A Statement by the SCBC President Regarding ‘Problematic Positions and Statements’ by NewSpring Church Pastor

During the last few weeks, many South Carolina Baptist Convention churches have been disturbed and puzzled by the Christmas Eve sermon by Perry Noble of NewSpring Church, a church affiliated with the SCBC. This also precipitated a review and apology from this pastor on his blog. However, his 2014 Christmas Eve message and his theological position in that message are evidence of continued problematic positions and statements that are inconsistent with the beliefs of South Carolina Baptists.

These events lead to the following statements:

1) As your convention president, I call all SCBC ministers to treat their individual ministry settings as a sacred trust void of coarse, profane language as well as choosing music that is sacred in content. We are all called by a holy God and must constantly be aware of our testimony for Him as His called servants.

2) Most ministers live an isolated existence regardless of church size or location. Therefore, I personally encourage all ministers to find and actively engage in accountability groups to hold them to a higher standard morally, ethically and biblically. I am a member of two such groups that meet weekly and attend them with faithfulness.

3) As Christian brothers, I ask all SCBC pastors to be courageous, faithful servants of our Lord by renewing themselves to more sound exegetical study and expository preaching and teaching of God’s word.

Ezekiel 33 calls us all to be watchmen over souls and lives our Lord and Savior died for on a blood-stained cross one Friday over 2,000 years ago. All church leaders must take seriously their responsibilities to present well-thought and biblically based sermons and teaching that come from God’s infallible, inerrant Word and lead the lost to Christ.

Therefore, we as South Carolina Baptists must publicly state and remove ourselves from these positions and problematic statements and call for NewSpring to correct these positions if it chooses to say that it affiliates with South Carolina Baptist churches.

I thank you all for the privilege of being your convention president. If I can ever be of any further assistance, please let me know.

In Christ,

Tommy Kelly
Hebrews 11:1,6a

Editor’s note: Perry Noble’s blog post concerning his Christmas Eve sermon can be read at https://perrynoble.com/blog/a-letter-to-the-church-i-love. Tommy Kelly is pastor of Varnville First Baptist Church and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

19 thoughts on “A Statement by the SCBC President Regarding ‘Problematic Positions and Statements’ by NewSpring Church Pastor

  1. I’m so glad you took a stand about the Perry Noble. I attended there for about 3 weeks and knew this was not the place for me. I need accountability, connection, spiritual maturity from my Pastor. I found mine at Brushy Creek.

  2. Perry is a great pastor, NewSpring is a great church. I’ve never felt the holy spirit more in a church than I do at NewSpring. I’ve never walked so close to God as I do now because of the discipling NewSpring does. He made one mistake in a sermon which he later apologized for and people can’t see past it. However, I have witnessed Pastors in small churches preaching through a angry opinion stand point of what the bible says and no one blinks an eye.

  3. With all due respect, Newspring does an excellent job of preaching the Gospel. Think about this. Every baptist church have men serving as deacons who do not fit the description of 1 Timothy 3. Churches need to deal with their own issues within their own congregations before pointing fingers at Newspring.

  4. Ezekiel 33 says nothing about Jesus and it doesn’t say that SC Baptists are the watchmen over anything. How about Romans 8:33-34 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. or Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Those verses were actually written to the Christian Church, the one Christ died for. I am not defending Perry Noble. He doesn’t need me to defend Him. I am defending the Bride of Christ that you have attacked. I am a member of that body, and when you attack one part of the body you are attacking all. No one, least of all Christ, appointed you or the SC Baptists to judge the heart of anyone. If Perry Noble had not already publicly acknowledged and apologized for the confusion his remarks may have caused, it might be worthy of attention, but the over 200 salvations from that message are also worthy of attention. 1 Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Adjustments are definitely called for but not by New Spring Church. Psalm 139:24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Jesus spoke about our hearts and that is always a good place to start before you point fingers and condemn.

    • Hey Rose, after reading your comment I wanted to bring to your attention some other books of the Bible that were also written to the Christian Church. The book of Galatians where Paul rebukes the church there for abandoning the gospel that was preached to them. 1 Corinthians where Paul rebukes the church there for allowing something to go on in the church that even the pagans did not allow. The book of Revelation where Christ examines the churches and calls some of them to repentance. The book of Acts where the body of Christ decided to rebuke those who were preaching that one must be circumcised in order to be a Christian. The verse you looked at in Romans is not about churches or organizations rebuking false teaching or inappropriate behavior which is what this article is doing, but rather read in context is about how no one can separate us from the love of God. Not even our sin because Christ who died and was raised now intercedes for us, and thus there is no condemnation. I ask, how does your interpretation of Romans 8:33-34 work in harmony with the other books I mentioned earlier where Paul is rebuking the church? I would gently suggest that your interpretation does not work within it’s immediate context nor the greater context of scripture. You suggest that SCBC has attacked the body of Christ. Are they not the body of Christ as well? Do you deny their salvation? Would you say that those who trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation are really goats and not sheep? I admire your desire to defend the body of Christ, but is it the body of Christ that is being attacked or the teaching that was preached which can be proven to be false. You mention the 200 salvations, I wonder if you can see into their hearts to know they are trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. I wonder if you attribute the work of the Holy Spirit which saves to this sermon. If not then it does not matter how many people are saved by the message. That shows the power and mercy of God, not the accuracy of the message. You finally mention Psalm, 139:24 and say that the heart is a good place to start. How can one know one’s heart? The SCBC is not God, they cannot see into the hearts of men. Although I could mention out of the heart the mouth speaks. What was addressed in this article was not the heart of Perry Noble but the theological positions he has attached himself and Newspring to. I suggest gently to you that there is no need to defend the body of Christ or Perry Noble, or Newspring, because there is no attack on any of those. Instead there is a rebuking of what Perry Noble said. If you would like to see this as an attack okay, but it is not on Perry or the body of Christ, but on his words. I suggest you defend what it is he said if you feel that what he said was truly keeping with the word of God. I do not wish to come across as judgmental, and I do appreciate your zeal, however I would like to kindly suggest that it is misplaced. Thank you for your time and attention. I hope that your search in the scriptures is enlightening and brings you closer to God and creates a greater reliance on our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

