The informal theme of the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting was supposed to be “wokeness,” an awareness of Social Justice and the supposed importance of its various Marxist implications. The SBC-sponsored veneration of Martin Luther King Jr – a man of dubious theological beliefs and abysmal moral character – at the MLK50 event leading up to the annual conference set the stage for more than a month promoting Critical Race Theory and egalitarianism. The #MeToo Movement drove the Convention chatter in the weeks prior to this event, with forces within the Evangelical Deep State ousting Dr. Paige Patterson for what has (thus far) been unsubstantiated or (at best) weak and decades-old allegations of gender insensitivity. Upcoming SBC president, JD Greear, used the opportunity to push for female leadership in churches and within the denomination, and racial incendiaries like Thabiti Anyabwile, Kyle J. Howard, Eric Mason and Dwight Marxissic all shifted their racial gears to overdrive on female empowerment, some even floating the idea of nominating Beth Moore as president of the SBC in the next few years. The leftist-progressive wheel of change missed a cog, however, when it was announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be addressing the Convention on Wednesday. Those invested in the denomination’s hard push left were outraged that the conservative Christian leader would be invited to speak to messengers, but ironically, there is virtually no record of outrage when Russell Moore invited Hillary Clinton and two Roman Catholic politicians to address a much larger SBC event in 2015.
SBC Voices, an echo chamber, peanut gallery and amen choir of Southern Baptist bloggers who are programmed what to think by the Evangelical Intelligentsia – the very same ones who would have strongly resisted the ideological strong left turn only a few short years ago – voiced their anger at the Pence invitation, apparently unaware of their double standards that have been floating around by every shifting wind of doctrine.
Brent Hobbes, who Pulpit & Pen has written about numerous times before, took a break from the Convention’s affairs to quickly pen an article entitled, Mike Pence Should Not Address #SBC2018. Speaking for the growing Social Justice contingent in the quickly liberalizing contingent of the SBC, Hobbes said:
I understand it would be a kind of honor to have the Vice President of the United States address the convention. A kind of honor. But not the kind we should be seeking. The focus of our meeting should be brokenness and repentance. A theology of the cross – as opposed to a theology of glory. Many have called for an extended time of prayer so that we can mourn and lament. I don’t know if that will take place or not. But does a visit from the Vice President fit that spirit? How can it? How does it send any other message than, “Look at us! The power and prestige of Southern Baptists – who have the friendship of those in our nation’s highest office!”
It may or may not be lost on Hobbes and other complainers that it’s been a tradition for Southern Baptists to invite the POTUS to speak to its gathering, at least whenever the administration is friendly to a Judeo-Christian worldview. President George W. Bush, for example, spoke to the SBC annual convention on June 2, 2011, by invitation of then-president of the convention, James Merritt (who now seems to be much more aligned with the Social Justice contingent of the SBC, and is the father of prominent homosexual journalist, Jonathan Merritt). This had been forgotten in the Obama years, with the president who considered most Southern Baptists to be “bitter clingers” who held on to their Bibles and guns.
Pence was once a Roman Catholic but embraced the Gospel at a Christian music concert. His conversion not only took him away from Priestcraft, which greatly disappointed his family, but also led him away from the Democratic Party (which genuine conversion is bound to do). Pence has been a member of Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis, a church affliated with the Evangelical Free Church, which is a relatively orthodox denomination. Pence has been a friend of Christian values, serving as governor of Indiana to help defund Planned Parenthood and defend religious liberty. Without any hesitation, Vice President Pence has done more to protect religious liberty both in Indiana and nationwide than a thousand Russell Moores. One would think that inviting Pence to give a short talk to the Convention messengers would make absolute sense. And yet, it has angered those who thought this year’s convention would only serve as a hat-tip to the progressive left wing of the SBC run by Russell Moore, Danny Akin, and Albert Mohler.
I can’t see any way for a member of a President’s administration to address the convention without our convention being seen as supportive and politically tied. When Mike Pence enters, he’ll receive a standing ovation from a (likely vast) majority of the messengers. This will alienate those in our own family who by conviction do not or cannot support this administration. Instead of standing together in unity over the gospel, our political differences will be put on display for an extended ovation.
Of course, Hobbes and the SBC’s left wing have a terribly short memory.
Russell Moore, who has repeatedly used his position as SBC spokesman on political issues to attack Donald Trump and the Trump administration (as well as any pastors who support them) – the same Russell Moore who is operating as the braintrust that runs the Social Justice wing of the convention, invited Hillary Clinton to speak at an official Southern Baptist event in August of 2015. At the North American Mission Board (NAMB) “Send Conference,” Moore invited three non-Christians to speak to Southern Baptists, including two Roman Catholics – Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush – who ended up accepting the invitation. Not accepting the invitation was Hillary Clinton. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton was invited to speak to quantitatively more Southern Baptists than will be present to hear Vice President Mike Pence.
At the time, Moore drew a small amount of criticism for not inviting politicians who were actual Christians to speak, or those associated with Southern Baptist Churches, like Mike Huckabee (a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention), Ted Cruz or Rick Perry. Moore did not receive any criticism from Brent Hobbes, Dwight Marxissic, Eric Mason, Thabiti Anyabwile or others for inviting non-believing politicians to address Convention members or even for inviting Hillary Clinton (who claims membership in the United Methodist Church), who is opposed to virtually anything closely resembling a Judeo-Christian worldview.