Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SBC 2012 Endorsements, Part 1

President: Fred Luter

Fred Luter would be well qualified to serve as SBC President even if he were white. The fact that his election will be historic make it all the more thrilling for me. I hope that he will run unopposed. Indeed, if you, dear reader, are someone who is considering running against Fred Luter, then you're making a horrible mistake.

Luter's conservative credentials; his track-record of faithfulness in his pastorate in New Orleans, even in the face of tragic and difficult circumstances; and his strong leadership skills demonstrated across decades of denominational service all commend him as the right choice to lead our convention this year.

Photo of Dr. Fred Luter

First Vice-President: Nathan Lino

Fellow Texan Nathan Lino is an exemplary candidate. Warm and gregarious, devout and prayerful, passionate about the gospel and encouraging toward people, Nathan represents what I hope to be when I grow up. His service on the International Mission Board has been valuable to the Southern Baptist Convention, particularly as he served on the search committee who brought Tom Elliff to the helm of the IMB.

Nathan serves at Northeast Houston Baptist Church reaching the Humble, Texas, area. The church is, in so many ways, a model for the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.

As a bonus, since Nathan is an expatriate of South Africa, when we elect him and Dr. Luter, both of those offices would be occupied by "African-Americans," after a manner of speaking. ;-)

Photo of Nathan Lino

Second Vice-President: Eric Hankins

I was thrilled to learn that Clint Pressley will nominate Dr. Eric Hankins for the office of Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Hankins and I were classmates in an Eschatology seminar at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Every student in that seminary was exemplary, but Eric distinguished himself early in the year as a brilliant thinker and a strong young leader.

Since that time, I have followed Eric's ministry, first here in Texas and then in Oxford, Mississippi. I have some dear friends who are fervent, lifelong Mississippi State University Bulldog fans. Just on principle, they would have to be suspicious about a church in Oxford. But if you're not one of them, I see a lot for us all to admire about what Eric is doing in Oxford. This is a historic established church in a university town, but they're aggressive and innovative in missions, leading the way in a church-planting network and adopting an international people group. They give 12% through the Cooperative Program—Twelve! Percent! That was a lot even back when churches still gave a lot through the CP.

For me, it comes down to this: I think the brightest possible future for the SBC combines a passionate love for Christ, an earnest heart to go with Christ after the lost, a strong re-commitment to CP Missions, a knack for innovation and creativity within the theological framework of our Southern Baptist heritage, and substantive thoughtfulness about the issues of the day. Eric Hankins represents all of those things. A vote for him is a vote for our best future together. If you join me in that sentiment, I hope you'll lift your ballot in New Orleans in favor of his election.

Since I first endorsed Eric, he has been prominently associated with "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation." If you are a Calvinist, then it is possible that you are reluctant to vote for Eric because of his association with that statement. If that's you, then I want to challenge you on that a bit.

Dr. Mohler is in affirmation of the "Abstract of Principles," a document much more Calvinistic than our "Baptist Faith & Message." As we all know well, Dr. Mohler is a five-point Calvinist. You probably know that I am not. And yet, I forcefully defended Dr. Mohler in his ill-fated candidacy for the presidency of the SBC a few years ago, as did some people who are signatories to the recent statement.

In 2008, many non-Calvinists were big enough to throw their support behind a Calvinistic candidate because he was a good man and the right choice. I think that SBC Calvinists will be put to the test somewhat in this year's 2VP race. Eric Hankins has never done anything to restrict the rights of Calvinists in the SBC. He has merely articulated his own beliefs about soteriology, just as Calvinists in the SBC have done a hundred times over. I hope to see next week that Calvinists are oriented enough toward cooperation to be willing to support a candidate who vocally is not a Calvinist.

Photo of Eric Hankins


Joshua Breland said...


I, as a Calvinist, can support non-Calvinist brothers running for SBC positions. However, I cannot support a non-Calvinist brother who states:

" I, for one, believe the logical conclusions of Calvinism are clear and they are dangerous..."


That is a deal breaker for me. I do not believe your theology or Hankins' is dangerous and cannot support the political elevation of someone who believes my theology is detrimental to the SBC.

I am excited to be voting for Luter and other non-Calvinist brethren.

volfan007 said...


I plan on voting for all 3 of these fellas. Looking forward to it. I hope to see you and your wonderful family in New Orleans.


Todd B. said...

I wasn't aware that there were any other candidates being nominated.

Anonymous said...

All three men have my full support. Pastor Luter will make a fine President. He is well loved by so many.

Keith Sanders said...

