As we celebrate the Week of Prayer for North American Missions, once again Southern Baptist Convention leaders find themselves in an awkward position. Having tried to reinstate a world where authoritative leadership is the rule of the day, they are running desperately away from the logical result of their efforts – Donald Trump for President.
The movement in conservative evangelical religion to recapture authoritarian modes of leadership has resulted in significant wins and losses for the SBC. In small local churches all around the south, newly indoctrinated young pastors have succeeded in carrying out a time-honored Baptist tradition of multiplying by dividing. As they assert their authority by challenging the long-established local traditions, churches have split, resulting in new contributing Baptist congregations built on the most sacred of foundations – the family feud.
Having worked hard to create this authoritarian world through education and belligerence, Southern Baptist leaders like Paige Patterson and Al Mohler find themselves running scared when presidential candidate Trump comes along and ups the ante, appealing to the worst instincts of fear-mongering and desperation to see the world in black and white.
This phenomenon should remind us to be attentive to the world we are making through our words and actions. When we choose inclusiveness and kindness in place of fear and hate, we make our little piece of the world a better place.
The world calls out to us to achieve success through power. But as Christians, we should remember that Jesus said “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wished to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…” (Mark 10:43-44).
Love in Christ,
Greg W. Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC