“A Narrative of Great Commission Hypocrisy” Explained

“Actions speak louder than words.” It is an old axiom that rings true no matter what culture or religion one finds himself in. And when a particular group trumpets a mantra over and over again for decades, people do actually look to see if that group’s actions line up with that which it trumpets.

For Southern Baptists, the final words of Christ and its implications have been the words that the denomination has trumpeted for decades: “Go and make disciples”; “Go and preach to a lost world”; “Bring the Word of salvation to the Nations.” All of which are true and good words, but do the lives of those who preach those words line up with what they claim is their heart’s desire?

First, what must be made clear is not that there are none who are Southern Baptists who live lives that demonstrate that the Nations are their heart’s desire, for there has always been a faithful remnant, but the great majority of those who preach thus as Southern Baptists contradict their words by the way in which they live their lives. These Southern Baptists are the modern-day Pharisees, who recognize the goodness and truthfulness of God’s Word with their minds, but their hearts are far from God, and they preach for the approval of men.

“These are strong words,” one will object, and they are strong words. However, the fact that the Great Commission is preached over and over again and is contradicted by the lives of those who preach it is a stronger word to the world. For if the Great Commission were in fact the greatest concern of Southern Baptists, our lives would look drastically different than they do.

Take for example the pastor of the narrative, whose capital building campaign has been fulfilled, and a new building has been constructed for his church. What is the case in his example, though fictitious, is very true of pastors throughout the country, namely that his church could have, with little inconvenience, survived and even thrived in its old building, but in the name of convenience, in making a name for himself, etc. the pastor has gone to great pains to have a new building constructed to house “worship” services on Sunday. And though he might preach the Great Commission in his new building, the building itself preaches that the Great Commission is not the church’s greatest concern, for exponentially more money went into constructing the building than went to reaching the Nations with the Gospel. Add to that fact that the Scriptures never instruct churches to build larger buildings (or to build buildings at all–for the people, not the building, are the temple of the Holy Spirit), the pastor’s capital campaign, which he poured his life and soul into, is a hypocritical and God-dishonoring endeavor.

Beside the testimony of the building, the pastor contradicts his preaching by the luxurious life that he lives. He drives a new, expensive vehicle and lives in a home that would make the middle-class in America envious. The majority of his salary from the church goes to paying for his cars and house, while his tithe (the only part that he believes is God’s) goes directly to the church’s building campaign. Instead of living a life that validates that the fulfillment of the Great Commission is his heart’s desire (i.e. a life of sacrifice that would manifest itself in a much cheaper car and smaller and meager home so that a majority of his income could go to the Nations), he lives a life that demonstrates that when it comes to his money, the Nations are not on his radar.

As for the Southern Baptist seminary that lies just miles away from the pastor’s home and church, they are the producers of such men as our pastor in the narrative. For they teach future pastors of the importance of the Great Commission, yet they construct multi-million dollar buildings that act more of a demonstration of American wealth than they do of a love for the Gospel. For if the seminary’s heart was truly for the Nations, their buildings would be bare-bones buildings that act merely as weather-proof classrooms (as are seminaries in other countries), yet they are buildings that are vain and decadent through and through. For they house great monuments as the exorbitant globe in the narrative, fine décor and upholstery, and the latest technological innovations–all of which are unnecessary and rob funds from that which they preach is preeminent in their hearts. Yes, the Great Commission may be written in rich, gold letters upon the building’s inner walls, but the Great Commission never leaves that building, for the seminary’s money was exhausted on that building.

Countless other examples could be given regarding the hypocrisy of American Christians and particularly of the Southern Baptist Convention in general, but those examples do nothing more than expose more of that which has already been evinced. What we need is not more Great Commission conferences or more signatures on some Great Commission Resurgence pledge, but we need complete overhaul from the top down. It must begin in the pastors and in the seminaries, and it must be manifested in their lives, in their buildings, and upon their campuses. For if the Great Commission is preached as preeminent, it should never, never be the case that missionaries cannot be sent out to the Nations for lack of funds, while we somehow still have enough funds to erect our golden calves here in America. It is hypocrisy and wickedness, and God and the world are not fooled by it.



Categories: Theology

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4 replies

  1. I agree fully. Their excuses are we merely providing "quality, professionalism, and enduring facility" instead of everything being made of particle-board and tackiness. I find however like you, that this is still does not warrant abuse and excess which does occur, both in seminaries and local congregations. I know of a congregation that I love dearly, but spent $6,000 on a playground; I did stand up in the meeting and state that such a decision is not going to impact an atheist, mormon, drug dealer, kingdom hall member, scientologist, or wiccan; (nor an option for missionaries in the remote poverty stricken areas, nor present in Acts). It is indeed a point of deep frustration and even anger to see abundant resources wasted. If there is a solution to be known, I'd like to know it, other than redirecting my resources away from such folly.

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  2. If there is a solution to be known, I’d like to know it, other than redirecting my resources away from such folly.

    Other than giving money directly to missionaries, I don't know of a solution. I know there are plenty of organizations (like VOM) that are great and do love God and live it out. Those will probably have to do since I don't expect the American church to change its ways any time soon and actually have the impact that it could have on the world.

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  3. I find that striving for cost effectiveness sometimes means getting something that _appears_ to be expensive to those who do not understand the rationale behind buying that item. That said, please kindly remember that, e.g., while my wife's shiny, sporty 2-door Cavalier might look like a vain, selfish waste of money, it was actually chosen almost exclusively as a capital good: Cavaliers are highly reliable, safe, long-lasting, low-maintenance vehicles with good gas mileage. This particular one had enough miles on it to have a substantially reduced cost, but not too many miles.

    My wife has cerebral palsy. In her case, she has to use a 2-door car so that she can cram her walker behind her seat. She also has to use hand controls, which cost approximately $650 to transfer from one vehicle to another. With such a high cost for changing vehicles, it makes sense to get one that will last us a long time, so we got a _moderately used_ Cavalier.

    So my wife ended up getting a nice car. That said, please do not accuse pastors or the Church of robbing from the Great Commission without inside knowledge of their rationale for what they spend their money on. I don't disagree with the original post, I just want you to be aware that there is more than meets _your_ eye to another's purchasing decision.

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  4. Dear friend, while I sympathize with the needs of your wife, I do not think that anyone would think that her 2-door Cavalier is an exorbitant expense. While I agree with you that we should not rush to judge (which I apologize if this post appears to be such a call), I cannot fathom why anyone that has no special needs would ever need a $40,000+ vehicle. I simply can't see it. Especially when that person could get around quite comfortably in a $20,000 vehicle and give the other $20,000 to what he preaches. That way, that which he preaches is at least equal in value to his car. Grace & peace.

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