Southern Baptist Chief Missiologist blamed Christianity’s decline in USA on patriotism, nationalism and Trump voters.
According to Southern Baptist pastor Dr. Tom Buck, Kevin Ezell, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB), reached out to distance his organization from an article written by NAMB’s chief Missiologist and published by Christianity Today. The article linked the decline in Christianity with the rise of patriotism, nationalism and Trump support.
Buck tweeted, “Grateful for @kevezell reaching out to me and clarifying that this is NOT the view of @NAMB_SBC and such a thing will never happen again. Thankful Kevin doesn’t want anything distracting them from the mission they have in serving all SBC churches. I hope this article is removed.”
Grateful for @kevezell reaching out to me and clarifying that this is NOT the view of @NAMB_SBC and such a thing will never happen again. Thankful Kevin doesn't want anything distracting them from the mission they have in serving all SBC churches. I hope this article is removed. https://t.co/QXr3BniZMh
— Tom Buck (@TomBuck) July 22, 2019
The article questioned the value of patriotism and American exceptionalism.
“Mixed up in the convoluted concoction of politics and religion is a reemergence of a very unchristian patriotism,” the Southern Baptist Convention’s Chief Missiologist wrote. “Caleb Cohen reminded us that, ‘It does not take an unpatriotic American to recognize that our society has long nursed a heresy of American exceptionalism, equating our national values and interests with those of Christianity itself.’”
The NAMB employee attacked Trump voters too.
“The public flip-flop of evangelicals on the importance of personal character within public office has created a tsunami of an integrity crisis within larger evangelicalism,” he wrote.
He also attacked nationalism.
This is a growing trend in evangelical circles that see only the universal mission of the church and ignore the particular mission of the state, or see the church at war with the state. This view is dangerous and ignores God’s created order. Fortunately, there are important thinkers, like Rusty Reno, who delivered an excellent presentation at the National Conservatism conference last week outlining the proper division between the mission of the church and the mission of the state.
According to Reno, “Abraham Lincoln spoke of Americans as ‘God’s almost chosen people,’ a wonderful formulation. Our mission as a nation is not universal salvation, yet as Lincoln saw, we nevertheless have an appointed task that fits our time and our place.”
If only NAMB’s chief missiologist understood that proper division.
One can love Jesus and love America too.
That isn’t an un-Christian patriotism. That isn’t a virulent nationalism.
The Southern Baptist Convention deserves better than this.