Vines & Draper Respond to Russell Moore

July 5, 2016

Dr. Jerry Vines | President
Jerry Vines Ministries

Editors Note:  This open letter was first sent to Baptist Press.  It is a letter written in response to Russell Moore’s Twitter comment (Click HERE) and is used here by permission.

We have been involved in Southern Baptist life for most of our lives. We are grateful for the opportunities to serve and minister in our Convention. At the same time, we have also witnessed and been involved in America’s political life. Though we never endorsed political candidates, as pastors and Southern Baptist leaders, we have sought to share our perspectives as to how Southern Baptist believers should evaluate the moral and spiritual issues during presidential election cycles. Based on biblical principles we trusted those to whom we ministered to use their brains and their hearts as they voted for political candidates. Such political campaigns can be times of strong emotion, spirited debate, excessive rhetoric and sadly, broken relationships.

The recent meeting of almost 1,000 religious leaders with Donald Trump (including a number of Southern Baptists) and the willingness of some to serve on an advisory group has caused much controversy. The negative reactions of some religious leaders have been much too public. We don’t doubt the same individuals who attended the meeting with Trump would meet and provide counsel to other legitimate candidates, if asked to do so.

Bible history abounds with examples of godly believers giving wise counsel to kings who were not believers. Did God condemn Daniel for his counsel to Nebuchadnezzar? Or Joseph for his counsel to Pharaoh? Or Isaiah for his friendship and counsel to Uzziah? We think not! Counsel to a king and that to a candidate aren’t exactly parallel, but the principle is the same. We choose our leaders. Given the opportunity we should stand on the truth of God’s word and speak to leaders who may not agree with us on everything. Publicly attacking and questioning the motives of fellow believers is unacceptable, unfair, and unhelpful. Such assumes the knowledge of the hearts of others. Only God has that knowledge. Disagreements with fellow believers should be private and not unleashed in the hands of an often hostile press that does not understand nor appreciate our faith or our convictions.

Offering counsel is not an endorsement. Many who will offer such to Mr. Trump have not and will not endorse him. These wise, godly men are simply taking advantage of the opportunity to provide him godly counsel. We (Draper/Vines) have not endorsed Mr. Trump, nor will we do so. But, we do not condemn nor judge fellow Christian leaders who have endorsed him or will offer him counsel. Further, does anyone seriously think any of these religious leaders would approve of the past or present sins of any candidate?

Perhaps no candidate in this election would be our first choice. Still, we are instructed to pray for and honor our leaders. Those instructions were given when the world was controlled by a Caesar who fought against our faith. Certainly we should pray and act in every way to encourage the embracing of godly principles and ideals by our leaders.

Let us learn from our own history. When this nation was born the ministers were the most prominent influencers of its conception. Election Day sermons were preached in the colonies in 1634, continuing from the early years of this nation until 1884. For 250 years elected officials would gather with other citizens to hear instructions from the Bible. These were not partisan politically, but were born out of a sense that true government was prescribed by God and also out of a deep desire for religious freedom. The conviction was that without sound biblical counsel the leaders chosen would not know how to carry out their responsibilities. These sermons clearly told the leaders what they should & should not do, and told the citizens to support them. These election day sermons and the undeniable connection of our Constitution and the Bible make it clear that our nation will only survive through adherence to a biblical worldview.

Rather than a “Trump” event, the gathering in New York was a time for these leaders to dialogue with Trump. We are not aware another candidate has offered such an opportunity, we are confident the same group would have gladly accepted it.

Let us not use our “liberty” in this free land, to excoriate fellow believers who choose a different way of exercising their “liberty” of conscience and action. We are at a crucial time when believers need to be unified in faith and conduct. Let us not use our “liberty” to attack and denigrate fellow believers who exercise their “liberty” in a different way. Let us say nothing that will cause believers to betray their Christian citizenship by refusing to vote. Some may choose to vote for Clinton, others for Trump. Still others will vote for a third party candidate or write-in. Let each believer vote as he or she feels led of the Lord.

We (Draper/Vines) became friends during the days of the Conservative Resurgence. Both of us experienced attacks, questioning of motives and intentions by some (not all) moderates who were entity heads. Sadly, we as pastors were less than temperate in some of our own remarks. For this we have repented and seek to be kinder and more loving in our remarks. Today, with social media available, such exchanges are more widespread and inflammatory.

Come November there will be a newly elected President. It would be a tragedy if a carnage of intemperate words, unloving attacks, and broken relationships should be scattered across the religious scene. While we must “speak the truth,” let us do so “in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Jimmy Draper, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas (1975-1991), SBC President (1982-1984).

Jerry Vines, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida (1982- 2006), SBC President (1989-1990).

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doug sayers

Wise words. Thank you both for your lifelong work in the Kingdom.

