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August 28, 2023
SBC President has Come to Jesus Moment After Being Caught Lying on Resume
By Anthony Wade
Examining restoration of our walk versus trying to get our job back...
Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. - 1Timothy 3:7 (ESV)
We recently wrote about the concept of repentance and forgiveness as related to the case of pastor Greg Locke. Mr. Locke has built his ministry upon the ashes of his first marriage, which he ended so he might marry his church secretary, whom he was having an affair with. According to the bible, Mr. Locke is disqualified from ministry. I did not say so, God did. The responsibility of leading and tending to God's sheep is not a trivial matter and the sin reveals the heart unfortunately. Supporters cried out that he had repented, which they of course did not know. That is ok because that is between him and God and no one should ever root against someone repenting. Of course, Locke has a great deal more to repent of including false teaching and leading the people of God astray. The issue for this discussion however is that repentance does not mean you get your job back. Forgiveness has to do with our walk, not our ministry. This morning came another story, linked above, which allows another look at this ongoing church problem. Here is the entirety of the short article:
"Following revelations that he lied on his resume about his credentials, Willie McLaurin has resigned his position as interim president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his resignation letter, McLaurin apologized and asked for forgiveness from not only senior officials within the organization, but also members of the entire Southern Baptist Convention. "In a recent resume that I submitted, it included schools that I did not attend or complete the course of study," McLaurin said in the letter that was sent to Executive Committee trustees and staff. "Recently, this was confirmed. "I am submitting to those in Christ who desire to help me undergo a season of restoration and accountability, as led by my pastor and local church," his letter continued. "I apologize to Southern Baptists who have placed their confidence in me and have encouraged me to pursue the role of President and CEO of the SBC. To them, I offer my deepest apologies. Please forgive me for the hurt this has caused." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Southern Baptist Convention President Bret Barber responded to McLaurin's letter with a graceful heart. "Biblical Christianity offers you one and only one response to that plea, fellow Southern Baptists. Yes, Willie, I forgive you." On his resume, ChurchLeaders.com reported, McLaurin listed false degrees from North Carolina Central University, Duke University Divinity School and Hood Theological Seminary. McLaurin served the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for 15 years before joining the SBC Executive Committee in 2020." - Charisma News
Just briefly, a few points to consider. The first is we all need to be adults here. Willie McLaurin did not decide to be so humble and contrite on his own. He got caught. Who knows how long he had fudged his credentials. His message was certainly self-effacing, as it should be. While he gets points for that, let us not be confused. We are only having this discussion because he lied and thought he would not get caught but he was. Faced with these realities, he correctly understood that he better apologize and ask forgiveness. While that is noted, it provides no credit for him because the motivation was completely self-preservation.
The second point is the lies. How brazen do you have to be to invent degrees not just from one university but three? Duke Divinity School and Hood Theological Seminary? Really? How little did McLaurin think of the SBC to assume they wouldn't even check? I understand we all sin. I understand we all probably have moments of dishonesty for varied reasons. I get that. This is not that. If he had fudged one degree, while still bad, I don't think I am writing this, but three? What level of pure carnality exists to sit down and lie that profusely on a resume to run the Southern Baptist Convention? Locke lied to his wife, to God and his sheep. McLaurin lied to the entire SBC and the church world. The maliciousness of intent is what is so compelling. This is what I wrote recently about local leaders I know who have built their current ministerial careers on the bones of those they stabbed in the back to achieve. Now they sit in the places of honor, but they built that on dishonor. They enjoy title, respect, and maybe even do some ministerial good but that is irrelevant beloved. God does not ascribe to Machiavellian theology. The ends do not justify the means. I recently read a horrific story about a pastor who killed the daughter of another pastor to prevent her from revealing his abuse. He buried these secrets for over 30 years serving in church. I am sure during that time he may have done some good. Helped some people. Maybe even preached well and saw God save some folks. But it was all built upon lies. God lays out requirements for a reason. That brings us to sunny point number three:
"I am submitting to those in Christ who desire to help me undergo a season of restoration and accountability, as led by my pastor and local church," his letter continued." - Willie McLaurin
This is exactly the problem. Restoration has to do with Mr. McLaurin's walk - not his position in the SBC or any other ministry goals. He has already decided and probably been advised that he just needs a "season" where he behaves like a good little boy, accountability, and he can have his toys back - restoration. No, no, a thousand times no. Mark Driscoll's season lasted about a year after being kicked out of Mars Hill and stealing $200,000 in tithe monies to game the NY Times Bestseller List. Ted Haggard was back in the saddle pretty soon after decades of sexual trysts with a male prostitute while doing crystal meth. Even the disgraced James MacDonald was welcomed back in his new ministry efforts even though his former church said he was disqualified. Now he has been arrested and charged with assaulting a 59-year-old woman because of a fender bender. His defense is he must have blacked out. Somehow, I am doubting his story. The larger point here is the hubris to include the sneaky motivation for McLaurin is "restoration." So, the president of the SBC lied prolifically on his resume and got busted for it. Suddenly he has a "come to Jesus" moment and apologizes and falls on the forgiveness sword but reveals he is only doing this so that he can eventually get back to work after this non-descript, "season." Ugh. This is modern churchianity at its worst. Do you think this hypocrisy is lost on the unsaved? It is not even moral, let alone biblical.
Of course, they are all saying we forgive you Willie but there is still one facet of this left unspoken of. The story says he lied on his most recent resume but also that he served the previous 15 years on the Tennessee Baptist Missions Board (TBMB) and then joined the SBC Executive Committee in 2020, almost four years ago. The questions that need answering is why it was only caught now? I must assume that his resume always had these lies otherwise fudging the new one would make little sense. So how did someone get on the TBMB, and stay for 15 years without a vetting of their credentials? How did someone get appointed to the SBC Executive Committee in 2020 without a similar credentials review? If this was the policy of the SBC and TBMB, maybe it is time they review all of their folks and see if we have anyone else who may need to come to Jesus, literally and figuratively. Bottom line is I hope that Willie McLaurin is truly repentant. Not for my sake but for his. I also hope the SBC does not follow through on restoring someone to a trust position that has already disqualified themselves from being trustworthy. The key verse comes from the pastoral qualifications from Paul to Timothy. Certainly, we could have just reiterated the lead qualification, which is the person must be above reproach, which Willie McLaurin no longer is and perhaps never should have been considered such. If the above questions get answered maybe, we will find someone else who built a very respectable ministerial record and career on deception and carnality and yes that should matter to us. One reason it should matter to us is the key verse. There is simply no way that outsiders would ever consider McLaurin to be well thought of. Maybe in a few decades but not after the purpose driven equivalent of a "season." He should stay active in his local church and follow the leadership of his pastor like any other sheep. His ministerial career however should be over. Time to get a real job like the other sheep do and work on his walk with God. That should be paramount and that is what the church should be seeking to restore.
Reverend Anthony Wade - August 21, 2023