Despite making an appointment for a phone interview and after a substantive conversation, J.D. Greear declined to participate in a live question and answer session with the Louisiana Baptist Message about his run for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.
James David "J.D." Greear is lead pastor of The Summit Church, a mega-church in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Greear also is Visiting Fletcher Professor of Missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
On March 2, 2016, Baptist Press announced Greear as the first candidate to be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention when it meets in June of this year. A week after Greear's announcement, Baptist Press announced Tennessee pastor, Steve Gaines, would also be nominated (another candidate, Louisiana pastor, David Crosby, more recently became the third and more than likely, only other viable presidential candidate).
Hall went on to explain in part why Greear evidently denied the Baptist Message a formal interview:
Greear expressed displeasure about an article the Message published about a controversy that emerged in social media among SBC leaders, including serving and retired International Mission Board trustees, regarding a campaign video for Greear which featured a two-second clip by IMB President David Platt.
If I'm understanding correctly, since Greear was disappointed in the way the Baptist Message handled an earlier article which involved Greear, he felt no obligation to submit to an interview.
If so, this speaks volumes, at least to me, whether Greear can handle a volatile, gotcha-moment mainstream media that would love to make the Southern Baptist Convention look like an A-#1-Basketcase denomination any chance it gets. If Greear cannot speak "on camera" so to speak with one of Southern Baptists' oldest and most reputable denominational papers, how can Greear honestly expect Southern Baptists to trust him to speak publicly for them to a rabid, and in many ways, hostile media?
God offered sobering counsel to His weeping Prophet that might just be especially sobering to Greear. Jeremiah asked why the wicked prospered and the treacherous are so happy:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? (12:1)
YHWH's response is probably not the response Jeremiah expected:
If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? (12:5a)
In short, God seemed to be saying, if you think it's bad now, just wait; it's getting worse. If you can't keep up when men sprint, how are you going to keep up when the cavalry arrives?
If Greear can't speak to our denominational papers before he's president of the Southern Baptist Convention--or even worse, can but won't speak to our denominational papers before he's president of the Southern Baptist Convention--why should he expect Southern Baptists to entrust him to speak for them to mainstream media as president of the Southern Baptist Convention?
So far as I am concerned, if Greear can't run with the footmen before he's president, he can't run with the horsemen after he's president.
Better, in my view, to look toward Tennessee or Louisiana than North Carolina for a convention president who respects all Southern Baptists not just those who happen to fully please him, always agree with him, or strangely coddle him.
- Read Will Hall's full article: "SBC Presidential Interviews: J.D. Greear"
- Read the Baptist Message article to which Greear objected: "IMB's Platt denies endorsing Greear for president"
- Watch the controversial campaign video featuring several SBC leaders' cameo appearances, one appearance of which is IMB president, David Platt, who denied in writing he knew he was appearing in a video endorsing Greear as president: