CLEARWATER, Fla. (Christian Examiner) -- Ben Carson, a famed neurosurgeon with conservative values who has worked to positively influence the culture, has been uninvited to speak at an annual meeting of Southern Baptist pastors despite enjoying strong popularity among rank and file Southern Baptists.
Carson, who is not a politician and is considered a Washington outsider with no connections to the Republican Party establishment, is rumored to be considering a run for the White House.
His invitation to speak to SBC pastors was criticized primarily by a group of Calvinistic Millennials known as Baptist21, who said Carson's possible political run could create the impression of ties between Southern Baptists and Republicans.
Carson also expresses his Christian faith through the Seventh Day Adventist tradition and Baptist21 leaders said that denomination's tenets do not match consensus beliefs of Southern Baptists.
But until now the possibility that he might champion conservative and Christian values as the leader of the nation has been received positively by most conservative Christians, especially Southern Baptists. Likewise, his trust in Christ and belief in the Bible have been sufficient to convince several high profile Southern Baptist pastors to invite Carson to speak to their congregations.
In June 2014, Carson presented a Sunday message to the First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida, a 17,000 member congregation led by Pastor David Uth, former president of the 1 million strong Florida Baptist Convention. Uth is listed as a speaker for the 2015 SBC Pastors Conference from which Carson was forced to withdraw.
Carson addressed issues from his book, "One Nation: What We All Can Do To Save America's Future," taking particular issue with partisanship, saying "we take important issues and we make them into political footballs."
"People need to understand that we the people of the United States are not each other's enemies," he offered. "The enemies are those people who try to manipulate us and make us think we're enemies by driving a wedge into any little crack they can find, and therefore we have a war on women, age wars, race wars, income wars, any kind of war you can imagine. Just keep the people fighting each other and believing they're enemies, while they manipulate us and continue to consolidate their power."
"We've got to be smarter than that and we've got to recognize who these agents are who are trying to do this," he implored. Carson told the congregation "the original radical," Lucifer, ended up with his own kingdom. "That's who we're dealing with," he added. "We have at some point got to stand up."
In January, Carson spoke multiple times during a weekend "If My People" conference at the historic Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, as part of an initiative by Pastor Ed Young Sr., former president of the SBC, to "restore the soul of America." Carson spoke at three of the church's five locations--including the 9:30 Sunday morning service on the main campus.
Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Florida, is president of the SBC Pastors Conference and wrote on his blog that Carson's withdrawal was a mutual decision "for the sake of unity," citing "several Southern Baptist voices" who objected to Carson's appearance, without naming the Calvinist group.
Rice said he did not agree with the objections and Carson was "a national leader on issues of pressing importance," and added he believed "most Southern Baptists equally respect and appreciate" Carson and that leaders at the pastors meeting "are willing to hear from national leaders even if we disagree on some points of doctrine as we have done in the past, particularly when the point of discussion is a biblical worldview of prevailing cultural issues."
Other non-Southern Baptists invited to speak at the same pastor's conference include the senior pastor of the non-denominational Harvest Bible Chapel, James MacDonald, who is a popular personality with Calvinistic Millennials; and, Paul David Tripp, a professor at Redeemer Seminary (Reformed, Presbyterian).
Although considered a favorite among the group, MacDonald has had his own problems with Calvinistic Millennials. In 2012 he resigned from The Gospel Coalition after being pressured by leaders to uninvite "popular black preacher T.D. Jakes," pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, from a debate event MacDonald was hosting, according to Christianity Today.
Carson has been a speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast twice, joining Billy Graham as the only other person to have been been so honored. He has been praised for his conservative views and Christian witness not only by prominent Southern Baptists but also by a diverse spectrum of Christian leaders from James Dobson to Pat Robertson.