I came across this article about the SBC Pastor’s Conference essentially canceling Ben Carson coming to speak at an event, and I was so shocked I actually had to read it twice.He goes on to detail at length the reasons for his disappointment, and while there is much that could be critiqued or addressed in this article, the purpose of the blog post the reader is currently perusing is not to push back against Noble's insistence that Carson should speak at the SBC Pastor's Conference. In fact, this writer is admittedly ignorant of the whole situation, never knowing that Carson was invited in the first place, and not particularly affected by his presence—or lack thereof—at the event. And while this same writer may have her thoughts and opinions on the issue, they ultimately are of no consequence.
Before we proceed let me state for the record I am a Baptist– my heart is built on nothing less than Lottie Moon and Broadman Press. I received Christ in a Baptist church, graduated from a Baptist college, was ordained by a Baptist church and completed 33 hours towards my degree in a Baptist seminary before dropping out.
From time to time I have hope for the Southern Baptist Convention. However, it’s things like this that cause me to shake my head.
The purpose of this post, then, is to draw attention to some concerning statements made by Noble in his article. They are concerning because they demonstrate an ignorance and lack of understanding of Scripture and of the Lord Jesus Christ—the very Lord Noble claims to serve as an undershepherd.
Apparently one of the reasons for uninviting Ben Carson was due to his theological beliefs. This upset Perry Noble, who writes,
While I believe correct theology is essential to the core of Christianity itself, I do not think it should lead to division and condemnation of those who do not believe exactly as we believe.As an aside, the last sentence in the paragraph above seems to betray a personal gripe of Noble's, but that is merely a tangential observation. What the reader ought to see in the lines above is the gross misunderstanding of Jesus Christ, His teaching and His ministry, that is seemingly held by Perry Noble.
No one on the planet had better theology than Jesus, and yet we do not see Him drawing theological lines in the sand and excluding people who do not believe just like Him—in fact, we find Him often sitting with people who were nothing like Him at all—has the Pastor’s conference moved beyond the model Jesus demonstrated?
Maintaining a position of correct theology does not give a person permission to be a complete rear end to those who may disagree. However, it seems that the people who identify their theological position in their social media profiles tend to be the most arrogant people on the planet.
Noble says he believes that correct theology "is essential to the core of Christianity itself," but that incorrect theology ought not cause division. Yet, how can this be if right and sound doctrine divides truth from error? Correct theology is more than simply a "nice-to-have," it is, as even Noble states, essential, for if one holds to erroneous theology, then one may well be worshiping a false Christ and therefore, would find himself destined to eternal damnation. Yes, to be sure, there are tertiary issues that are not "salvation issues," as some call them, but if one wobbles on the necessity of sound doctrine, then one risks wobbling off of the firm foundation of truth that is laid for the Christian by God in Scripture.
Noble goes on, stating that "No one on the planet had better theology than Jesus," but that Jesus did not draw "theological lines in the sand [to exclude] people" who did not believe like him. One wonders if Noble is familiar with John 6? When Jesus spoke difficult words to the crowds, He was met with abandonment.
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:66)Why? Because they did not like the theology He had taught them. The theology, incidentally, which He declared was essential to obtaining salvation (John 6:53–57).
Or what of Christ's teaching in Luke 14?
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:25–33)Or in Luke 9?
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57–62)In these passages and others, Jesus draws not merely a theological line in the sand, but a deep, unmoving theological line in concrete. The man who is not willing to wholly and humbly submit to Christ as Lord cannot be saved. The man who does not hate his sin to the point of desiring that it be utterly abolished, the man who loves the world just a little more than he loves Christ, is a man who has not repented and has not trusted in Christ for salvation. He is a man who is unwilling to give up all things in order that he might live to the glory and praise of Jesus Christ.
Christianity requires that lines be drawn. And while it rails against the fallen sensibilities of man, it nevertheless demonstrates the reality of the calling of Christ to those who will believe. Did Jesus eat with sinners? Yes. Did He reach out to sinners with the gospel? Yes. But he never called them to remain in their sin, and He did not call them to wallow in erroneous theology or false doctrine. One can simply look at the Sermon on the Mount—the greatest sermon ever preached—and see the "theological lines" being drawn. Matthew 5–7 describes the life of a genuinely repentant man (or woman). It contains hard sayings. It is theology. It is right and true theology, and it is non-negotiable. The line has been drawn.
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:26–27)Further Reading
What Happens When We See Beth Moore Teach the Bible?
Thinking Rightly About Loving God; Voskamp Gets It Wrong
Just One Bite