I’ve had this article rolling around in my head for several months now. I wanted to write it months ago, but I didn’t want to sound as if I was suggesting that someone should run against Steve Gaines for SBC President this year. My goal was to get it up in the small window of time between this year’s election and the time that people begin to talk about next year’s election. But it seems that SBC presidential politics are a bit like national presidential politics. The talk of “who’s next?” begins immediately after the current year’s election is over.
Of course, the unusual circumstances of the 2016 election caused talk even then of what would happen in 2018. At least one seminary president declared then that J.D. Greear should be elected in 2018. But that talk seemed to have died down until immediately following this year’s election. Now here we are just a week removed from the 2017 convention, and I’ve already heard J.D. Greear’s name mentioned for 2018 SBC President. At least two prominent people, including one entity head, have tweeted that J.D. Greear should be elected President of the SBC without opposition at our meeting next year in Dallas.
Let me first say that I do not have a problem with J.D. Greear running again for SBC President. I believe he would make a great President of the SBC. He handled last year’s election with class. He is a very capable leader. And I believe he would serve us well if elected. So please do not take anything I am writing here as a slight against J.D. Greear. If J.D. Greear wants to be SBC President, he should run in 2018 and I would be happy to vote for him. My issue here has nothing to do with J.D. Greear.
My concern is with people suggesting that no one should run against him. It’s fine with me if he runs unopposed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with elections where someone runs unopposed. In fact, we seem to have at least one such election every other year when the incumbent is unanimously elected for a second term. And when the presidency isn’t up for grabs, there’s always the Registration Secretary election to keep us on the edge of our seats.
It seems that there is a mindset among a great number of people within our convention that the humility Greear demonstrated last year should make him an automatic choice in 2018. I disagree. Every year is a new year. There are millions of Southern Baptists. From my perspective, no one is owed the presidency, not even the incumbent. If someone wants to run against them, they should feel free to do so, and messengers should feel free to choose the candidate they prefer. No one should look down their nose at any Southern Baptist who is willing to have his name placed in nomination for service to our convention.
I realize this article will probably receive some pushback. But I also know that there are others who share this view. Perhaps some of them have ulterior motives, but I assure you that my motives here are pure. I believe we are stronger as a convention when any Southern Baptist feels the freedom to be considered by the messengers to serve as an officer. I also believe it means more to be elected President, even if unopposed, when every Southern Baptist feels the freedom to run if he so desires.
What say you?