A Warning to Southern Baptists

I usually avoid writing about denominational politics. To me, they are a waste of Kingdom energy, usually over things that don’t matter. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Christ followers plant a flag on a doctrinal ant hill and declare readiness to defend it to the death.

That being said, The Southern Baptist Convention (my denominational tribe) is gripped in a controversy about Russell Moore, the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Council. To make a tedious story short, Dr. Moore serves as the prophetic voice of Southern Baptists to culture and government. During the last presidential campaign, he pointed out the flaws in both candidates, earning a mention in Donald Trump tweet.

Dr Moore correctly understands his role as someone who speaks truth to power. That’s the role of the prophet. Prophets usually end up being oppressed by those in power. It should not be a surprise that a president or government official would be upset with a Baptist preacher telling them their program, campaign, lifestyle, or values don’t match scripture.

What is surprising is the number of churches who are threatening to withhold Cooperative Program funds (churches give a portion of their receipts to fund missionaries, seminaries, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) because they disapprove of Dr. Moore’s statements about now President Trump. Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas is withholding $1,000,000 in protest. Over 100 churches are following suit.

Why should I decide to write about this? If God’s people are required to support a candidate or a political party, we limit access to Jesus. This is the whole point of the book of Galatians. We dare not add anything to the gospel, except the need to follow Jesus.

I know devoted followers of Jesus who felt led to vote for Donald Trump and devoted followers of Jesus who felt led to vote for Hillary Clinton. I also know devoted followers of Jesus who felt led not to vote. Regardless of how a person did or did not vote, God is still in charge and on His throne!

I don’t agree with everything Dr. Moore says or writes. But he makes me think. We need prophetic voices like his.

If we tell people to follow Jesus they must be a Republican (or Democrat), we will alienate half the population. Both Republicans and Democrats need Jesus. Southern Baptist need to be warned – do not cut people off from the gospel for the sake of politics.

Aren’t we the people who believe in eternity? Aren’t we the people who believe real power is in the Holy Spirit, not the White House? Aren’t we the people who believe the gospel is for everyone, regardless of race, politics, or background?

Or are we losing our way?