Lifeway vs Biblical Holiness

Editors Note: Jeremy Sanders, a member of a Southern Baptist Church, returns to In His Image to dismantle Lifeway’s attempt to elevate diversity and unity above Biblical holiness and faithfulness . Note the opinions of this author are his own and do not necessarily represent those of his employer or In His Image.

The attached video contains unbiblical, seeker-sensitive doctrine and is an assault on the Gospel. I highlight it to demonstrate two truths. First, it is a great demonstration of the methods used to water down the Gospel while leaving a veneer of Christianity. I encourage you to watch the video before reading my comments to see if you can pick up on this false teacher’s methods. Second, for my friends in the Southern Baptist Convention, this video is a demonstration of the liberal turn of the denomination. This is a Lifeway advertisement (affiliated with the SBC), the church is an SBC church, and the Pastor is a graduate from two SBC seminaries (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) and is also a Vice President of the SBC/ adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Of note, the two terms pushed, “diversity” and “unity”, were the bedrock for the recently elected SBC President, Ed Litton, who is a leftwing ideologue masquerading as a pastor. I will break down several quotes from the video to demonstrate why it is unscriptural, and why we must contend earnestly for the faith to keep such heretical doctrine out of the church.  I have included a rough timeline so you can reference his words against my response.

0:20-1:10 “The church is supposed to reflect the city it is in…we had to be a culturally relevant church”. The Bible never teaches such a statement, it is unbiblical. The church is never called to “reflect the city it is in.” Nor is it called to be “culturally relevant.” As a matter of fact, the Bible states the exact opposite. Paul reminds us in 1st COR 1:18, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness”, while in verse 23, he writes “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness”. Paul was not culturally relevant, he was culturally disruptive, as was the rest of the NT church. The culture hated the church, and persecuted it at every opportunity The path to cultural relevancy always leads to Biblical compromise. This is an important point. Notice that the speaker in the video says that we have to balance cultural relevancy with being Biblically accurate. So, if we are 75% Biblically accurate and 25% culturally relevant, that would be fine? What about 85%? What about 99%? No, we must always strive for 100% Biblical accuracy, or we are compromising God’s standards. Garcia’s statement is not Scriptural, which he fully knows considering he uses no Scripture to support his position. He is trying to hide this ungodly doctrine by maintaining a veneer of Christian orthodoxy in an attempt to sneak in unbiblical doctrine into church. If someone has to protest that he is following the Bible while at the same time not actually using the Bible as his defense, it is a clear sign that he is not standing on Scripture. God does not call us to be “relevant”, He calls us to be holy (1st Peter 1:16).  James reminds us “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4). Noe Garcia’s words are just the latest attempt to establish a seeker-sensitive church that waters down the Gospel to attract the world.

1:10-1:35 “We are just going to preach the Word…and that works, BUT I THINK that God wants us to understand the context that He has placed our church in”. There are two major errors with this statement that many people will gloss over. First, he is denying the sufficiency of Scripture. As Christians, we are called to Preach the Word and ONLY the Word. Does Paul tell Timothy to preach the Word AND cultural, seeker-sensitive material? No, of course not! “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;” (2nd Timothy 4:2). In season or out of season means that whether it is popular with the culture or not Christians are to preach the Gospel and the Gospel only!  The second problem with Mr. Garcia’s statement is “But I think”. Here is the crux of the issue. Instead of following the teaching of Scripture, he is following his own ideas. This is prideful rebellion, and the heart of all man’s sin since the fall of Adam. Satan questions the words of God in the garden, and elevates the thoughts of Eve over the words of God. Sadly, we see the Vice President of the SBC making a similar statement. Even more concerning, the majority of the SBC will have no problem with this statement, or recognize the dangers of these teachings.

