Southern Baptist Swamp: Why are SBC employees like Russell Moore telling Southern Baptists how to vote for SBC President?

The moment is now for Calvinists & Non-Calvinist Traditionalists to unite and offer a real alternative to the SBC status quo

The coronation of the Southern Baptist President presumptive began in earnest Monday with stories that J.D. Greear would be nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Immediately (almost as if planned!), elements of the Mohler-Moore wing of the Southern Baptist Convention began tweeting their rapturous approval.

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted as if the election were already decided. Mohler wrote, “Thankful to see that @jdgreear will allow his nomination as SBC president in June. He will lead us well with Great Commission passion and vision. Incredibly gifted leader.” Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, offered more of a campaign message. Moore tweeted, “Very good news. @jdgreear is one of the most impressively missions-focused, evangelistic, and godly leaders I’ve ever known.”

Greear is no doubt a fine man, a great pastor and might be an exceptionally gifted SBC president. However, there are enormous problems arising from Greear’s nomination and the Mohler-Moore reaction.

Why do we allow someone like Russell Moore or Al Mohler or anyone who will be supervised by appointees of our presidents to participate with their outsized voices (thanks to the positions entrusted to them by Southern Baptists) in the selection of the convention president? Why do we tolerate Southern Baptist employees using their platform paid for by Southern Baptists to tell us what to do and how to think about selecting leaders?

We’d find this type of situation repugnant in politics. It would be like government employees at the FBI trying to dictate the next President of the United States or the intelligence community working to discredit a political rival.

If you think Washington, DC is a political swamp, then don’t look at the Southern Baptist Convention.

We have seminary trustees serving on one board supervising a seminary administration while being adjuncts at other Southern Baptist seminaries. We have one church located in the political swamp with four or five of its leadership team serving as trustees—one of the trustees was head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s trustee board all while this trustee served as a lobbyist on immigration issues. Conflict of interest? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is only a sincere commitment to Gospel-based open immigration for farm laborers. We don’t know, but it sure looks swampy.

The outsized influence of Calvinists associated with The Gospel Coalition is a mortal danger to the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. Calvinists and non-Calvinists (Traditionalists) should keep this in mind. The SBC meeting in Dallas is a critical moment calling for a unified opposition candidate to the march of progressivism into the Southern Baptist Convention.

This moment calls for unification.

I have been told by a few of my Calvinist friends they cannot and will not support Greear’s nomination. They want an alternative to the continued Good-Old-Boy elitist network forcing TGC-inspired politics on the convention.

This is the moment for outsiders of all theological views—Traditionalist and Calvinist—to unite. Any vote for Greear is a vote for the status quo in the Convention. A status quo where progressives like Russell Moore are allowed to muddle our pro-life witness by trying to make every issue from immigration to creation care into a pseudo-Pro-Life-Cradle-to-the-Grave political theology.

There must be an alternative, consensus and unified opposition to this.

We must not allow ourselves to be divided when the only chance of stopping the progressive juggernaut is through cooperative action. The SBC needs a candidate who can appeal to both non-Calvinists and Calvinists outside The Gospel Coalition influence.

We must have change. That is something of which all outsiders can agree.




Add Yours
  1. 1
    Scott Shaver

    When seminary presidents and ERLC leaders are first out of the gate endorsing a candidate, it’s a sure sign that the best choice would be an also-ran. Preferably somebody not promoted by Rick Patrick or the “traditionalist” camp as well. These folks had no problem partnering with hyper-calvinists during the CR, so they’ve had their day in the sun (with disastrous results) as well.

    • 2
      Capstone Report

      We can’t be too restrictive of our allies in this fight. There are good conservative Calvinists and non-Calvinists who want to see change.

      • 3
        Scott Shaver

        Some Southern Baptists have no “allies” at all on either side within this strangely-mixed bag of SBC denominational “leadership”. Has been embarrasing to look upon the last 20 years or so. Like dropping coins in a plinko game on the midway of a state fair for entertainment.

        • 4
          Capstone Report

          I’m hopeful there will be at least two or three challengers in the race. Scuttlebutt is we might see one enter the race in the next day or so.

          • 5
            Scott Shaver

            Good news for those of us who still care a little. Thanks for your good work. Appreciate your subjects and content.

          • 7
            Scott Shaver

            Great. So the choice now is between a neo-calvinist and a former ally of calvinists in the ridiculous “battle for the bible” years of the CR. Some “choice” and serves as an omen for more dysfunction at the denominational level. Almost makes one wish the neo-calvinist camp wins the prize this time. “Traditionalists” have already had their successful run of disaster. Let somebody else have a chance to finally sink the thing. Those of us in the pews will go fishing or barbecue while pastors and denominational employees gather with their resumes and voter registration cards. Besides, if the denomination really wanted representative input from churches they could easily do it by satellite voting sessions on location from every church on the SBC affiliation role.

            It’s not a representative assembly, it’s a religious job fair with pseudo-democratic sessions for entertainment.

          • 8
            Capstone Report

            Well, I’m told Hemphill is committed to congregational polity and curbing the excesses of denominational abuse, for an example of that see the McRaney lawsuit against NAMB. It is shocking what has gone on inside the Mohler-Moore wing of the SBC.

  2. 9

    This is nonsense. Greear’s candidacy has been expected and his election likely since 2016’s AM. Most SBC presidential elections haven’t been heavily contested in recent years – 2016’s was unusual in that regard – and Greear’s gracious decision to step aside in favor of Steve Gaines to avoid further conflict at the AM was well received by everyone in attendance. It should neither surprise nor concern anyone that Greear would get his turn next.

    Mohler and Moore haven’t told anyone how to vote. They’re just expressing their opinion of Greear and his candidacy, which they’re perfectly entitled to do. And anyone who thinks their voices represent the influence of “progressivism” in the SBC doesn’t know what words mean.

    • 10
      Scott Shaver

      Guess best thing about Moore and Mohler “expressing their opinions” is the lack of rank and file Southern Baptists listening or taking them seriously.

      • 11
        Capstone Report

        Hah! Good point. However, the message does circulate to the Mohler-Moore followers. The ones who will make sure to show up in Dallas.

  3. 14
    Scott Shaver

    I’m with you, Capstone, and sympathetic to the stated “promises/concerns” of Hemphill with regard to “shocking” abuse under Mohler-Moore style. In hindsight, was Hemphill as shocked with Patterson-Pressler as he is presented now being with Mohler-Moore? If memory serves correctly wasn’t Hemphill the first chosen to cut the locks off the old office of Russell Dilday? Wasn’t he among the first to contribute a recommendation/intro to Jerry Sutton’s yellow-rag work on the CR?

    “Promises” are generally precursors to lies and power among both “traditionalists” and “neo-cals” in today’s SBC. Good news is the only power they really have is dispensing of denominational budgets in a shrinking and war-like denominatial sect.

  4. 15

    No one is telling anyone how to think or how to vote. Just like you and me, Albert Mohler and Russell Moore have every right to express their opinions regarding the head of not only the denomination to which they belong, but the head of the organizations of which they lead. Their vote is no more powerful than mine. We can argue about how much more they are heard, but let us remind ourselves that they are in their respective positions because of former SBC presidents for which our messengers voted. We have no reason to complain.

    In short, JD for Prez.

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