It was announced this week that Highland Park Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, will relocate and change its name to Church of the Highlands. The church’s current property is being sold to facilitate a move to a location across from the Harrison Bay Marina near Camp Joy. Jeremy Roberts, Highland Park’s 28-year-old pastor, says “It’ll be the funnest church around” (“Chattanooga’s Iconic Highland Park,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, Sept. 10, 2012). A glass wall backdrop behind the pulpit will offer a view of the river below, which will provide “an experience where you will be encompassed in all of God’s creation” (“Highland Park Baptist Selling,” Nooga.com, Sept. 10, 2012). This is sort of a combination between the Crystal Cathedral and the “church of the great outdoors”! The new building will facilitate “a more progressive, 21st century model for ministry” (“Highland Park Baptist Relocating,” WRCBtv, Sept. 9, 2012). In fact, the church has been pursuing a “progressive” model for about a decade and it has nearly killed it. Current attendance is around 350, rattling around in an auditorium that seated 5,700 when it was completed in 1981 and that was regularly filled to the brim in those days.
The church adopted contemporary worship about 10 years ago. In April 2006, the school’s College Days featured Toddiefunk and the Electric Church. Toddiefunk is the bass player for Toby Mac, formerly with DC Talk. Electric Church’s album Ready or Not featured “Holy Ghost Thang,” “Dance Floor,” “Naked,” and “Crazay.” By 2008, Highland Park Baptist Church had gone back into the Southern Baptist Convention. A couple of years earlier Tennessee Temple had emerging church leader Dallas Willard for the Spring Lecture Series. Willard believes that “it is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved,” rejects the infallible inspiration of Scripture, believes in progressive salvation, promotes Roman Catholic contemplative mysticism, and claims that God is not concerned about doctrinal purity.
John R. Rice’s daughter Joy Martin said that she supports the new direction and believes that Lee Roberson would be excited about it, as well (Nooga.com, Sept. 10, 2012). As we have documented in the free eBook “The Old Highland Park Baptist Church,” the seeds for the church’s rapid downfall were sown during Lee Roberson’s tenure through a soft, ineffectual separatism. Since a vast number of independent fundamental Baptist preachers are following in Roberson’s footsteps in their philosophy of ministry, the result will be the same. This is one of the reasons why we wrote the book “Why Most IFB churches Will be Emerging within 20 Years,” which is available as a free eBook from www.wayoflife.org.
(Friday Church News Notes, September 14, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)
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