Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear has explained why he chose to attend last night’s White House dinner to honor evangelical leaders despite his calls for the denomination to decouple itself from political partisanship.
As about 100 evangelical leaders and their wives attended the state-like dinner in Washington, D.C., there were some new faces in the crowd of pastors, evangelists and activists who had not previously engaged with the administration in a public manner.
Greear, who became the youngest SBC president in history this summer, was one who seemed to some critics to be a bit out of place because he represents a more progressive strain within the SBC and has decried Church entanglement with political parties.
Greear has also warned against church leaders declaring “a particular political strategy as God’s.”
Considering that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were given a Bible signed by evangelical leaders that had an inscription that reads “History will record the greatness that you have brought for generations,” Greear felt the need to detail his involvement at the dinner.
“I received an invitation from the White House to attend a dinner in which the administration would address faith leaders. I weigh every decision carefully and consulted with a number of leaders across the political spectrum,” Greear said in a statement. “In this case, I chose to attend in order to listen and meet other leaders and offer perspective where asked.”
Greear explained that being a witness in the public square “requires some presence in it.” However, Greear assured that he is “as committed as ever to decoupling the Church from partisan politics.”
“[M]y desire for the SBC remains what it always has been — promoting a culture in which the Gospel is above all,” the 45-year-old pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, wrote. “Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel.”
Responding to the fact that the Trumps were presented with a Bible signed by many of the leaders in attendance during the event, Greear assured that he did not sign the Bible.
“I was not asked and was not aware it was being given,” he explained in his statement.
During the dinner, over a dozen evangelical leaders spoke about how much they appreciate how quickly the Trump administration has acted to progress many items on the social conservative agenda involving issues like abortion, religious freedom, the embassy in Jerusalem and global persecution. Some voiced concern about the need for “vigilance” heading into the 2018 midterms.
Greear expanded on his position on the Trump administration in an email to The New Yorker.
“One person said to me, ‘I know that when you elect a President, we are electing a thousand people (in the form of judges and executive officials),'” Greear was quoted as writing. “I don’t really care for Trump, but I like the thousand that I think will come with him more than the thousand Hillary Clinton has promised she will bring with her.'”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith