The Radical Selection of David Platt to Lead IMB

David Platt, well-known author of such books as “Radical” and “Follow Me” and, Pastor of the Church at Brook Hills (a Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, AL), was elected by the Board of Trustees to be the new President of the International Mission Board. The IMB, arguably the SBC’s most important organization (both in terms of missionaries and Cooperative Program dollars), will, no doubt, be impacted by David Platt’s leadership and passion, particularly in reaching the nearly 2 billion unreached people in the world. Said Platt,

He has given me a deeper desire to spend more of my time and energy and resources in the short life He has given me to seeing Christ preached where He’s not been named. The concept of unreached peoples — of nearly 2 billion people who have never heard the Gospel — is just totally intolerable.”

Although I share some of the reservations about whether or not Platt’s election can unify our convention of churches as we reach our communities and world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we simply cannot allow our own political, philosophical, methodological, or theological narrow-mindedness to breed disunity. That would be exactly what the enemy would want. While Platt would not have been my first choice (not that anyone was asking), his election, barring some unforeseen disaster with the structure and/or mission of the International Mission Board, will not change our church’s commitment to reaching the nations in and through the Cooperative Program.

If David Platt is able, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the cooperative spirit of Southern Baptists, to accomplish the mission that God has given to him, then we will all be reinvigorated to share the Gospel with those in our own neighborhoods as well as those in the uttermost parts of the world. Although that should be second-nature to followers of Jesus Christ — particularly a missional people like Southern Baptists — our current church culture might see that as a radical idea. Maybe David Platt has a few more radical ideas up his sleeves as he takes the helm of the world’s largest mission-sending agency. And, that’s fine by this life-long Southern Baptist!

 

9 comments for “The Radical Selection of David Platt to Lead IMB

  1. Jeff Moore
    August 28, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Wow! The SBC is unraveling in a hurry. The name change fiasco, the SBC president not Baptist, and now the IMB president not a Baptist. Most of our Sunday school curriculum written by non Baptists. The Southern Baptist Convention is racing to become the Southern Whatever Name We Wish to Be Called Convention (but not Baptist). And the Calvinism is no longer creeeping (although still creepy).

    • August 29, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      Jeff,

      Sorry I didn’t see your comment yesterday. It got into my spam folder and I just saw it. I’m not sure that the SBC is unraveling in a hurry, but it does seem to be coming to a major crossroads. Although I am willing to give David Platt the opportunity to allay my concerns and the concerns of many (a majority?) Southern Baptists, I do believe that if major structural and/or methodological changes occur which maximize Calvinism and marginalize (in perception or in fact) non-Calvinists, then we will see an implosion of CP and an erosion of missions going and giving. That will not only impact the IMB, but every facet of the SBC. I hope that does not happen, but it is entirely possible given the current political climate within the Convention. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting. God bless,

      Howell

  2. Max
    August 29, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    Brother Scott – Scripture is clear that when unity exists within a body of believers, God’s blessing and favor rests upon it. Disunity is not blessed nor favored. Throughout the theological wranglings of recent days, I’ve heard no one say that perhaps … just perhaps … God’s favor is not resting upon this once great denomination. Declining SBC membership, plummeting baptism rate, and theological unrest are indicators of something amiss, not marks of His blessing. In the midst of the theo-political debate, there is an increasing number of Southern Baptists trying to balance “forsake not the assembling together” with “come out from among them”. I don’t think we fully realize the spiritual battle going on here. If the enemy of our souls wanted to distract the single greatest force for evangelism on the planet, he would create disunity in our ranks. Disunity distracts … disunity confuses … disunity divides. Whoever is in leadership at SBC’s various entities, disunity within the ranks will hinder their work.

    I’m reluctant to quote Charles Finney on some Baptist blogs because the very mention of his name is incendiary. But he does provide some wisdom in this regard that all Southern Baptists should heed:

    “How many there are that hold together, and yet do no good, for the simple reason that they are not sufficiently agreed. They do not think alike, nor feel alike … and while this is so, they never can work together. Unless they can be brought to such a change of views and feelings as will unite them, they are only a hindrance to each other and to the work of God. In many cases they see and feel that this is so, and yet they keep together, conscientiously, for fear that a division should dishonor religion, when in fact the division that now exists may be making religion a by-word and a reproach. Far better would it be if they would agree to divide amicably, like Abraham and Lot. ‘If thou will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, I will go to the left.’ Let them separate, and each party work in its own way; and they may both enjoy the blessing.” (Charles G. Finney, Revivals of Religion)

    What would bring Southern Baptists to “a change of views and feelings as will unite them” in the days ahead? Humility, prayer, repentance, seeking God’s face. IF my people … THEN will I. But will we?

