Social Justice Groups, The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks, Throw Hissy Over VP Pence at Southern Baptist Convention
When Vice President Pence spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention, workers for 9Marks sat angrily with their arms folded, at times with a noticeable facial grimace, eye-roll and audible huff. When Trump’s name was mentioned, an occasional boo could be heard from the crowd. The fully-woke New Calvinist organization has largely shifted its emphasis from ecclesiology to Social Justice, being influenced by the massive amounts of cash into Presbyterian and Calvinistic Baptist institutions by Bill Clinton financier felon, James Riady, and socialist billionaire, George Soros. Aided by the promotion of Mark Dever, 9Mark’s most famous progeny is Ron Burns (he goes by his Black Nationalist name, Thabiti Anyabwile), a radical race-baiter and Marxist who used his sizable clout to endorse first Bernie Sanders and later, Hillary Clinton, for President. Church members from Dever’s church, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, were trustees at the ERLC and were instrumental in selecting Russell Moore as the director of that institution, which has taken a hard-left turn since his tenure. While Dever’s ecclesiology seems impeccable and his doctrinal teaching stellar, the Washington D.C.-based pastor has been steering those under his influence to Social Justice for a number of years.
Likewise, The Gospel Coalition, which shares so many board members, writers, and contributors with the Ethics and Religous Liberty Commission (ERLC), they’ve virtually merged into a singular organization, is little more than a political organization that once in a while posts material vaguely relevant to the Gospel. Its attention is far more focused on liberalizing the American church than doing anything evangelistic in nature.
The two #woke organizations, 9Marks and TGC, merged again today in a post at the latter by an employee of the former, who took great exception with Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the SBC. Jonathan Leeman, the editorial director of 9Marks, posted his article at The Gospel Coalition blog, and in it he explained why the (conservative) leader of the free world should not have been invited to the Southern Baptist Convention (although it is rumored that VP Pence invited himself).
Keep in mind that The Gospel Coalition posted the article, Evangelical Leaders: Tell Us to Vote for Hillary Clinton. The article was a guest-post hosted at Burns’ (Anyabwile’s) TGC sub-blog and written by a staff person at Burns’ church. That article literally endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. This same Gospel Coalition has now chastised the Southern Baptist Convention for merely hearing out Mike Pence because it somehow crossed a political line. The double-standard and hypocrisy from TGC is insane.
I’m sitting here at the Southern Baptist Convention. Earlier today Vice President Mike Pence addressed the convention. We were told he initiated the offer to speak. I wish we had not accepted.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m grateful to God for our nation. I want him to bless it. But here’s a question for my fellow Southern Baptists and evangelicals more broadly: can you name a place in the Bible where God sends a ruler of a (non-Israelite) nation to speak to God’s people? Is the pattern not just the opposite? Moses challenges Pharaoh. Daniel confronts Nebuchadnezzar. John the Baptist calls out Herod. And Paul appeals to Caesar. The biblical flow chart for confrontation occurs in Psalm 2: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.” The arrow moves from God’s people to rulers of the nations, not rulers to God’s people. Jonah didn’t invite the king of Nineveh to challenge him. He said, “Repent.”
Permit me to remain neutral on Pence himself. Whether you love him or hate him, reason one our churches and associations of churches should ordinarily not receive political leaders to address their assemblies is that it goes against the pattern of the entire Bible. You never see Daniel asking Nebuchadnezzar to show up at the next worship gathering, or Jesus asking a Roman centurion, even one with “great faith,” to make an appearing at his next sermon to “share a word from his heart.” No, Daniel and Jesus were after something different than the rulers of the day.
One wonders why Leeman gives the example of a “non-Israelite” speaking to God’s people. Considering that the church is Spiritual Israel (something no Reformed believer would squabble with), a baptized believer who happens to be the Civil Magistrate speaking to other baptized believers is much closer to the precedent set by the inter-lapping division of power between Old Testament kings and priests. In the cultic religion of Israel, both kings and priests (often appearing in ceremonial roles for the other) had different roles and realms of authority, but they would often overlap and work together, as is seen in the various accounts of the Kings.
For Leeman’s argument to work, the SBC would have had to have invited a non-believer (a Gentile, in the Covenant Theology sense) to speak to the church (Spiritual Israel). This is what Russell Moore did when he invited Hillary Clinton to speak to the SBC in 2015, because Hillary Clinton is as lost as a goose in a snowstorm, no matter how many 9Marks and TGC writers would vote for her. Pence, on the other hand, has a credible Christian testimony and witness. I might even (scratch that, I definitely would) agree with Leeman’s argument if it was Donald Trump – who is clearly not a born-again believer – to speak to the SBC. But regarding Pence, he simply is not the Gentile King speaking to Israel. He is the Israelite King speaking to Israel (dispensationalists have lost their mind at this point in the post, and for that, I apologize).
Reason two I wish Pence hadn’t spoke [sic] follows from the first: having a political leader address our churches or associations of churches tempts us to misconstrue our mission. Our mission is not the mission of the Republican, Democratic, or any party. Our mission, when gathered, it to work toward Great Commission ends. To bring in a politician risks subverting our gospel purposes to the purposes of that politician’s party.
Certainly, that’s how outsiders will perceive us. They conclude, “Ah, that church or those churches are just an appendage of the Party.” Call this the third reason not to give a platform to politicians in our assemblies: it undermines our evangelistic and prophetic witness.
Let me repeat: These quasi-intellectual jackhats at The Gospel Coalition and 9Marks have been busy overtly and explicitly endorsing socialists and Democrats for political office in the very “pages” of the blog now used to claim the SBC is too political. Please forgive my skepticism while I choke on the irony of your unconquerable double standard. Leeman continues:
Let me conclude on an underlining issue in all of this: There’s nothing necessarily wrong with desiring political access. You can desire political access for love of neighbor and for the sake of justice. The question is, are you willing to lose your head by speaking against the powers that be when you have such access? John the Baptist was. If you’re not willing to lose your head, it tempts people to wonder why you really want access.
Let me call baloney, here. The Biblical comparison to John the Baptist’s martyrdom for his speaking out against Herod and Herodotus is not exegetically astute. First, John the Baptist was being “political,” which is something Leeman claims we shouldn’t do because of how we’ll be perceived by outsiders. But secondly, and more importantly, The Gospel Coalition never spoke out against “the power” of the Obama Administration. There were no raised fists of solidarity against the radically liberal agenda of BHO. Suddenly TGC and 9Marks are concerned about speaking truth to power? That was a radical shift of courage that happened around November of 2016. Third, and back to exegesis, Mike Pence isn’t taking anyone’s head. He has been a friend to religious liberty.
You really can’t, on one hand, support the idea of the ERLC and its job description to influence government and on the other hand decry one of our top magistrates (who is a believer) meeting with us. If Leeman was even halfway consistent, he would argue that the ERLC be defunded because Russell Moore’s job wasn’t necessary because politics don’t matter (and we all know that the Latte Mafia of New Calvinists at 9Marks and TGC wouldn’t ever want to defund their most powerful political ally).
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to say what I’ve been saying; 9Marks, Southeastern Seminary, Southern Seminary, the ERLC, and The Gospel Coalition have received giant piles of cash from both James Riady and George Soros. For TGC in particular, this is not a religious organization, but a political one. That TGC would complain about a conservative leader (our magistrate, not just a “politician,” which is a deceitfully reductionist caricature of the Vice President of the United States) was absolutely predictable.
Had a Democratic or Socialist politician spoken, TGC and 9Marks would have lauded it as a sign of the growing open-mindedness and culture of dialogue in the SBC, and somehow explained how it was “Gospel-centered.”