1:45-2:00 “We expected people to leave their culture outside the church…that didn’t work very well.” Here again we see the elevation of pragmatism over true worship. Should we expect people to leave their culture behind when they worship? Yes, absolutely, we should. God demands we worship Him according to His standards, not according to cultural norms. Now, are there traditions that churches follow that do not have the support of Scripture but are not necessarily wrong? Yes, and we should never be tied to tradition, lest we become like the Pharisees that Jesus condemns in Mark 7:9.  Notice, Jesus condemns them for rejecting the commandments of God in favor of tradition. Substitute the word “culture” for “tradition” and that is what Mr. Garcia is advocating. Jesus and the Apostles did not appeal to various cultures, they clearly spoke the Gospel. And as much as Mr. Garcia protests that they did not “lower the standard of holiness”, anytime you compromise in the form of seeker-sensitive pragmatism to gain cultural relevance that is exactly what happens. Compromise corrupts the believer and condemns the lost to hell.

3:10-3:50 “The church exploded, not only in growth, but for me most importantly, it exploded in diversity”. Here we see that the focus is on the wrong objective. Diversity is a common drumbeat of the political left, and it has seeped into the church. God is not interested in having a certain percentage of believers based on skin-color and culture. As Christians, we are called to go into all the world to preach the Gospel, regardless of these external features. As Romans 10:12 reminds us, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.” When the focus of the Gospel ministry becomes a pragmatic interest in results, we have abandoned our role as evangelists and shouldered the responsibility meant to be carried by God alone. Our sole focus must be to faithfully preach the Gospel to anyone who will listen, and not worry about their skin color. It is wonderful when any sinner, regardless of their “diversity” submits to God, and we should not be more pleased when the sinner happens to have a different skin pigment. Such a statement by Mr. Garcia clearly demonstrates a misdirected focus when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

3:50-4:20 “We went from a red church to a purple church….even with our diversity we have unity”. Here we have one of the most revealing and consequential statements made by Mr. Garcia. First, if one is a Christian, one should not be “blue” in the sense of your political affiliation. I am not saying that one should be a “red” or a Republican; there are many issues where the political right diverges from the Bible. Yet, one cannot be a Christian and maintain a long term affiliation with the political left. If one claims to be a Christian, yet supports abortion, transgenderism, homosexuality, critical race theory, etc., then that person is not a Christian, their fruits reveal them as an imposter (Matthew 7:15-23). How does A Christian have unity with someone who promotes murdering babies? How does a Christian have unity with someone who believes that homosexuality is acceptable? You cannot have unity under such circumstances without abandoning Biblical truth. A church member who votes for someone who supports such beliefs should be placed under church discipline. We are not called to have unity with the world, far from it. In fact, we are reminded in John 15:18 that the world will hate us. Jesus says in Matthew 10:34 that he did not come to bring peace to the world, but a sword. Romans 16:17-18 reminds us to avoid all who do not hold fast to Biblical doctrine. And since those who are politically “blue” certainly do not follow clear Scriptural teachings, we cannot have unity with them, or we compromise Biblical values. Mr. Garcia’s statement demonstrates that despite all his protestations of not compromising the holiness of Scripture, he has done just that.

Noe Garcia’s statements demonstrate the current trend in the church, specifically in the SBC. The recently elected SBC President, Ed Litton, ran on a platform of “unity and diversity”, parroting the talking points of Mr. Garcia. He won the Presidency at the most attended SBC convention in history. Anyone who attempts to whitewash the current state of the SBC is either self-deluded or deliberately misleading their hearers.

Some might accuse me of being divisive by calling out these clear unbiblical teachings. Yet, as Romans 16:17 states clearly, those that cause division are those that do not stand on Scripture. Christians have succumb to the satanic lie that unity is the end all, be all. We have been led to believe that we cannot call out those pretenders, who wrap themselves in the title of Christian yet lead many astray into darkness. It is time to take a stand and earnestly contend for the faith. It is not enough to know the correct doctrine, we must fight to ensure we do not waiver from Scripture, and ensure the next generation of believers is trained to practice Biblical discernment.

Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.

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