Southern Baptist Head urges evangelicals to avoid political ideology at a crossroads: NPR


JD Greear

The summit church

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The summit church

JD Greear

The summit church

The newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Pastor JD Greear, is taking over the leadership of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States at a particularly difficult time.

Southern Baptists are counting on their own #MeToo moment. The South-West Baptist Theological Seminary The board voted to fire its longtime chairwoman, Paige Patterson, last month amid controversy over past advice he gave to women regarding domestic violence and rape.

Southern Baptists are also at a political crossroads, according to the new SBC chairman, and should draw a line between the denomination’s religious message and that message’s link to a specific political ideology.

At the SBC’s annual meeting earlier this month – where he was elected president – Greear tweeted criticism in response to remarks made by guest speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.

While the vice president spoke about the importance of prayer and when he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, Greear noted that the identity of the Southern Baptists should not be tied to a conservative ideology or republican.

“There are some things on the Republican platform that Republicans have stood for and evangelical Christians have identified. [with]. However, we need to dissociate the identity of the church from particular political platforms on which there may be disagreements, ”he said. Morning edition host Rachel Martin.

Asked about Christians who have sought to distance themselves from this political identity by shedding the “evangelical” label, Greear calls for caution.

“What we need is not a change of label, what we need is a change of heart, a change of values,” he says.

Evangelicals, he said, must “be committed to living the faith and listening to criticism, even from outsiders.”

Interview highlights

On political differences among evangelical Christians

I think a lot of evangelical Christians have a kind of restless conscience right now. Evangelical Christians can agree on many things the Bible teaches. Sometimes we don’t agree on the best strategies to get things done. We can agree that helping the poor and caring for the vulnerable is of biblical value. What is the role of government in this [and] what is the right strategy: this is something that there is certainly room for disagreement among Christians.

I think one of the things that gives cause for concern is that evangelical Christians have taken their central message – which is meant to be the gospel of Jesus Christ – and cluttered it with too much specificity regarding political positions for which there is really room for people of faith do not agree?

On Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ use of the bible to defend the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on the US-Mexico border

I’m always grateful enough to hear people try to interact with the Bible, but you know, just because someone quotes, that doesn’t mean they give the full context or represent the full biblical message.

I mean, yeah, the Bible teaches submission to authority, and I’ve tried to be clear with this immigration issue that we recognize that there is a certain charitable nature in making laws and making them. enforce. These include immigration laws. At the same time, separating families in the name of enforcing an immigration policy appears to be far too harsh a measure. [of] a punishment for the crime that is committed.

[Editor’s note: Not all migrants trying to enter the U.S. are committing a crime. Some migrants are legally seeking amnesty.]

On the #MeToo movement within the Southern Baptist Church

It broke my heart what happened with Dr. Patterson and how it happened. But I think the #MeToo movement helped raise awareness that there was sometimes a reluctance to listen to the victim when you should have listened to the victim.

Some things are not just immoral. They are also illegal. And what we’ve learned and I think we have to learn is that abuse is the kind of thing that can never be handled internally. It can never be minimized or brushed to the side. And so, if nothing else, I’m thankful that it helped raise awareness of the conversation.

Miranda Kennedy edited this story for broadcast.


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