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.
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. ;-)
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.