Denny Burk, Others, Lose the Gospel in Politics

Denny Burk, professor at Boyce College (SBC), posted an article today stating his indignant antipathy toward Liberty University’s hosting of Donald Trump at their convocation service. Burk thought it was perfectly appropriate that Liberty host pagans and cultists to “contribute to robust Christian thinking and conviction,” but not if it’s implied the speaker is a fellow Christian. That would be compromise in Burk’s thinking (and mine). I wondered if Burk had complained about Glenn Beck speaking at Liberty under the guise as a fellow Christian. Searching his website, it turns out, he did (and good on him). So there’s some consistency in Burk’s argumentation, which is commendable.

Let’s look at Burk’s arguments regarding “what went wrong” with Trump’s invite to Liberty, given they seemed to imply he was a fellow Christian “at a meeting that resembles a Christian chapel service”1

  • Trump “shows little evidence of being a Christian…”
  • Trump had not “born fruit” of life, love and charity as Jerry Falwell Jr said in his introduction
  • Trump “has shown little to no evidence of being a Christian…”
  • Trump, therefore according to Burk, should not be put “on a platform and tell everyone that he has born the ‘fruit’ of authentic Christianity—much less invite him to give a speech in a slot that is typically reserved for Christian preaching” (again, see footnote 1).

A few things here, lest you think this article is a defense of Trump’s Christianity. No serious minded Christian would presume Trump to be a Christian so long as they have a working doctrine of regeneration or conversion (to be clear). Furthermore, the leadership at Liberty University are clearly not serious minded Christians (and that revelation is hardly a newsflash).

Here’s the concern, however. Russell Moore, who very overtly is providing all the support he can to the Roman Catholic candidate of his choice – stopping just short of an actual endorsement that would threaten the ERLC’s tax exemption – and other members of the Evangelical Intelligentsia are compromising the Gospel for the sake of politics. Which, ironically, Moore was complaining about just today in regards to Trump speaking at Liberty.

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The question should be asked who is really letting politics drive the Gospel. Or more precisely, who is also letting politics drive the Gospel? It’s clear at this point that Liberty University is letting politics drive the Gospel. My contention is that Denny Burk, Russell Moore, Eric Teetsel and the rest of the EI are equally – and perhaps more sinisterly – compromising the Gospel for the sake of political gain.

Tabling Moore et al and their promotion of Rubio as an evangelical for just a moment, we’ll use Denny Burk as our example of how politics-driven sycophancy is running over the Gospel like Driscoll runs over bodies in his Mars Hill bus. To explain how Denny, and other members of the EI in their support of Rubio, and (far worse), their promotion of him as a Christian, is even worse than what Liberty is guilty of, we’ll look again at the reasons why Denny says inviting Trump to Liberty was a mistake…

  • Trump “shows little evidence of being a Christian…”
  • Trump had not “born fruit” of life, love and charity as Jerry Falwell Jr said in his introduction
  • Trump “has shown little to no evidence of being a Christian…”

Essentially, Trump’s reasoning for Trump’s anathematization is [mostly] regarding his behavior. Like Russ Moore attacking Trump’s marital history on Twitter today (source link) and pretty much the rest of his behavioral issues, Burk paints the picture of Trump as an impolite, mean-spirited, prideful and hateful ogre. Therefore, Trump is categorically not a Christian. He’s not polite enough. He’s proud. He’s brash. He just doesn’t behave like a Christian.

Got it. I cede the point. No argument.

Let’s put it in reverse a few weeks. On December 5, Pulpit & Pen brought to you an article, SBC Boyce College Prof Says Roman Catholic, Rubio, is Saved. Other EI members like Moore, Teetsel, Wayne Grudem (source link) have explicitly agreed, while Thomas Kidd, Rick Warren and others have at least implicitly implied so by serving as his faith advisers (source link).

In the article linked above, we exposed how Denny Burk had said (regarding Rubio’s presentation to evangelical voters in Iowa)…

Marco Rubio recently told a group of Iowa pastors what he believes about the gospel (watch above). It is pretty extraordinary. In fact it sounds like a typical evangelical gospel presentation.”

This is strange, considering in that very presentation, Rubio said…

I am fully, theologically and doctrinally aligned with the Roman Catholic Church …but we retain our relationship with Christ Fellowship and I’ll tell you why: because they preach from the same Bible.“’

Uh…what? Rubio admitted in that very speech that he was “fully, theologically and docrinally aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and Denny believes his words sound like a typical evangelical?

Denny added in a comment on that post…

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Somebody needs to ask this Southern Baptist college professor how on Earth someone who is “fully theologically and doctrinally aligned with the Roman Catholic Church” simultaneously has a “clear understanding of the Gospel” and “trusting in Christ alone for his salvation.” This ought to be embarrassing to the SBC institution for whom he teaches, not to mention all of Protestantism.

Burk says Trump’s not a Christian because of his behavior. Okay. But Rubio’s not a Christian because of his beliefs and by his Confession. While our behavior may reflect our conversion or lack thereof, without believing in Justification by Faith Alone, conversion is impossible. Welcome to Protestantism. Join the party.

Granted, one can understand how Rick “Chrislam” Warren could consider Rubio a Christian, serving on his advisory board. One can understand how brash Manhattan Declaration ecumenist, Eric Teetsel, would consider Rubio a Christian, serving as paid campaign staff. How someone like Burk, Moore and others – all of whom fashion themselves as serious-minded Christians – could proclaim a Roman Catholic like Rubio to be a Gospel-understanding evangelical Christian is beyond me.

That’s clearly compromising the Gospel for the sake of politics. Would Grudem, Moore, Kidd, or Burke be pronouncing Roman Catholics saved if it weren’t for political reasons?

Sadly, all it takes for certain Southern Baptists – like Burk and others – to pronounce a Roman Catholic converted is for them to run for president. Politics, it seems, is what bring papists into the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

  1. Liberty University’s portion of their website dedicated to Convocation specifically says that “Convocation is not a chapel service. We derive our definition of Convocation from its Latin root, ‘to convene, gather, or assemble.’ This distinction allows us to view Convocation as a platform for an artist, a pulpit for a guest pastor or theologian, and a podium for a scientist or politician.”

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[Contributed by JD Hall]

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