Why I Am Voting for J.D. Greear to be the Next SBC President (K.V. Paxton)

K.V. Paxton is Lead Pastor at Grace Baptist Church, Quinlan, Texas. He’s a Palestinian-American, graduate of Criswell College, Midwestern Seminary,  and a veteran of the United States Air Force.

The Southern Baptist Convention is at a crossroads. We may not be battling for inerrancy like we did during the often-referenced “Conservative Resurgence,” but the future is no less at stake for our convention. Millennials and minorities, both inside and outside of the SBC, are watching what we do next with great interest on a host of topics. And though I am often given to hyperbole, I do not think it is hyperbolic to expect a potential mass disengagement of young SBCers if they see the wrong choices made or that their voice isn’t being heard. The future of our convention is at stake.

With this in mind, I am casting my vote this June in Dallas for J.D. Greear as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. What I mentioned above is partly why I believe in Greear. Allow me to give you 3 main reasons why I am voting for Greear next month:

Honors the Past with an Eye on the Future

As a casual observer of Greear’s in the last decade or so, I have seen and heard him honor the past while leading his church into the future. Greear has acknowledged that he stands on the shoulders of those who came before him and offers gratitude to them for their contributions. However, Greear has cultivated an environment at the Summit Church that reaches the next generation. On top of this, Greear’s vision is to continue (note that word, since they are already doing this) to plant churches well into the future.

Further, one look at Greear’s members and staff will also show an eclectic collection of people across generational lines and different ethnic groups. Greear has proven that he can bring generations and groups together for the cause of Christ and has explicitly stated that diversity will be a goal of his as president.

This we need because, for better or worse, real or perceived, the generations coming up in the SBC feel as though past generations will not let go of leadership or the status quo. What we do not need is a disengagement of previous generations, nor a disengagement from the generations coming up. We need someone who can unite all generations to work together for the future of our convention.

With the election of J.D. Greear we will show that we are moving into the future while we honor those who came before us. We do not forget them, we do not leave them, we honor them and say, “join us” as we take the SBC into a new and necessary season of fruitful ministry. Greear has demonstrated that he can do this.


In 2016 Greear was nominated to be the SBC president and withdrew from the race with Steve Gaines because of continuous runoffs. Greear withdrew in order to preserve unity in the SBC and to show to the watching world that we are united. He did not have to do that, instead he could have allowed the process to move forward, but he chose unity.

Since he has been nominated this year, Greear has continually called for unity and civility in this process, something we wish would not even need to be said, but in our current climate, is necessary. And while Greear is not a so-called “traditionalist,” he has not, does not, and will not place traditionalists outside the camp nor exclude them from the table.

On the other hand, we have a presidential nominee stating that those who believe in limited atonement do not “believe in the same God.” To declare that our reformed brothers are somehow “outside the camp” is not only unhelpful and uncharitable, it creates an unnecessary line in the sand. Does that speak to how he will lead? You be the judge.

Indeed, Greear has been endorsed by some notable traditionalists in part because they know that he would be a unifying force for their “tribe,” for reformed SBCers, and others. We desperately need unity, and Greear can be a unique voice to bring us back together. Observe in his own words:

“We must avoid the temptation to let smaller doctrinal issues or any personal preferences replace the centrality of the gospel as our unifying standard. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is narrow enough to unite us on the essentials and broad enough to allow freedom in the peripherals.”

This is unifying voice we need.

Proven Leadership

Finally, Greear has demonstrates proven leadership at the Summit Church, some I have mentioned already. He has stated that as SBC president he will point the convention to personal evangelism, church planting, church revitalization, college mobilization, and engagement of the next generation in cooperative mission.

As pastor of the Summit Church, he has shown that he can do this as the Summit engages in all of these things already. The Summit Church gives 19 percent of undesignated receipts to Great Commission Giving, according the Baptist Press. This includes 40 SBC church plants in America and 200 around the world.

On top of this, the Summit has a vibrant and growing college ministry, which is actively engaged in multiplication and missions. In fact, the Summit Church asks college students to give a summer to go on a mission trip. Remember the unity and reaching across generational lines I mentioned earlier? Well Summit asks Baby Boomers in the church (which there are plenty) to do the same things in regard to missions.