I think we all might agree that if the US ever gets things turned around, in terms of our core beliefs / fear of God worldview, it will start with the Church getting her act together, in terms of her core beliefs and fear of God obedience. (This may be Dr Moore’s point but there must be a better way to make it. Perhaps privately to those who applauded).

We expect too much and waste too much time fretting over politics and politicians; thus we are perpetually disappointed.

At this time we need our Church leaders to help prepare the sheep for the inevitable loss of our freedom to believe the Truth and the certain increase in persecution that is coming with it. We will need good biblical counsel on suffering for the faith and the “how” and “when” of civil disobedience.

Perhaps we are coming to the time in America when we actually must tell people to count the cost before coming to Jesus and that could be a good thing… big picture, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps, if God had intended for us to vote He would have given us candidates! Anyway, Cast your vote (or dont) as you see fit, leave the results with God and press on to the Celestial City.

Q:Who really cares who runs Vanity Fair?
A: It’s citizens.

norm

Statesmanship, i.e., Southern Baptist Statesmanship – I tip my hat to Drs. Vines and Draper.

A word to the rest of us: Neither Trump nor Clinton is running to be pastor of the US. Whereas Christian citizens expect, hope and pray that the Judeo-Christian ethic would inform every politician’s decisions, we all must realize — as evidenced by the godless decisions so many of them make these days — that we must use any and every opportunity to influence politicians for the good of the country and the sake of the Kingdom.

Remember, when November rolls around and the polls open, we will not be voting for pastor for the US, we will be voting for a president. One reason our country is in such a sad state is that in recent elections cycles evangelicals have stayed home in droves. I would encourage every believer to vote.

Debbie Kaufman

The link given to Moore’s public tweet said “Forget the politics. Forget the country. An unrepentant lost person pronounces himself to be a believer. And you stand there and applaud?”

Yet this question was not answered in this post. Why?

    Jim Perry

    Right, Debbie. The tweet wasn’t talking about having a discussion with Donald Trump, at least as far as I could tell. Dr. Moore’s point still stands.

      Lydia

      “Right, Debbie. The tweet wasn’t talking about having a discussion with Donald Trump, at least as far as I could tell. Dr. Moore’s point still stands.”

      Who is the unrepentant lost person? Hillary or Trump? Or both? :o)

      I am not voting for a Christian role model. I have one. His Name is Jesus.

      This thinking becomes ridiculous. Is your accountant a Christian? Your doctor? The guy who runs your local grocery store? And so on. Unless you live and work in the bubble, it is hard to understand why this seems so ridiculous to some us.

norm

Missionaries have told me that, when certain polygamous tribes and peoples around the world come to Christ, it takes some time for such people to understand biblical marriage. Whereas the post absolutely answers Moore for any astute reader, what it does not do — and cannot do — is determine how Moore knows that Trump is lost. When Peter used an oath to deny Christ, was he lost?

    Tyler

    “When Peter used an oath to deny Christ, was he lost?”
    Well, his obvious brokenness for his sin and repentance and subsequent running toward Jesus and then being a sold out missionary for Jesus calling everyone to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus was a sure sign that he was saved.

      Lydia

      Oh, do enlighten us, Tyler.

D. Morgan

Thank you Dr.’s Vines and Draper. Well said. Personally, i must wonder exactly why we need an ERLC dept. in the Convention in the first place.

Debbie Kaufman

This Convention has been stellar this past June. It’s why I think we need a ERLC although in the past I wondered the same thing D. Dr. Moore has stood for things that should be stood for such as Muslim Refugees, the Confederate flag, both resolutions which were voted positively for this year and now the Trump how can we judge he is not a Christian. A man who has been derogatory toward minorities and women, spreading false reports which cause false fear, and a man who has been married multiple times with his track records of quotes, among other what I consider evils, is why we need Moore. Salvation is more than a one way ticket to heaven.

The article does nothing however to answer the standing ovation that Moore tweeted about.

ben

You know, I don’t see where Moore actually says anything about motives in that tweet. However, I do see a pretty clear statement about motives in Robert Jeffress’ words in his Christian Post interview:

“I believe any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee … that person is being motivated by pride rather than principle.”

http://www.christianpost.com/news/robert-jeffress-christians-not-voting-donald-trump-foolish-prideful-158881/

Rick Patrick

There were ovations at a campaign stop yesterday in which Obama and Clinton spoke, just moments after it was established that she had carelessly shared highly classified information with other nations, endangering the United States of America. Where was the tweet from Moore expressing outrage over this act of applause? Russell Moore is quicker to question Trump’s faith than he is to question Clinton’s treason.

    Ron

    Ouch!

    Robert Vaughn

    Hoping if get caught speeding it will be by the FBI rather the state highway patrol. The FBI shouldn’t give me a ticket, if I didn’t “intend” to violate the law.

      Rick Patrick

      Exactly. Intent should not matter. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. And if we now have to prove “intent” for every crime, we might as well open the prison doors and let everyone out.

    Dave Marrandette

    Can we call that selective prejudice?

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