What Hath Levi’s To Do With Blackshear?

In his Facebook post, Mike Stone seemed to be throwing his power around in much the same way that a CEO of a certain blue jean manufacturer might. He seemed to be making threats just like a secularist politician who feels that their power and authority might have been questioned by some peon who works as a volunteer in their campaign headquarters.

Introduction

On February 14th, Jennifer Sey announced that she had left her job as the Brand President at Levi’s, and after turning down a $1 million severance package that included her signing a NDA, she told her story.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Sey publicly brought into question whether or not the schools should be shut down, and the woke mob that ran Levi’s didn’t take too kindly to that.

Things changed when Covid hit. Early on in the pandemic, I publicly questioned whether schools had to be shut down. This didn’t seem at all controversial to me. I felt—and still do—that the draconian policies would cause the most harm to those least at risk, and the burden would fall heaviest on disadvantaged kids in public schools, who need the safety and routine of school the most.

I wrote op-eds, appeared on local news shows, attended meetings with the mayor’s office, organized rallies and pleaded on social media to get the schools open. I was condemned for speaking out. This time, I was called a racist—a strange accusation given that I have two black sons—a eugenicist, and a QAnon conspiracy theorist.

In the summer of 2020, I finally got the call. “You know when you speak, you speak on behalf of the company,” our head of corporate communications told me, urging me to pipe down.

Jennifer Sey

Pipe down she did not. The Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Levi’s requested that she do an “apology tour.” She was told that she “was not a friend of the Black community at Levi’s.” She was told to say that she was “an imperfect ally.” Naturally, she refused.

Later Sey was promised that she was in line to be the next CEO of Levi’s. All she had to do was shut her trap and fall in line, (and again, she did not.) Eventually things came to a head when she was told that by her CEO that it was “untenable” for her to stay employed with the company. So, she left, and she made it clear to public as to why she left.

Now, after reading all of this you might ask yourself…

What Hath Levi’s to do with Blackshear?

Mike Stone, the sorest loser of the 2021 SBC Presidential election, has taken to Facebook to share his opinions on the latest appointment to the Supreme Court.

It might be helpful for me to state first that I am also not thrilled about the idea that our newest supreme court justice believes that you have to be a straight up biologist to know what a woman is. I’m in agreement with Mike Stone that this is nothing to celebrate, and I’m in agreement with Douglas Wilson when he says of our newest Supreme Court Justice:

Jackson either does not know what a woman is, and is unsuitable for this high judicial office for the same reason that the homeless guy who lives in a cardboard box down by the river under a bridge is unsuitable, or she knows quite well what a woman is, and won’t say because she is too cowardly or too ambitious to offend the college of cardinals who have a choke hold on the Church of Flattening Everything. In other words, she is either demented herself, or is being held in thrall by those who are demented.

Douglas Wilson, So I’m No Biologist Either…

Now that I’ve made clear where I stand (as if my regulars don’t already know), I would like to point some things that bother me about what Mike Stone said in his post.

Hang On, We’re Getting There…

The last part of Stone’s post says:

…if one of our church’s employees found some reason to celebrate and appreciate this confirmation, I’d fire them on the spot. If for no other reason, for insulting me and our church family by thinking such an asanine position would be tolerated at our church.

Mike Stone

What Does This Say About Stone’s Desire (or Lack Thereof) to Pastor the People Who Serve Under Him?

In the same way that the CEO of Levi’s sought to get rid of an employee who didn’t conform to the hivemind, Mike Stone also seeks to rid the staff of his church of anyone who has a differing opinion.

I can already two responses being tapped out on the keyboards of armchair pastors and theologians everywhere so let me address those before moving on:

“Logan, don’t you realize that there are right and wrong opinions?”

Yes, I do, and I understand the need to be in unity on whether we can define what a woman is. I also understand the disjointedness that can occur within a local body if two of the pastors are in disagreement about issues such as this, but why jump straight to firing? If you’re a Senior Pastor and you feel that a staff pastor serving underneath has an unbiblical opinion that is harmful to the integrity of the church, why not treat them like a brother in Christ and try the Matthew 18 approach?

It’s probably Mike Stone doesn’t know how to treat brothers in Christ as such. That was evident after he lost the 2021 SBC presidential election and took his frustrations out on Russell Moore by filing a lawsuit against Moore by claiming that Moore had defamed his character thus costing him the election. Roughly two months later the lawsuit was withdrawn. According to The Tennesean,

Stone commented on the decision in statement that his attorney sent in an email.

“My attorneys have, at my request, moved to voluntarily withdraw the lawsuit I had filed against Russell Moore,” Stone said. “I believe that based on current circumstances the better path for my family, my church, and our convention at this time is to leave the matter in the hands of our Lord.”

