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J.D. Greear: Closet Racists Should Not Feel More at Home With Us Than People of Color

The division in the SBC over race and CRT is, Greear believes, being caused by a small faction of people with loud voices. He believes the majority of people in the denomination “just want to see people brought to Jesus.”

“The problem,” Greear said, “is that many of our divisions are based on 90 percent misunderstandings, distortion and often outright lies. And it has grieved me more than you can imagine.” He continued, “Brothers and sisters, let’s just call it what it is: These things are demonic.” 

The pastor drew a parallel between the division he observes and the way Scripture describes “demonic” wisdom. James 3:13-17 says, 

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

The wisdom that comes from God is peace-seeking, and Greear emphasized the need for humility and listening to others. He alluded to the seminary presidents’ statement on CRT, calling it a “painful lesson” that “what we want to say and what is heard are not often the same.” 

Said Greear, “We should at least ask why our blanket condemnation of CRT was so devastating to our brothers and sisters of color. We at least owe them that. And we should commit that they should be at the table thinking through this as we go forward.”

In Acts 15, when the church was debating whether Gentiles ought to be required to be circumcised, James said, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” This principle applies today, said Greear. “Brothers and sisters, I wish I could write some version of that statement over the door of every Southern Baptist church in America. We ought not make it hard for Democrats to come to Jesus. We shouldn’t make it hard for Republicans to come to Jesus. Or Blacks. Or Latinos. Or northerners. Or southerners.”

Despite his strong words, Greear said he is hopeful. One reason why is because he believes God is “up to something” and that Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines those he loves. Another is that Acts 7-8 shows that “times of uncertainty always catalyze gospel advance.”

As might be expected, Greear’s comments have been met with criticism from some and praise from others. Tom Buck, a pastor who recently drew a controversial comparison between Vice President Kamala Harris and Old Testament queen Jezebel, posted the following tweet:

Dwight McKissic, however, tweeted his appreciation for Greear’s words.