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Roberts: Amid America’s ‘moral morass,’ SBC is ray of hope

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–“The news was bad. Church trends researcher George Barna, however, had done his homework. The results were disturbing.”

These words opened Phil Roberts’ presidential report to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees during their March 15 at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.

Half of America’s pastors do not hold to a biblical worldview, Roberts told trustees, citing Barna’s findings.

“What is worldview?” Roberts asked. Referring to a Baptist Press report, Roberts said, “Worldview is a term used to describe the belief system by which a person understands or makes decisions about the world.” Roberts added that “a biblical worldview is obviously one that is informed by biblical positions and directives.”

“According to Barna, a survey of 601 ‘randomly selected senior pastors showed that only 51 percent of the nation’s pastors held’ to a position which would reflect the values of the Bible,” Roberts recounted.

“If Barna’s research can be depended on to reflect national trends, it is then understandable why the United States has sunken into a moral morass,” the seminary president said. “A serious declension of values has occurred. And this decline has been ignored and often encouraged by the general populace. The trend demonstrates that this nation is in a serious moral crisis.

“From halftime shows at the Super Bowl, to nightly fare on TV sitcoms, to the kidnapping, abuse and murder of women and children, to the various national and state courts’ approval of gay ‘marriage’ and advocacy of homosexual relationships, it is ever so obvious to the casual observer of culture that this nation is in deep trouble,” Roberts said.

The cause of the crisis, according to the Barna research cited by Roberts, can be found in the pulpit.

“The failure of pastors and preachers to proclaim the truths and principles of Holy Scripture have led to a moral landscape in some locales about as verdant as the moon’s,” Roberts said. “There truly has emerged a famine in the land –- just as Amos predicted -– of the ‘hearing of the Word of God’ [Amos 8:11]. What happens or doesn’t happen when pastors stand to preach on Sundays and other occasions will, I believe, determine the course of national moral standards.”

Roberts added, “If there is any good news from the report, it is that the best response denominationally of pastors holding to a biblical worldview is among Southern Baptists. Seventy-one percent of SBC pastors attested to their commitment to reflect biblical values. The surprise and disappointment in that fact, as encouraging at first glance as it might seem, is that 100 percent of our shepherds could not affirm this position.”

The reasons for these shortcomings may be twofold, Roberts suggested.

“Maybe there is a failure of nerve,” he said. “Every proclaimer of the truth knows they will at some time or another be criticized and accused -– perhaps even in their own congregations -– of being a meddler. The prophets of old experienced this same phenomenon. Did not Ahab call Elijah a ‘troubler of Israel’? [1 Kings 18:17]. And so this phenomenon, in some contexts, continues today.”

Roberts continued: “Perhaps the answer is closer to home. Maybe there has been a problem in the way we have done theological education. Maybe a generation or two in several of our institutions of higher learning failed to learn biblical values. We know, however, that it was probably worse than that. Students, in many instances, were actually discouraged from trusting in, believing and obeying the Bible. Throughout many venerable institutions of theological education the often-cynical higher critical method of biblical study was taught uncritically as fact.

“Praise God, however, matters have changed!” Roberts said in voicing a “firm conviction that our SBC seminaries are now part of the solution and not the problem.”

Midwestern Seminary’s goal, he said, “is to educate men and women ‘to be and to make disciples’ all across the world. Part of that educational process is to teach our students to embrace and exemplify a biblical worldview. We desire that students teach biblical truths and disciple others to follow the Lord’s commands.”

Roberts noted, “As the pulpits of our nation go, so goes the church. As the church goes, so goes the nation and the nations of the world. Behind the pulpit are seminary-trained pastors who most often preach as they were taught. When you support faithful seminaries like Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, you are helping to make a difference where it matters most.”

    About the Author

  • Susan E. Reed