Last night SBC President J.D. Greear brought this message to the Executive Committee meeting in Nashville. It’s well worth watching in its entirety, but here are a few key excerpts in case you don’t have time for the full message. More coverage is available at Baptist Press.
Greear said he had no desire to see us change our doctrine or change our mission. “We are not, at our core, a political activism group. We love our country, but God has not called us to save America; he’s called us to build the church and spread the gospel.”
The change we do need: our culture. The Pharisees said they believed in the sufficiency of the Scriptures, but they demanded uniformity in word and deed beyond what the Scripture required, equating “the traditions of men with the commands of God.” It’s not that their traditions were bad, or that they were devoid of wisdom. It’s that they equated their traditions and their wisdom with the authority of God himself and so laid on men’s shoulders heavy burdens.
Jesus said that the Pharisees focused on the more minute parts of the law while ignoring the weighty parts. They strained at a gnat, he said, and swallowed a camel. What’s that look like today? Let me state clearly: CRT is an important discussion, and I’m all for robust theological discussion about it. For something as important as “what biblical justice looks like,” we need careful, robust discussion. But we should mourn when closet racists and neo-Confederates feel more at home in our churches than do many people of color.
And, to be sure, for the vast majority of our churches, that’s not true. And if it’s not true of yours, praise God. But I have received the emails and phone calls from people in our churches who do fit that description. The reality is that if we in the SBC had shown as much sorrow for the painful legacy that racism and discrimination has left in our country as we have passion to decry CRT, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s not that clarity about the dangers of CRT is not important; it is. It’s that, as Jesus said, we’ve ignored some of the weightier parts of the law–justice, and mercy, and compassion.
Brothers and sisters, in the 1980’s, we repudiated the leaven of the liberals, a leaven that threatened to poison the gospel. Are we now going to repudiate the leaven of the Pharisees, which can choke out the gospel just as easily?
Most of you know that almost immediately after I began to lead our Convention, the character assainations, false accusations, innuendos, and exaggerations began… I’m not as worried about how it affects me personally. I worry for our future. Because I talk with next gen leaders as well as Latino and African-American brothers who watch these things and do not feel at home in our Convention. What a tragedy if we squandered our gospel and Great Commission legacy because of our unwillingness to be a Gospel Above All people.
Southern Baptists in large part are ready to walk into the future. But we are spending a lot of time tolerating those who would rip us apart… Brothers, let’s just call it: These things are demonic.
The wisdom that comes from above, James says, is “…first… peaceable, filled with the fruits of the Spirit, gentle, compliant, full of mercy, unwavering and without pretence.
“But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:17, 14–16)
We know this: When Satan can’t destroy the church from without, he capitalizes on the sin within…
The problem is that many of our divisions are based on 90% misunderstandings, distortions and often enough outright lies. And this has grieved me more than you can imagine. And not mainly for me. I won’t be President in a few months. I’m mainly grieved for many of our entity leaders, and some of you, who have been slandered and lied about.
This is not what I expected us to be spending our time on, and it is not what I ever wanted. Every lie weakens our resolve in getting the gospel to the nations; and every moment I engage in a silly argument or spend time debunking untruths is a moment I am not focused on the GC.
I think we need an attitude like George W Bush called for in 2001: “We make no distinction in those committing terrorism and those who harbor them.”
Story of John Piper’s book endorsement: “Piper wrote back, “On the contrary, you should be very encouraged. Many all around the world are praying that at this very moment, which Satan means for hindering the Mission of the King to the nations, God will use for strategic advance. Your book will be well-timed. May God grant thousands to grasp this, and madden the evil one by turning his tactical ripple against the kingdom into a tidal wave of completion.”
Three Commitments going into Nashville 2021 Annual Meeting:
- I will be committed to being a Great Commission Baptist.
- I will be committed to being a Gospel Above All leader
- Finally, tonight, I commit to being a man of truth and integrity.