It gets better: according to the Gospel Coalition, “Of the 46,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, the Summit has the most missionaries on the field—seven-times as many as the next church with the International Mission Board.”

Greear has shown that he can do what he says he would do as SBC president, and what he has listed is what we desperately need.

It is high time the SBC moves into a Great Commission future full of diversity and unity. Not that we haven’t in the past, but the crossroads we are at demands action that will prove these commitments. While we must all do our part on the ground level of our churches, we must also us our voices and ballots to ensure the convention as a whole does this for the foreseeable future. A positive step in this direction is by electing J.D. Greear as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Because of the reasons listed above, and a host of other reasons, I will proudly cast my ballot for him next month. I hope you will do the same.

A history of racial reconciliation in the SBC (Luke Holmes/SBCHistory.com)

Originally posted at SBC History

The recent conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has sparked many conversations across the SBC about race and racism.  Sermons by Matt Chandler, Russell Moore, and David Platt and other in and out of SBC life have all been called simply products of current social justice trends or meant to please men and not God.  Discussions online and in person have been heated as people discuss how much churches and the SBC should push for racial reconciliation today.

One of the most common responses to those calling for racial reconciliation is that we just need to focus on the gospel and that the rest will take care of itself.  The application of the gospel in the area of racial reconciliation has been called cultural Marxism, social justice, or obscuring the gospel. 

This article will share a short history of racial reconciliation in the SBC, sharing people and institutions who have worked to do more than just acknowledge and repent of the legacy of the SBC but have pushed for racial equality on the basis of the gospel. The goal is to show that those who speak for racial reconciliation today are continuing a long line of Baptist leaders who have stood for the same things. 

This is not meant in any way to make light of the past of the SBC, which has been well documented elsewhere. We need to acknowledge the past of the SBC and repent of it.  But repentance is not enough.   Al Mohler writes clearly on this topic.

“The Southern Baptist Convention was not only founded by slaveholders; it was founded by men who held to an ideology of racial superiority and who bathed that ideology in scandalous theological argument. … We bear the burden of that history to this day. …It is not enough to repent of slavery. We must repent and seek to confront and remove every strain of racial superiority that remains and seek with all our strength to be the kind of churches of which Jesus would be proud — the kind of churches that will look like the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

As segregation and Jim Crow loomed large in America in the first half of the 20th century, Southern Baptists did little to stop it. The majority of SBC members and leaders were at the least complicit in racism, and others led out in it freely. Of those who spoke against it, Dr. TB Maston was the most vocal.  As early as 1927 he challenged the racial prejudices of the South. Using the biblical premise that “God is no respecter of persons” Maston urged Southern Baptist’s to accept all races as equal.  Maston’s book “The Bible and Race” takes eight different passages from the Bible and considers the impact these passages should have on our understanding of race.  Maston dispels such heretical views as the “Curse of Ham.” A professor at SWBTS, he wrote many books that touched on the subject of race, but The Bible and Race was his most influential book.  

In 1949 EW Perry was the first African American to address the Southern Baptist Convention at its annual meeting.  When the convention met in Oklahoma City that year Perry was pastor of Oklahoma City’s historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, where he served from 1915 to 1969. At the time of his address, he was serving as President of the National Baptist Convention and was called a brother in Christ by SBC President RG Lee.

The Home Mission Board made concerted efforts to reach out to Black Baptists in America and hired Emmanuel McCall as the first African American employee at the Home Mission Board in 1968. Other SBC leaders worked to promote a biblical view of race as well, like Henlee Barnette, who invited Martin Luther King Jr to preach at SBTS in 1961.  Foy Valentine at the Christian Life Commission worked to give the SBC a biblical understanding of race, often too much pushback from members and churches in the SBC. 

As time passed SBC individual and entities continued to buck against racism in the SBC. 

SBCLIFE writes

Some of the earliest racial barrier breaking occurred in the six SBC seminaries. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, began teaching black students on its campus in 1942 in a “Negro Extension Department.” Initially, they received instruction from professors and graduate students in vacant faculty offices since a Kentucky law prohibited educational institutions from teaching both white and African American students as pupils.

