DURHAM, N.C. (BP) — Keeping the Southern Baptist Convention out of politics remains a goal of the SBC’s president and vice presidents, J.D. Greear said in defending their endorsement of President Trump’s justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“All three of us have a desire to keep the SBC out of politics, but we also want to speak with clarity in those places we feel like there is clarity,” Greear said in a July 12 Facebook Live interview. “And when it came to potential justice Kavanaugh, here’s somebody who has a history of standing for the sanctity of life and religious liberty.”
Greear, the SBC’s newly elected president, and first vice president A.B. Vines and second vice president Felix Cabrera publicly endorsed Kavanaugh July 9 as President Donald Trump’s choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Several SBC entity leaders and former SBC presidents are among 39 signers of the endorsement.
“Our community may disagree about where we vote at the end of the day,” Greear said in the interview, “but we can agree that somebody who respects these things [life and religious liberty] and has a history of it, that’s good for the nation and to build the Kingdom of God.”
Todd Unzicker, pastor of sending at The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., conducted the interview with Greear, the church’s senior pastor, for 15 minutes in Greear’s office July 12 around 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
The endorsement of Kavanaugh, Greear said, stands on Gospel the Bible clearly delineates.
“It’s not that the Gospel is not political, because it is, because good policy is often how we love our neighbor,” Greear said. “We recognize that there are some things the Bible’s clear on, and then there’s some things that Christians can disagree on. … But where the Bible is clear, we should be clear.
“So we want to show some constraint and not align ourselves with a particular platform or administration,” Greear said, “but we do want to speak with clarity.”
In the interview, Greear discussed his SBC activities since his June 12 election in Dallas.
Press interviews and meetings with various state Baptist leaders are comprising much of his time in the summer months, Greear said.
“Jimmy Draper told me, ‘Just be careful. You don’t speak for the SBC; if anything, you speak to the SBC,'” Greear said. “In one sense I know I am representing Southern Baptists to the press, so [I’m] just trying to speak with grace and truth.” Draper, current SBC Executive Committee ambassador, was SBC president from 1982-1984 and is president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Interviews have focused on SBC changes, accomplishments and goals.
“Our identity is built in the Gospel, not in cultural homogeneity. It’s not in political alignment,” Greear said. “Our unity is in the Great Commission; our identity is in the Gospel; and I feel like those are some trends that are coming out in the interviews. That’s what they’ve been asking about.”
Prayer, evangelism, the Gospel, revival and exhorting college students are among his priorities, Greear said, announcing plans to meet with state leaders this summer.
“My goal as the president is I’m the least important person in the conversation,” he said of state leaders. “And I want to say to these state agencies and these conventions, ‘How can I serve in what God has put on your heart to do and be a catalyst to help you facilitate evangelism in your area?'”
First vice president Vines pastors New Seasons Church in San Diego, Calif.; second vice president Cabrera leads Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City.