Voddie Baucham, John Macarthur Emphasize Culture’s Hatred of Christians, Avoiding Compromise at Conservative Baptist Network Event

On Sunday (June 12), the lead up to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, California, kicked off with events geared toward pastors and church messengers and which focused on the issues the Convention faces in the days ahead. One of those events was hosted by the Conservative Baptist Network (CBN) and featured speakers Voddie Baucham and John MacArthur, as well as a panel discussion with CBN-endorsed candidates for SBC offices.

The CBN is an association of Southern Baptists who believe that the Convention is “drifting in a liberal direction” and want to mobilize SBC leaders to “change the direction,” which is the campaign slogan of the CBN-endorsed candidate for SBC president, Tom Ascol.

Recurring themes at the event included the sufficiency of scripture against the backdrop of opposition to Critical Race Theory, suspicion about proposed reforms in light of revelations of sexual abuse and coverup in the denomination, and a call for expository preaching.

Voddie Baucham, who is running for president of the Pastor’s Conference, an annual event that takes place in the days leading up to the SBC’s annual meeting, was the first to address the crowd of roughly 2,000 attendees.

“I want to say at the outset that, no matter how many warnings we give, make no mistake about it. We recognize the fact that the Kingdom of God is undefeated and shall remain so,” Baucham said. “And here’s another thing that I want to say. We recognize that God doesn’t need the Southern Baptist Convention.”

“I love the SBC. I’ve been trained and educated and nurtured in the Southern Baptist Convention. I praise God for the Southern Baptist Convention,” Baucham continued. “But hear me when I say [that] God does not need the Southern Baptist Convention. Now, we pray that God will continue to use the Southern Baptist Convention, amen?”

Referencing a 2021 heart attack and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery, Baucham said that while he knows “God doesn’t need Voddie Baucham,” he is grateful that God has given him more time.

“And that’s what I mean when I say that God doesn’t need the SBC,” Baucham said. “My prayer is that He would bring not just revival but first repentance in the Convention.”

“And the reason I say that is because I recognize that God doesn’t need America…What I’m worried about is that there is this judgment that is happening simultaneously,” Baucham expressed. “There’s this judgment that we’re seeing in our broader culture that is also being reflected in a kind of judgment that we’re seeing within broader evangelicalism and a judgment we’re seeing within the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Though the SBC will spend a large portion of its annual meeting this week grappling with the Guidepost Solutions investigation that uncovered a decades-long history of sexual abuse and coverup in the denomination, Baucham set his sights on addressing an entirely different danger to the SBC: a culture that has become “an enemy of the gospel.”

Specifically, Baucham addressed when missionaries and ministers focus on benevolence, mercy programs, and social justice to the detriment of communicating the message of the gospel. Baucham argued that such emphases are a result of compromise among Christian leaders who are seeking to win the affection of a culture that hates Jesus.

“One of the things that happens when the gospel becomes an enemy in the culture is that we want to appease the culture by doing the good without the name,” Baucham said. “And so our churches become known as soup kitchens. Our pastors become known as community organizers. The work that we do is known as work that is social in nature [and] that has absolutely nothing to do with the gospel. It’s work that anyone else can do, and you don’t need the name of Jesus in order to do it. And we do this because we recognize the animosity that the culture has toward the gospel.”

Arguing that the non-Christian culture will never accept Christians regardless of how much good they do in the world, Baucham said, “They’ve gone [from] arguing that we’re wrong to arguing that we’re evil.”

“And now with all of this social justice ideology—the social justice ideology argues that there is not only this sort of oppressor-oppressed paradigm, but that the oppression is ultimately rooted and grounded in Christianity,” Baucham went on to say. “[To them], you’re not just wrong. You’re evil.”

“And this is what our compromising friends don’t understand. They don’t understand that there’s no appeasing these people,” Baucham said, arguing that the point of disagreement is not Christians’ doctrinal stances. “The point is that we are infidels. The point is that we have not accepted their totalizing worldview. The point is that we have not bowed the knee.”

“I literally could not care less if the world likes, lauds, or appreciates me,” Baucham said. “We have to preach the gospel.”

Later in the evening when MacArthur gave his address, he noted that he felt like something of an outsider as a pastor of a nondenominational church speaking to Southern Baptists. Nevertheless, he expressed that he wanted to encourage the pastors and church leaders in the room.

MacArthur, who is the longtime pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, went on to explain that the operative root in the term “encourage” is “courage,” adding that he wanted to inspire courage among the church leaders and SBC messengers in attendance.

Noting that the call to courage marked a number of leadership transitions through the Old Testament, MacArthur argued that being courageous in the face of a hostile world is a generational legacy among believers.

MacArthur went on to explain different pillars of ministry from which he had drawn courage over the years. Chief among them was “separation.”

“All effective, uncompromising ministry starts with an understanding [that the Kingdom of God is not of this world],” MacArthur said. “The world provides nothing for you to advance the Kingdom of God—not politically, not in terms of power, not in terms of influence, not in terms of alliances, not in terms of connections. It offers you nothing.”

“Sometimes, I hear people talk about the fact that we’re supposed to have some mandate, some urban mandate to go in and win the cities of the world, and I want you to hear Jesus’ approach to speaking to the cities in Matthew 11:20,” MacArthur later said. “‘Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of the miracles were done because they didn’t repent.’”

“​​I’ve never had any interest in providing what the children of the devil want. I don’t want to design a church service for the children of the devil,” MacArthur said. “I don’t expect to be popular with them. I expect to be hated. Not because I’m a hateful person, but because the message is so deeply unacceptable to them. I have no desire to be popular with them. I have no interest in taking orders from the political powers of the kingdom of darkness.”

“And I think it’s especially true in this day,” MacArthur continued. “And I said this to my congregation this morning: we have one day, Memorial Day, to celebrate the death of all the people that have died to give us freedoms in America.”

“And then we have to have 30 days to celebrate homosexual perversion,” MacArthur said, referring to LGBTQ+ Pride Month, which takes place every June. “That’s Neo paganism. It’s as if 2,000 years of Christian influence came and went and nobody even remembers it.”

Speaking to the strategy of many pastors and church leaders to contemporize church services in order to make non-Christians feel more comfortable coming to church, MacArthur said, “Let me tell you something about the world. You can hook yourself to the world and you can think it’s only the style, but they will drag you to the bottom.”

“Pretty soon, it’ll be the pronouns. Pretty soon, it’ll be the feminist agenda. Pretty soon, it’ll be women preachers. Pretty soon, it’ll be social justice, then it’ll be racism. Then it’ll be CRT. Then it’ll be victimization, because the world is a ball and chain. And when you’re hooked to it, it’ll take you to the bottom.”

The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will be taking place in Anaheim, California, until Wednesday, June 15.

Reporting from Church Leaders.