Whitten unwavering in support for Greear, denounces attacks
    April 30 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

    Florida pastor Ken Whitten said he is still “firmly convinced” J.D. Greear is the right man for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he is “grieved” by campaign-style attacks on the former missionary.

    Florida Baptist Convention photo by Michael Duncan
    Ken Whitten


    Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., announced Jan. 29 that he will nominate Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at this year’s annual meeting.
     
    Greear’s background includes two years of service (1997-‘99) as an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary in a Muslim majority country, and he has recently come under fire for promoting an evangelistic method that allegedly compromises essential tenets of the Christian faith.
     
    When asked if he had second thoughts about nominating Greear in light of recent claims, Whitten told the Biblical Recorder that many of those criticisms were based on “misrepresentation” and that he had “absolutely no regrets” about volunteering to make the nomination.

    Having served as an IMB trustee for eight years (2004-‘12), Whitten said he was familiar with different “schools of thought” for sharing the gospel with Muslims, including the one Greear supports in his 2010 book on the topic, Breaking the Islam Code.
     
    The method in question finds common ground on certain doctrines in Islam and uses them as starting points for leading people to faith in Christ. Practitioners sometimes choose to utilize the Arabic term for deity, “Allah.”
     
    Some critics claim the method jeopardizes the historic, Protestant view of salvation “in Christ alone” by promoting a form of universalism that says both Christians and Muslims can receive salvation through their respective religions because they emerge from the same divine source.
     
    Whitten said that view of Greear’s outreach strategy was a “mischaracterization of one of our Southern Baptist missionaries.”
     
    “[Greear] wrote his doctoral dissertation on reaching Muslims for Christ, and the grading professor was Paige Patterson,” said Whitten. “Do you think for a skinny minute that Paige Patterson would give him a passing grade if he believed the god Muslims worship and the God we worship are the same? ... You just cannot get me to believe that [Greear] believes all Muslims are saved and going to heaven because they worship God. That’s the mischaracterization that grieves my spirit.”
     
    He added that Greear’s eagerness to promote evangelism and experience overseas should be a positive indicator of his qualification for SBC president, not an opportunity for fault-finding.
     
    “He’s not going to ask Southern Baptists to do something that he’s not doing himself,” said Whitten, noting recent news that The Summit Church had sent their 1,000th member to participate in church planting.
     
    “Southern Baptists bleed evangelism and missions, and I couldn’t find a better pastor right now demonstrating that in his own church than J.D. Greear.”
     
    Whitten also commented on Greear’s commitment to Southern Baptist missions and ministries, another point on which Greear has been criticized.
     
    “He wants to encourage the younger generation to give to the Cooperative Program,” said Whitten.
    He denounced “sky is falling” warnings about Greear’s potential election signaling a generational takeover of the SBC.
     
    “Put this in perspective,” Whitten said, “Dr. Bailey Smith – great Southern Baptist pastor, great Southern Baptist president – was 41 years old when he was elected. J.D. Greear will be 45 years old in June ... only two years younger than Adrian Rogers when he was elected in 1979 at 47.
     
    “This isn’t about a younger generation coming to take over. J.D. Greear is a Southern Baptist missionary and a Southern Baptist equipped and trained pastor. He loves Southern Baptists, he preaches Southern Baptist.
     
    “... If he’s elected, we’ll have a president that is saying to all generations, let’s take the gospel all over the world, and let’s start in our own Jerusalem.”
     
    The SBC annual meeting will take place June 12-13 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. Nominations and voting for SBC president are scheduled for Tuesday, June 12 at 1:50 p.m.
     
    Ken Hemphill, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and administrator at North Greenville University, has also been announced as a candidate for SBC president.
     
    In response to an interview request, Hemphill told the Biblical Recorder the individual to nominate him at the SBC annual meeting will be announced in May.

    4/30/2018 2:38:47 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 4 comments
    Filed under: JD Greear, SBC Annual Meeting 2018, Theology




Comments
James E. Horton
Thanks Michael. I completely agree with the necessity of unwavering commitment necessary to sound theology that clearly and distinctly elevates Yahweh as the only true God in whom is salvation. No religion outside Christianity can know or worship the Lord. He sovereignly chooses to come to us and save. Scripture clearly denies the idea of man finding God or knowing Him except by divine revelation.
5/7/2018 8:55:41 AM

Rick Patrick
Muslims do not worship the TRUE God falsely. They worship a FALSE god truly.

Michael Cox, William Lane Craig, and James White are correct on this matter. Ken Whitten and J.D. Greear are mistaken.
5/2/2018 3:37:32 PM

Editor
Michael, thank you for reading and commenting. Our editorial staff would like readers to note two points. (1) The BR's interview with Ken Whitten occurred the morning your article was published, April 23. It was scheduled days beforehand. Neither our questions nor his answers, to our knowledge, had your writing solely in view. (2) None the less, we hope this interview will help readers avoid possible confusion as they read any material on the topic. One of the commonly repeated phrases, "worship the same god," can be used as a euphemism for salvation – meaning Christians and Muslims both believe savingly in the same deity. We do not think that is what J.D. Greear means by that phrase, nor does Whitten, according to his comments. It can also be understood more generally, and employed as an evangelistic strategy for reaching people with insufficient revelation of God's truth. There is a vast difference in those two meanings, since the former qualifies as a grave theological error. The BR editorial staff has not accused any individual of intentionally conflating those meanings, but we hope this content will help clarify news and other information related to the SBC annual meeting.
5/2/2018 2:58:40 PM

Michael A Cox
I remember several times over the years when I was reluctant to accept as factual something supposedly embraced by a writer or preacher I had been reading or following, especially one I greatly admired. I was very surprised to read some of the contradictory statements made by Matthew Henry in his commentaries. Further, there is another fine exegete, Gordon Fee, co-author of a book on hermeneutics, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, and author of the commentary on 1 Corinthians in The New International Commentary on the New Testament, who has a completely Pentecostal/Charismatic view of tongue-speaking and also argues from an Arminian perspective that salvation can be lost. Was I ever in disbelief! Shocked. Perhaps even in initial denial. Yet, I still read both, and many more with whom I disagree.

Nobody has misrepresented J.D. Greear or Larycia Hawkins. Greear’s book and interview make it clear, most notably the interview with Trevin Wax of The Gospel Coalition cited in my article, where Wax understood what the rest of us understand when Wax says, “You make the case that Muslims do worship the same God as Christians, although with obvious errors in understanding.”
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/reaching-muslims-for-christ-a-conversation-with-j-d-greear/.

Greear’s insights on evangelizing Muslims are excellent as is his grasp of the culture, his emphasis on the role of building relationships for evangelistic success, his Christology, Pneumatology, and his interweaving of references to the early Church Fathers. But his theology cannot be missed or dismissed.
Nothing has been taken out of context. Greear believes – unless he has recanted – that Muslims and Christians worship the same God and that they are simply believing wrong things about God and worshiping him incorrectly. This is not the theological position we want or need from our SBC leadership at any level – seminaries, missions boards, presidency, and so on.

We see ourselves as Watchmen on the Wall pointing out error and sounding a warning, but in no way misrepresenting or attacking a brother. I didn’t make the article about J.D. Greear, I made it about the issue of why it is false to claim Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Persons are off limits; positions are fair game.

My article can be found at http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/why-it-is-false-to-claim-christians-and-muslims-worship-the-same-god/.
4/30/2018 7:04:12 PM

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