December 2021

An open letter to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Lake County Baptist Association:

We, First Baptist Church of Sorrento, have chosen to remove our affiliation with the SBC. After months of research and viewing the evidence, it is clear that the impetus, values, virtues, attitudes, priorities, implications, and results of “social justice” (which has taken over SBC administration) are diametrically opposed to the Gospel. I am aware that more than a few pastors and churches in the SBC are not woke and desire to stop such infiltration. However, groups such as the Conservative Baptist Network have failed to stop the surge of social justice within the Convention and have even been censored via underhanded procedural tactics so as to e.g. thwart Carol Swain from speaking out against Critical Race Theory at the convention as well as curiously timed sexual offense accusations brought up against Mike Stone who was the most conservative candidate for SBC president. Such more than silenced him and the conservative voice and certainly swayed the election as it was very close; and certainly many could not vote for one recently accused of such a crime/sin!

Unfortunately, I have many more specific examples with documentation but this is meant to be a notice not a presentation of such as it would amount to a small book. Therefore, this letter serves to merely reflect our understanding of the contrasting theologies, philosophies, and methodologies at play. It is our conviction that we not contribute to nor associate with a convention which cannot be honest or transparent with regard to salaries, integrity of designated budgets, nor condemn a perverted gospel which regards people according to the flesh e.g. color of skin, social status, gender, etc. (see 2 Cor. 5:16-17; Gal. 3:28 cf. Lev. 19:15; 23:3). God is no respecter of persons and the Gospel is not of the flesh (social, material, carnal) but of the spirit (righteousness, repentance, and regeneration).

I take full responsibility for informing and leading our church to such an action as our secession. Each of us individually and local bodies collectively will have to give an account of our stewardship, motives, actions, priorities, and attitudes; and I am prepared to give an account for mine. I will not answer to man, a church, or a convention but to the LORD alone. And so too will each who takes a stand – or attempts to be neutral on such. The Gospel of Christ cannot be reconciled with the Marxist driven social justice policies. Paul repeated that those who preach “another gospel,” “be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9).

The Kingdom of God only comes by the Sword of the Spirit not the sword of the State. And social justice comes with the long arm of the State and preachers are joining the movement in its violence to the Kingdom with their social demands (Mat. 11:12)! It is God who assigns our ethnicity as well as our times and societal circumstances in which we are born (Acts 17:26-27). And it is God – not the State – who defines gender, marriage, and family. And God does not “whisper” about sexual sins as the last two SBC presidents (current and predecessor) have preached! When doctrine is compromised, all resting on it will crumble. What good is unity in falsehood and what good is evangelism if such is a conversion to a social justice gospel? In fact, if the converts to the SBC reflect its administration, Matt. 23:13-15 may serve as a warning. The Great Commission is not mere “evangelism” but baptizing all the repentant and disciplining them in all of the Word. A Convert who is not governed by the Word is an unregenerate convert of a false gospel. I cannot help but think of Revelation’s picture of the harlot (unfaithful apostates) riding the beast (the State) as she has sold out to what the State promises her socially (respite, redistribution, reparations, riches, and renown) in exchange for what God offers spiritually (freedom from sin’s enslavement, a part in His holy communion, and a mission of the highest order). Therefore, we feel it is a better employment of our time, talent, treasures, and trust so as to focus on advancing the Gospel as a local church with accountable missionaries whom we personally know. Our faith is in the untainted Gospel: Immanuel! “A child is born and a son is given and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace” Isa. 9:6. Only He can bring liberty to the captives of sin (cf. Isa. 61:1)!

May he who has eyes to see, see what infiltrates the SBC. The wolves are already in the pen and devouring the sheep. If you are attempting to throw the wolves out of the pen, Godspeed. If you are not concerned about it or if you are neutral, may God convict. If I am proven wrong and the SBC removes the wolves, reinstates transparency and accountability, renounces so called ‘social justice,’ reenacts sane policies, and adheres to their Faith and Message and the Word in spirit and truth; then I will rejoice and possibly seek to rejoin.

In earnest, meek, and informed conviction; Pastor Chris Hall and First Baptist Church of Sorrento