As many of you know, I am interested in becoming the next SBC President. I don’t have any major movers and shakers to nominate me but I am in discussion with brothers about how it might be done. No doubt, big-time mega preacher nominees like JD Greear and Steve Gaines will get interviews in the Baptist Press or other big-money outlets. I’ll just have to get my own word out with the help of my friends and supporters. Recently, JD Greear was given an interview in SBC Voices, a Southern Baptist Interest blog. I won’t wait on them to call me. I don’t have to. I have my own blog outlets that are somewhat well-read in SBC circles. Below, I’ve taken the questions that SBC Voices asked JD Greear and answered them myself.
1. Why do you want to be SBC president? What do you hope to bring to the SBC over your tenure?
My absolute favorite band in the world is Pearl Jam. They sing a song called The Fixer that goes “When something’s broke, I wanna put a bit of fixin’ on it…When something’s lost, I wanna fight to get it back again.” That song makes me think of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s broken and I want to fix it. It’s lost its way and I want to fight to get it back on the right path again. The convention has been broken before. We’ve been slaveholders and we’ve been theological moderates. We’ve corrected those errors. Now, it’s broken again. I think I can help fix it.
The convention is run by bureaucrats and megapreachers who seem totally detached from the concerns and lives of the every day Baptists. These men remind me of the Scottish nobles in the movie Braveheart. There’s a poignant scene in that movie where the nobles are squabbling over who should be in charge. William Wallace won’t have it. He rebukes them, saying, “There is a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.” If there’s one thing I’d like to bring to the SBC over my tenure as President its concern for the collective mission of our individual churches. I’m not looking to be a star on the speaking circuit or sell my leadership books. I don’t have any to sell. It just want to be represent the every day baptists who support our convention. I want to see well-trained and well-grounded missionaries put on the mission field to share the gospel. I want to promote boots on the ground and not schemes and stratgies. I want to have a tenure that no one remembers for anything but good stewardship and the wise appointment of trustees, not press conferences and stunts.
2. What do you want to see change in the SBC? What do you hope stays the same?
I want to see the eventual elimination of LifeWay and the Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission. These entities are an embarrassment to the convention and a reproach to the body of Christ, in my opinion. They are run by celebrity Christians like Russell Moore, Thom Rainer, and Ed Stezer who seem more like PR men and booksellers than anything. Does Christ’s church really need PR men? The Bible says the world is going to hate us. Okay, I accept that. Now, let’s go win all the lost souls we can. Let’s do it as efficiently as we can, too. To me, North America seems as lost as anywhere else. I think we should combine NAMB and IMB into once missions board with one headquarters and one support staff. We have too much bloat and bureaucracy in the SBC, both of which are expensive.
What I want to stay the same is the commitment to the innerrancy of scripture. I want our seminaries to continue to teach from this commitment. They do now and I think it’s great. I also want us to sit back and think about the sufficiency of scripture. We don’t need a bunch of modern day prophets saying “God told me” unless they can pick up a Bible and show everyone else what he told them.
3. What can you bring from your life experience, particularly in the area of missions, to the rest of the SBC?
I’m not a professional pastor. Like almost all other Southern Baptists, I’m a pew sitter. In my life, I’ve been helped most when the Bible has been faithfully and accurately proclaimed from the pulpit. I want every Southern Baptist to be a faithful proclaimer of God’s word. Sadly, our church buildings may be our most immediate mission field. Years of easy believism and aisle-walking have to led a visible church that’s much bigger than the true church. If this weren’t the case, I think we’d see more pew-sitters proclaiming the gospel at home, work, and on the streets…not just doing that but making disciples. Instead, we’ve created professional preacher and missionary classes to do this stuff for us. I think the Southern Baptist Convention is in danger of seeing itself as a service provider. “Hand us your money and will hire missionaries and lobbyists. You can just sit back and play fantasy football.” This isn’t how it should be. I want us all to be mission minded. I don’t want someone’s money if they themselves aren’t missions-minded.
Of course, I’m not at all advocating for a reduction in our professional missions staff. If there is any organization on God’s green earth that takes the gospel to the nations better than the IMB, I’d like to hear about it! I want missions to be well-funded; I think if we trim the fat in a few places, we can do that.
4. One of the most important things that an SBC President does is make appointments. What will be the primary considerations in that process for you? What role will Baptist Confessionalism play regarding the BFM2000?
I wouldn’t appoint anyone who did not assent to the BFM 2000. Furthermore, I wouldn’t appoint anyone whose church polity didn’t reflect such an assent. Article VI of the BFM 2000 states “A New Testament Church of Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers.” The current SBC President, Ronnie Floyd, has a church with satellite campuses. So, too, do current candidates JD Greear and Steve Gaines. It’s a mess. I’d look for the sort of appointee who wouldn’t be afraid to kick churches like that out of the convention, no matter how much money those churches brought in to the SBC. If a church had a woman preacher, we’d kick it out. If a church “married” gays, we’d kick it out. Yet, when a church sets up a satellite campus empire, we seem to encourage it. We elect the pastors of these churches to be presidents of the convention amidst their humble-brags of how much money their churches give to the Cooperative Program. I can only conclude that the main concerns of the the current SBC regime are money, numbers, and influence.
