We have already weighed-in on Wednesday’s Pence speech.
As [Pence] touched on the country’s divided times, several in the room probably thought about the division right there in that room. Just yesterday, one SBC messenger made a motion to disinvite the vice president, insisting that, “By associating publicly with any administration, we send a mixed message to our members, suggesting that to be faithful to the gospel, we ought to align with a particular administration.”
Fortunately, wisdom prevailed, soundly defeating the ill-conceived resolution. But it is a clear indication that there are some within the church that are either too ill-informed or too focused on the headlines to understand the difference between influencing and being influenced, or – as Jesus described in John 17 – being in the world but not of it. We can’t influence if we retreat. We don’t have to agree with everything this president has said or done, and we don’t, but it is foolish and even detrimental to persecuted believers around the world to fail to acknowledge that this administration is being used to set the table for the church to do its work unhindered. The vice president, Mike Pence, is an unabashed believer who’s championing their cause in the White House. Look at the doors this administration is opening for religious liberty and free speech. Now is not the time for shutting doors – now’s the time to rush through and seize this moment of opportunity.
Read the entire piece here.
Wow! There is a lot to unpack in Perkins’s post.
- Perkins criticizes pastor Garrett Kell’s resolution to replace Pence’s speech with a time of prayer. But notice how he does it. He blames Kell (“one SBC messenger”) for promoting disunity. Actually, if you read Kell’s resolution, it was steeped in unity–not for the nation, but for the Southern Baptist Convention. Perkins seems confused. The SBC meeting in Dallas was not a political event or a God and country rally. It was a religious event. It seems to me that “unity” at a religious event should revolve around spiritual things, not politics or nationalism.
- Perkins suggests that anyone who opposed Pence’s speech is “too ill-informed or too focused on the headlines to understand the difference between influencing and being influenced.” In other words, those who opposed Pence’s speech are not smart enough to realize that they are being played by the Left, the media, or (add your favorite bogeyman here). But let’s remember that the Trump White House asked the SBC if Pence could come and speak. Is it possible to view this as anything but an attempt to shore-up votes among the evangelical base? Who got played here?
- Perkins has the audacity to quote John 17, a passage in which Jesus prays for unity in his church. Again, he confuses Jesus’s prayer for unity among fellow Christians with national unity. Jesus was not praying for national unity. He was not praying for unity in the United States.
- Perkins’s piece would make a great primary source for students to read in an American religious history course. It provides an amazing example of the way that the Christian Right conflates the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of America. Politics don’t “set the table” for the church. God sets the table. Perkins sees everything in political terms. He also talks about “seizing opportunities,” a clear reference to the 2018 election.