Note: This is a letter I wrote and personally sent 3 1/2 years ago to Pastor Jason Meyer, then the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist who replaced John Piper upon his retirement. I was grieved and angered at what I was hearing from the pulpit and in print, as a fellow Pastor and Christian, but additionally because both of the reach and influence of Bethlehem Baptist, and that I had several former students sitting under his teaching. I did not receive a response. Last Week (July 2021) Jason Meyer announced his resignation from Bethlehem, following the resignation of several of fellow “woke” pastors, the agenda he had been converted to and propagating having accomplished exactly what was nefariously intended by the Father of lies, that is, sowing seeds of division within his own church.
Dear Pastor Jason:
These are my observations and thoughts. I would gladly stand corrected where I am in error or lack context
You don’t know me, but I have known you from afar the past few years, through the Bethlehem Conferences and connections I enjoy with the College and seminary. Born, raised, and still living in Minnesota, I serve as Pastor of Lifespring Church, a little Reformed Baptist church plant in Crosby MN
I graduated from Bethel College (2001). Coming out of Biblical studies dept wrought with a feminist current, liberation theology and Greg Boyd, I can say, by God’s mercy, my faith is non-only intact, but now I have come to embrace Reformed theology and ecclesiology.
The conduit of my personal reform and endurance came through the teaching of Bethlehem Baptist Church and the DG conferences. There, for a young pastor like myself, in the midst of an Arminian, Seeker movement brand of generic evangelicalism, The Gospel and God’s Sovereignty invaded my world and re-orientated my Worldview.
I tell you this because I am not alone, Bethlehem was and has been a city on a hill for many of us. A beacon of accountability to The Gospel and the Holiness of God
I have appreciated your commitment to continuing this. I am sure it is very challenging, a large mega-church complex type of thingy that Bethlehem has become. I know your commitment to preaching the Word and keeping the Gospel front and center, as has been evident in the conferences.
To this end, I address you and admonish you as a friend and fellow young pastor(I am 39):
Please re-consider the embracing of the Social Justice/Identity Politics agenda which is permeating the Pastor’s conference and Bethlehem Baptist Church.
There have been many critiques and pauses written (www.justthinking.me; www.alliancenet.org/mos/1517/a-little-ol-fashioned-diversity;www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=20-07-026-f)…so I won’t go there in this.
But I believe the direction and insertion of what I can only perceive as a race agenda and identity politics will only serve to divide the church God has entrusted you to shepherd, which is united through the great work of the Spirit and kept unified through the normal means of Grace…Good preaching and sound theology.
I know you are doing with sincerity what you believe is right, yet I listened to your sermon (January 14), It seemed forced, as you borrowed terms and definitions and examples from the world; trying to please the straw men of Culture….the more insecure and guilt-ridden you sounded.
Truthfully Jason, the sermon served, not a call to real faith and repentance based upon God’s moral law and careful application, but a liberation-theology sermon of works-righteousness. Frankly, it sounded like whatever liberal is saying, like something I heard over and over from Bethel College: sowing confusion, not clarity.
If this was the only example, I would have pause before writing you. It is not. The past couple of conferences has this theme present.
I am sure your people now feel guilty, but I fear, not by truly Godly guilt…but from a lesser call; not to examine attitudes of deep pride and favoritism which manifest themselves in a thousand ways, but from having white skin color and culture.
I believe this approach will only divide your church–once you have gone further down your path…your church will fundamentally change…This will be your most important issue until you have achieved some measure of affirmation from the larger culture that you are successful. Then you will be satisfied,….until the next hot-topic comes up demanding a response…This is how liberalism works.
Just because the culture demands a response through its lenses…we should pause and discern, before giving ours. I know you are under tremendous pressure to grow and lead the church…you have a bigger animal to guide than I do…you have a national presence, I do not.
Brother, Preach the Word, God will build his body. If there is something overtly wrong which you can witness and reprove, do so. But attitudes take time to change. I have seen this: Over 16 years in vocational ministry, I have shrunk a youth group from 70 to 40 and now our church gets to 40 attendees on a good day through my preaching of The Word.
I will end with a personal Anecdote:
I was at a Church-planting-boot-camp 9 years ago at Trinity Ev. Divinity School, when I was in the EFCA. It was, frankly, 40 hours of worthless crap. Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, vision casting, big events…growing with excitement…Nothing about warfare, temptations, discouragement, the Gospel, or even Preaching. (by the way, it was led by Raymond Chang, whom you referenced in your sermon),
My wife and I were fish out of water…but so was one other couple: An inner-city black couple. They were stuck out at TEDS as much as we felt, with our Reformed worldview and from northern Minnesota; and they, from a different culture (Inner City), with different color, dress, and talk.
In the middle of the week, the husband stood up in the middle of a mindless session about “crafting impact Mission Statements” and declared: Why can’t we just say something like, ‘we preach the supremacy of Christ to present everyone complete in Him’ straight from Scripture–I don’t know about all this other crap! But I do know Scripture and it is simple for every church: Preach Christ!
It was an awesome rebuke! But seemingly only for him, his wife and myself, and my wife. Through subsequent dinner conversations and other interactions, we came to know them and knew what united us was far more than the affinity of seeker-sensitive churchiness. We had both been remade through the true Gospel and were being reformed in all our thinking.
I haven’t seen them since. I don’t know their names. I am not on social media. It doesn’t matter. Truth untied us. Truth bridged the gap–the Gospel and all the discernment it creates gave us a new culture through renewing our minds. We didn’t need a lecture on racism, on cultural differences; and I am convinced we would have gladly worshiped at the same church, in spite of differences. I don’t remember if we even talked about race, culture, and other differences (the YRR crowd hadn’t made that their hobby-horse yet)…but we didn’t need to…we gloried in our unity.
Jason, the Gospel and all of its fullness is enough! I would exhort you to follow the old paths, utilize the historical creeds and confessions to help keep balance and tension in these issues. God will bring the nations together by the means he has set forth.
Your fellow Shepherd in Christ,
Pastor, Lifespring Church, Crosby, MN