There is a lot that I find suspect about the direction and leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention. I once thought that the Southern Baptist would remain unshaken through all the progressive politics overpowering our congress and media, but not anymore.
I had a conversation with some of you yesterday about the derogatory “stooge” comment made by J. D. Greear, the reelected Southern Baptist president, and the following post is an excellent assessment and summary of why this is concerning…
“When Warning Evangelicals Not to Become the “Stooge of One Party” Makes Them the Pawn of Another”
by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Professor at Houston Baptist University
Following the playbook of the MSM (the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS) like a marionette puppet (the best possible spin would be unwittingly), the re-elected Southern Baptist Convention President J. D. Greear warned Evangelicals in his speech yesterday at the Southern Baptist Convention not to become “the stooge for one party.” By “one party” he clearly had in view, primarily if not exclusively, the Republican Party, illustrating his point by appeal to an anecdote of a woman who told him she never would have attended his church had she thought she was joining “the Republican church.”
Using a consequentialist (utilitarian, transactional) argument, Greear warned that by becoming too tied to one (Republican) Party or even to specific political policies around pro-life advocacy (!) the church would lose “half of our mission field.” Greear also threw in the issue of racial reconciliation to give the appearance of being evenhanded. In slippery fashion Greear said (according to an SBC report summary) that Southern Baptists can still preach the truth about “the sanctity of life, the importance of religious freedom and their responsibility to the vulnerable and poor” (note the faulty comparison of two sea-change issues with a third non-sea-change issue) but should not presume a particular policy prescription or voting pattern. That’s like saying that you can rave about good strawberry shortcake so long as you don’t insist that anyone making the dish include strawberries in it.
In Greear’s words, “conscientious Christians can disagree about the best applications of those things…. Every activity we engage in should be evaluated on whether or not it helps us in our proclamation of the Gospel.” In other words, a vote for the Democratic Party is just as good as a vote for the Republican Party. This is patent nonsense.
According to the Christian Post, Greear emphasized his way of thinking was “‘crucial going into the next election,’ and that pastors needed to review their sermons and social media posts.” Is that a threat that SBC churches that become too aligned with the Republican Party or even its pro-life and religious-liberty platforms will be called out for not putting “the gospel above all”?
To show how untenable and misguided Greear’s reasoning is, one need only consider other examples in history. Should we say that by aligning the American church with the Party that supported freedom and civil rights for African Americans in 1860-1880 (the Republican Party) or by aligning the German church with the Party that had the best chance of defeating the Nazi Party in the late 1920s and early 1930s (the Social Democratic Party) Christians made the church a “stooge” of these parties? There are times in the history of democracies when one Party is so out of whack with godly policies that it requires Christians to separate themselves completely from that Party. To do anything other would be immoral and irresponsible.
Given that the orthodox Church is facing its greatest crisis with the state in the “Equality Act,” which threatens mandatory “LGBTQ” speech, coerced indoctrination in school and at work, crippling fines and loss of employment for any raising objections to this agenda, men in women’s private spaces, and even major state intervention in religious institutions and home life (including control over one’s children), it is absurd to insist that Evangelicals are hurting the cause of the gospel by opposing this tyranny against free speech and the free exercise of religion. If the so-called Equality Act becomes the law of the land (and it will if Democrats gain control of the White House, given the closeness of the struggle in the Senate), it is game-set-match against religious liberty and free speech and against any restraints on the transgender/homosexual and abortion agendas.
The cause of missions does not require the church to commit the equivalent of political suicide. Nor does it require the church to hand the state over to rabid abortionists, with a free hand in baby killing right up to early infanticide; or to give up the next 1-3 Supreme Court nominations in 2021-24 and so lose the Court to social injustice for generations to come.
The irony, of course, is that by playing into the hands of Democratic attacks on Evangelicals, Greear is advocating that Evangelicals become the pawn of the Democratic Party. Without super-majority support from Evangelicals, the Republican Party would lose the Presidency, both Houses of Congress, and thus the federal Courts for generations to come. Democratic Party operatives and their MSM allies know that Democrats will never win a majority of Evangelical votes. That don’t need to have that in order to win elections. They only need to depress a significant minority of the Evangelical Republican vote in order to win every election. Greear is singing their tune. It is the Democratic Party that wants Southern Baptists to think that they will irreparably damage their Christian witness by aligning themselves against the Democratic Party.
Whether Greear likes it or not, the true orthodox church must always be implacably associated not only with a pro-life, pro-natural-marriage, pro-biology-based-gender, and pro-religious-liberty posture but also with specific political applications of such a posture. These stances will always cause offense in the current world. We are kidding ourselves if we think by being more socialist than Bernie Sanders we will somehow win the approval of the world. Today’s Democratic Party has made the abortion and homosexual/transgender agendas its twin idols. A collision course with the true church is inevitable, since these are the two greatest sea-change issues of our day with the greatest negative impact for both church and society in America.
It is the social responsibility of every believer to oppose the Mandatory Speech, GenderQueer, and Infanticide Party. Minimally this implies at the very least the relatively small task of casting an effective vote against that Party. To oppose resolutely such a Party is not a detraction from the gospel but rather a carrying out of the implications of the gospel message for the society within which we live. The church can never advance the cause of the gospel by engaging in irresponsible civil behavior. It would rather only show its cowardice in the face of political attack and a willingness to compromise its values. This is not a virtue but a vice.
Yes, Evangelicals in general and Southern Baptists in particular must recognize that the Republican Party is not the Christian Party. At the same time, they cannot turn a blind eye to the particularly extreme wickedness of the Democratic Party with its twin idols of the “LGBTQ” agenda and abortion, and with its attendant zeal for destroying free speech and the free exercise of religion. They must instead stand firmly against the Democratic Party as the Party that will do far greater damage to a far greater number for a far greater period of time.
Not even for the noble purpose of (allegedly) winning more converts can the church act immorally or irresponsibly in its social and political context. As I have argued elsewhere, already Greear has misapplied the “gospel above all” argument to a somewhat diluted understanding of the witness of the Bible on sexual ethics in general and on homosexuality in particular. Let us not make a zero-sum game of truth and love or of morality and mission.
I urge Southern Baptists and Evangelicals everywhere to oppose the bad advice being given by the SBC’s reelected President.