Resolution on the Moral Character of Public Officials

Below is a resolution that I submitted to the Resolutions Committee for consideration at next week’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It is nearly identical to a resolution that was approved by the SBC at our annual meeting in Salt Lake City in 1998. As Southern Baptists have a history of passing multiple resolutions, over the years, on the same or similar topics in an effort to speak clearly and in a manner that is consistent and applicable at various times, it seemed helpful to me for the SBC to speak to this issue in a manner similar to our resolution submitted and approved in 1998.

Resolution On Moral Character Of Public Officials
Phoenix , Arizona – 2017

WHEREAS, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 CSB); and

WHEREAS, Serious allegations continue to be made about moral and legal misconduct by certain public officials; and

WHEREAS, The Bible calls upon all citizens to submit themselves to their governing authorities as ministers of the Lord (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13); and

WHEREAS, Scripture further teaches, “Whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Romans 13:2); and

WHEREAS, Governing authorities are not themselves exempt from the rule of law and must submit to the nation’s statutes, rather than mocking them (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:14; Proverbs 19:28-29; 2 Samuel 12:7; Mark 6:17-18); and

WHEREAS, Some journalists report that many Americans are willing to excuse or overlook immoral or illegal conduct by unrepentant public officials so long as economic prosperity prevails; and

WHEREAS, Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment (1 Kings 16:30; Isaiah 5:18-25); and

WHEREAS, Many public officials and candidates deserve our gratitude and support for their consistent moral character and their uncompromising commitment to biblical principles of right and wrong, resulting in blessing upon their people.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 13-14, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona, affirm that moral character matters to God and should matter to all citizens, especially God’s people, when choosing public leaders; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we implore our government leaders to live by the highest standards of morality both in their private actions and in their public duties, and thereby serve as models of moral excellence and character; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge all citizens, including those who serve in public office, to submit themselves respectfully to governing authorities and to the rule of law; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists and other Christians to fulfill their spiritual duty to pray regularly for the leaders of our nation (1 Timothy 2:1-4); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Immigration & a unique opportunity for the church

I am in the process of finishing a book that will (hopefully) be released next year. I am writing and editing the book along with my good friend Dr. Keith Whitfield. The book is entitled, “Islam and North America.” It’s a book that is written by a host of authors, a significant number of which are non-Anglo and former Muslims. The chapter that I authored is called “Islam & the Future: What is the future of Islam in the West?” It will be a while yet before the book hits the shelves, but I’ve been thinking about the unique opportunity the church has right now, and how we need to think deeply about how we engage those who are not like us so I thought I would post this small portion of my chapter to provoke some conversation, and whet your appetite for the book that is yet to come.

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In an increasingly pluralistic society, Christians have three possible options. We can ignore the increasing pluralism. We can work to reverse the pluralism. Or we can build growing numbers of relationships with those who disagree with us. I fear that many Christians are using the second approach. They are working politically to impede the growth of immigrants in North America, and they are justifying this action with vague or twisted scriptural support. To slow the growth of pluralism, they seek to protect what they think it means to be an American.

I would contend, however, that the growing number of diverse religious beliefs and worldviews is an indication of how God is moving, bringing the world to us. I concur with Ed Stetzer and his thoughts about migration and gospel opportunity.

Immigration puts a face on those we are called to reach, which makes evangelism more complicated.

And as it turns out, many non-Christians—particularly devout people of other religions—are pretty nice once you get to know them! They are not “people over there living in darkness,” but they are our neighbors living in our community.

They are people—and not projects.

In short, migration changes the way we view the humanity of people. That’s good, when we are moving beyond caricatures.

It also makes evangelism more complicated.

Sometimes we fail to see that people—immigrants included—still need Jesus.

Immigration becomes an evangelistic opportunity when it gives us a love for immigrants as human beings (without caricature) and teaches us to have compassion for them (including their spiritual condition), as we would for anyone in need of the gospel.

Yet, and here is the complicated part, it may also talk some out of evangelizing those who, perhaps, we think are not in as much need as we thought. In other words, immigration can and does impact evangelistic willingness.

