Welcome to the Torch Leadership Foundation’s Cross in Culture Podcast where we consider different perspectives on what is happening in our culture and apply a biblical worldview. I am your host, Daniel Whyte III. This is episode #21.
This episode is titled, Both Russell Moore and Jack Graham Are Wrong: They Should Have Never Let a Stupid Election Cause a Stupid Rift Like This
The Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical community in general is facing a rift that could cost the denomination millions of dollars in support. The controversy is over Russell Moore, the head of the Convention’s public policy arm, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and his comments throughout the 2016 election season criticizing then-candidate Donald Trump and, more pointedly, criticizing evangelicals and fellow Southern Baptists who were supporting him. One of the things he said was that a group of pastors who met with Trump in New York and were appointed to an advisory council had “drunk the Kool-Aid.”
Now, with the election in the history books, and with Trump now president, some Southern Baptist leaders are coming after Moore. Some, including megachurch pastors Robert Jeffress and Jack Graham, have threatened to withhold funds from the SBC unless there’s a ‘change in his status.’ (In other words, they want him fired.) Over the course of a few weeks, pastors and other denominational leaders have begun taking sides. The situation has gotten so bad that the secular media, including The Washington Post, Fox News, and The Atlantic, have taken notice.
Both Russell Moore and Jack Graham, and thousands of other Christians, should have taken heed to the warning that we placed in BCNN1 on January 1, 2016, as a part of the introduction to preaching the Gospel each day in the Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign that went on throughout the tumultuous election season.
“The daily Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign sermon series is aimed at sharing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with unbelievers and reminding Christians, in this important election year, to keep the main thing the main thing — and that is reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and praying for their salvation, for the problem in America is not only disobedient presidents, politicians, and people, but disobedient pastors, preachers, and parishioners who have refused to obey the Lord’s Great Commission which is to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” and who have refused to obey God’s repeated commands to “pray without ceasing” for unbelievers, believers, and political leaders. Yes, you should pray for the right candidate to win; yes, you should vote for the candidate that the Lord gives you peace about voting for. But, don’t get caught up in it like the world does. Nothing much is going to change until people get saved and get their hearts right with the Lord.
This campaign is inspired by the following three verses: 1 Corinthians 2:2 which says, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Acts 5:42 which says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” And 2 Timothy 2:4 which says, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
This series is not for Christians necessarily. However, I do hope you are one of those saints who still loves to hear the “Old, old story of Jesus and His love” — As another hymn says, “For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” This series is primarily for unbelievers, so they can hear and understand the Gospel and be saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell.”
In our opinion, both Russell Moore and Jack Graham, as Christian leaders, were wrong for taking part in this controversial election in the way that they did. On both sides, it was just too much; both crossed the line. Russell Moore should not have said some of the things he said and he knows it. Jack Graham should have never said some of the things he said and he knows it. Could it be that these dear brothers, who are great men of God, got in the flesh like we all sometimes do? Could it be that the devil got in the midst and made us look stupid again? I dare anybody to deny that the devil is not in the middle of this foolishness. They both need to confess their own sins, repent, come to the table of brotherhood, apologize to each other as men, stand with Christ, and both be prophets to whoever is in office, be they black or white, Obama or Trump. Or the SBC will lose precious ground that they have fought for for the past forty years or more in race relations, and they will lose the goodwill that they have from people who are not a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, but who love, admire, and respect the Southern Baptist Convention.
This week, the SBC’s Executive Committee President Frank Page met with Russell Moore to work out their concerns and differences. They released a joint statement saying, “We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come. We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
While the meeting and the joint statement of unity is a step in the right direction toward the resolution of the rift, the situation should have never gotten this bad in the first place.
Christians should never be so beholden to political candidates that we let such issues divide us. Our unity as believers is in Christ, not politics. The fact of the matter is that no political candidate will ever be able to satisfy the kingdom-on-earth vision that we ought to be praying for and working toward. I would say that, with the state of our politics as it is, support for political candidates falls squarely under the “Christian liberty” spoken of in the New Testament.
With two non-ideal candidates given to us in 2016, many Christians decided not to vote at all. In our opinion, those who decided to vote for one or the other should have done so without making a big deal about it and without trying to convince those who voted for or supported someone else that they were wrong. We could apply Romans 14:2-3 to this situation as such: “For one believeth that he may vote for a Republican: another votes for a Democrat. Let not him that votes for a Republican despise him that votes for a Democrat; and let not him which votes for a Democrat judge him that votes for a Republican: for God hath received them both.”
Many consider politics to be an inappropriate topic of discussion at dinner or at family gatherings because, even in a family, not everyone will think the same way. Perhaps, the same unspoken prohibition ought to apply to the church. Politics is temporary. One day, “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of Christ.” Our greatest energy ought to be spent on the Gospel, getting it to the people who need it, and building up those who already believe. That has eternal impact. And that is something we can all agree on.
In closing, let me leave you with a Scripture and a quote to think about.
Romans 14:4-10 says, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “Baptist love for liberty often creates the sounds of war when closer examination reveals a fireworks display. The issues are serious, but the focus of our convention of churches on getting the saving gospel of Christ to every human on the earth prevails over our temporary squabbles.”
In light of what we have discussed today, I want to remind you that in our ever-changing world, there is one Person who never changes. That person is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is not subject to the whims of society or popular opinion. He has an unchanging, eternal love for you. If you do not know Him as your Savior, I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thank you for listening to this Torch Leadership Cross in Culture Podcast.
Visit us online at www.torchleadershipfoundation.com
Until we meet again, remember to keep Christ first in our ever-changing culture.