Thinking about the President


No, I’m not thinking about the upcoming US Presidential election. Instead I’m thinking, once again, about the upcoming SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis and the implications of the presidential election that we will take part in. There are two announced candidates, William Wagner and Frank Cox. Besides those men, Wiley Drake has announced he is planning to run but, as of yet, no one has been announced to nominate him.

This year’s election is an unusual one in SBC life in that no significant “name” candidate is running. Dr. Al Mohler was originally running but had to withdraw a month or so ago, and it could be argued that the most significant player in this election is the man set to nominate Frank Cox, evangelist Junior Hill, who stands as one of the most well known men in SBC life. Wiley Drake has become fairly well known as a convention gadfly but stands apart because he is most likely to be unable to garner any serious support for a substantial run at the presidency.

This year’s election is also unusual in that both major candidates have campaign websites. Frank Cox’s site does not announce itself as such, but it fits all the basic criteria necessary, and so in both cases we are operating with much more information about the candidates than we have in the past.

As I have personally found myself thinking about the convention, and the candidate I wish to support, I have put together a list of 5 qualifications that I find to be incredibly important. I thought I would list those and then share my plans in regards to presidential voting for this summer.

  1. An irenic spirit: Over the past few decades there has been a significant amount of turmoil in SBC life. A difficult battle was waged for the prominence of scripture, and due to that we have a number of scars within convention life that are still open and festering. Beyond that we still seem to have tremendous difficult laying down the swords and moving towards Kingdom expansion. We desperately need to continue the pattern of peacemaking that Frank Page has established for us.
  2. An open door: We have some pretty unique individuals in SBC life. We are made up of a number of people who look and act differently but who are united around the banner of the Bible and our distinct baptistic characteristics as seen in the Baptist Faith and Message. As an example we have Calvinists and non-Calvinists, Dispensationalists and Amillenialists, Elder-rule, congregational rule, traditional, contemporary and emerging churches, all within the framework of SBC life. All of these varying groups can stand within the borders of orthodox, baptistic theology and as such, each should be welcome to have a place the table of SBC life. I am committed to voting for a president who is committed to preserving the unity of the body while not attempting to divide those who stand in some sort of divergent stream from himself. For a more detailed description of my desire for greater diversity, you can read a previous article I wrote by clicking here.
  3. A fresh perspective: It is important to me to elect a president who is committed to investing in the lives of those who have historically not been involved in convention life. There are a significant number of pastors and laypeople from faithful, conservative SBC churches who have given their lives to Kingdom work within the SBC. It is important to me that we find ways to utilize those people in the life of our convention. As I spoke with Frank Page this past week he shared with me how he has worked to do just that. We need to continue that pattern. In an article that I wrote almost exactly one year ago, I briefly highlighted the tight circle of leadership displayed for a while in convention life. If you haven’t read it, it might be a good place to start thinking about this process. You can read it by clicking here.
  4. A new face: There are too many incredible, faithful men in SBC life for us to ignore. While it is more difficult to find someone who is not currently prominently known, it is worth it I think, to find a pastor or layman who is faithful where they are at and who would serve well in SBC life. In my opinion, we would do well to consider someone who is from outside the Bible belt, who is a racial minority or who is serving in a smaller church. All of these are fairly unusual characteristics that have not been true of an SBC President in a long time, if ever. It is important to me that we invest our time and energy to elect someone who has not been a part of the “system” up to this point.
  5. A faithful man: Finally, although all of the prior thoughts are important to me, the most important is that the candidate be a faithful “Bible man”. A strong commitment to God’s word and an unshakable conviction regarding the application of that word are necessary components to me. While I think it is probably almost impossible for someone to be elected who is not a conservative in our current climate, it is important to me to emphasize that I won’t vote for someone who is not.

After thinking through these concepts, I have come to the conclusion that none of the announced candidates will receive my vote. After seeing my poll in the sidebar, it appears that at least a few of you agree. I plan to pray and ask God to bring a candidate to the forefront who is committed to these characteristics. I’m looking forward to what happens in Indianapolis.

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.

9 thoughts on “Thinking about the President

  1. Thank you Micah for this analysis.

    I too believe that no one as yet “in the race” has garnered my vote. I with you yearn for the day when “politics” are gone, and when a people of God come together in an earnest desire to pray together, leadership will rise to the fore. It is something our MBC needs desperately. It is something our SBC does as well.

    Rob

  2. Micah,

    Dr. Page has been a great President and I pray for his work to continue, but I don’t see that happening with the candidates available at present. I with you praying all the way to Indy.

  3. Your bullet list is well thought out. It could be applied equally to any of the two (or three) candidates.

    None of the candidates will receive my support. They talk the right talk when needed (ie missions, evangelism, cooperative program, etc) but seem to have a disjointed view of what new leadership should entail. The bright young minds coming out of seminary today that have differing soteriological views than the skewed “don’t mess with the way we do it because we don’t like CALVINISTS” churches/social clubs have the energy that can turn the SBC into the bright missions co-opt it originally was. The leadership offered by the candidates will only serve to alienate these men and send them seeking service in other venues.

  4. I believe, Micah, one bullet that sould be added to your list is a strong supporter of SBC missions through Cooperative Pgm support and local Association involvement. People who give to bothe the Coop pgm and the Assoc AND encourgae their peoople to be involved in Assoc missions tend to be people at least as interested in advancing the Kingdom of God as their own “kingdom” (church). I do not know wher any declared candidate stands in this regard. Perhaps their websites give insight?

  5. Rob, Les, Martin & Scott-

    I concur. Let’s hope that God blesses the SBC with another in the vein of Page and/or Henry.

    Allen-

    I’m willing to concede the necessity of a strong supporter of CP work in order to lead the convention. It would seem foolhardy to entrust the leadership of the convention (and by default the CP) to someone who has no history of support and who has little to no interested invested in its support. However, I am unwilling to produce some litmus test of cooperation. Due to the unhealthy nature of much within SBC life (including some associations, state conventions, etc.) each candidate, in my opinion, should be considered on something of a case by case basis.

  6. 1) The history of the “anointing” of candidates goes a little further back in history and somewhat deeper (think trustees!)…oh, the depths of depravity one finds when you read the SBC annuals for the past thirty years!

    2) in reference to Scott’s comment, I am a zealous young Turk in the seminary system (Midwestern Class of 2010) who sees the need for change as a motivation to STAY in Convention life…though I do agree that many of my classmates care little about the course of the coming years denominationally… (BTW, Micah, I’ll try to say hello the next time I see you on campus!)

  7. Dr. Page has been a great president in my mind because he epitomizes what a faithful, hardworking SBC pastor looks like after decades of faithful service. He was my pastor when I was in seminary (86-89) at SWBTS. He is probably more conservative now than he ws then. But he is the same gracious man I know as a seminary student and an outstanding role model for any young seminarian.

    Perhaps to find another Dr. Page someone should ask Dr. Page his thoughts on a successor. I do not want to make him “kingmaker”. But I would be interested in knowing who he thinks would continue to lead the SBC in the conservative but inclusive way he has these past two years. I do plan to go to the SBC this year so I am sincerely interested.

    I also kind of like the idea of candidates having websites where info can be read about them in advance. Whenever in the past I have voted for SBC president (or MBC President for that matter) it is usually based on “the grapevine” or the nomination speech. I am glad for th opportuniy to have more information.

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