Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been criticized for withdrawing from the so-called New Baptist Covenant Celebration because of remarks made about President Bush by former president Jimmy Carter. For conservatives, the real surprise should be that Huckabee agreed to speak in the first place, not that he has decided to withdraw from the event. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have teamed up to support the leftist North American Baptist Fellowship which is a division of the leftist Baptist World Alliance in their attempt to form a new group of Baptists. Both Carter and Clinton claim the purpose of the new group is to "counter the negative Baptist image and demonstrate Baptist unity around social concerns."
The real purpose of the new group is to counter the influence of conservative Christians in the political arena. Those on the left know all too well that concerned Christians, motivated by a desire to defend traditional marriage and to stand up for the rights of the unborn made a huge difference in the 2004 election. Exit polls showed strong support for President Bush and pro-life, pro-marriage candidates among conservative Christians. Democrats on the left realized after looking at the exit polling data that they had to come up with a way to nullify or compromise the voting strength of conservative Christians. Those already in office facing reelection campaigns decided to hire consultants to help them understand how to reach conservatives by repackaging their liberal messages in conservative, biblical language. In order to help them win back control of Congress, the Democrats recruited conservative, pro-life candidates to run against conservative Republican incumbents, hoping that voter frustration with the Iraq war would drive people to vote for a democrat providing the democrat was pro-life. Their strategy worked in many areas of the country particularly Pennsylvania, where conservative Senator Rick Santorum was defeated by pro-life democrat Bob Casey.
It amazes me that any true conservative Southern Baptist pastor or leader could take one look at the line up of speakers at the new convocation and not see through the stated purpose of the group. The list of speakers reads like who's who of prominent leftist democrats including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and of course Mr. global warming himself, Al Gore. The timing of the event should also raise red flags for conservatives. The convocation is scheduled for January of 2008 which would be just in time for the media to bring national attention to a liberal Baptist group right before the start of the presidential primary season. If this meeting is truly about the gospel with no emphasis on politics why are most of the speakers political operatives for the Democrat party? How can you separate the message from the messengers? Theologically, Jimmy Carter has made it clear in his Sunday School class that Jesus Christ is not the only way of salvation. Politically, he has made it clear by traveling to Cuba and supporting Fidel Castro and making outrageous statements supporting the terrorists within Hamas and the PLO that he is firmly committed to a leftist political agenda.
Dr. Russell Moore, Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary described the New Baptist Covenant Celebration as being "really united around what they don't believe and what they don't believe is essentially everything the Southern Baptist Convention does believe." Moore's assessment of absolutely right on point….Carter, Gore, and Clinton are all pro-choice, pro-homosexual, and anti-traditional marriage. I don't think most Southern Baptists fought for ten years to restore the denomination to its conservative roots only to have those roots redefined for political gain by the left.
In 2004, the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance because of their liberal positions on many social issues and their anti-American bias in the political arena. It is unreasonable to believe any organization that is supported by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, the Baptist World Alliance, and The North American Baptist Fellowship will be anything but another leftist hammer that will be used to chip away at the conservative Christian base of the Republican Party.
In the book of Acts, Satan began his attack against the fledgling church by raising the level of persecution from the outside. Peter and John were arrested and threatened with imprisonment if they kept preaching the gospel. But they boldly resisted the external pressure and God honored their efforts by increasing the number that was being added to the church daily. Then Satan tried to destroy the church from within through the lies and compromise of Ananias and Sapphira. They totally misrepresented themselves to the church trying to convince the apostles that they had sold some property and had given all of the proceeds to the church. But instead, they held back part of the proceeds and were judged because of their evil intent to gain favor by presenting themselves as something they were not.
Today, the effectiveness of Christians who act as salt and light in the arena of public policy is being resisted by those who claim the name of Christ but are trying so substitute a leftist political agenda in the place of the truth of God's Word. They don't want to come right out and say a woman should be able to choose to kill her baby because they now realize that will not persuade most conservative believers to join the left. So they subtly try to switch the priorities of Christians from defending the unborn and opposing a radical homosexual political agenda to fighting the mythical Armageddon of global warming and taking up the cause of resisting the war in Iraq by making America look like the bad guy.
Mike Huckabee was right to see this new group for what they really are….just another attempt by the left to nullify the influence of conservative Christians in the political arena. I pray more Southern Baptists will wake up and see the deception before it is too late.
Dr. Tony Beam is Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.