who have an objective familiarity with David Barton.

Barton is the unofficial American historian of American right-wing Christianity. This is despite the fact that his most notable publication, The Jefferson Lies, was roundly condemned by historians and removed circulation by Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson. Barton has been condemned by liberal and conservative historians alike for his various historical claims and questionable associations. Stephen Stookey, professor of church history and director of the master of arts in theological studies program at Dallas Baptist University, had the following to say about Barton and his partnership with Mormon political pundit Glenn Beck:

Self-styled historian David Barton and conservative provocateur Glenn Beck—both inspired by the late Mormon conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen—use tactics of half-truth and faulty scholarship to create a mythical America constitutionally established as a Christian nation. (source)

This is the narrative being presented to Bartow Baptist pastors, who took time this week from shepherding their flock to be Barton’s guests in Washington, DC. The “historian” Barton’s undergraduate degree is in religious education, not history. Furthermore, his alma mater, Oral Roberts University, was founded by the infamous prosperity gospel televangelist Oral Roberts. A degree from and association with that institution should cause the bible-believing community to lose respect for him. Instead, he is looked to as a source of expertise and Christian leadership. Barton, in an attempt to feign legitimacy, has gone so far as to claime an “earned” PhD from the same diploma mill as Joyce Meyer, Life Christian University. To the embarrassment of truth-valuing Christians everywhere, David Barton is the symbolic to the left of the typical politically-minded Christian. According to the leftist media group Right Wing Watch Barton’s work is “so routinely riddled with errors and misrepresentations that just about any factual claim that he makes ought to be checked for accuracy.”

The intellectual dishonest of David Barton should not be the image put into the minds of lost people. Christians should be leading the way in realm of open, honest, forthcoming scholarship. If the souls of the lost are to be one, it is not by the political operations of a faux-historian who seems to have only Americans pastors and TBN-viewers fooled about his complete lack of qualification. The visible church should be policing itself. Rather, it is put to open shame when non-believers and leftists must take the lead in exposing false claims of David Barton and his ilk.

Bartow County is 80% unchurched and it has been that way for years. Bartow County’s Baptists churches, with a couple of exceptions, are not full on Sunday mornings. Our Christian community is in desperate need of revival. It’s tragic that our county’s Christian leaders are seeking information from a man like David Barton. The answer to our church’s needs are spiritual not political. Bartow County’s pastors should not allow themselves to be used as tools to perpetuate a false narrative of American history from the likes of David Barton.

Both Christianity and American history are very important to me, the former moreso than the latter. I was raised in a Christian home and taught American history by my mother, a professional history teacher with master’s degree and over thirty years of teaching experience in the public schools. If Bartow County’s pastors want a history lesson, they can go see her. I am profoundly disturbed that so many pastors in Bartow County can be schnookered by a hack like Barton. I fear it is a sign of an emerging spirit of dominionism in our county…especially due to the presence of so many Pentecostals on the trip.

Bartow’s Baptist pastors were joined by Jacob King, Eric Mosely, and James Black. There was a day when Southern Baptists pastors wouldn’t be seen with such men. Those times have sadly passed in Bartow County.

James Black Wall-builders

King (middle), Black (right), and another local leader.

I have personally witnessed Jacob King grab young women by the forehead, shake them while praying nonsense, and “slay them in the spirit” at the Church at Liberty Square. This is a regular feature of his ministry. It’s complete disorder done in the name God the Holy Spirit. The young women convulsed on the floor, needing their legs covered up in God’s house by the sport coat of one of King’s as they laid in the church house shaking.

Eric Mosely claims to be an “Apostle” and he and his wife fashion themselves as the co-pastors of All About Jesus Ministries.

Livey and Mosely

Mosley (left)

James Black is an arch-charismatic and is the pastor of New Covenant Full-Gospel church. For years, he was the proprietor of the now-defunct Open Door Christian bookstore. At his store, he sold all manner of dangerous, scripture-twisting heresy at his store from prosperity pimps such as Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and Benny Hinn. He sold this spiritual poison to the men women and children of Bartow County.

Bartow’s Baptist pastors should be endeavoring to protect their flock from wolves such as these. Instead, they are taking trips with them to Washington, DC to meet with a faux-historian, returning in friendship with a false political narrative.

The Devil must be laughing.

We desperately need a revival and to turn to God’s word. We don’t need to partner with lairs and heretics. We need to warn fellow Christians. Sadly, one of the local baptist pastors I tried to warn responded to me with this:

“I don’t won’t you to send me anything negative about Barton…or anything else for that matter.”

Instead, I am told by a first-hand source that these pastors are actually planning to invite Barton to come to Bartow County and speak! Take heed readers. Oh, please, I pray that you’ll take heed. You may not like me or how I’ve said this but it needs to be said. I am understandably upset. In the past, I have cited some of Barton’s skewed history myself! I’m happy to have been corrected on such matters but ashamed that I allowed myself to be a conduit for his religio-political agenda. Please learn from my mistakes.

Go talk to your pastor about this incident and the recent practices of Bartow Baptists. Don’t be shy about it. Our community is 80% unchurched and it’s been that way for years. In our desperation, let us turn to God and not friendship with charismatic false teachers and political false historians.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Glaring Theolgoical Error in Evangelical Statement on Immigration

You didn’t eat any forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It was Adam. It was Eve. It wasn’t you. You didn’t do it. Yet, you are suffering the consequences of the offense of your first parents. The Apostle Paul made this clear in his Epistle to the Romans:

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” Romans 5:12-14

Death reigned even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam. That doesn’t sit right with many but it is nevertheless true.

Paul’s statement from Romans concerns our first parents but what about our actual parents? Do children suffer for the offenses of their parents? Yes. Moses made this clear in his biblical writings:

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6

Moses quotes the passage above in Numbers 14:18 when conversing with the Lord and remind the Israelites of it in Deuteronomy 5:8-10. The people of God are clearly not meant to forget it. The Lord gives his warning to parents in the specific context of committing idolatry but there is a an obvious principle: children suffer for the iniquity of their parents. Even outside of specific divine punishment, this is a truism of which parents are generally aware. When a parent makes a bad decision, be it sinful or merely stupid, his child will suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, this truism is lost among a group of professional theologians, chief among them top Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, who recently drafted the Evangelical Leader Statement of Principles on Dreamers. This statement advocates for immigration law amnesty in the cases of certain children who were illegally brought into the United States by their parents. While their outlook on government policy is debatable, their clear flouting of biblical theology is completely unacceptable. Their offense is summarized in a single sentence from their statement:

“We believe it is unjust to punish children for offenses they did not commit.”

How can this be so, if God has visited the iniquity of fathers on their children? Even if God no longer does it, he has done it. Justice itself, in eternity past and going perpetually forward, is objectively grounded in the nature of God. How can God have ever done something that was unjust? Did Paul and Moses make false statements about God or did the authors of the Evangelical Leader Statement of Principles on Dreamers, which does not include a single biblical citation, impugn the character of God?

In the long history of the United States, immigrant parents have come to this country to give their children a better life. This is true of parents who have emigrated both legally and illegally. The logical implication of the Evangelical Leader Statement of Principles on Dreamers is that those parents who broke the law in an effort to give their children a better life (despite any negative impacts on the children of their neighbors) should be rewarded. Their children get to stay even though they broke the law to bring them to the United States. The parents did wrong; their children benefit because it’s apparently “unjust to punish children for offenses they did not commit”. So, what exactly is the consequence of the parents breaking the law? Their children benefit and it’s unjust for the government to remove the benefit.

That’s hogwash.

How is it that these leaders continue to be funded and given positions of influence by Southern Baptists? Why are they given a platform to make a patently unbiblical statement? Their sense of justice is obviously grounded in a popular idea of human fairness and not the infallible word of God. Southern Baptists should stop giving them money to contradict the word of God to in the course of scoring political points.

I hope the members of my church, Rowland Springs Baptist Church, will reconsider their support of Russell Moore and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

CrossPoint City Church, Female Leadership, and the Bible

There’s no such thing as a female pastor in a New Testament Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The pastoral office is limited to males in accordance with the prescriptions found in scripture.

“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.” 1 Timothy 3:1-3

“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.” Titus 1:5-6

It’s not surprising, then, that Bible-believing denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church in America proscribe women from holding the pastoral office. According to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, although women cannot serve as pastors, they are certainly fit for service in the church.

“While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Article IV, Baptist Faith and Message

Women can and should serve in church. But what about serving in positions of leadership? In his first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul makes his position on female leadership in the local church clear. A female is not to have authority over a male.

“A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12

CrossPoint City Church, a Southern Baptist Congregation in Cartersville, Georgia, has disregarded the scriptural commands of the Apostle Paul. CrossPoint has on its staff, Suze Jordan, a female who serves as the organization’s Executive Director. One might argue that Jordan is technically not a “pastor” and does not hold authority over any men simply by virtue of being the “Executive Director”. The evidence, however, indicates otherwise.

CrossPoint is, first of all, playing games with words. Its website features a directory entitled “pastors and directors”. All the men listed in the directory are listed as “pastors”. The two women in the directory are listed as “directors”. There is no such biblical office as “director” and yet these “directors” are listed in the same section of CrossPoint’s website which lists “pastors”. What CrossPoint has, in its “directors” is a distinction without a difference. They are essentially functioning in the same way as the organization’s pastors. If a man was filling Suze Jordan’s role at CrossPoint, he would most likely hold the the title of “Executive Pastor”. The “Executive Pastor” title is quite common in modern churches. Since Jordan is a woman, she is being presented as a “director”. If anything, her title could be the most accurate of any at CrossPoint. Overall, CrossPoint comes off more like a corporation than a church. Directors, not pastors, manage corporations.

CPC D and P

On a side note, exactly what is a “creative pastor”?

For those who are still unconvinced about the impropriety of Jordan’s leadership position, a 2015 advertisement CrossPoint placed with the Willow Creek Association for a “Next Generation Pastor” proves that the organization intended to place male under the authority of its Executive Director. According to the advertisement, the “Next Generation Pastor” reports to the Executive Director. In plain English, Suze Jordan is the youth pastor’s boss. Since the advertisement solicited for a “pastor” it is implicit that the role would be filled by a man. It is currently filled by a man. Suze Jordan has authority over a man, over a pastor (unless CrossPoint has since changed its reporting structure). To top things off, Suze Jordan sometimes fills the pulpit at CrossPoint on Sunday morning, teaching the women and men of the congregation.

cross point youth pastor

“Being able to teach the Bible” is not listed as a requirement. Also, don’t bother applying if you’ve only served at churches with less than 800 people.

Suze Jordan and the staff at CrossPoint City Church are in rebellion against the created order of God. They are blatantly disregarding the teaching of scripture. As such, no local Baptist Church should be in cooperation with them. CrossPoint City Church is not a biblical church. It is particularly disturbing that CrossPoint is one of the fastest growing churches in Bartow County. Its blue window decals are ubiquitous around town. 80% of Bartow County is unchurched. That is problem enough without hundreds flocking to the newest, hippest, coolest church in town. If you have friends or family who attend CrossPoint, please make it a point to speak to them about the matter. If you attend there, find another congregation. If you are serving there, leave and go serve the Lord at a church that respects his word.

Everything about CrossPoint screams “vision-casting seeker-senstive growth organization”. Almost nothing about it says “obedient church of the Lord Jesus Christ.” If CrossPoint disregards one part of scripture out of pragmatism, God only knows which part it may disregard next. Just think about it. In a county where 80% of the population is unchurched and other conservative churches are shrinking in membership, what makes sense? It makes sense that CrossPoint draws the world by operating by the world’s standards. CrossPoint arguably draws attendees from other churches because those people don’t like how those other churches operate. CrossPoint appeals to the very type of person who would be okay with what Suze Jordan is doing…rebelling against God.  Flee it.

On a personal note, I know Suze Jordan.  I’ve known her and her husband since I was a teenager.  They used to teach youth Sunday School at First Baptist. Glenn chaperoned my friends and I at church camp.  I’ve always liked both of them.  They are nice people who have served in churches in the area for at least two decades.  It doesn’t matter, with regard to subject of church leadership, that they are nice.  They are wrong.  Don’t let personalities get in the way of obeying scripture.

For more on the limitation of female church membership, see this article at Christian Apologetics Research Ministry.

You may contact me at

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Steve Gaines is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Steve Gaines is featured as a speaker at Southern Baptist events. Steve Gaines is the pastor of thousands of people at Bellevue Baptist Church. He matters, a lot.

That’s why Pulpit & Pen published a critical article about his statement on prayer today. He tweeted out the following:

This statement is plainly unsupportable by scripture. It’s just absurd. Ask your pastor (don’t tell him who said it) if it’s true.  It’s not.  It’s a ridiculous statement.  That’s not a rare thing for tweets. Thousands of asinine, ridiculous things are tweeted every day by thousands of people. What makes this one different? Steve Gaines is the leader of the United States’ largest Protestant denomination. He influences thousands of Christians. He is (again) the pastor of thousands and he is making claims about what God will do that aren’t true. Do y’all get that? He’s telling things, to thousands of people, about God that are obviously untrue…and people put him in charge of the Southern Baptist Convention and a gigantic church in Memphis. Hundreds of pastors traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to vote to elect Steve Gaines Southern Baptist President this summer. He doesn’t even understand prayer…prayer. The irony of what he told the Louisiana Baptists Message during an interview about being SBC President is tragic:

“Prayer is the key to the Christian life. God blesses our lives and ministries in proportion to our prayers. While I do think most all Southern Baptists believe in the need for prayer, I am convinced that most Southern Baptists, as well as most Christians in general, do not pray as we should.”

If prayer is important, and it is, why do Southern Baptists have this man as President? And do you know what? The President before him, Ronnie Floyd, was, in my opinion, worse than Gaines. Steve Gaines teaches his interns in a document about “casting vision” that the Lord “spoke” to him and his wife through Judges 6 and John 20:31, respectively, about coming to Bellvue.

No God didn’t. Judges 6 is about Gideon in persecution in ancient Israel. It is not about Steve Gaines accepting a pastorate thousands of years later in Memphis. This man shouldn’t have interns. He shouldn’t have a pulpit. He shouldn’t have a presidency.  He’s just making stuff up.

But he lives in the United States, a land where one can become President of the country, in part, by tweeting out just whatever comes to mind.  Steve Gaines has gotten very far, way too far.  It’s not “just a tweet” y’all.  It’s a patently false statement whether its 140 characters or 1,400,000.

No one should show up to Bellevue Baptist Church Sunday to hear this man preach…but they will. None should re-elect him to be SBC President…but they probably will. Southern Baptists, our convention has a problem and you are right in the middle of it.  Steve Gaines isn’t atypical of our leadership, he’s normative.  It’s got to stop.

What are you going to do? I promise you that you should pray. But don’t stop there. Take the obvious step and remove Steve Gaines and those like him from all positions of influence and power.  They don’t deserve to be there.

Let me cast a vision of my own: “When Steve Gaines tweets out false things about God, he doesn’t do so as the country’s most prominent Baptist.”

Listen, I get that this post isn’t “winsome”  (Steve Gaines is winsome, how’s that working out for biblical truth?).  I’m hoping that you, reader, will be the one in one hundred people who reads this, stops, thinks, considers the direction of the SBC, and tries to change it.  What’s being done is not working (unless you are Steve Gaines’ banker).  Baptisms are down, church rolls are shrinking, and people are still trying to “vision cast” like Steve Gaines and company.  I’m hoping that you, reader, will be the one in a hundred people who decides not to go to your monstrous decisionist quasi-charismatic mega-church this Sunday and find somewhere where God’s word is truly, simply proclaimed.  I’m hoping that you, reader, will tell your pastor that he doesn’t have to be like Steve Gaines or Ronnie Floyd to be successful.  I hope that everybody will read John 3:16, the clear promise from God for those who believe, and stop looking for new, fake promises from God that simply haven’t been given to us.

How can you look for more promises from a God who has already sent his Son to pay in blood to make you an heir according to the promise given to Abraham? How can you sit for one more minute under the influence of Steve Gaines?

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

CrossPoint City Church Searches for a Visionary Kids Ministry Pastor

Recently a friend and fellow Baptist from Cartersville brought a job posting from CrossPoint City Church to my attention. CrossPoint has advertised an opening for a “Kids Ministry Pastor”. Lord willing, I will be graduating from seminary this December. However, my friend did not bring this open position to my attention because he thought I would be interested in applying for it. Rather, he found the wording of the advertisement troublesome. So do I. In fact, I find CrossPoint troubling as an organization. It is, quite frankly, disturbing that CrossPoint is one of the fastest growing churches in Cartersville. A quick critique of its advertisement for a “Kids Ministry Pastor” demonstrates why. The advertisement is reproduced in full below, along with my commentary in italics.

Church Description*
The two words that embody the spirit of CrossPoint City Church are passion and potential. When you walk into the doors of CrossPoint, you feel electricity in the air. God is moving and expanding their reach weekly.

“Passion” and “Potential”? Is this a description of a church or the top line of a Madison Avenue marketing manager’s resume? CrossPoint was once described to me by one of its former associate pastors as a “marketing machine”. I think his insider description has proven accurate. Scripture, in its description of Christ’s church, is completely devoid of the marketing terms with which this advertisement is replete. A local church of Jesus Christ should be described simply as “Holy”. CrossPoint gets creative. The organization describes its atmosphere as “electric”. This is a description usually reserved for concert venues and sporting events…shows…entertainment. “Reverent” would be better term to describe a church of Jesus Christ. However, “electric” is likely more appropriate for CrossPoint. A local Baptist deacon once described CrossPoint to me as featuring a “full production band that puts on more of a show rather than leading worship.” CrossPoint, the marketing machine, credits God as the one “moving and expanding their reach”. One might wonder, “If God is doing the moving and reaching why does CrossPoint need a marketing scheme.?” One might also wonder why CrossPoint decided, in this part of the advertisement, to refer to itself in the third person. Seth thinks praising oneself comes off as arrogant; writing in the third person makes it look like someone else is singing the praises of CrossPoint and talking about what God is doing there. In reality, CrossPoint is making its own claim about how great it is.

Just three years ago the church relaunched as CrossPoint City Church, and James Griffin became the Lead Pastor bringing new vision, focus, and passion to CrossPoint. In that time, they have seen the church expand to almost 1,400 people that call CrossPoint their home church. With a burning passion to see the 260,000 people in the region that are far from God restored into relationship with Him, their mission statement is, “We exist to relentlessly pursue those far from God with the hope and love of Jesus Christ. WE WILL NOT WAIT.”

So, the newest pastor has a new vision. Just so everyone is aware, the old vision, focus, and passion of the old pastor of CrossPoint, Michael Lukaszewski, was his secretary. He viewed her, focused on her, and engaged in a passionate two-year adulterous affair with her. When he admitted it and stepped down, the church rebranded itself as West Ridge (becoming a satellite campus of a church in another town). After a while, West Ridge installed James Griffin as pastor. Now, the church has “relaunched” (read that as “rebranded”) under his leadership. The original name (and branding) of the church was “Oak Leaf”. I’m not being loose with words here to call the church a “brand”, Lukaszewski actually wrote a blog about creating what he called the Oak Leaf brand. When he ruined the brand with his affair, the church had to change names.

Let’s examine the new brand and the new “brand manager” James Griffin. What kind of pastor is so self-important that he allows his church to mention his name in its job advertisements? I invite readers to view the pastoral and staff openings listed at the official Southern Baptist website (CrossPoint is a Southern Baptist church). I examined the first ten job listings for the state of Georgia and none of them mentioned the name of the senior pastor of the church. I also doubt that if I visited their websites that the first thing I’d see is a video of the pastor preaching. The first thing featured on CrossPoint’s website is James Griffin preaching. Griffith is apparently such premier caster of “vision” and bringer of “focus” that the church felt compelled to mention his name in its advertisements. Henry Ford…Steve Jobs…James Griffin. Visionaries! Exactly what was the church focused on before the one and only James Griffin got there? Did he bring some kind of new gospel or new Bible? Of course not, no one can do that. However, one can bring a new brand. Cross Point City Church certainly needed one for its “relaunch”


The Visionary preaches on the homepage.

Let’s also examine CrossPoint’s mission statement, which states that it exists to “relentlessly pursue those far from God with the hope and love of Jesus Christ.” That’s certainly part of what a church should do (less marketing savvy people call it “evangelism”). However, a New Testament church is also tasked with equipping the saints for the work of ministry. Most of the work of a New Testament Church relates to edifying those who are close to God as a part of his family. This is not part of CrossPoint’s given mission statement. It is fairly described as a “seeker-sensitive” organization. A Cartersville resident named Phylis described the former “Oak Leaf Church” as “a seeker sensitive church where no one is condemned for their lifestyle regardless of how repugnant it is” which once “had people getting tattoos on the platform in front of the church during a service” and featured “Sex in the City Weekends” where the pastor would take a couple “for an overnighter to Atlanta and encourage them to bang their brains out.” My baptist deacon friend wondered how James Griffin could “be theologically sound in the pulpit but support so many homosexual couples attending without conviction.”

Position Description*
CrossPoint is seeking out a strong visionary leader who has the ability to develop leaders, cast vision and develop strategies that will promote growth within the Kids Ministry. The staff and serve teams are excited to head into the next chapter and eager to begin partnering with a Kids Ministry Pastor at the helm.

A children’s minister should be able to faithfully teach Bible stories in a accurate, simple, and understandable way. Such a person needs to be able to communicate accounts of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, and the resurrection to kids. Yet CrossPoint seeks a “visionary”? Exactly how is that needed to teach kids Sunday school? “Vision Casting” is phraseology from the corporate world. Corporate officers and senior managers are expected “cast a vision” of success and help their employees achieve it. That CrossPoint uses this terminology gives the impression that it views its member volunteers as employees…unpaid employees who actually pay to work at CrossPoint. Whatever moving into the “next chapter” is certainly involves drawing a salary for arranging the work schedules of an army of volunteers. Nowhere in scripture…nowhere…are church leaders commanded to be “vision casters”. This terminology is just corporate speak and its relatively new to the church world. It usually shows up at churches that try to act like businesses and draw numbers through marketing schemes.

The Kids Ministry team has some amazing staff leading ministry at CrossPoint. With multiple gatherings over the weekend and every gathering continuing to grow, CrossPoint needs a strong team builder who can recruit and develop a strong team in all areas of CrossPoint Kids. Serving is a huge value at CrossPoint and people are encouraged to serve somewhere. The Kids Ministry Pastor should be able to cast a compelling vision and lead serve team members at a high level with the ability to have a 30,000 foot view of the entire ministry and provide support to all areas of ministry as needed.

There are multiple “gatherings” at CrossPoint. That’s careful terminology. They don’t call what they do “worship services” apparently . Unrepentant homosexuals certainly would want no part of worship…it’s a gathering. Notice that this “Kids Ministry Pastor” (is it a pastor for kids or for the kids ministry) says nothing about disciplining believers to maturity. His job is to organize groups and help grow numbers from 30,000 feet.

CrossPoint City Church should be marked for what it is, a biblically unconcerned marketing machine. For years, it’s allowed its female executive director, Suze Jordan, to preach to men at its Sunday “gatherings”. This is biblically prohibited; this is done at CrossPoint. I’ve noticed that long time members of older churches such as First Baptist and Tabernacle Baptist have defected to CrossPoint over the years. The members of these churches, rather than worrying about losing members, should be glad. Their churches are better off, they have less consumerists. They are at CrossPoint arm-waving to vapid Christian rock music. Attenders of CrossPoint should consider finding their way out of CrossPoint and to churches like Tabernacle and First Baptist…ones that haven’t had to rebrand multiple times over the past 100 years. For what it’s worth, I saw a CrossPoint window decal on a car and asked my wife what she thought it was. She thought it was a symbol for homosexuals.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Nabeel Qureshi Placed in Palliative Care

Unfortunately, Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi appears to have lost his battle with Stage IV Stomach Cancer. According to his latest vlog, Qureshi has been placed in palliative care, which is a form of medicine designed to reduce the pain of the terminally ill. Physicians have given up on treating him for cancer. Qureshi, aged 34, reports that doctors believe his body is in the “final stages of life”. This news comes roughly one year after Qureshi posted his first vlog, in which he informed viewers of his initial diagnosis. In that vlog, Qureshi, himself a graduate of medical school, informed viewers that his prognosis of living more than five years was 4%. Qureshi stated simply, “I need a miracle”. He has not received one.

It was not for lack of effort. In November, Qureshi sought “healing prayer” at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Redding Church in California. Bill Johnson is one of the most prominent figures of the New Apostolic Reformation movement. Bethel Redding advertises its “healing rooms” on its website. Christian polemicist Gabe Hughes has labeled Bill Johnson a “lying, manipulative, charlatan” who leads an organization that manufactures fake glory clouds and other “divine” manifestations with fog machines, angel feathers, and gold dust. Hughes rightly classifies Bill Johnson as a false teacher with whom Christians should have nothing to do. Thus it was surprising that one of Christendom’s most notable apologists would seek healing at his church. Nabeel Qureshi is not only a graduate of medical school but holds graduate degrees in Apologetics and Religion from BIOLA and Duke Universities, respectively. Some Christians were left scratching their heads when they heard that such an educated theologian and respected apologist was putting his hope for a miracle in the prayers of Bethel Church Redding. When asked about his plans to visit Bethel Redding, Qureshi, who has been vocal about his own ecumenism, stated that he could find no heretical doctrine in his research of Johnson and Bethel Redding. Qureshi’s trip to Redding clearly didn’t improve his health. In fact, his health progressively got worse.

The tragic story of Nabeel Qureshi should shine a spot light on Bill Johnson, Bethel Redding, and the greater apostolic-pentecostal movement. Whether they are demon-possessed, charlatans, or both Johnson and his ilk take advantage of vulnerable people, often when they are at their most vulnerable. Christians would do well to take Gabe Hughes’ advice to have nothing to do with them and follow his lead in exposing them for what they are. As for Qureshi, hopefully he will be remembered for what may be his final vlog prayer.

“Father we come before you, trusting you even now for a miracle…God is more than able…Lord we know you are able, please heal, please come through….but if it should be your sovereign will at the end of the day (not to heal), then I trust you, and I love you anyway.

God deserves to be loved for who He is. This prayer, from a death bed, demonstrates knowledge of the fact. Qureshi, who in his last days has faced both the disastrous Houston flood and the failing of his cancer-stricken body, prays dutifully to God. In his prayer, Qureshi recognizes that God has the power to raise the dead. The Christian dead raised by God will not have bodies susceptible to the debilitating effects of cancer or any other earthly illness. On the day of judgment, God will remember believers for their faith and charlatans like Johnson for their wicked works and false teaching.

Quite frankly, Qureshi’s arduous battle with cancer has been hard to watch. Over a series of 42 vlogs (the last of which is heart-wrenching), I have watched Qureshi deteriorate from a vibrant, healthy man in his prime to a patient barely clinging to life in a hospital bed at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Watching Qureshi is not merely an academic exercise in discernment, it is a witness of the hardships of this fallen world. Qureshi is a son, brother, husband, and father. Even after his battle with cancer is over, many prayers will still be needed for the loved ones he leaves behind.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.