Nov. 23, 2021
In a social media post, Nov. 22, James Merritt, Southern Baptist pastor and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) visiting professor, promoted a sermon by his son, Jonathan Merritt, a self-described homosexual man.
Scripture is clear that homosexuality is a grave sin (1 Cor. 6:9-10, Rom. 1:24-28), and that sin separates mankind from God (Isaiah 59:2, Rom. 6:23). To present to Southern Baptists a man living in unrepentant sin as someone to whom they should listen for a sermon that is “faithful to the gospel,” as the elder Merritt tweeted, is wholly illogical and demonstrably dangerous. For one who is employed by a Southern Baptist seminary receiving Cooperative Program tithe dollars to promote an unrepentant sinner—no matter whose son he is—as a trustworthy preaching source is a betrayal of trusting Southern Baptists.
The Conservative Baptist Network calls on SEBTS President Danny Akin and the SEBTS board of trustees to give sincere attention to this grievous situation, which counters Southern Baptists’ commitment to Scripture as inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative and opposes the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. The Network further calls on Southern Baptists to pray for the Merritt family in what is a public and certainly painful situation, and specifically for Jonathan Merritt, that the Lord would bring godly sorrow which “produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Moreover, while some have accused the Conservative Baptist Network of being divisive for suggesting certain SBC leaders have departed from their biblical beliefs, the unbiblical and divisive promotion of Jonathan Merritt by the most recent chairman of the SBC Committee on Resolutions demonstrates the need for the Network all too clearly. And, as in the case of President Ed Litton’s blatant, serial plagiarism of sermons and even personal experiences, many Convention leaders stand united in silence when the offender is one of their friends.
This growing drift from the guardrails of Scripture and from long-held but increasingly-threatened Baptist distinctives demands reform at the top levels of the SBC and demonstrates yet again the necessity of a Conservative Baptist Network.