I want to say from the outset that I would strongly prefer that no elected politician, candidate, or official speak at the Southern Baptist Convention. I would even go so far as to suggest that the host city send a tourism or chamber of commerce representative to welcome us to their fair city instead of a mayor or councilperson. I hope the SBC exec committee will, as a result of the referred motions regarding this, propose a formal nix going forward of our historic practice of inviting and granting space on the platform and/or on the schedule to elected politicians or candidates for secular civic office – I will enthusiastically vote for such a policy if a messenger vote is necessary.
Now for my other thoughts… I agree with my friends who have said that the convention is not the place for “political rallies” for numerous reasons. Among the chiefest of these reasons that comes to mind is that in following JD’s “Gospel First” vision for the SBC inviting (or allowing to come) a speaker who brings a charged partisan political message that is not the gospel or about our cooperative efforts to proclaim it worldwide seems oxymoronic. In addition, the desire toward maintaining and growing unity in our thankfully more and more diverse convention is not advanced by political speeches from the mouth of the VP to perhaps the most controversial President we have ever had.
Having stated that, I also want to say that I am somewhat that glad Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention.
I am glad because with him came a large gaggle of reporters with cameras and recorders in tow. While they were there, these reporters were exposed to the proclamation of the gospel in song, as well as to the VP of the US refereeing to his personal salvation experience. Several networks broadcast portions of the speech live and so the exposure was not only to reporters but also beamed into the television sets of tens of thousands (maybe more?) of Americans watching at home.
I am further glad that the Vice President of the US is a born-again Christian who is not ashamed to say so. I am glad that he wanted to address our convention. I am glad he cares enough and appreciates us enough to want to speak to us. I am glad that he, as far as this self-proclaimed political buff can tell from a distance, has modeled consistency and straight arrow legislating in keeping with Christian values in a way we can be proud of for well more than to two decades. VP Pence has done this all the way from his time in the US House of Representatives to the Indiana Governors mansion and now he is still influencing the worlds most powerful people with godly principles from the plush 1 Observatory Circle on the campus of the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The point is that he spoke is neither the best thing to happen during the convention this year – nor is the worst. No doubt, there are some who feel his speaking was one or the other, but do I see it as a mixed bag.
I think we might all do well to consider that while many of us would prefer not to have VP Pence speak at the convention – the cloud we felt it brought might, in fact, have a silver lining or two.