Southern Baptist pastor Mike Stone drops lawsuit against Russell Moore

It’s not clear as to the exact reason that Stone dropped the lawsuit, but it probably didn’t help that the Religion News Service found a sermon preached by Mike Stone where he said,

Let’s say somebody defames your character with unfounded gossip. The legal thing to do and I’m not just talking about a lawsuit, I mean the understandable natural thing to do might be to defend your name. The godly thing might be let it go.

Mike Stone, Stop Airing Your Dirty Laundry, Part 1

The second objection I might hear is, “Logan, a large Baptist church and a corporation like Levi’s is not the same. This is apples and oranges.”

My point exactly. In his Facebook post, Mike Stone seemed to be throwing his power around in much the same way that a CEO of a certain blue jean manufacturer might. He seemed to be making threats just like a secularist politician who feels that their power and authority might have been questioned by some peon who works as a volunteer in their campaign headquarters.

What Does This Say About Stone’s View of Grace?

I asked about Matthew 18 earlier, and I think that’s a legitimate question. Church discipline is meant to restore a fallen sinner to fellowship within the local body of Christ. Paul laid out the process of discipline in 1 Corinthians 5 when he addresses the issue of a man sleep with his stepmother.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! … In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:1, 4-5, NKJV

Later in 2 Corinthians 2, Paul will instruct that man should be restored and forgiven showing that the church discipline had its intended affect.

But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.

2 Corinthians 2:5-8, NKJV

If Mike Stone is not willing to pastorally walk with someone who has a damaging opinion, then that means one of two things:

Having a damaging opinion is an unforgivable sin so heinous that it cannot even be repented of through church discipline.

OR

Mike Stone can’t be bothered with extending the grace of pastoral care and discipline to those who serve under him.

Both of those are terrible conclusions, but one of them has to be true if Stone feels that the best thing to do is fire someone on the spot for celebrating the apppointment of the new Supreme Court justice.

In Conclusion

If Mike Stone had left the pulpit in exchange for the world of politics like Mike Huckabee did so many moons ago, then I may have scoffed and moved on, but the fact that Mike Stone serves as a senior pastor of a significantly sized church, and has a notable voice in the world of American Christendom means that I’m not going to quietly stay in my lane. I’m going to say something because the world is watching and people need to understand that Mike Stone does not accurately represent a Christian worldview.

Build a Dinghy

The idea is that the Southern Baptist Convention is a ship that is headed in the wrong direction and it needs to be commandeered and steered by the conservatives in the right direction. (Now, in this case, whether ‘right’ means ‘correct’ or if it just means ‘not left’ remains to be seen.)

To those of you who follow me on Facebook, you already know where this is going, but I would encourage you to read on for two reasons: #1) This is an elaboration on what I’ve been posting for the last couple of days and I’m going to be a little more thorough than what I have been on Facebook, and #2) this is a preface to a forthcoming article Build a Dinghy: Rainbow Edition where I address the “Welcoming” Cumberland Presbyterians. (I’m sure you can guess what their priorities are.)

Why I’m Even Saying Anything

Now, you might be reading this and wondering to yourself, “Logan, you’re not Southern Baptist. Why do you even care? Why are you even taking the time to comment about such things?” It all boils down to the following reasons:

  1. The Southern Baptist Convention is easily the largest Protestant evangelical denomination and they have a large voice in the United States which is where I happen to live and pastor so I think I’m entitled to say something about what’s going in the culture which I to preach to every week.
  2. I was a part of a Southern Baptist church plant for 3 years. While I would not consider them a cult, there were cult-like practices that were in place that eventually led to their downfall. (Imagine Seattle’s Mars Hill Church in small town Arkansas where Mark Driscoll was sane and it was the “Executive Elders” who were arrogant, had anger issues, and terrible opinions about women.)
  3. I have a blog and I can. *insert shrug emoji here*

If You’re Still With Me By Now…

Let me start off by saying that I love my Southern Baptist friends. There are things about being Southern Baptist that greatly appeal to me. Southern Baptists, in a lot of ways, are outdoing Cumberland Presbyterians in how many missionaries they commission each year, how much of a reach they have out into the world with the Gospel, and a lot of them could teach us a thing or two about expositional preaching. So, understand that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of malice, it comes as an elbow jab from a brother. Afterwards, we can go out to the pub and have an apple juice together. (You can tell your congregation it’s apple juice, I’ll lie for you.)

