The Spiritual State of the Union?

January 24, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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This is a post that Ronnie Floyd, the current Southern Baptist President, made on January 23, 2015. It is a response of sorts to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. This is my response to Mr. Floyd’s response. You can find the original here.

This is State of the Union season, where our president will address the nation, governors will address their states and mayors will address their cities. They will unveil their dreams for today and their hopes for tomorrow.

Questions Worth Asking

Who is addressing the spiritual state of our nation?Are we really trusting only in governmental powers and processes to heal our land?

Is this a rhetorical question? Is he addressing just the SBC when he asks these two questions? There are a lot of people that have been righteously standing up for the truth in the pulpits and on the airwaves for years. Where has Ronnie Floyd been? Does he not know this?

He then asks if we’re only trusting in government power/processes to heal our land. I don’t think that either of these questions are asked with any sincerity. I think these two questions are just a set up for his “Spiritual State of the Union (SSotU) Address”. In this day and time when celebrities (secular and Christian) have so much influence just because they’re celebrities, it doesn’t take much to get people to question whether or not they are giving, doing, or thinking enough about any cause the celebrity desires (i.e., the ice bucket challenge).

Dr. Floyd is going to spend the rest of the article showing that he’s been concerned about the spiritual state of our nation. He’s also going to provide a “spiritual” or “Biblical” process for “healing our land”. I don’t think Ronnie Floyd should be taking the lead on this. I don’t think he truly knows what the answer for the SSOON is, and I don’t think that “healing our land” is something that Christians should be focusing on. “Healing the land” is not part of the great commission. Preaching the gospel (the true gospel) and making disciples are the great commission. So let’s see if that’s what Ronnie Floyd puts forth as the answer for the SSOON….

I love America and believe each citizen needs to be involved in charting the future of our nation. Our churches have compartmentalized faith and kept it from influencing our nation for far too long, just as most of America’s leaders compartmentalize their faith from their politics. Today, our nation has become a product of this sad reality.

Dr. Floyd says that the reason the SSOON is so bad is because Christians have “compartmentalized their faith and kept it from influencing our nation”. What statistics is he using to reach this conclusion? It seems to me that the Christians in the nation are still important to those seeking votes because that’s one of the things you still hear about at election time. So where is he getting the idea that so many Christians are “compartmentalizing their faith”? Why does he think so many are doing this?

I think he’s looking at this wrong. Maybe, instead of wondering why Christians have “compartmentalized their faith” and don’t seem to be influencing the nation like Ronnie Floyd thinks they should, maybe he should be looking at what the large majority of those professing Christ actually believe? Maybe the problem is that there aren’t nearly as many true Christians as the SBC roles show? Could it be that those professing Christ are influencing the nation precisely according to what they believe and what they believe is the actual issue?

We need to return to the conviction that a faith worth believing in is a faith worth dying for. Our faith cannot be checked at the door like a piece of luggage at an airport.

“We”? Who is “we”? Which truly born-again Christians don’t believe that their faith is worth dying for? Which ones have said that they refuse to die for their faith? Again, could it be that what’s being preached from the pulpit isn’t the once-delivered-to-the-saints-faith found in the scriptures? Could it be that the true gospel has been replaced in many of the churches (including the megachurches) with a watered-down parody of Christianity? Could it be that discipleship has been replaced by esteem raising material that’s all about you? Could it be that worship has been replaced by Mr. Sparkle? Could it be that the cross has been replaced wtih a confetti cannon?

“Our faith cannot be checked at the door like a piece of luggage at an airport”. Maybe the people that are “checking their faith” don’t have the truth Christian faith to begin with. Could that be the problem?

The Time is Now

The time is now for churches to rise up and address the spiritual state of our nation. With compassion, we need to tell it like it is. With hope, we need to share it like we believe it. With fervency, we need to pray like God alone is our hope.

It’s time for the church to “rise up”? What? Did God tell Mr. Floyd this? Is this some sort of gut check to see who’s really a Christian? Why does Ronnie Floyd continue to ignore the many great men who are constantly addressing the spiritual state of our nation? Why does he think that he’s the only one concerned with this? I find it interesting that he says we need to “tell it like it is” (More on that in a little bit). He seems to be in a bubble. He seems to think that he’s the only one who shares the hope of Christ or prays with fervency. I mean, if everyone was doing this, we would already have the ‘great awakening’ that he’s been looking for. Right?

The time is now for our nation to recognize that we cannot fix ourselves. The signs of our brokenness are glistening in our dark world. The blatant destruction of the family, the killing of unborn children, the continuing racial tension, the rebellion against authority, the ongoing reality of poverty, the rising threat of our security, the clear attacks against religious liberty and, of all things, the arrogance to believe the highest court in our land can rule on what the Bible says is genuine marriage testify to just how broken we really are.

Ronnie Floyd says that we cannot fix ourselves and then gives four things that we have to do to see our nation’s spiritual state change. Did I miss something? I thought we couldn’t do anything? I wonder if I could guess what he believes about soteriology?

“The signs of our brokenness are glistening in our dark world”. What does that even mean? The only things that I see “our dark world” doing are mocking, ridiculing, and minimalizing those Christians who are standing for the truth. Unfortunately, there are many professing Christ that are helping “our dark world” do this.

He then lists many things that are evidences that we’re really broken. All of these things are terrible. But, is what he’s proposing as an answer really the answer? Ultimately, Christians have an answer for every one of these problems and a host more. But is that what he is going to put forth as the answer? We’ll see…

Where Do We Go From Here?

I am just one man and one pastor of a local church. I refuse to be silent and see our nation continue to struggle. Therefore, I submit four actions that will change the spiritual state of our union.

Dr. Floyd says this like he’s alone facing a horde of demons. One poor man, the pastor of a local church. And yet, facing these insurmountable odds he’s imagined for himself, he refuses to be silent! How heroic for this one man to boldly stand up for an entire nation! But wait, then he gives the rest of us four things we need to do in order to change the SSOON. Now he’s not so heroic…

1. We need to repent.

Repentance occurs when we have a change of mind. This change of mind changes our behavior.

As a nation, we need to personally and collectively repent of our sins. We need to ask God for His free gift of forgiveness for the sins we have committed, resulting in change from that point forward.

Here Ronnie Floyd and I agree. We all need to repent of our sins. He mentions that repentance is a change of mind. But, what brings about this change? And, does he present it as the solution that it is?

2. We need to return to God.

America is a nation that was built on a deep belief in God. A desire for religious liberty was the catalyst for the beginning of our nation. While we have gone through ups and downs in our history, God has been very merciful and gracious toward us.

I agree with this…to a degree. I mean, isn’t this what repentance is? Isn’t it turning from sin and turning to God? Or does he have something else in mind?

It is time to return to God. It is time to stop making every issue about ourselves, posturing to ensure we get our way. God’s way is the only way. There is no other. Anything less than God’s way diminishes our happiness, our fulfillment and even our liberty.

We’re to “stop making every issue about ourselves”. So, why has he taken it upon himself to put out this SSOTU address? Why is it something posted on his personal blog? He also says that we need to stop posturing to get our way. Hmmm. Does this include preaching things that would allow us to get our way?

He then finishes this section by telling us that if we don’t do things completely God’s way it “diminishes our happiness, our fulfillment, and even our liberty”. I guess I’m a little confused. Are we trying to do things for ourselves or not? If not, then should I be worried about my personal happiness, fulfillment, or liberty? If I’m really concerned about the SSOON, shouldn’t I be focused on “doing things God’s way”? Shouldn’t I be worried more about preaching the gospel to the lost and making disciples?

What’s more confusing is that a man who’s been a pastor for almost 30 years never defines what God’s way is. He never talks about the gospel. He never talks about making disciples. So I have to wonder what “God’s way” really is in his mind? What does it mean to Ronnie Floyd when he says we need to return to God?

Maybe he means that we need to tithe more? That was one of the things that he came up with when he was the head of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF). If people only gave more, then we could reach more people with the gospel.

3. We need the church to wake up.

Churches all over our nation need to wake up from the slumber we find ourselves in as a whole. We need pastors to return to their spiritual calling, be rekindled by the fire of God and declare the hope we have in the Lord. As a pastor goes, so goes the church.

I would agree that many churches in America are sleeping. Actually, they’re not sleeping, they’re dead. Many of these “churches” aren’t churches. They are social clubs. The rockstar pastors are celebrities that entertain goats. They play secular music during the church service (like Highway to Hell on Easter or Wrecking Ball). Many of the men calling themselves pastors are nothing but hired hands. They have no real concern for the sheep because it’s not about the sheep. It’s about the pastor. It’s about entertaining people enough to bring in the money and the prestige. And they’ll do what it takes to keep that up.

Ronnie Floyd says “As a pastor goes, so goes the church”. In other words, the way that a church acts is a direct reflection on the pastor. I wonder if he likes the reflection that Cross Church gives about their pastor? You see, there are a lot of things that Cross Church has done over the past couple years that would lead me to believe that it is the very type of church that he’s talking about.

So, let’s “tell it like it is”. Here are just a few of the things that have happened to make me wonder whether Ronnie Floyd has blinders on:

Associate Minister to Students, Chad Reeves, and his girlfriend dance to Chingy’s “Right Thurr” (an x-rated song) during a church ministry event.

Cross Church did the Harlem Shake during a special Freedom weekend themed “The Glory of God”.

Had a former Disney set designer (Bruce Barry – who had never set foot in a church in his life) create two sets for his children’s church including Wacky World which has video games, game shows, etc to be modeled after Nickelodeon. It includes a baptistry with a confetti cannon and sirens for each baptism.

Hosted Ergun Caner at his church.

Sadly, this isn’t all.

As our churches go, so goes our nation. The evidence is overwhelming of just how broken we are as a nation. This is the greatest hour for our churches to rise up. Never more has America needed our churches to lead the way forward, serving and influencing our communities with compassion and hope.

