Recently, news broke that Ligonier Ministries scheduled their 2022 National Conference at First Baptist Orlando, which concludes this weekend. This was alarming due to the recently exposed heretical teachings espoused by First Baptist. Danny de Armas, the senior associate pastor, infamously offered a full-blown ecumenical statement devoid of any Gospel truth and antithetical to the teachings of Scripture by highlighting how many illegal immigrants, pro-choice demoncrats, and LGBTQ folk were ‘serving’ in his church.
“We have transgender, LGBTQ, straight, single, married, divorced and cohabitating people. These same people attend listen, serve, grow and give…We have pro-life and pro-choice…And in the midst of all of this, we have one of the most beautiful worship experiences you can possibly imagine.”
Unfortunately, the above is only one of the more recent examples of heresy spewed at the church. In the aftermath of the shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub back in 2016, First Baptist Orlando held a memorial service for the 59 victims. What proceeded from this was one of the most jaw-dropping blasphemous statements someone could ever think of. Guest speaker and pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Larry Mills said to those in attendance something which could only be described as straight from the pit of hell:
“…We believe in the Word and what others would have against us – what others would show as a stumbling stone- we’ve elevated to be the head of the corner. And right now no matter what the presence and people of mine may think, that LBGTQ area is the head cornerstone. And we are here to lift up and magnify and allow them to know: that regardless of people’s opinion, regardless of where we are, love triumphs over evil.”
This is in stark contrast to Ephesians 2:20-22, which places Christ as the cornerstone. Larry Mills blasphemed Christ by claiming that workers of an abominable sin are the chief cornerstone. This isn’t just error, it’s flat-out satanic.
This snapshot of First Baptist Orlando raises a lot of concerns in regards to Ligonier deciding to host their conference at their building. Amongst other prominent men of the faith, Pastor John MacArthur originally was scheduled to be a speaker at the event as well. Thankfully, not only did MacArthur withdraw, but he took time at ShepCon 2022 to rebuke First Baptist Orlando two weeks before it took place by quoting Scripture saying, “…By their fruits you shall what? Know them” and drawing a line in the sand between a church adhering to the culture versus standing for the truth.
“Pragmatism basically says, you do what works. In other words, what the culture wants, you give them. And once you decide that you’re going to give the culture what it wants eventually it will take you to the bottom of that culture. And then you’ll have a church, a Southern Baptist church, a first southern Baptist church saying we welcome homosexuals, transgender people, and immoral people…once you decide you’re going to make an alliance with the world with the ill-conceived notion that somehow this is going to make the Gospel more effective, the culture will take you to the bottom.”
Clearly Pastor MacArthur took issue with the messages spewing forth from FBO and echoed a sentiment that many Christians share.
A fair question to ask then, is why didn’t Ligonier take a stand against FBO as well? While MacArthur withdrew, for whatever reasons those were, many prominent speakers remain such as Steven Lawson, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, Burk Parsons, Derek Thomas, and Michael Reeves, amongst others. These men are wonderful brothers in the faith, many having decades long faithful ministries that have benefited an untold amount of believers.
But the fact remains, it is concerning for a faithful ministry to associate itself with a false church that blasphemes Christ and is heretical on its view of Christ and sin. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 states, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Romans 16:17 says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”
Would it be okay to hold a national conference at a Roman Catholic Church? It’s certainly possible that the speakers could be unaware of the heresy espoused by First Baptist Orlando, but the core issue is this: there’s the appearance of association by holding their 2022 National Conference in that building whether FBO pastors and staff are present or not.
Editor’s note. This article was written by Brad Schoolfield as a guest post for Protestia. h/t Doctrinal Watchdog for the vid.