Garland Offutt earned the number of credits necessary for the master of theology, and the faculty granted him a degree in 1944, making him the first black graduate of any Southern Baptist seminary. During the mid-1940s, Southern began allowing black students to sit in classrooms with white students in violation of state law. The seminary officially admitted black students in 1951.

As president Duke McCall explained, “We decided to ignore the law. We thought we had moral ground—and probably the legal ground as well—to ignore it.”

Theology professor Wayne Ward recalled an incident when a police officer arrived at his class to issue a warning about violating the law. When the officer showed some hesitation to enter the class, Ward told him God would punish him if he arrested anyone.

Similar activities took place at SWBTS, which enrolled black preachers in 1942.  The other SBC seminaries integrated long before was required by law. In 1968 Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California, claimed it had more black students than any other seminary on the west coast and more foreign students than all other west coast seminaries combined.

It was not all good news though. Southern Baptists remained bitterly divided on how to approach the issue of racial reconciliation.  Racism still abounded in the SBC. It was the official or unofficial policy of many churches to deny membership to African Americans.  Foy Valentine and the CLC wanted to put an end to that practice. 

During the 1964 annual meeting in Atlantic City, the Christian Life Commission put forward a resolution that recommended that the SBC approve an open door policy for churches, regardless of race, and pledge to support laws designed to guarantee the legal rights of African Americans. The resolution also urged Southern Baptist to “give themselves to the decisive defeat of racism.” The resolution was defeated in a close vote.  In response, a 90-year-old retired pastor put forward a resolution, sent to committee, that called forced integration of schools unbiblical and only got more racist after that.  At that same meeting, the SBC refused to be part of a joint committee of various national Baptist groups, in part because of their unwillingness to join hands with black churches. 

That year’s outgoing President K Owen White said that the SBC had made strides in race relations, but that Baptist ecclesiology did not allow the SBC to institute reform on its churches. 

“We are making progress–good progress–but by the very nature of our democratic, New Testament way of life we shall do more by proceeding prayerfully, lovingly, and courageously upon the local level than by making great, sweeping pronouncements.” (5/20/64 BP)

In 1965 the Home Mission Board and the Christian Life Commission sponsored “Race Relations Sunday” across the SBC.   Baptist Press reported that “Some said “Praise the Lord” but others regarded it as evil when the Southern Baptist Convention observed its first Race Relations Sunday,” showing that there was still great tension among churches over the issue.  (2/24/65 BP)

Later in 1965, Baptist Press reported that

Thirteen of the 29 state conventions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention either adopted resolutions on race relations, accepted African American churches into the convention fellowship, or commended the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission for its leadership in the area of race relations(11/24/65) BP

At the Sunday School Board in Nashville, Executive Secretary-Treasurer James Sullivan worked hard to bring about racial equality.  In 1953 Sullivan integrated the cafeteria at the SSB making it the first integrated company cafeteria in Nashville.  In 1967 the SSB helped organize a group of businesses to promote job equality for women and minorities.  In that article from BP Sullivan stated that “Since 1953 the board has made no distinction in its salary structure between men and women, Caucasian and non-Caucasian. Fringe benefits and other such matters have been the same. Employees are paid by job description regardless of sex or ethnic background.”(10/17/67 BP)

Through the years the SBC passed various resolutions against individual and systemic forms of racism and urging members to follow the teachings of Christ regarding the value of all mankind.

The 1978 “Resolution on Racism” noted that racism existed “in both individuals and the structure of society” (emphasis added) and that “racism continues to deprive minority persons of practical means of advancement.”

