Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines implored those gathered for the annual meeting of the United States’ largest Protestant denomination to “believe in a supernatural God.”
During his presidential address on Tuesday before the SBC messengers gathered in Dallas, Texas, Gaines preached about the need to believe in a God powerful enough to do miracles.
He contrasted this belief with the popular eighteenth century ideology of deism, popular among men like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, which rejected miracles and claimed that God was an impersonal creator of the universe.
“Do you believe in a supernatural God? Do you believe in a God Who created the Heavens and the earth?” said Gaines. “I want to know if you believe in a supernatural God.”
Gaines spoke about the Book of Acts, which documented the first few decades of Christianity, as an example of when the church believes in a supernatural God.
“They went from Jerusalem to Rome. They took the Gospel and they would go into an area that knew nothing of Christ and within a matter of years, churches were planted, thousands of people were following Jesus Christ. How did they do that? They believed in the miraculous power of God,” Gaines stated.
“And I want to ask you, Southern Baptist Convention, we all are asking. What is going to be the solution for our decline? What is going to be? What can God do with us?”
He told the SBC messengers that the primary answer is for them “to believe in a bigger God than you believe in right now.”
“Don’t cut up your Bible. Don’t dismiss the miracles in the Bible,” declared Gaines, who asked the audience if there was anything in their lives that showed the presence of a supernatural deity in their daily lives.
“What is going on in your church or in your marriage that can only be explained by someone looking in and saying ‘they could not have pulled that off, only God could have done that?'”
He added, “God’s supernatural power is greater than any problem Southern Baptists have … Stop talking about how big your problems are and start talking about how big your God is.”
SBC membership has been in decline over the past decade. Currently, membership is at around 15.2 million, down from 16.2 million in 2008.
Gaines’ address was delivered at the SBC annual meeting, which is being held at the Kay Bailey Dallas Convention Center on June 12-13.
Messengers will vote on several resolutions, including one that denounces state level bans on gay conversion therapy for minors and another that calls the denomination to label “social justice” incompatible with the Gospel.
Vice President Mike Pence is also scheduled to speak at the annual meeting on Wednesday, drawing some controversy as some SBC leaders believe that the denomination should not host major public officials.
For his part, Gaines will be stepping down as SBC president. Pastor J.D. Greear, head of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University and a former SBC seminary president, have been nominated to be the next president.
During his address, Gaines told the messengers that he believed one of the key things that the SBC could tell the world about after the annual meeting concludes is that “God is still on His throne.”
“The God Who created the Heavens and the Earth, the God Who came to us when we could not come to Him, the God Who pulled us out of the miry clay, set our feet on the rock, put a new song in our heart, that God is still on His throne,” said Gaines.