10 Reactions to Trump's Evangelical White House Dinner

9. J.D. Greear

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear smiles as he attends a dinner with about 100 other evangelical leaders and their spouses at the White House in Washington on Aug. 27, 2018. | (Photo: Twitter/@FLOTUS)

One of the newer faces in the crowd for the dinner was Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, the 45-year-old lead pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

As Greear was recently elected president of the largest Protestant denomination, he took some heat online from left-leaning religion writer Jonathan Merritt for attending the event. As a candidate for SBC presidency, Greear had run on a platform that decried Church entablement with political parties and partisanship.

Greear posted a statement to Twitter Tuesday to explain why he chose to attend the White House dinner.

Greear said he received an invitation from the White House and consulted a number of leaders across the political spectrum as he carefully decided whether or not he should attend.

"In this case, I chose to attend in order to listen and meet other leaders and offer perspective where asked," Greear said.

In order to be a "witness in the public square," Greear said that it "requires some presence in it."

Greear stressed that he's "as committed as ever to decoupling the Church from partisan politics."

"[M]y desire for the SBC remains what it always has been — promoting a culture in which the Gospel is above all," Greear wrote. "Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel."

Greear also stated that he did not sign the Bible that was given to Trump by White during the dinner.

"I was not asked and was not aware it was being given," he wrote.

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