Friday, October 7, 2011

Robert Jeffress Endorses Rick Perry

By now perhaps you already know that Robert Jeffress has endorsed Rick Perry. Rick Perry is the Governor of Texas and is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Robert Jeffress is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. I believe that Dr. Jeffress's endorsement was a mistake.

I like Robert Jeffress and have admired his unflinching courage. He and I agree about many things. Also, I find that there is much to admire and appreciate about the Perry candidacy. I am not finding fault with the man, and I am not finding fault with his particular choice of candidate.

First, I do not believe that this is an election in which pastors should be endorsing a candidate. I am not one of those who would say that pastors should never endorse political candidates. If Adolf Hitler were running against Billy Graham, I hope that I would be one of those with the courage not only to express a personal opinion but also to lead my church to take sides, and decisively so. Sometimes it may be appropriate for a pastor and a church to make a candidate endorsement.

This just isn't that time.

Second, I do not believe that Jeffress's reason is the right reason to use for endorsing a candidate. If Nebuchadnezzar was God's choice to lead Babylon, if Cyrus was God's choice to lead Persia, and if Nero was "God's agent" as the Emperor of Rome (Romans 13), then I don't see how we can declare that God couldn't possibly be supporting Mitt Romney over Rick Perry (or even, just possibly, Barack Hussein Obama over the entire GOP field?). God does what God does for God's own reasons.

I don't see myself voting for Mitt Romney, but neither do I believe that we ought to have any religious test for office, either formal or informal. If I were to impose such a test, I imagine that I would be throwing out some baby with the bathwater. I don't know how much confidence the New Testament leads us to have in the eternal salvation of the average person who is "religious without going to church," and yet that was the way that Ronald Reagan described himself (and was the obvious practice of his life).

Figuring out how to live and to lead as a Christian in these crazy times is often difficult. Dr. Jeffress is a thoughtful man, and I'm sure that he has given careful thought and prayer to his decision. Although I think that he heard wrongly during his prayer time and that he has made the wrong decision, I feel many of the same struggles and do respect him greatly still. Nevertheless, I would encourage my readers to refrain from making political endorsements like this one except in the most extreme circumstances.