In 1989 in Las Vegas, the “Resolution on Racism” urged “That our agencies and institutions seek diligently to bring about greater racial and ethnic representation at every level of Southern Baptist institutional life.”  http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/897/resolution-on-racism

Among these resolutions, the 1995 “Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention” stands out the most.  In it, the SBC apologized for it’s role in perpetuating slavery in the past, and opposition to secure civil rights for all.  This resolution was a landmark decision in the SBC but was preceded by other calls for racial healing.  In 1993, Southern Baptist spokesman Richard Land, director of the Christian Life Commission, called for white Christians to initiate racial reconciliation. (4/29/93 BP)

The SBC has continued to speak for racial reconciliation.  In 1996 they spoke against the recent rash of arson at African American churches. In 2009 they voiced joy at “our nation’s pride in our continuing progress toward racial reconciliation signaled by the election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.” In 2007 they spoke against the Dredd Scott decision on its 150th Anniversary, in 2015 they urged SBC churches to “increase racial and ethnic diversity in church staff roles, leadership positions, and church membership.  Most recently, they passed resolutions against the use of the Confederate flag in 2016 and against the Alt-Right in 2017. 

The recent calls for racial reconciliation are only the latest in a long line of voices within the SBC calling for repentance for the past, and positive steps for the future.  Those who spoke up in the past did so at great risk. Sadly, those who speak up today face some of the same obstacles. The SBC has not always made the right decisions regarding race and slavery and has apologized for those decisions. But as Mohler, points out, “repentance is not enough” in our day and age. We must seek to remove every strain and thought of racial superiority in the SBC.   Racism still exists in America and it is our duty as citizens of another kingdom to speak against it.  The history of racial reconciliation shows that while the SBC has a tainted past, there is also have a long line of leaders who have pointed us towards the gospel and towards reconciliation.

Reprint from BRNow.org: Setting the record straight: An exercise in brotherly love by Danny Akin

The following is reprinted in its entirety from BRNow.org, the website for the Biblical Recorder. (Any errors in formatting are entirely Doug’s fault.)

Setting the record straight: An exercise in brotherly love

April 2, 2018, by Danny Akin

When the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) convenes in June, at least two men will be nominated for president: J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill. Both men are my brothers in Christ and my friends. I love them, and I am extremely grateful for their ministries. I have nothing negative or unkind to say about either one of them.

SEBTS photo
Danny Akin

As we move toward the annual meeting in Dallas, it is important that we have accurate and truthful information about the candidates. Misinformation is never a good thing.

Unfortunately, in recent days, things are being said and written about Greear that are simply inaccurate and untrue.

I am well aware of an ongoing conversation about the role of SBC entity leaders in the discussion of the SBC presidency. As a voting messenger to our convention, I have personal opinions just as many others do. And I am supportive of an open discussion about the future of our convention. But this is not about that.

This is about our discourse and whether or not we speak truthfully about the facts when we share those opinions.

Greear is a two-time graduate of the institution I serve, a visiting professor on our faculty, a pastor who has ministered faithfully in the region in which I live and a longtime friend. I know him well.

So, let me do my best to set the record straight.

Some are saying that Greear neglects and is even dismissive about the work of our state conventions.

Milton Hollifield, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, told me personally when he spoke in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) that The Summit Church is both active and fully supportive of the work of the state convention. If anyone would know whether Greear is supportive of state convention work, Hollifield would be that person.

Some are saying The Summit Church, where J.D. serves as pastor, does not support well the financial work of our state convention and the SBC at large.

The Summit has led North Carolina Baptists the last two years in Cooperative Program (CP) giving. In 2016, Summit gave $553,103, according to the state convention. In 2017, they gave $503,396. They are on target to lead the state again in 2018, and Greear tells me his church has no plans to do anything but continue to give more to the CP.

In 2017, 19 percent of Summit’s budget went to Great Commission Giving. In addition to their CP giving, they gave $275,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and $100,000 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. They also are helping fund an endowed chair at SEBTS specifically for training church planters. That is simply amazing. The data shows a very cooperative Southern Baptist church.

Some are saying Greear is a Calvinist, and therefore he would lead the SBC to be anti-evangelistic and anti-missionary.

Summit has grown from 300 in worship in 2002 to nearly 10,000 in worship in 2018. Over the last six years, Summit has led North Carolina Baptists in baptisms, with the following data:















My friend Ken Whitten, who will nominate Greear, said, “If that is Calvinism, may God raise up more.”

Regarding their position on missions, Summit currently has 158 of its members serving with the International Mission Board. Summit has also planted 40 churches in partnership with the North American Mission Board.

When it comes to discussing an individual’s theological positions, it is always best to talk to one another, not about one another. Greear, without any hesitation whatsoever, affirms the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. When it comes specifically to the doctrine of salvation, he and I hold the exact same position.

In a personal conversation, Greear told me he believes God is sovereign and humans are free. This is a divine mystery taught in Scripture and we should rest in that.

He also believes that we should never take away from God’s sovereignty or the moral responsibility and freewill of human beings to repent and believe the gospel. Anything that lowers the temperature of a hot heart for evangelism and missions is not in the Bible and it is not of God.

Greear is not a classic Calvinist, and he has made no secret of his soteriological position both in writing and in speech. I think we should allow him to speak for himself and take him at his word.

He is happy to fellowship and serve with Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. Bottom-line: if you love Jesus, the Bible, the gospel, the Church and the lost, he wants you on his team!

This is the J.D. Greear I have come to know, love and respect. This is the J.D. Greear I am proud to have in the classroom teaching seminary students. This is the J.D. Greear who has the support of Jack Graham, James Merritt, Bryant Wright, Johnny Hunt, Ronnie Floyd and Steve Gaines.

And, even though Steve Gaines and J.D. agree that the current president of the SBC should not nominate a candidate, Gaines told the Biblical Recorder earlier this year that if Greear is elected and decides to seek a second term, he would be willing to nominate him for re-election in 2019.

J.D. Greear, if elected, would serve Southern Baptists well.

Does this mean other leaders would not? No. We can talk about issues without tearing one another down, and certainly without spreading information that is untrue.

We are followers of Jesus, and the gospel frees us to interact in full transparency. This a conversation we have at least every two years, and it is vital that we pursue it with integrity.

The world is watching and our mission is too important. Our opinions can differ, but our discourse must reflect our witness. We are better than this.

IMB – Too Valuable to Lose (4) (Anonymous Emeritus Missionary)

This is the fourth in a series of posts by this retired missionary. 

I write anonymously as an emeritus missionary to draw attention to several important issues for Southern Baptists to consider about our mission future.  I only speak for myself, but I believe that many missionaries agree with much of what I am saying.  The IMB must continue to affirm and strengthen its core business of sending long-term, God-called missionaries in focused teams to plant reproducing indigenous churches among all the nations.  This requires ongoing evaluation of trendy new directions that can actually undermine this core business.

A popular mantra since 2000 has been that everybody is a missionary.  The truth is that everyone is supposed to be a personal witness and a mission partner, but that being sent by God to the nations is not for every Christian.  As Paul said, “Not all are ‘sent ones’, are they?” and “He gave some to be ‘sent ones’.  .  .”  Pastors who say that everyone is a missionary should apply the same principle to their own ministry and sign up every member to be the pastor for 2 weeks.  Of course, that is ridiculous, because we know that pastoring involves a calling, gifting, and years of preparation.  We assume ‘everybody should do it’ only applies to intercultural church planting because that is so much easier than pastoring in your home culture.

As I stated earlier, new full-time missionaries will take at least 5 years to begin reaching their potential for fruitful service.  As Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliersit takes about 10,000 hours of concentrated focused practice to maximize personal potential in fields of endeavor such as music and sports.   10,000 hours translates into about 7-10 years of the right kind of focused practice on the mission field.  Not surprisingly, this matches a common pattern that many productive missionaries begin to see a jump in fruit from their labors around year 7.  Short term mission involvement can be a great benefit, but have we dumbed down missions to the extent that less than our best long-term focused effort should become the norm?

IMB core documents now state that the organization sends “limitless teams” to the nations.  The idea that “bigger is better” is an American cultural assumption that sounds so right.   Remember the time that Paul wrote the Jerusalem church and asked them to send 100 believes to Corinth?  No, you do not.  Paul never sent a general call for all believers to go outside their normal sphere of influence on mission.  Rather, he appears to have hand-picked the members of his mission team who increasingly came from the new churches he planted.

The IMB experimented with building large teams around 20 years ago and the results were disappointing.  Strategy coordinators were encouraged for several years to go out and mobilize as many Great Commission resources as they could and several were very successful at such mobilization.  Within a few years, however, it became evident that the largest teams were not producing the greatest results.  Small focused teams of 6-10, or even smaller, were most likely to start multiplying churches among their target people group.  Research shows that every person over a dozen that you add to a missionary team diminishes the likelihood of reproducing indigenous churches.  If you consider the profile of the most effective missionaries I referred to in my first post, it appears that a large expatriate team often pulls the long-term missionary away from doing evangelism, discipleship, and church planting with local people.  So, although the IMB has recently been advocating for larger teams from many smaller agencies (churches), larger agencies (such as IMB) supporting focused teams is more effective.  Limitless teams are at the center of God’s plan for the nations – that is, a small focused missionary team working to raise up a limitless movement of local people sharing their faith, discipling new believers, and leading new churches.  It is no coincidence that this is the pattern we see in the New Testament in addition to being the most effective mission approach around the world today.

A major emphasis right now is called Pathways, which are non-traditional ways to get to the mission field.  Mobilizing Southern Baptists to serve in missions in multiple ways is a good thing, and not exactly new.  The IMB has encouraged and helped send perhaps over a million volunteers, tens of thousands of students, hundreds of retirees, and numerous self-supporting missionaries over several decades.  Right now, however, this emphasis seems to be top priority and one wonders if this is because we assume Southern Baptists will not support fully funded long-term missionaries.  IMB leaders recently slowed down the appointment of apprentice missionaries in order to increase Pathway options and this year there are apprentice slots that will likely not get filled?!   How tragic!   I know young mission candidates who went away from interviews with IMB staff confused and disappointed because it sounded as if it were preferable to raise money from their home church or to find a job overseas.

At the same time, IMB leadership has been trying for four years to define what mission is about and even field personnel cannot tell if the organization has “landed” or “taken off.”  Mind you, most missionaries are doing their focused ministry, but the corporate message has been slow and confusing at times.  The IMB needs a clear, consistent, and missiologically sound message that includes a clear call for Southern Baptists to go to the nations through our cooperative mission team and for churches to join more deeply in partnership with them.

For several years now the IMB has highlighted 5 key overseas cities to raise up a large urban team of Southern Baptists to reach the city.  Although English is fairly common in each of these cities, it is not the heart language of most of the inhabitants.   If the non-traditional missionaries do not learn the local language, their ministry will be limited to the globalized portion of the city, which is often over-estimated by outsiders.  I am not suggesting that we should not mobilize to reach these cities, but that we should do so carefully.  These teams should be formed based on field needs and not just interest back home.  The missionaries working in these cities need space to identify the key roles they want.   Among other things, students can obviously reach other students, retirees can do member care and discipleship in English, expatriates can live intentionally closer to the local people in order to share their faith.

The most likely result of sending 100-300 English-only expatriates to serve in the same city is not reproducing indigenous churches, but an international church.  Some are advocating this as a new exciting model of missions, but do they know the FMB pursued this goal for about 50 years?  International churches are a wonderful ministry, primarily to the international expatriate community in each country.  They can pray for, and contribute financially to partner with the planting of local indigenous churches, but an international church is more likely to spawn another international church in a different city than to start a movement of reproducing local churches in its own.

A young couple who are friends of mine found each other as they were separately following Christ to the nations.  They are now preparing to join an IMB team as non-traditional missionaries.  He is highly qualified in a lucrative profession and she has significant cross-cultural experience.   They explored a secular job opportunity in one of the IMB key cities, but the employer expected them to live in the expatriate enclave and would not allow him to learn language.  Although a significant amount of money was offered, they realized they would not be in a position to significantly impact that city.  So, they are now connected with an IMB team in a remote unreached place and have creatively put together a support system that includes home church support, maintaining a business back home part of the year, and learning language so they can relate to the unreached people God is leading them to.  Their heart’s desire is to build a tower, they have counted the cost, and now have a realistic plan that is sacrificial, creative, and practical.  May their tribe increase!

Although this couple is uniquely positioned to not need full support from the IMB, the local IMB team is pivotal to their mission success.   That is why the IMB is too valuable to lose.


IMB Emeritus Missionary