Mr. Floyd says that the church needs to “rise up”. How is that possible when those same churches look just like the world they’re trying to rise up from? It is impossible to come out from a world when you act just like them. He says that America needs the churches to lead the way forward. From the looks of it, Ronnie Floyd’s own church doesn’t even know what direction that is. He wants to “serve and influence communities with compassion and hope”. How is that possible when there is no evidence that his own church has experienced that hope and compassion? What in Cross Church’s actions show the world that Christ is the sovereign King and Savior of men’s souls? Which actions are evidence that Christ can actually save and change people? If the church looks just like the world, then Jesus is made into an impotent paper tiger that has no ability to save.

I will agree with him when he says that the nation goes in the direction of the churches. That’s the problem. A large number of churches (and even denominations) have abandoned biblical authority for seeker-sensitive methods. They’ve stopped boldly speaking the truth about the sins of the nation and its people. They’ve abandoned the great commission for the next Christian fad. And in doing so, they’ve abandoned the only thing that can truly save men. The pastors leading these churches have preached everything but the gospel. They preach that the Ten Commandments are really 10 promises for Christians. They preach the teachings of heretics like Robert Morris, who says that if you don’t tithe the very first 10% of your income, the rest of it is cursed. They have entire wings of their churches dedicated to Nickelodeon type “fun zones” where there are video games, sing-a-longs, and crafts.

Is this really “serving” and “influencing” in a way that honors and glorifies God?

4. We need spiritual awakening.

In our history, there have been seasons of spiritual awakening that have influenced the spiritual state of our nation dramatically. Lives were changed and subcultures became different. Spiritual awakening is our greatest need in America today. This is why I have written a free e-book entitled Pleading With Southern Baptists that calls us to spiritual awakening.

And here it is. The whole purpose of the SSotU address. Ronnie Floyd has been wanting to be the one to lead the nation into the next “Great Awakening” for some time. It’s the theme for the 2015 SBC conference. This is what he has determined to be the main focus of not just himself or his church but the entire SBC. His focus isn’t on cleaning up his own church. It’s not on repenting of the unbiblical things he preaches. Nope. He’d rather Plead with Southern Baptists to come together in “clear agreement”, “visible union”, and “extraordinary prayer” for the “next great awakening”. In fact, He has said in at least a couple different places that his desire for the next great awakening is “God led”. This must mean that it’s going to happen! And, who could argue with what God is leading him to do to start this great awakening off? No one. It is, after all, from God. Who can argue with Him?

I have a question though. Is a “great awakening” something we’re supposed to be chasing? Is this what the church is to be striving to bring about? I don’t remember reading that in scripture. Instead, shouldn’t we just be preaching the gospel and making disciples? I guess I just don’t understand the need to lay aside what we know scripture says we should be doing in order to chase something that scripture says nothing about.

And why Ronnie Floyd? What makes him the person to lead this “great awakening”? If he can’t even lead his church and do what scripture says should be done in his own church, why does he believe God is leading him to lead this “great awakening”? Is it because he was elected (wait…can I use that word when talking about the SBC?) SBC President? That’s pretty thin ice for such a great and godly undertaking if you ask me. Not only that, but why would I “visibly unite” with someone leading a church in the condition of Cross Church?

In his e-book, Dr. Floyd gives five MORE things that we can do (but I thought we couldn’t do that?) to usher in this “next great awakening”. All of them have nothing to do with the gospel or with discipleship. It’s sad really.

There are many who have probably never even thought about this need. Others may feel we have gone too far. But I want to assure you: God can do more in a moment than we can ever do in a lifetime.

Maybe many have never thought about this need because it’s not a need? Maybe they see the preaching of the gospel and the discipling of the sheep to be of primary importance? Again, I just don’t understand how this “great awakening” can come from a man, a church, and a convention that so full of scandal and false teaching? There are the rockstar “pastors” in North and South Carolina. There is the fact that Lifeway has been consistently selling heresy for years without a warning label and anyone in any form of leadership in the SBC seems quite content to ignore the ENTIRE ISSUE. There are the issues with Louisiana College. There are the issues with Beth Moore hearing from God and her twisting of scripture. There is the whole Ergun Caner debacle. And the list goes on. And yet, Ronnie Floyd thinks that somehow he, his church, and his convention are going to lead the nation into the next “great awakening”? I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. I would be afraid to follow where they’re going.

Wherever you are in life, would you just stop for one moment and pray something like this: “God, would you please bring spiritual awakening to America? It is our greatest need.”?

America’s greatest need is the next great move of God. This is our hope.

Yours for the Great Commission, 

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church

President, Southern Baptist Convention 

Our hope is the “next great move of God”? Not true. Our hope is Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. It is His death on the cross and His promise that those He saves will be raised up on the last day. The hope for changing the SSOON comes from the truth of the gospel being preached in every church and in every witness encounter. This is our hope. This is what we love and it is what we have been called to focus on. You would think that a pastor of almost 30 years and someone who headed up the GCRTF would know that….

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