  5. I am a little confused to why some are taking offense at what Tommy Kelly has written. Although his response stems from what Perry Noble said in his Christmas Eve service, the 3 statements he asks for pastors to adhere to were all biblical and addressed to ALL pastors.

    Asking pastors to “treat their individual ministry settings as a sacred trust void of coarse, profane language as well as choosing music that is sacred in content” is a plea for pastors to seek holiness in their personal lives and behind the pulpit. This is also a reminder to pastors to focus on the fact that we are called to be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).

    Tommy’s plea for pastors to, “actively engage in accountability groups” will both encourage and strengthen the pastor. I am thankful for fellow pastors who love me enough to speak hard truths to me and approach me with a reconciliatory spirit. When fellow pastors “speak the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15) to me, it can often hurt but it saves me so much more pain than if I didn’t heed their wise words.

    Finally, asking pastors to focus on “more sound exegetical study and expository preaching and teaching of God’s word” is a safeguard for pastors to not pursue their own agendas but to “correctly handle the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15).

    Perry Noble, in his blog, has admitted to his error of, “saying there was not an actual Hebrew word for command.” He also apologized for his attitude in response to those who were taking issue with his incorrect understanding and proclamation of there being no Hebrew word for command. The public apology on Perry Noble’s blog reflects an attitude of being moldable and humble. I commend any pastor who is willing to admit mistakes and model transparency.

    The statements that Tommy Kelly posted for ALL South Carolina Southern Baptist pastors to consider are all very basic and biblical. I admire the loyalty of so many members of Newspring defending their pastor. However, I did not see what Kelly wrote as an attack on Noble or Newspring. Kelly used what Noble said in his Christmas Eve service as a springboard to address ALL the pastors of the SCBC.

    None of us are perfect and Noble affirms that as well in his blog when he says, “I am imperfect. I make mistakes and fall way short of who I should be each and every day.” We need each other as brothers and sisters in Christ to help keep each other accountable and faithful to seeking Jesus Christ in our daily walk with Him. What Tommy Kelly seems to be advocating is for ALL pastors to realize the gravity of the call to ministry that God has placed on their lives. James makes it clear that, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” James 3:1. Pastoring is a heavy responsibility and if we attempt to carry out our call on our own, we will fail. Pastors need to be consistently seeking Jesus and surrounding themselves with those who love them enough to express hard truths. Pastors also desperately need their churches to bath them in prayer.

    Finally, I pray we remember that we may assemble with different people and in different places geographically, but we are still THE CHURCH. As such we are not each other’s enemy. We have one enemy and his goal is to, “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a). We also have one Lord and Savior in Jesus and He has come that we, “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b).

  6. If this was supposed to be addressing all churches, why was NewSpring threatened in the last statement? Perry Noble apologized and according to this, his apology was accepted but why is it necessary to keep sharing the video for that service? Apparently there is no grace here!

  7. It’s too bad Southern Baptists spend so much time judging others, especially our own. Satan is laughing out loud and enjoying this “statement” by Rev. Kelly. Satan loves division. It is articles and opinions like this that add fuel to the “fire”. This pastor and NewSpring do so much good. God is using this church to bring hundreds to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. May God forgive us for not keeping the focus on Him. Pastor Noble, I don’t attend NewSpring, but I have friends and relatives that do. Stay the course. Keep the focus on teaching the Word. Don’t worry about what man says or thinks. Your only concern is what God lays on your heart to teach to the saved and to the lost. You keep preaching it brother, and let God do the rest. My prayers are with you.