The Jolly Roger Wasn’t So Jolly

I couldn’t really find the origin of it, but #TakeTheShip became the war cry of many of the ultra conservative Southern Baptist pastors and leaders for this year’s annual meeting held in Nashville. The idea is that the Southern Baptist Convention is a ship that is headed in the wrong direction and it needs to be commandeered and steered by the conservatives in the right direction. (Now, in this case, whether ‘right’ means ‘correct’ or if it just means ‘not left’ remains to be seen.)

In an article that heavily featured Southern Baptist pastor and fellow Arkansan, Allen Nelson IV, The New York Times reported, “Those hoping to “take the ship” maintain that piracy is nothing more than a cheeky metaphor for a dry, democratic process.” Now, when it comes to pirate imagery, I’ve got to admit the aesthetic is cool, and I’m a little mad that I didn’t think of it first. However, the imagery implies that those who take the ship don’t belong on the ship to begin with. Historically speaking, pirates weren’t exactly great people who went around kindly asking for stuff with an open hand. They apprehended ships that weren’t their’s by force and took what didn’t belong to them.

Maybe I’m reading into it, but this got me to thinking about what the Conservative Baptist Network and what they really stand for. At the end of the day, I’m sure there are a lot of members of the Conservative Baptist Network who passionately love the Southern Baptist Convention and they passionately love Southern Baptist life. However, if you want to be one of them, it’s not enough that you be Southern Baptist, you must also be a conservative Southern Baptist.

Now, if you’re an “outsider” like I am, you might be reading this and thinking, “Aren’t most Southern Baptists conservative?” Yes, they are. The vast majority of Southern Baptists would tell you that abortion is a sin, homosexuality and all of its related behavior is sinful, and that the Bible should be taken literally. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that none of those things are good enough. It doesn’t matter if you share all of those positions with them, you’re still just a liberal who wants to steer the ship into an iceberg. It’s not enough to be conservative, you have to be conservative by their standards. When they move the goalposts you have to go with them.

For example, if you go to the Conservative Baptist Network website, and try to join a local chapter, you will be asked for your contact information, but then you will be asked to click a box that indicates that you affirm with the Conservative Baptist Network Purpose.

Purpose of The Conservative Baptist Network

Now, if you read the Conservative Baptist Network Purpose this is where it gets interesting. If you know the Baptist Faith & Message, then you can see right off the bat that the second bullet point is superfluous. The Baptist Faith & Message already affirms “the inerrancy, supremacy, and sufficiency of Scripture in all facets of life and application.” If it doesn’t then why are they requiring people to affirm the Baptist Faith & Message as part of this statement?

Now, I’m not going to run through all of these, but these are pretty standard beliefs and practices of those that call themselves Southern Baptist except for the fourth bullet point. Now, I get it. CRT is important issue. I fully believe that CRT does more damage to racial relations than good. Many Southern Baptists felt that passing Resolution 9 at the annual meeting in Birmingham in 2019 was a bad idea, but the resolution only stated that CRT could be used an “analytical tool” not a theological one, AND the resolution affirm that “Critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, resulting in ideologies and methods that contradict Scripture.” What more do they want, egg in in their beer? Part of the failure of Southern Baptist polity is that resolutions don’t really mean anything anyway. Just because a resolution passes doesn’t mean you or your church have to affirm it. It’s not like the Baptist Faith and Message. Which brings me to my next point…

It doesn’t matter if you affirm everything else that they affirm. It doesn’t matter if you stand against same-sex marriage, abortion, or if you stand for the doctrines that are taught in the Baptist Faith & Message, if you can’t agree with them on this issue then you’re not conservative enough for them. They can’t lock arms with you and call you a brother.

When I was a part of a Southern Baptist church plant, I was taught that part of what it means to be a Southern Baptist is to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. When I could no longer do that, I stopped identifying as a Southern Baptist and eventually left. If you cannot lock arms with someone who also affirms your confession and your statement of belief, and you have to go above and beyond it to make sure someone is on “your side” then you either need to repent and seek biblical reconciliation or if you believe you are correct, then you need to form a new statement of belief that matches your ideals and use that as the goalpost.

If You Can’t Take the Ship…

If you feel the need to take the ship like pirates on the open sea, then you’re implying that you weren’t on the ship to begin with and in all honestly, maybe you weren’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I disagree with the Conservative Baptist Network a lot, but I think a lot of them have good intentions. I don’t think they’re evil people, but maybe it’s time they branch out. Starting a new denomination or cooperative program isn’t a bad thing. The body of Christ has arms and it has armpits. Some parts might stink more than others, but they’re all necessary.

So, if you can’t take the ship, build a dinghy.

P.S. I’m not going to be so nice in my next article.