Texas Pastor Bart Barber, a newly announced candidate for the Southern Baptist Convention presidency, shared thoughts about the election in a Twitter video Thursday. Instead of focusing on his visions for the SBC, Barber began by offering four reasons “why I love my friend Tom Ascol”—another presidential contender.
Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, also expressed hopes for a civil campaign centered on plans for the SBC’s future.
What Bart Barber Admires About Tom Ascol
In a 10-minute video, filmed while driving, Barber points out four traits he admires about Ascol, a Florida pastor. First, Ascol loves Jesus, theology, and the Scriptures, says Barber, pointing to his friend’s “strong education in the Word of God.” Second, “Tom has survived a lightning strike, which you can’t say about many people” and which reflects his “amazing stamina and perseverance.”
Next, “Tom has prayed for me and has publicly called on other people to pray for me at some difficult moments in my life.” Barber expresses gratitude, adding, “I don’t forget things like that.” Finally, “Tom is not afraid to go to a microphone” at SBC meetings, unlike people who complain yet “never lean into our polity…and try to use the process” to effect change.
Barber acknowledges that high-profile elections now come with the risk of people “digging up dirt” and besmirching candidates’ character. But that “has no place among brothers and sisters,” he says, and “I don’t want anyone doing that on my friend Tom.” If anyone does, Barber plans to call them out on social media, noting, “I intend to still be friends with Tom Ascol when all this is over.”
As for criticism that comes his way, Barber tells his friends not to “feel any burden to defend me.” Before stepping into the ring, he and his family “counted the cost,” he says, and he’s determined to be “reflective” about criticism and “open to finding out fault in my own heart.” If he runs and loses, Barber says, “maybe God uses that to help me grow spiritually.”
Positive Reaction to Bart Barber’s Candidacy
In response to Barber’s message, John Roland tweets, “What an inspiring video focused on civility, Biblical fidelity and humility. I am thrilled! May God richly bless you.” Pastor Brent Hobbs tweets, “I’ve seen Bart in some highly stressful, difficult situations. Both publicly and privately. His character and integrity are excellent. Beyond reproach.”
Sam Rainer calls Barber “A godly man. A great pastor. A genuine leader.” And Pastor Jerad File tweets, “Bart Barber is a good man. … He’s a regular pastor, not at a mega church—by definition, not elite. I don’t always agree with him … but he is a trustworthy conservative unifying figure.”
Pastor Mike Leake tweets, “If you had told me 10 years ago that both @bartbarber and @tomascol had been running for president and that I would happily endorsed Bart, I’d have said you were crazy. He was part of the ‘other team.’” The switch, Leake writes, is due to the common theme of Barber’s “integrity” and “conviction” plus his fairness and willingness to listen. “I believe this is the kind of leadership we need in our polarizing time,” says Leake, adding that he is “placing character and lived theology over tertiary doctrine.”