The emerging cultural changes taking place around immigration cause social and cultural challenges. The messiness of relationships is worth it. The church is called to recognize its evangelistic responsibility and opportunity in the midst of these changes. I don’t fear growing numbers of people who are different than me, and you shouldn’t either. Instead, let’s view it as a unique, historical moment which we can steward for God’s glory and the common good.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Christians & a Donald Trump Presidency

Donald Trump is the next president of the United States. While voter turnout was lower than it has been since 2000 election, it appears that white Evangelical voters were among the strongest constituencies to propel Trump to victory. In other words, my people, the group I associate with, helped place Trump in office. I woke up to the news that Trump was elected this morning and have been reflecting both on his victory and the path that placed him next in line for the White House, and what that means for us as Christians, now. I was not a Trump supporter, and was grieved because I thought both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were troubling options for our country, and the data that is coming out reveals a populace that also does not find President-Elect Trump very appealing (his unfavorable rating is above 50%). This indicates that, likely, most who cast a vote for him did so in response to his opponent, Secretary Clinton, rather than because of a deep belief in his candidacy. In other words, they were more fearful of a Clinton Presidency, with her lack of trustworthiness, her radical opposition to the pro-life movement, her opposition to a biblical sexual ethic, and other issues than they were fearful of a Trump presidency. I share their concern about Mrs. Clinton, personally, and could not vote for her. However, the populace voting for a candidate out of concern for their opposition leaves followers of Christ in an important position this morning.

There is a chance that many who voted for Donald Trump out of concern over Hillary Clinton will now sit back and relax, to a degree, thinking that they have experienced victory. This would be a mistake, particularly for those of us who make up the church. Now that one great concern (Mrs. Clinton) is no longer a threat, the Christian’s new responsibility is to recognize that the candidate who has been elected is a man who has personally embodied a liberal sexual ethic, a grossly negligent and even dismissive attitude toward women, minorities, immigrants and others and who shows little awareness of a Christian commitment. As followers of Jesus, we need to pray for and honor him as president, but we need to hold President-Elect Trump accountable to not only defeat a concerning political foe, but also hold him accountable to embrace a Christian ethic on issues such as life, the dignity of every person regardless of race or gender, and so on.

The American people have spoken and Donald Trump will soon be president. We should pray for him and honor him as our President, as scripture calls us to. We should rest comfortably in the fact that God is in control, and his sovereignty is not in question (as he would have been should Mrs. Clinton have won). We must also, however, speak prophetically to him and his government, holding him accountable to govern in a way that is consistent with a Christian ethic. We cannot afford to relax, believing the work is done when there is much at stake. We also cannot pretend that a man who self-identifies as a Conservative will necessarily insure a preferred future. In other words, now that the election is over, the work of the church is not done, it is just beginning.

So let us speak out with kindness and with grace. Let us call our government to a pro-life, pro-family, pro-women, pro-minority, pro-immigrant, pro-Constitution governance. And let us not take hope in any earthly government, regardless of political persuasion, remembering that our ultimate hope is in King Jesus.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

When Heaven and Earth Collide

Alan Cross has been a friend of mine for quite some time now. As long as I have known him I have known of his concern for racial division in the US, but more specifically, racial division within the church. A man who practices what he preaches, Alan serves Gateway Baptist Church as their pastor and has led Gateway to faithfully engage all people, regardless of color or social identification. I was really excited when I heard that his book, a labor of love for him, was going to be published. When I got a copy to read, I was not disappointed.

In this book Alan shows himself to be one part storyteller, one part historian and one part theologian, and he does each area justice. His writing is compelling and thorough and so very helpful to those that want to follow Jesus, and embody his character. Alan does not mince words and does not mind speaking powerfully when it comes to his calls for us to be like Jesus. This quote is but one example:

The error of white evangelicals in the South in regard to racial issues and the power structures that supported the established racism was simply that they worked hard to affirm a culture in government, society, and their communities and churches that supported their way of life and their prosperity instead of using the blessings that they had received to be a blessing to others.

Intertwining historical review with cultural and biblical analysis, Alan lays bare the false presuppositions that founded the church’s opposition to racial and ethnic integration and challenges them with piercing biblical insight. Alan shows a keen insight into the historical issue of racial prejudices hiding under the auspices of the church and a robust understanding of the theological complexities that are at play.

If you are interested in racial reconciliation, and if you care about the church’s role in that effort, this book would be a good place to start. I hope you will take the time to grab a copy for yourself.

Purchase the paperback here.

Purchase the Kindle version here.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

41 years ago today, God help us.

