Yesterday, I listened to a recent sermon on Romans 9 by Pastor Bill Harrell of Abilene Baptist Church. After listening to all 45+ minutes of it, I realized, this is one reason young people are flocking to Reformed theologians, pastors, and schools. The sermon never offers a meaningful explanation of God having mercy on whomever he chooses nor does it address why Paul would think some might be offended at his teaching. Paul’s famous indignant question, “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” is left utterly meaningless.
Since the Conservative Resurgence, Southern Baptists have exhorted each other to return to the Bible. By God’s grace, young people are doing just that! But what they are often hearing in the pulpit are inadequate expositions of the biblical text and unsatisfactory answers to their questions. Many college aged Southern Baptists are waking up and asking, “What I have been taught my whole life? This doesn’t make any sense.”
Pastor Bill Harrell’s sermon on Romans 9 is a good example of not dealing with the “hard” parts of Scripture, and will only lead young people toward those who do exposit the text and let it speak for itself. Many will attempt to blame theology departments or a rebellion against an older generation as a cause for the spread of Reformed theology in the SBC. I believe pastors who refuse to offer meaningful sermons on hard texts are playing a large role in the transformation as well.