Southern Baptist Convention's Presidential candidate Tom Ascol criticized growing pragmatism in the church, vowing congregants a bible-led leadership.
Due to his bitter experience with church leaders including his father who served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher that had lived a double life as "a drunk and a womanizer and an abuser," Ascol thought it was a joke when he was called by God to be a pastor, the Baptist Press reported. He once aspired to become a lawyer to escape his calling but was advised to pray about it first.
After he was invited to preach once, teaching people he knew in the Bible for 15 minutes, the church licensed him to preach followed by different speaking invitations from people and other churches. Ascol considered this affirmation and decided to continue his calling.
Vowing Bible-based Leadership
When he accepted the role, he vowed to work according to God's instructions in the Bible. Ascol has maintained that attitude to ministry as a pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and also became the theme of his presidential bid for Southern Baptist Convention's leadership entitled "We have a book."
In recent years, however, Ascol's focus on the Bible has led him to become a strong critique of the SBC. He believed that liberalism, critical race theory, and female preachers were taking the denomination away from the Bible. Ascol has long contended that Southern Baptists have been overly willing to embrace pragmatic approaches for attracting people to church and have been too accommodating to the larger culture.
He wrote in his recent work on Founders Ministries, a Florida nonprofit that Ascol leads, that Southern Baptists were "embarrassed of the teachings of the Scripture."
His criticisms stemmed from Southern Baptists who have challenged the organization to confront its history by embracing academic concepts about the pervasiveness of racism in society. "Critical race theory and intersectionality" were mentioned as important analytics tools in Resolution 9 voted at the SBC's 2019 annual conference. He considered it an unforgivable diversion from biblical truth.
Remain In Truth, Not In Culture
Ascol encouraged his readers that it shouldn't be that way. He said that God's word was more powerful than any two-edged sword and will never fail, urging the Southern Baptists to remain in the truth of the Bible rather than being misguided just to appease the culture.
He has also claimed that SBC churches should not have women preaching during worship services. Ascol argued that matters that "God did not attend" was a form of abuse to God, including women taking roles in the church.
His concerns for the health of local SBC churches motivated him to voice and act out his positions. In his interview with Religion News Service, he shared that growing pragmatism in the church had led many people to believe that they were Christians but really not. According to him, he had been awakening the church's leadership for decades, citing low membership attending the church.
Ascol was supported by SBC pirates, a group of SBC-affiliated organizations that think the denomination has strayed from the Bible and toward liberalism. It includes Founders Ministries, Sovereign Nations, and the Conservative Baptist Network.