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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.