41 years ago today Roe v. Wade became seared in the national consciousness as abortion became legal in all 50 states due to a landmark Supreme Court decision, citing women’s privacy as its foundation. The last 41 years have represented the loss of more than 50 million lives through abortion. Although the loss of life, at this point, is astonishing, there are signs that the tide is turning, and for this I am grateful. In the Washington Post yesterday Clarke Forsythe examined the increasing shakiness of abortion’s foundation in America, and Dr. Al Mohler has also pointed us to the horrific ethical problems with the push for more abortion, namely the blatant racism of some of abortion’s most ardent supporters. Fox News has also underlined some of the progress being made toward the elimination, or at least reduction, of abortion on demand in the USA.

This short video does a good job of providing a brief glimpse of the history of abortion in America since the Roe vs. Wade decision. I hope you will take some time today to pray that God will move in America, and that abortion will be eliminated.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Guest Post : You can be Pro-Life and Missional

Today’s post is by guest blogger Daniel Darling. Darling, along with Dillon Burroughs and Dan King, are the co-founders of the dynamic Activist Faith movement (ActivistFaith.org). You can join these men as they shine the light on Christians who are moving beyond politics and opinion to actively engage 12 divisive social issues. Activist Faith shares biblical contexts, personal stories, and practical guidance for a new generation of Christian activists. Daniel blogs at DanielDarling.com

Activist Faith goes on sale today. If you would like to purchase Activist Faith, you can buy it by clicking here

One of the more popular criticisms of the evangelical church is its seeming obsession with politics. And in some ways this criticism is justified. At times we’ve become like Phariseeical moralists, pointing the finger at the culture rather than engaging it with the good news of the gospel.

Abortion is one of those areas where the Church has been loudest. And while there have been extreme and shrill voices, I believe this activism is justified. If we accept what the Scriptures tells us about the unique dignity of every human life, we must stand up for the innocent, as long as we have a voice. But this effort can be discouraging. Politicians and parties rise and fall. And while public opinion seems in our favor, there is no guarantee that it will translate into actual law.

But there is another way to stand up for the unborn, outside of the heat of politics: crisis pregnancy centers. While we are waiting and praying for Roe versus Wade to be overturned, there are opportunities to snatch babies from the precipice of death—in our own neighborhoods, one life at a time. And we have an opportunity to apply the grace of the gospel to young unwed mothers, helping them care for their children well after they give birth.

I’ve had the chance to work with a crisis center in our community. I’m amazed at the compassion, the love, and the effectiveness of this outreach. Though most young evangelicals might not see it this way, to serve and support a local CPC may be the most missional thing you can do. Not only are you shepherding a young girl through the biggest decision of her life, it provides an opportunity to share the good news of God’s love with someone who may feel as though their choices have left them ineligible for God’s grace.

CPC’s are surprisingly effective. In my book, Activist Faith (coauthored with Dan King and Dillon Burroughs), I shared some of the recent research:

According to a recent survey conducted by a consortium of national pro-life organizations, it is estimated that perhaps ninety thousand lives have been saved by the nearly twenty-three thousand crisis pregnancy clinics across America. Most offer ultrasounds to clients, which is highly effective, as an estimated 60 percent of women who view an ultrasound choose life. These clinics not only walk women through their various options but also offer parenting support and training, free resources such as diapers and food, and even post-abortive counseling. According to a recent survey of post-abortive women, seven out of ten said that if they had been given the opportunity to review their options, they would have chosen life.

Incredibly, the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers run on a shoestring budget. Most are staffed by volunteers and funded by local churches. They see an estimate of about 2 million women every year, with each center averaging about 350 to 400 women. Despite being largely understaffed and underfunded (twenty-nine out of every thirty CPC workers is a volunteer), they serve on the front lines, rescuing people from the edge of death. (info taken from: A Passion to Serve: Pregnancy Resource Center Service Report, Second Edition: http:// downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A47.pdf.)

Most Christians I know are fed up with politics. And while I don’t think we should abandon the public square, perhaps it’s time we put more of our emphasis on pro-life solutions that really work, like Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The women who come in are not Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. They are simply people whom God loves. When Christians stand read to offer them compassion and hope through the gospel, not only are babies saved from death, but entire lives and even families are transformed. This is meeting the needs of our communities, one life, one decision at a time.

We should still prayerfully engage our politicans to create laws that protect innocent life. But after the elections are over, when the legislative seasons are adjourned, there is likely a frightened, lonely, pregnant young girl somewhere in your community. She is contemplating the biggest decision of her life, often with little or no support from her family.

The question is this: will God’s people put their arms around this girl and show her God’s love?

 

 

 

 

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.