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Former SBC President Johnny Hunt Returns to Pulpit, Sparking Debate

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Former SBC President Johnny Hunt Returns to Pulpit, Sparking Debate

Former SBC President Johnny Hunt Returns to Pulpit, Sparking Debate

Former Southern Baptist Convention president Johnny Hunt preached at a Florida church Sunday, seven months after SBC messengers adopted a report saying he had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2010.

Hunt last summer said he "vigorously" denied the "circumstances and characterizations set forth" in the report and that he had "never abused anybody." Hunt later claimed it was consensual.

A group of four pastors released a video in November saying they had completed a restoration process with Hunt whereby he and his wife underwent "intense" counseling within a season of "reflection and restoration." One of those pastors, Steven Kyle of Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., welcomed Hunt into the pulpit at his church Sunday.

Preaching from Psalm 119, Hunt did not directly address his situation but seemed to reference it when he asked attendees, "Have you ever made a choice that you wish you could undo, but you can't undo it? What do you do with stuff you can't undo?

"You give it to Jesus, and He washes us and cleanses, in the blood as we repent, and we return to Him," Hunt said. "God is omniscient. When God calls you to do something, and you begin to think you're no longer qualified to do it – hold on just a moment. You don't think He knew your past, your present and your future when He called you? And so He already knew that, and yet He still placed his hand and His calling on you."

Some have criticized Hunt's return to ministry.

"It grieves me deeply that Johnny Hunt would not have the spiritual and emotional intelligence to realize the deep trauma that he is causing," vice chair of the SBC's Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force Mike Keahbone, told The Roys Report. "Not only to the victim of his abuse but also to all survivors who are watching and re-living their pain as they watch him return to the very platform that he caused harm from."

Keahbone believes that "sexual misconduct calls for disqualification from ministry."

"True repentance is not found in the opinions of four men, but in a broken heart and changed behavior," Keahbone said.

Hunt is scheduled to preach in February at HomeE Church in Tennessee. Jason Rogers, the church's pastor, defended his invitation.

"We are thrilled to host Pastor Johnny Hunt at HomE Church," Rogers told the Roys Report. "No one has been more greatly used of God to influence my ministry or as a greater, God-honoring influence on my family. Like myself, everyone in our church family, and everyone in the world, Pastor Johnny has not lived in sinless perfection as a believer. However, contrary to the 'woke' ideology that has sadly consumed the SBC and many believers, the Bible is clear that all sin is alike before the holiness of God. Sexual sin is not a greater sin in the sight of God. This is why we all need grace, mercy, repentance, and forgiveness. We are convinced of Pastor Johnny's repentance leading to God's forgiveness. According to Galatians 6:1, restoration must also follow. Without restoration, a process which Pastor Johnny has submitted to twice now, it's not actually forgiveness. We unashamedly stand with Pastor Johnny, along with every other fallen recipient of God's manifold grace to the glory of King Jesus!"


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Boonchai Wedmakawand

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.