    • August 29, 2014 at 8:59 PM

      Bro. Max,

      Always good hearing from you. Although I am not a huge Finney fan, I do think that your quote offers a good perspective on what maybe happening in the SBC. I have not been too involved in the goings on of the SBC (other than my attendance at the Baltimore Convention) these last five months, so I have not followed the IMB’s search process. However, if I were a betting man, I would have put even money on the committee selecting David Platt. As I wrote in the OP, he would not have been my first choice, particularly for what I see as divisive issues, among which are a theology and practice not just at odds with many Southern Baptists, but which (by his previous words) could be seen as outright antagonistic. His lack of support for CP (as it has been known and practiced) is also problematic. However, I am willing to give him (and the search committee) the benefit of the doubt as he begins his ministry at the IMB.

      That does not mean that we won’t see more division and disunity, particularly if major structural and/or methodological changes are implemented which, in perception or reality, have the effect of marginalizing our more non-Calvinistic brethren and churches. I hope that does not happen, but nothing surprises me anymore. Only time will tell, but I certainly hope that the IMB does not go the way of the new NAMB. If it does, then the Cooperative Program and Missions as we now know it will end, not merely change. And, that won’t be good for anyone. Thanks again for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. God bless,

      Howell

      • Max
        September 3, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        “… I certainly hope that the IMB does not go the way of the new NAMB.”

        Brother Scott, if Dr. Platt is a leader, the organization he now directs will change. I spent a career in corporate America, coupled with my 50+ year snapshot of SBC life. I have noted that an organization (be it family, church, business, or nation), eventually takes on the personality of its leadership. This is manifested in different ways ranging from “get along to go along – agree to disagree” … to “my way or the highway.” The former currently characterizes the marriage within SBC of two distinctly different soteriologies within a single denomination. Time will tell if it leads to the latter. With the “new” home mission entity that you note, Southern Baptists now have “new” seminaries, publishing house, ethics commission … and perhaps a new foreign mission effort (the old one seemed to be working so well). I realize that leaders must change with time, but the changes they bring in belief and practice are the things which cause heartache in the ranks. That is when those who have been subjected to new leaders must decide to “forsake not the assembling together” or “come out from among them”.

        Brother Scott, I have always appreciated your balanced view of SBC issues. I wish you the best in the days ahead. (P.S., I like the look and feel of your new blog format!)

        • September 3, 2014 at 11:16 AM

          Bro. Max,

          Thanks for the follow up. I think you are exactly right about organizations taking on the personality of their leaders. While there is much to commend Dr. Platt for, there are areas of concern, particularly when it comes to what it means to be a “cooperating Southern Baptist.” How you and I define that (or how it has been defined) seems to be different than how many in areas of leadership at SBC entities define it. That alone, not even getting to the soteriological pink elephant in the room, could be enough to spell disaster in the coming years.

          What also causes “heartache in the ranks” is the apparent failure of the IMB Trustees to listen to their constituency. It goes without saying that they must listen to God (we hope everyone in leadership does), but that cannot be the answer to cut off questions. I will have a post on this either this week or next, but it seems to me that most of the Trustees at our entities are far removed from the average Southern Baptist pastor or church. I have read about how “the trustee process worked” in regards to Dr. Platt’s selection. Did it? Well, to paraphrase a certain former President, that depends on the definition of “worked.” When leaders, in this case Trustees, fail to listen to the concerns of a broad segment of the SBC, then it is only a matter of time before things will implode. The first signs will be financial. I hope I am wrong, but as a lifelong Southern Baptist (maybe not as long as you), many of these changes that are coming will not be good for unity or for the proclamation of the Gospel to “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Uttermost parts of the world.” Thanks again and thanks for the feedback on the new blog format. I appreciate it. God bless and have a great day,

          Howell

          • Max
            September 3, 2014 at 3:02 PM

            “… failure of the IMB Trustees to listen to their constituency.”

            And a great multitude of Southern Baptists shout forth a hearty AMEN!

            “It goes without saying that they must listen to God (we hope everyone in leadership does), but that cannot be the answer to cut off questions.”

            When we attempt to draw God into our plans – requesting Him to bless what we decide is the proper course – He calls it sin. Until I witness widespread humility, prayer, repentance, and seeking God’s face (without human agenda), I doubt that SBC leadership is hearing God much these days in any endeavor. “Constituents” in any organization pay the price of leadership misdirection. The constituents in this case are God’s people – they deserve much more than they have been getting in recent years. We have a leadership crisis.

          • September 3, 2014 at 3:30 PM

            “Constituents” in any organization pay the price of leadership misdirection. The constituents in this case are God’s people – they deserve much more than they have been getting in recent years. We have a leadership crisis.

            Nail hit squarely on head, Bro. Max 🙂

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