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LGBTCBFJuly 6, 2017
I just read with no little interest that the CBF, the last three letters in the above title is moving closer and closer toward being LGBT affirming in its employment of staff people who work for CBF which will simply be the first and really radical step in affirming LGBT persons in leadership in the participating churches. Why does this matter to me and why should it matter to conservative evangelical churches, particularly those of the SBC?
The CBF is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It emerged out of the battle for the Bible in which Southern Baptists were engaged in the 1990’s. What was at stake during those days when we were led bravely and courageously by Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, Charles Stanley as pastors working alongside the savvy layman Paul Pressler was nothing less than the soul of the SBC. The CBF was formed by dissenting messengers and member churches when it became evident that Biblical Inerrancy and all that it represents would win the day in the SBC. The CBF made it clear that it was not a denomination although it has acted in every way like a denomination complete with state “chapters” and an annual meeting. It was at its 2017 annual meeting that the LGBT issue was once again addressed and advanced. The issue on the table quite frankly is whether or not CBF can maintain its stance of openness toward all and deny job access at the national and state level to those who openly acknowledge themselves to be LGBT. This issue among CBF constituents is becoming increasingly less controversial and will I predict sooner than later become the way CBF does business. It is simply what many already believe and thus will be affirmed.
The problem is that many of the member churches of the CBF see this as going too far, particularly those who are older. Many older members of the CBF have affirmed its existence over one issue: women serving as pastors. A stance of biblical inerrancy and infallibility demands that women be affirmed in a vast number of roles in the church but not as pastors or elders. The CBF has always affirmed women as pastors with some of their most visible leaders being women who are pastors. Now the LGBT issue is causing some who support women as pastors to pause and think. Many who openly affirm women serving as pastors do not have the same degree of enthusiasm about openly practicing Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people serving in leadership. So, what is the rub?
It is right where the tub has always been. Is the Bible the absolute truth of God or isn’t it? Whenever inerrancy is denied there will always be issues that those who deny inerrancy must confront with no possible way to resolve the issue biblically since the absolute authority of Scripture has already been denied. What is left is the way of reason as it functions at any given time in the culture. And the way it functions now would lead any reasonable person to conclude that the CBF will affirm the LGBT movement soon enough. I heard someone say today that this turn of events is so sad. It is. But it is more than sad. It is what will always happen and is happening across the globe when the church turns anywhere else for authority other than the inerrant, infallible and fully sufficient Word of God. And it will always lead to the affirmation of what is sinful in the name of the kind of love that has no grounding at all in what the Bible actually tells us that love really is. I did not delight in reading about what is happening in the CBF. I am grieved, deeply grieved; but not at all surprised.