Kelley’s ‘Baptist blues’ sermon garners lots of discussion


August 31, 2018

Chuck Kelley’s New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) chapel sermon on “the Baptist blues” was not an attack against anyone in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), he said Aug. 29, but an attempt to foster unity by getting “conversation on the table.”

“A confluence of unprecedented circumstances” has given rise to “the Baptist blues” among some Southern Baptists, Chuck Kelley said Aug. 21 in NOBTS chapel.

“If people are unaware of the simmering divisions in our convention, we’re never going to be able to fix them,” Kelley, NOBTS’s president, said in an interview. “The reality is they are there. I think not talking (through) our feelings about the convention has made some of the divisions deeper.”

Kelley’s chapel sermon had garnered more than 3,500 views on NOBTS’s YouTube channel and was the subject of numerous blogs and social media posts at press time. In the sermon, Kelley read an entry from his journal on the SBC, recounting circumstances that have led “so many people” to ask, “What in the world is going on with the Southern Baptist Convention?”

“I don’t even recognize the Southern Baptist Convention anymore.”

He countered such negativity by stating, “There has never been a more important time for us to come together as the body of Christ, working on the Great Commission together.”

Reflecting back on the sermon, Kelley said he “might change a thing or two about the way [he] said” some things. But he stands by the emphases of the message.

In general terms, “traditionalists” are the Southern Baptists expressing concern with the convention’s direction, and “the growing Reformed group” is “very excited and pleased with what’s happening in the SBC,” Kelley said.

Positive and negative feedback on the sermon was expected and “is a very accurate reflection of where the SBC is today,” Kelley said. “The thing that probably surprised me and disappointed me the most is people who said they had no idea anybody was concerned about the state of the SBC.”

Kelley underscored the need for Southern Baptists to reemphasize the Great Commission so other conversations of lesser importance don’t take precedence. (BP)

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