Southern Baptist Pastors Jeffress and Vines weigh in on resign or resist debate

by Will Hall, |
Dr. Robert Jeffress addresses his congregation, First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. | First Baptist Dallas/screen capture

DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – As probate judges in Alabama are dealing with a power struggle between a federal judge and Alabama laws and how the conflict involves their religious beliefs, they are receiving prayer and support within the state and from around the country.

In an interview with Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, who shared the statement with Christian Examiner, a national Christian leader, who is pastor of a historic congregation, said Alabama judges should stay the course.

"Christians should wholeheartedly support fellow believers like Judge Moore, who are willing to follow their conscience, regardless of the consequences," Robert Jeffress said. "The history of our nation, as well as the Christian faith, is built upon men and women like Judge Moore who were willing to 'obey God rather than men.'"

Moreover, Jeffress said such strength of character built our country.

"Without a willingness to engage in civil disobedience there would not have been a civil rights movement, a United States of America or a thriving Christian faith in the world today," he said.

Jeffress also said there is no cause for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to vacate the bench.

"I see absolutely no reason he should resign since he is upholding the Alabama Constitution which does not violate any federal law" he said.

Jeffress' views received an "amen" from a former pastor of a leading congregation in Florida.

Jerry Vines, who led First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In a social media response to the question of who stands with Judge Moore, he replied, "When a good man stands I stand with a good man."

"I have known Judge Moore for many years," Vines added. "A good man."

Alabama Baptists also have taken a stand of support for the state's judges.

On Feb. 6, just days before the end of U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade's stay and the implementation of her ruling to perform gay unions, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions passed a resolution that expressed "moral outrage, intense grief and strong disagreement" with the ruling.

Moreover, the statement made a commitment of "prayer and personal support" for Christian judges who faced conscientious objections, and, called on "all Christians to continue to be faithful to the biblical definition of marriage."

But the two top officials for the largest evangelical body in the state took the extra step to reinforce this corporate statement with a joint personal statement of their own, a strongly worded warning to Alabama Baptist congregations that might stray from the biblical model of marriage..

Rick Lance, executive director, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Montgomery, Ala., and Travis Coleman, Jr., senior minister, First Baptist Church, Prattville, Ala., and president of the Alabama, together said the "the biblical view of marriage and the historic declarations that Alabama Baptists have made concerning the marriage relationship" still stand regardless of court rulings.

"Therefore, any church that allows staff members to officiate at same-sex ceremonies is clearly outside biblical teachings about marriage and human sexuality, and they demonstrate that they are not in like-minded fellowship or friendly cooperation with Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists," they warned.

Lance followed up these multiple statements with a video message to Alabama Baptist churches.

Expressing a "heavy heart" and "strong disagreement" with the actions which have undermined the biblical notion of marriage, he said "Now, more than ever, we need to commit ourselves to pray and to work for the spiritual and moral awakening in our land."

Adding that Christians have often been at their best in such times of distress, he said, "It is our time of opportunity to serve the Lord—even in the midst of cultural captivity."

"Let us continue to serve the Lord together. Let us covenant to pray for those, especially those with whom we disagree, and for those facing decisions which challenge their Christian convictions," he encouraged. "Let us be faithful to the biblical teachings concerning marriage."


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