Two Men Worth Commending

February 10, 2012

Praise where praise is due! In recent days, two men, both pastors, have done us a favor by setting a public example of taking a stand in an unpopular arena. The first is Hershael York, pastor of the Buck Run Baptist Church of Frankfort, Kentucky. He was invited to deliver the invocation before the Kentucky legislature on the night in which Governor Steve Beshear would deliver his budget speech. Beshear is lobbying hard for legalizing gambling in the state, largely because Kentucky dollars are going to neighboring states that allow gambling. Beshear is another politician in a long line of pragmatists who think that the end justifies the means. York, in striking contrast, offered this prayer for the legislators:

Help us to admit that we cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves and then scheme to get his money by enticing him with vain hope. May they not lead this state to share profits from an industry that preys on greed or desperation.

Help us to foster salaries and not slot machines, to build cars and enable jobs—not license casinos and seduce the simple into losing what they have. May their greatest concern not be that we get our share of the family's losses, but that we foster a sense of hope and justice that creates opportunity and leads to success.

Bully for York for offering a courageous prayer in the face of such pressure. In doing so, he is standing in a long line of preachers and prophets who had the opportunity and courage to cry out against the iniquity of the day. Like Nathan the prophet rebuking King David, or John Knox shaking his finger in the face of the Queen, York besought God publicly for politicians to put righteousness ahead of expediency. Sadly, his prayer fell on the governor's deaf ears, as the video linked above demonstrates: Beshear followed York's invocation by continuing to angle for legalized gaming.

The other man worthy of commendation, also a Southern Baptist, is Voddie Baucham, Pastor of Preaching at the Grace Family Baptist Church of Spring, Texas. Baucham was invited to fill the spot vacated by Mark Dever in James MacDonald's Elephant Room 2. Dever bowed out when he learned that MacDonald had also invited Bishop T. D. Jakes of the Potter's House; Jakes is a Oneness Pentecostal who preaches a prosperity gospel. With Dever gone, MacDonald invited Baucham to stand in. Baucham considered the venue and the invitation of Jakes and declined the invitation.

However, Baucham had already been scheduled to preach at a Harvest-sponsored Men's Conference that followed shortly after the Elephant Room 2 conversation. Enough has been written on the lack of clarity with which Jakes answered the questions on his view of the Trinity and the shallowness of the nature of some of those questions. However, Baucham had to field questions from his own constituency about the Elephant Room conversation because of the following Men's Conference.

Because of the lack of clarity on the Trinity and the failure of the ER2 participants to address Jakes's prosperity gospel, Baucham responded publicly to the issue via his Facebook page knowing full well that he was to preach for MacDonald soon thereafter. Baucham showed up at Harvest and, after a brief conversation with MacDonald, was disinvited from speaking at the Men's Conference. Baucham's rationale for speaking out against the ER2 interview with Jakes may be found here.

Whether or not one agrees with these men over their association with the Southern Baptist Convention, we can certainly appreciate their forthright stand for righteousness in the face of a clear challenge to truth. York could have privately admonished the governor against the gambling issue and Baucham could have chosen remain silent after the ER2 meeting, but both men felt that silence on their part implied some form of tacit agreement. Both men are to be commended for the stand. They serve as models of gracious opposition.

For All the Saints
William W. How (1823-1897)

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be for ever blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on his way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

This essay is by Jeff Straub, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not every one of the professors, students, or alumni of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.

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Why did the nations join to slay
The Lord's anointed Son?
Why did they cast his laws away,
And tread his gospel down?

The Lord, that sits above the skies,
Derides their rage below;
He speaks with vengeance in his eyes,
And strikes their spirits through.

“I call him my Eternal Son,
And raise him from the dead;
I make my holy hill his throne,
And wide his kingdom spread.

“Ask me, my Son, and then enjoy
The utmost heathen lands:
Thy rod of iron shall destroy
The rebel that withstands."

Be wise, ye rulers of the earth,
Obey th' anointed Lord,
Adore the King of heav'nly birth,
And tremble at his word.

With humble love address his throne;
For if he frown, ye die:
Those are secure, and those alone,
Who on his grace rely.