Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Executive Director, Connect 316
Publisher, SBC Today
Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently wrote an ARTICLE expressing his concern over things “being said and written” about SBC Presidential nominee J.D. Greear. Akin’s timely word provides the perfect opportunity for the leadership of SBC Today to affirm the sentiments Akin so eloquently articulated. We join Danny Akin in his desire to set the record straight and we call for all Southern Baptists to exercise brotherly love and Christ-like honesty in this election season.
Appreciation for Both Nominees
Like Danny Akin, we regard both J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill as brothers in Christ. We too are extremely grateful for their ministries. We have nothing negative or unkind to say about either one of them—which is to say that we have nothing personally against them. This does not, of course, preclude the fact that we tend to align more favorably with one candidate’s platform than another’s. Frankly, we believe the same could be said for Dr. Akin. But apart from the positions of each nominee on the issues, when it comes to the men themselves, we are extremely grateful for them.
Affirmation of Truthful and Accurate Information
Like Danny Akin, SBC Today believes it is important that we have accurate and truthful information about the nominees. We agree with Dr. Akin that misinformation is never a good thing. Thus, we unequivocally join him in denouncing anyone, anywhere, who is lying about J.D. Greear, or for that matter, Ken Hemphill. Whoever they are, wherever they are, we encourage them to stop.
A Better Way—Verbatim Quotations and News Story Citations
Frankly, we wish more of the speakers and writers Akin addressed in his article would have adopted our own approach at SBC Today. As a matter of fact, it is a practical impossibility for our recently published Voter Guide to have been less than 100% accurate and truthful. Why? Because our entries were themselves nothing other than statements of verifiable facts. Seven of the eight entries were verbatim quotes by the nominees. The remaining entry cited two different Baptist newspapers that printed statistics one can easily verify against denominational records. Everything, and I mean every single thing, in our Voter Guide is 100% true and accurate. There is simply no room for lying when one’s philosophy is: “Here is exactly what this person has said about this issue and here is exactly what has been reported in the news.”
Vague Accusations Demonstrate the Importance of Including Facts
Unfortunately, we are left to wonder which speakers and writers Dr. Akin had in mind when he wrote his article. By choosing not to include these facts in his report, Dr. Akin rendered it impossible for us to verify his claim that people are saying and writing the things he claims they are saying and writing. Fact checking becomes impossible when accusations are in the form of such vague generalizations rather than the kind of quotes with citations mentioned in the section above discussing our Voter Guide.
Coincidental Publication of Voter Guide and Article on Same Day
In all likelihood, both Dr. Akin’s piece and our Voter Guide were already in the process of development and were being produced quite independently of each other. However, because of the mutual posting date, some have wondered if Dr. Akin’s remarks might have been somehow related to our Voter Guide. This is doubtful. The SBC Today Voter Guide posted early Monday morning, while Akin’s article was posted by The Biblical Recorder at 10:00 AM. This would seem to be an extremely hasty response time.
Comparing Dr. Akin’s Three Alleged Accusations with our Voter Guide
The biggest reason I do not believe Dr. Akin was referring to our Voter Guide is that he does not specifically address the issues we actually raised in the Guide. He raises a few similar issues and argues against claims we never made, which is why I believe he must be talking about someone else. Consider his three primary areas of concern.
DANNY AKIN: Some are saying that Greear neglects and is even dismissive about the work of our state conventions. To rebut this alleged accusation, Dr. Akin mentions Greear’s support for the North Carolina Convention.
VOTER GUIDE: Neither the word “neglects” nor the word “dismissive” can be found in the Voter Guide. The only entry that remotely relates to this comment does not even discuss Greear’s support for the North Carolina Convention. In fact, North Carolina is only mentioned one time in the Voter Guide, and it is in the Greear title section. It is true that the first entry does touch on the tension between the SBC and the state conventions and associations as they compete for Cooperative Program support. This is a general discussion in which Greear mentions that “so much of what is given to the CP stays in the states” and “I don’t think there’s any question that some of the institutions must cease to function…” These statements cannot be lies. They represent Greear’s own words and were cited from Greear’s own website. While nothing was mentioned in the Voter Guide about Greear lacking any support for North Carolina, his view of the tension between associations, states and the SBC for CP dollars, a major issue in the GCR Agenda, was clearly addressed, in Greear’s own words, and with 100% accuracy.
DANNY AKIN: Some are saying The Summit Church, where J.D. serves as pastor, does not support well the financial work of our state convention and the SBC at large. To rebut this alleged accusation, Dr. Akin mentions Greear’s Cooperative Program dollar amounts over the past two years, along with his Great Commission Giving percentage, a much maligned percentage metric that many state conventions do not even recognize as being cooperative, since it credits churches for doing their work in a neo-societal fashion.
VOTER GUIDE: The Voter Guide never even mentions dollars. It does not even contain a dollar sign. The Bible teaches Jesus cares about percentages. The widow’s two mites represented more than all the rich people were giving. She gave 100% and that’s what Jesus wants us to focus upon. Great Commission Giving is never mentioned in the Voter Guide. Many Southern Baptists do not even recognize this metric. So it would be simply inaccurate for anyone to claim that we were stating Greear “does not support well the financial work of our state convention and the SBC at large” in terms of overall dollar amounts. This claim was not made in the Voter Guide. However, the seventh entry of the guide did cite the fact that in 2016-2017, Greear’s church donated 2.4% of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. In the same time period, Hemphill’s church donated 12.2% of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. These giving records are described as percentages, the way Jesus likes us to do it. The percentages quoted are 100% true and accurate.
DANNY AKIN: Some are saying Greear is a Calvinist, and therefore he would lead the SBC to be anti-evangelistic and anti-missionary. To rebut this alleged accusation, Dr. Akin cites Greear’s evangelistic record and his antinomist, divine mystery perspective. Helpfully, Dr. Akin declares that the two of them share the exact position on soteriology. I have reason to believe this makes them both Amyraldists, or Four Point Calvinists, a form of Calvinism generally disaffirming Limited Atonement but accepting the other points.
VOTER GUIDE: The Voter Guide never suggests anything about Greear being anti-evangelistic or anti-missionary. Neither these words nor these thoughts are present in the guide in any form. This is yet another place where one can only wish Dr. Akin would have named the speakers and writers he claimed were making the false statements. We could join him in condemning them. As for Greear’s Calvinism, the Voter Guide quotes Greear, accurately, as stating, “I’ll probably take whatever side you are not.” This is frankly consistent with the middle of the road, antinomist, divine mystery approach Akins described. The Voter Guide also cited Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition, who included both Greear and Akin among the 125 Most Influential Leaders in the Gospel-Centered Movement, also described as Young, Restless and Reformed. Anyone familiar with the pastors and theologians on this list will immediately recognize it to be a list of Four Point and Five Point Calvinists.
Concluding Observations Regarding Truthfulness and Campaigns
While we agree with Dr. Akin regarding the need for complete honesty in SBC Presidential election discussions, we do wish his alleged accusations had consisted of more factual information in the form of names, dates, and direct quotes. When a charge has never really been specifically presented, it is difficult to fact check and impossible to rebut. We also wish Dr. Akin had not transitioned away from addressing concerns with people he claimed were saying and writing untrue things, and toward the action of presenting a list of personal endorsements for his favorite candidate. That was not setting the record straight. It was campaigning. Finally, we wish Dr. Akin had not put himself in a position where he had a conflict of interest. When he actively supports a candidate, he is pushing for the election of the person who will appoint the people who will appoint the people who will appoint his immediate supervisors. Granted, it’s a bit indirect, but there is a conflict of interest there.
Having said that, we generally stand in agreement with Dr. Akin, pleading for the sharing of honest and accurate information as Southern Baptists make their selection in this year’s SBC Presidential race.
Voter Guide Notes
The purpose of the SBC Today Voter Guide is to provide SBC Messengers with accurate information concerning SBC Presidential Nominees early enough in the election cycle to allow for their study of the relevant issues.
Rather than relying upon nominee interviews, which are often helpful, we prefer to offer readers facts and statements which have already become a part of the historical record. The use of verbatim personal quotes spanning a broader period of time allows a more thorough investigation into each nominee’s background.
Each entry consists of facts taken directly from published news sources, including the frequent use of verbatim quotes by the nominees. In some cases, to accommodate the space limitations of the Voter Guide table, slight redactions and the occasional borrowing of an antecedent from a previous sentence were required. Such editing never alters the meaning of any Voter Guide entry.
SBC Today believes each Voter Guide entry stands alone as a complete unit of thought. We nevertheless encourage readers to explore the full context of every statement to develop a broader understanding of the issues than the space limitations of a Voter Guide will allow. Because we wish to encourage such further research, each Voter Guide citation below is hyperlinked to the original source.
View of State Conventions and Local Associations
Greear, JD. “Our Church, The SBC, and the Cooperative Program.” JD Greear Ministries. February 8, 2012. jdgreear.com.
Hemphill, Ken. “Convention Priorities.” Ken Hemphill SBC 2018. March 13, 2018. kenhemphill2018.com.
Cooperative Versus Societal Missions
Southern Baptist Identity Approval
Transparent Salvation Doctrine Position
Cooperative Kingdom Participation Convictions
Cosper, Mike. “Mike Cosper Interviews JD Greear.” Audio podcast. Sojourn Network. November 9, 2017. sojournnetwork.com.
Hemphill, Ken. “Convention Priorities.” Ken Hemphill SBC 2018. March 13, 2018. kenhemphill2018.com.
Internal Versus External Cooperation
Record of Cooperative Program Support
Roach, David. “JD Greear to be SBC President Nominee Again.” Baptist Press. January 29, 2018. bpnews.net.
Hall, Will. “Ken Hemphill to be SBC President Nominee.” The Message. February 1, 2018. baptistmessage.com.
Convictions Regarding Beverage Alcohol
Greear, J.D. “Three Ways We Make It Difficult For People Turning to God.” J.D. Greear Ministries. August 27, 2014. jdgreear.com
Rodgers, Jane. “Q and A with SBC Presidential Candidate Kenneth Hemphill.” Southern Baptist Texan. March 28, 2018. texanonline.net
Click on the picture below to hear Greear’s comments to his church.
JD Greear announced to his church that he had been asked to allow his name to be placed in nomination for president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his remarks he noted three questions that the church members would have and the third was an eye-opener. He said, “the third question many of you will ask is ‘Since when did we become Southern Baptist?” I get that. That is not something we wear on our sleeve here. There are obviously parts of the Southern Baptist Convention that do not excite us and represent who were are as a church.”
Here is a guy who pastors a multi-campus church that is not even aware that they are part of the Southern Baptist Convention and this is after he had run for the same position two years ago. So in the past two years, the Summit Church that Greear pastors still has no idea they are Southern Baptist. Continue reading