Ditto to Joshua Breland's post for me. It is a shame that the timing of the release of Dr. Hankins document has stolen the spotlight on what should have been a unifying moment for Southern Baptists as we prepare to elect an African-American leader. That alone will cause me not to vote for him. (I would say the same if he was from Starkville...I think)

Bart Barber said...


Do you not believe that semi-Pelagianism is dangerous? It would seem to me that anyone who has decried Article Two of this statement (and by extension, has said the same thing about the BF&M as it has existed since 1963), is saying that Hankins's point of view is dangerous.

Or is this only permissible in one direction?

I think that the abandonment of church discipline is dangerous. That doesn't mean that I'm on a witch-hunt to boot out of the SBC churches that are weak in that area. It simply means that I'm trying my best to teach and to implement something better.

Joshua Breland said...


No, I don't believe Eric is a semi-Pelagian.

The issue with Article II is the wording. Once hundreds of words were added to the discussion, it was clear that Eric and others made their case that they were not semi-Pelagian. The document, however, is a bit concerning as it reads.

Just to reiterate, I do not think Hankins or the signers are semi-Pelagians but do have concerns with the wording of the document. To believe the document is semi-Pelagian is not to say that the signers are. They believe far more than what that document says.

Eric's theology is not the stumbling block for me, it is his comments on Calvinism being dangerous to the SBC. That is an untenable position.

volfan007 said...

The Traditional Statement is not causing division. It's just revealing the division that already exists.


Chris Roberts said...

I would be hard pressed to vote for Hankins given the wedge he is trying to drive between Southern Baptists, the misrepresentative - if not dishonest - ways Calvinism is discussed in the Statement, and my strong suspicion that more is in the works here than just a Statement and a 2nd VP. If I thought he didn't intend to use growing influence as a way to exert pressure against Calvinists in the SBC, I would be less wary of him. That someone is a non-Calvinist - even a vocal, opinionated non-Calvinist - is fine. That someone tries to push Calvinists to the fringes, or further, is not fine.

What would calm some of my distrust of Hankins would be clear statements from him over (1) his desire to see Calvinists and non-Calvinists working alongside one another without pressure from either side against the other; and (2) his reassurance that he will not use this or future positions to try to align the SBC against Calvinism.

Again, my opposition to Hankins has nothing to do with him being a non-Calvinist. It has everything to do with his attitude toward Calvinists in the convention.

Anonymous said...

I am confused. I thought Luter was a Calvinist. Tim Brister was tweeting a sermon of Luter's on election that sure sounded Calvinistic. I was also told by some Presbyterian friends who know him that he is a Calvinist.

I assumed because a Founders person was tweeting that sermon clip, he would be considered more the Calvinist candidate? Does anyone know?

Jerry Corbaley said...

I think it might be a mistake to apply the passion of bloggers to the perspectives of statesmen.

When the descriptors "calvinist" and "traditionalist" become a description of one "side" opposed to another, then division is occurring.

While few are intending to be divisive, the heat of the rhetoric tends to polarize our thinking whether we realize it or not.

I am not opposed to the discussion of doctrine. I think that is a very good thing. But those who rant on both extremes are the radicals. It is always so.

Jared Moore said...

Bart, if Hankins's confession didn't misrepresent Calvinism, I wouldn't have had a problem voting for him. I can list a whole host of non-Calvinist Southern Baptists I would gladly vote for. If he and others had just stated their beliefs, it wouldn't be an issue. The fault is on his end, not our end. Mohler signed the Abstract of Principles because the charter of SBTS requires him to. He didn't craft the document and circulate it, asking all Southern Baptists to sign it. The Abstract of Principles doesn't disparage or misrepresent those who cannot sign it. You're comparing apples to oranges. Mohler is even a member of a largely non-Calvinist church. Is Hankins the pastor of a largely Calvinist church? Furthermore, Paige Patterson has signed the Abstract of Principles as well. Why single out Mohler for signing it?

Moreover, Calvinists have voted for numerous non-Calvinists over the years. Can I argue, as you did, that if non-Calvinists truly want unity, they should vote for Dave Miller instead of Hankins? I think I would be laughed out of the SBC. I'll even go a step further. Since Hankins's confession has caused such a controversy, if he truly wants unity, he'll withdraw from the 2nd VP race. (I'm NOT serious, but I don't see how my argument on this side is different than the argument you're making in favor of Calvinists voting for Hankins if they're "oriented enough toward cooperation." Since Dave Miller, a self-identified Calvinist, is running for 2nd VP, shouldn't non-Calvinists who are "oriented enough toward cooperation" vote for Miller instead of Hankins?)