John Wesley very notably said, “Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they are clergy or layman, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth.” Those are the type of men I’d appoint. I know it’s ironic to quote Wesley here, since his church polity didn’t match the BMF either but his statement is dead-on. I would look to appoint trustees just like Wesley described. Level-jumpers and influence peddlers need not apply.
5. What is your perspective on the ongoing Calvinist/Non-Calvinist debate in SBC life? Will that affect your thought process in making appointments?
This debate, quite frankly, reminds me of Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace. In that movie, the a Sith Lord incites two sides to fight against each other to create an unstable situation. He uses that unstable situation to rise to power. I think Anti-Calvinist people in the convention create a Calvinist boogeyman. Then, they offer their own services as heroes to come in a save the convention from the Calvinists. They create enemies so they can be a hero, that’s terrible. There’s a movie called Dragonheart that I saw when I was a little kid. In the movie, Dennis Quaid plays a knight who makes his living hunting dragons. Eventually, he conspires with a dragon played by Sean Connery to work together to fleece villages. The dragon would attack a village and the knight would come in a pretend to kill the dragon, for a fee. Then he and his partner would move on to the next village. It was all a scam.
There used to be a very real boogeyman in the convention, theological liberalism. It’s gone. That dragon is slayed. Let’s not try and create a new one that isn’t a serious threat. I’ll be clear, I am a three-point Calvinists: TUP. If you’re four or five it doesn’t bother me. If you don’t share the gospel, you don’t belong in the SBC. If you think you can convince someone to get saved outside of the power of the Holy Spirit to convict a lost person of his sins, then you don’t belong either. Everything else seems like a technicality. I wouldn’t appoint anyone who was a hyper-calvinist (I’m yet to meet on the SBC). I also wouldn’t appoint anyone who was an “I see that hand” type of emotional manipulator (sadly, I think we’re not short of these types).
We’ll find out who was right about Calvinism when Christ returns. Until them, we have the same gospel and the same Baptist beliefs. Let’s press on together and not let unnecessary divisions get in the way.
7. With the recent downsizing of the IMB overseas missions force, what can local churches do to engage in mission themselves and help strengthen our collective work through the IMB?
I think local churches need to decide if they need giant buildings, Disneyesque children’s areas, and fog machines more than the world needs missionaries. Where should the money go? Let me be clear that local churches don’t owe the convention or the IMB any money. SBC cooperation is voluntary cooperation. Local churches need to decide if the IMB shares their mission. If it does, then they can get together and help the IMB. If not, they don’t have to participate. I understand that local church leaders are probably wary of donating to the IMB right. It hasn’t modeled good stewardship. If it does, I think local churches will be more than happy to partner with it.
8. What role do you think the Cooperative Program and denominational giving should play in SBC life and our work together?
None. I actually have written a book but it’s not for sale at LifeWay. It’s an e-book an it’s available for free to whoever wants to Google it and find it. The name of the book is The Cooperative Program and the Road to Serfdom. In that book I describe how the Cooperative Program is a product of 1920s era progressivism It’s terrible inefficiency and fund a big bureaucracy. It amazes me that local churches who don’t show up to vote at the annual convention still send in precious funds to the convention through the Cooperative Program. Giving to the Cooperative Program seems like some of the worst stewardship I can imagine. Other candidates for SBC Presidents run on how much money they give to the Cooperative Program. I’m running on the fact that I don’t give any.
9. The vast majority of SBC churches have under 200 people in attendance. What role do they play in SBC life? How can you help increase the involvement of smaller churches and their pastors in denominational leadership?
Exactly what is “SBC life”? The SBC technically exists once a year. Local churches exist every day. We don’t need to get together and get involved in “SBC Life,” whatever that is. Is it conference tours and books sales? Seriously, what is it?
The SBC should, in my opinion, do two main things: finance full-time missionaries and baptist education. I think we can do this efficiently by, like I said, trimming the fat. Furthermore, we shouldn’t need stellar leadership to do this. We just need some common sense people, I don’t care how big their church is or what color they are, to manage SBC causes in humility and out of care for others.
10. When you talk to young people and particularly young church planters, how would you encourage them to participate in the SBC?
I tell people, young and old, to not give one red penny to the Cooperative Program. I encourage them to identify seminaries and missions organizations that impress them and practice good stewardship and give to those institutions. Quite frankly, the world doesn’t need the SBC. It just needs the local church. The moment the SBC becomes more concerned with pulling in young people or being more “diverse” just so it can perpetuate itself if the moment it loses relevance. The church did fine without the SBC for 1815 years. God doesn’t need the SBC. The SBC needs God. He’ll deliver the people he sees fit to deliver.
11. What do you think of the Fake Seth Dunn Twitter account? Inquiring minds want to know. Who is behind this Twiter account?
I think it’s great. It’s actually run by me and the account description says as much. It’s a parody of me. I don’t really Tweet from it that much. Twitter can be a cesspool and I don’t interact their as much as I do in other social media outlets. People who operate anonymous Twitter accounts are anathema to me. People need to man up and put their names behind what they say. I think there are a lot of people who will agree with what I have to say here and my campaign platform, but they won’t tweet it out for fear of man. I’m not interested in building a big convention mega career. I don’t want in with the SBC establishment. I’m going to say what I think. I hope those who agree with me won’t be afraid to take on the establishment with me.
*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.