J. D. Greear, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told NPR’s Morning Edition that the SBC needs “to decouple the identity of the church from particular political platforms over which there can be disagreement.” He did not specify what those issues were.
In an interview that focused entirely on politics, NPR’s Rachel Martin asked Greear about the controversy surrounding Vice President Mike Pence addressing the SBC gathering, Attorney General Jeff Sessions using the Bible to support enforcing immigration laws, the definition of an evangelical and the #metoo movement.
Regarding the Pence speech, Greear said evangelicals have taken the gospel and encumbered it with too much specificity on political positions where there is room for disagreement. Using the story of Jesus selecting his 12 disciples, Greear said Jesus chose Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector to follow him, two people who were “on opposite sides of the most pressing political issue of the day– the attitude toward Rome” suggesting Jesus chose followers from diverse political backgrounds.
Greer said the Pence speech sent “terribly mixed signals” about the SBC being aligned with the Republican party while admitting Republicans have championed certain positions that evangelicals have favored. He also expressed concern over the tone and message from President Donald Trump on issues such as race, immigration and his treatment of women.
On immigration Greear said the Bible teaches submission to authority but then entered the political debate saying, “we recognize to separate families in the name of immigration policy seems too harsh a punishment for the crime,” adding “I am very grateful to see things happening that are going the other way on that.”
Asked by Martin his thoughts on some evangelicals shedding the term over political disputes Greear said “We don’t need to cast off the label to pick a new one…we need a change of heart, a change values.”
As for the #Metoo movement, Greear said there sometimes has been a “hesitancy to listen to the victim when we should have listened to the victim.”
While politics was the focus of the NPR interview, it was not one of the priorities identified in a news conference that Greear gave following his election at this month’s SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
He told reporters he had six priorities in the coming year; the Gospel message, diversity in leadership, a focus on evangelism, church planting, mobilization of college students, and engagement, specifically in the areas of cooperative giving and missions.
Greear said of his top priority, the Gospel message, “we come together united by a common Gospel confession and also by a common Gospel mission, “Greear explained.
“For as long as there has been a convention you’ve had things that threatened to challenge that unity of the Gospel. [I’m] just wanting to see the Gospel be what we unify around and not be divided on secondary and tertiary issues.”
At the news conference, Greear was asked what he could do to help women feel more comfortable in the church, especially those who have been victims of abuse.
“We have to be very clear that some things are not only immoral, they’re also illegal,” he stressed. “And because they are illegal and we, as Southern Baptists who believe in the Bible, believe God gave government authority for our protection … that means we have to be safe places for women to report abuse, and be immediate in reporting things to the proper authorities.”
via Church Leaders
JD Greear strangely articulates well his concerns about the Republican Party, which has championed the protection of the unborn, prayer in our schools and the protection of marriage; yet he is strangely silent about the Democrats. The man who will lead us out of our rush to cultural devastation must be a individual who is a Spiritual Statesman who can speak prophetically to address the sins of our nation. I believe if Amos, Isaiah, or Jeremiah were alive, they would be far more concerned about sounding the alarm about a toxic, angry, ruthless Democratic Party that promotes the murder of innocent unborn babies, the destruction of the institution of marriage, and secularization of society, including our schools. What we are hearing from JD Greear is old thinking that sets us back 40 years to the time of the moderates who offered a confusing voice to a generation that desperately needed to hear absolute and clear truth.
It makes sense that Greer would focus on the dangers of the Republican party because that is the half of our bi-partisan system most SBC members naturally align with. Focusing on dangers of democratic party are simply preaching to choir, most of us already believe and think exactly what you pointed out about the Democratic party and do very little or nothing to support it and already stand against it, though certainly more united work could be done. Wheras a blind allegiance to the Republican party has in many cases caused the world to see the SBC and other evangelicals as sellouts to a cultural system that does not always align with Biblical mandates. Yes Republicans have championed some causes that Christians hold dear… but in other ways they have not. I could be wrong, but I do not think Greer’s focus is on re-steering America out of its sins, his focus and I think rightly so is to make sure the SBC remains a prophetic voice standing up for truth and righteousness even when that means speaking out against the things Republicans do. At times, this will make the SBC and its members unpopular for both parties, as any true prophetic voice probably should be.
Eric L. Muldrow
Agreed! He stayed clear of that because he didn’t want to offend the “woke ” crowd. Sad.
A SAD day for Baptist!