One day the sons of God came to appear before the omnipotent God of this universe, and Satan came among them.
"What are you doing here?" asked God.
"I have come from walking to and fro throughout all the earth," replied Satan.
"Well then," said the Lord, "You have doubtless considered my servants the Southern Baptists, how they have remained true to Me when all other mainline denominations have lost their moorings. Southern Baptists have kept their knees bowed before Me and their hearts burdened for the lost."
Well, Satan looked exasperated for just a fleeting moment and then posed a question to the Lord, "Do Southern Baptists fear God for nothing? You have taken them when they were the least of all people, despised of men, the offscouring of the earth, butchers and bakers and candlestick makers, and you have made them into one of the great Christian witnesses of all time. Reach out your hand and afflict them with liberalism and they will curse You to Your face."
"The seminaries and the colleges are in your hand," replied the Lord. "But you cannot touch the churches or the hearts of the people for soul-winning and missions."
And with that Satan turned and departed to afflict Southern Baptists. But as the years passed, in spite of all of the havoc that Satan produced, he could not woo the churches away from the Lord, the Bible, and the task of worldwide missions.
So, there came a day when the sons of God appeared before the omnipotent God of the universe once again, and Satan came with them.
"What are you doing here?" said the Lord.
Satan replied, "I have come from walking to and fro throughout the earth."
"Ah," said the Lord, "Yes, and have you considered my servants the Southern Baptists? You afflicted them with liberalism and did all that you could to stymie their missionary and evangelistic zeal, and you have utterly failed in that mission."
"Yes," replied Satan, "But skin for skin. Reach out your hand and afflict Southern Baptists with fadism. Substitute marketing the church for soul-winning, obsession with leadership for prophetic preaching, felt needs for faith commitments, food courts for prayer chapels, itching ears for short topics in the place of open hearts to the exposition of the whole counsel of God, success for godliness, transdenominational compromise for purity of the faith once for all delivered to the saints, personal ambition for sacrificial service.
"Southern Baptists will not curse You to the face," Satan continued, "because they will have no stomach for confrontation of any kind. But, they will quietly curse You by their spiritual harlotry and theological naiveté. They will become as useless to You as many of the other denominations who have faltered before them."
"Well," responded God, "You may afflict them as you have said, but you may not utterly obliterate them."
And Satan went forth to do his work.
But, alas, when Satan returned to the counsel chambers of the unholy horde, he found his fiends in disarray. They said, "What have you done, Ruler of Darkness and Iniquity? All that you have threatened against Southern Baptists will ultimately come to good. Why they will prosper and grow and achieve ever-growing respectability in society in general and in the counsels of evangelicals in particular."
Well, when Satan was finally able to quiet his demons, he explained. "You surely must know that we have utterly failed to destroy them with the evil of liberalism; so I am left with no other alternative but to induce them to accept the good in the place of the best. We will substitute bulk for nutrition, junk for substance, activity for holiness, methods and formulas for the power of God. In so doing, we will weaken the body and render it susceptible to every disease.
"We will induce the thoroughgoing Calvinist to accuse the less-Calvinistic of Arminianism, and the less-Calvinistic to accuse the thoroughgoing Calvinist of unconcern for evangelism. We will entice them to substitute multiple repetitions of Get All Excited or Kum Ba Yah for psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs brim full of strong theology. We will allure them to address the surface-felt needs of people by getting them tacitly to believe that a 2,000 to 3,500-year-old book like the Bible cannot and does not address the deepest, often unidentified, longings of the human heart.
"We will above all things convince their preachers, especially the 200 or 300 strongest pulpiteers, never to preach about such politically incorrect subjects as hell, the wrath of God, or impending judgment. We will convince them to believe in these, but rarely if ever to mention such shocking topics to an 'I'm okay, you're okay' society. We will secure their commitment never to address subjects such as feminism, through which we can ultimately destroy the fabric of families and eventually the churches and all of society. We will occupy the minds of the pastors with increased readings on leadership, technology, self-help, and pop psychology, and thereby insure their neglect of the reading of substantive theology."
When Satan had concluded, there was a silence almost of worship in the region of the damned. Finally, one demon spoke and said, "O, Prince of Darkness, your wisdom excels that of all other beings." With that, all filed from the chamber to take up their posts in the pastoral offices of the preachers of the Southern Baptist Convention.
And God said to the gathered hosts of the Holy City, "Come now, let us see what Southern Baptists will do, whether they shall curse or bless themselves."