Pandering to the Culture: A Response to JD Greear’s Video
Recently, JD Greear posted a video on FB seemingly in an attempt to provide the SBC with some leadership and direction. Regrettably, the kind of leadership and direction JD offered, well, it isn’t real leadership and as for the direction, I couldn’t disagree more. That is not to say that I don’t respect JD Greear. I do. I treat him as a brother. However, his video is public, and as a result, it is more than reasonable to provide a public response to it (not that my voice will be heard by very many anyways – but I do have a voice and I will use it to glorify God).
Greear made several points to which I will briefly respond. The first issue I have with Greear’s comments is his interesting view that God has brought a day of reckoning to the SBC. This is pious talk for “someone or a number of someones that have been exposed for behaving badly.” My objection is simply this: spare me the pious framing. It rings hollow. The behavior that JD is talking about has been going on for a very long time and men like JD have known about it for a long time. The good ole boys protect the good ole boys until they can’t protect them any longer. Then a sacrificial lamb is offered up and we get to listen to this pious framing. It is hard to stomach. Want my respect? Then just tell the truth openly, honestly, make no excuses, and admit that there is an accountability problem top to bottom in the SBC. And that’s just one of the problems.
Greear says there are things about the SBC culture that grieves the Holy Spirit. What does he mean? Does he mean that the SBC needs a culture of accountability and transparency among leadership? A culture that lives up to the principle of Sola Scriptura? A culture that is impervious to the good ole boy back-slapping and protecting that has gone on for so long? Nope! He says the SBC needs a new complementarianism. The SBC needs to recognize the gift God gives to women and it should seek to empower them. This, despite the fact that Scripture has reserved authority and leadership for men. But this is a wink in the direction of the #MeToo nonsense that has made its way into the SBC. It is a wink in the direction of Beth Moore. And maybe it’s some sort of penance for some heinous evil performed against women by men in power positions within the SBC. Sorry JD, but the solution to the SBC’s problems is not a new complementarianism. It is a return to living under the authority of Scripture. Nothing else will do
Greear’s second issue is to see people of color in the highest levels of leadership. This a wink at the racial reconciliation movement. Despite the fact that there is nothing in Scripture that supports this kind of mindset, these men continue to adopt pagan thinking around the subject of diversity. It is sad to see. We need fearless leaders in these positions, not white men, or brown men, or black men. We need men like John MacArthur, Voddie Baucham, Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, Paul Washer. We don’t need melanin to be a criterion by which men are appointed to these positions. They are far too important to be reduced to something as arbitrary as skin tone. This is nothing more than political posturing. It is what led to the conditions that have created the impetus for this video to begin with, and JD for whatever reason, does not see that or if he does, he is choosing to ignore it.
The third item Greear mentions is very likely the powder keg that is about to explode in the SBC. Greear says that we need to help the vulnerable, to stand up for the abused. Finally, Greear gets to transparency in leadership. Well, I wonder what this cryptic message is really about, that we must stand up for the vulnerable? What is JD referencing? Personally, I think it is always a bad idea to talk about transparency in a cryptic way. Maybe I am the only one that feels the irony here but I sure do feel it.
Next, Greear decides to go after those of a divisive spirit. Now, you can almost guarantee when someone starts talking like this, their goal is to marginalize anyone that disagrees with them and to shut them down. Greear even says that it does not matter if these folks are actually right in their understanding of an issue. All that matters is that they are being divisive. Riddle me this: why is it that it is always “them” that are being divisive and never “me?” In other words, the ones who are divisive are the ones that disagree with us, with my side, with my team, with our view. And it doesn’t even matter if my side is wrong. It is those guys, even though they are right, that are dividing us and therefore, we should mark them. For example: recently, this good ole boys club thought it was prudent to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. as a noble Christian man and an example to be admired. Many of us think this is detrimental to the gospel and to the integrity of the Christian church. But since it is a secondary issue so to speak, it does not matter if we are right. What is worse is that we are speaking out about it and creating division. Therefore, we should be marked and dealt with presumably. This is not how the church is supposed to operate folks. This is a man seeking to keep things exactly the way they are all the while saying that things need to change. Washington has done this to American society for years and years now. And it seems that the SBC is taking the very same approach. Shut down those people who disagree with Greear and his friends. No debate. No synod. No conference. No Discussion. Mark them and shut them up now. Greear even quotes Paul at Romans 16:7 saying, “Mark them with a divisive spirit and keep away from them.” First, its Romans 16:17, not Romans 16:7. Second, here is what Paul actually said: Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. Greear goes on to say, “whether you are being divisive on an issue even if your right still makes you divisive.” Now, compare that statement with statement Paul made. Did Paul say that division in and of itself is wrong? Nope. Paul said, “Keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned.” The presumed next president of the SBC is misquoting Scripture in an attempt to manipulate and intimidate anyone who might disagree with him on an issue. Is this the kind of character the SBC needs leading it in the future? It is the same old, same old, folks.
In 1 Corinthians 5:11, Paul tells the church at Corinth to separate from anyone who claims to be a brother but who is walking in immorality. That is a mandate for division. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have fit that category perfectly and the SBC just celebrated him as an exemplary Christian leader. John told his audience that if someone comes bringing something other than the doctrine of Christ, have nothing to do with that person. That is a command for division. Paul told the Thessalonian believers to keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life (2 Thess. 3:6). A few verses later he said to note anyone who does not obey the instructions of his letter and have nothing to do with them (2 Thess. 3:14). Jesus Himself instructed the church to remove men from among them who were obstinate in their sin. This sin would include false teachings. Finally, Greear, without realizing it, is advocating division while attempting to condemn it. If it is true that all division are wrong even if the people creating it are right on the issue in question, and it is also true that marking someone out in the way Greear is marking them out is divisive, then Greear is actually engaging in the very practice he is condemning, while he is condemning it. Even if Greear is right, he is wrong according to his own standard.
I realize that this response to Greear is direct, and some would say overly harsh. Under the circumstances and in the current environment, I think it is reasonable. If the SBC is going to be a denomination that honors Christ, it will have to begin by returning to living under the authority of Scripture. Unless the SBC does that nothing else that it does matters much. It will continue to bleed good people until all that is left are the progressives. In other words, the only hope the SBC has of avoiding the fate of every other liberal Protestant denomination is to be willing to shrink to whatever size is necessary in order to have a membership that is predominantly submitting their lives to the authority of Scripture, from the members all the way up to the leaders, to include the seminaries. Refuse to do that and the SBC will not recover. The SBC is like a person on life support today. The time for her to begin to respond and show that there is enough activity in her spiritual brain to justify holding out hope is quickly coming to a close. If Greear’s video is any indication, there is little reason to hold out hope that a recovery is in her future.