    Greg Sisk
    Greenville, SC

    • Southern Baptists and SC Baptists are a diverse group of people with a wide range of practices and policies regarding any number of issues, such as ordination of women, interpretation of scripture, baptism, the Lord’s supper, social issues, deacons, elders, on and on. One thing we seem to overlook here is the autonomy of the local church. Although we may choose to cooperate in missions and we may choose to adhere to The Baptist Faith and Message, we have no governing body, no hierarchy and no Book of Order to tell us what to think, do, feel, practice, sing, teach, preach, etc. These things are simply in the hands of the local church body and the accountability of that body and its leaders is to God alone. If Rev. Kelly felt the need to admonish Perry Noble and address the other pastors of our convention, maybe he could have found a better way. The Baptist Courier web site and the front page of the Greenville News are certainly not the forums he should have used. It will be interesting to see how much space the next issue of Baptist Courier devotes to this.

  8. All Newspring is doing, under Perry’s leadership, is reaching thousands of people and giving them the opportunity to hear the Gospel, which has resulted in numerous people being saved!! Keep following Jesus and doing what you’re doing! Maybe other SCBC churches can discover how to do that!!

  9. I think Kelly has gone too far here. If we threatened to disfellowship a church every time a pastor preached a bad sermon, there would be a lot fewer churches in the SCBC. Noble admitted making a mistake. I don’t see anything helpful in continuing to beat on this issue.

  10. Noble apologized for his erroneous claims about the word “command” in the Hebrew language. Almost as concerning is why there were no discerning Newspring members in attendance capable of immediately identifying and correcting such an obvious error.

    But of infinitely more importance, Noble did NOT apologize for his redefining and reclassifying the 10 Commandments in a way that nullifies the historic understanding of the Gospel by Christians for nearly 2000 years. Without the Law, there is no Gospel. There can be no doctrine of justification without a standard established by God that differentiates us (the law-breakers) from Christ (the law-keeper).

    Members of NewSpring: It is NOT normal for powerful church leaders to insulate themselves from criticism and accountability.

    It is NOT normal for pastors to use profane language from the pulpit.

    It is NOT normal for pastors and teachers, even in megachurches, to receive as much widespread, extensive, thorough repudiation from evangelical, Bible-believing Christians and pastors as Noble has for this recent sermon and his other public antics through the years.

    I realize Newspring is a large, successful, and rapidly growing church. This does not necessarily mean it is healthy. I’m reminded of the condition called acromegaly. Andre the Giant had this disorder. It causes tremendous early rapid physical growth. People with the condition appear very strong and healthy at first. But the underlying condition is actually a diagnosis that will soon lead to serious illness and death if left untreated.

    A similar situation at a comparable megachurch in Seattle comes to mind: a high-profile pastor who spurns accountability, ignores criticism, and is known for his questionable teaching and methods. A church experiences rapid growth, apparent strength and health, and an untimely demise.

    Newspring members, take heed.

  11. wow, it looks as if some folks are down right giddy about this. I wonder if we get as excited about a lost person coming to Christ. Every church body I’ve been apart of including NewSpring at some level has its issues, so did the disciples, many of which became apostles and if I remember correctly, even Mark and Paul had a falling out. Paul wrote letters addressing problems, within the church. I left a traditional church and moved my family to NewSpring, all 5 of us. I didn’t go to find perfection, because it’s not there. I want the church I left to do what I also want NS to do, and that is, to reach people who don’t know Christ. All of us know that if “small town southern baptist preacher” would’ve made and even graver error, it wouldn’t have even made a ripple in the waters of the SCSBC. But because so many of our so called “brothers in Christ” despise NS because of its music and Perrys style of preaching and the fact that so many people have started attending there, that came out of traditional churches, such as myself, it makes the Baptist Courier and the State Paper. There’s not an ounce of Matthew 18, applied here, you know the part about going to your brother……in private. More importantly, there’s very little grace being shown here. I thought we were all on the same mission. Are we?

  12. Perry’s sermon for Christmas Eve was laid on his heart by God for ME. I applaud Perry for following God’s command. Because of his sermon, I rededicated my life that night. WHY? Because as we learn from reading the Word, it all comes down to having FAITH in Jesus and LOVING everyone…and when you do and turn to Jesus every day, you automatically fulfill the commandments AND receive the PROMISES Perry shared. How amazing to know that I can trust in a name above all names?! How comforting to realize that when a couple turns to God each day, their family will not fall apart because of the examples they are setting for their children and others who see them?! How refreshing to discover that when I place my trust in God, I will never again be disappointed!

    Just imagine if we all LOVED one another, cooperated and collaborated together, and began creating heaven on earth. This is what NewSpring Church is doing for people. Acts 13:39 NIV “Through Jesus everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” And the best of all, Romans 13:8-10 NIV “Love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments (do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet) and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

    God was calling me back to him Christmas Eve through Perry’s sermon. I answered. All the glory to God, through Jesus Christ, forever. May God’s grace be with each and every one.

  13. There must be accountability in the body of Christ and certainly when you are a part of a convention or fellowship. Why would any true Christian be against what the president of the SCBC is saying or doing? If Noble or Newspring doesn’t like being held accountable by them then exit the door. No one is forcing Newspring to be in the SCBC. I was actually surprised that this had not already been done.

  14. Forgive him. Because of one mistake, you can’t judge him as a bad person. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is mystery. You can’t change what you do in the past, but you can decide what you will do in the future.

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