“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17
G. Bryant Wright is the pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, a wealthy Southern Baptist Megachurch in Cobb County, Georgia. He is also the former President of the Southern Baptist Convention. This morning, Wright took to Twitter to criticize Donald Trump for an insulting comment about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Pray for the President to repent of such childishness as this. This is disgraceful behavior for anyone. https://t.co/sbqrpDL3oM
— Bryant Wright (@bryantwright) December 8, 2018
Calling Trump’s behavior “childish” and “disgraceful,” Wright urged his followers to pray for President Trump to “repent.” It is unclear if by “repent” Wright meant that Trump would change his behavior and apologize or that Trump would turn from his sins and receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Given that it’s been long apparent that Trump is not a Christian, Wright was almost certainly referring to the President’s unstatesman-like behavior.
Given that Republican politicians have long-received unwavering support from the Southern Baptist voting bloc, Wright’s very public and open rebuke of Trump may take many aback. Wright is a pastor in a very pro-Trump state. Interestingly enough, the 6th congressional district of Georgia recently flipped from Republican to Democratic control. It could be that Wright’s church has a changing demographic on its hands. Wright, who recently announced his impending retirement, obviously felt free to speak his mind about Trump. But was it wise?
President or not, Trump is ultimately one more lost person in danger of the fires of Hell. His greatest need is a change of the heart not a change of behavior. Public pressure and social media rebukes may change political behaviors but only the Holy Spirit can regenerate a sinful heart. In this case, Wright’s direct challenge to Trump’s behavior comes off more like virtue signaling than concern for the soul of a lost person.
Wright’s public rebuke is also tragically misplaced. Yes, it is the case that Trump’s behavior is often boorish and insensitive. However, he is ultimately outside of the household of God. Within Wright’s own Southern Baptist denomination there are major spiritual problems. Most glaringly, its denominational bookstores sell unbiblical and dangerous literature for a profit. Its seminaries are growing more progressive. Unaccountable megapastors grow wealthier and wealthier from book deals and speaking fees while the denomination shrinks and baptism numbers are drying up. At the same time, many Southern Baptists are more concerned with politics than they are with the Kingdom. The Southern Baptist Convention is in desperate need of leadership which will prophetically call Southern Baptists to reform and repentance.
Sadly, Baptists can never expect influential leaders like Bryant Wright to publicly rebuke fellow Southerner Baptist luminaries like Danny Akin, Steve Gaines, JD Greear, Johnny Hunt, and Thom Rainer. Tweets attacking the behavior of a lost politician, however, may now be par for the course.
If you are Southern Baptist concerned with how your church a denomination are using the tithe and offering money with which God has entrusted you, I commend to you my book on Southern Baptist Stewardship.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
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