North Carolina Baptist leaders encouraged Christians to pray for the new president of the United States, Donald Trump, who was elected Nov. 8 in a startling victory over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet, leaders also reminded churches to oppose the coarse rhetoric fueled by a nearly two-year long campaign. They called God’s people to exhibit Christlike character, pursue justice and graciously reach out to others.
Mark Harris, J.D. Greear, Milton Hollifield and Danny Akin
J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, said in an email to the Biblical Recorder, “… every Christian should be outraged by demeaning comments made toward certain groups in our society, whether we are part of that group or not. And we should stand against injustice and discrimination wherever we see even a hint of it.”
Greear urged Christians who voted for Trump to “seek to understand (if they don’t already) why many immigrants, women, some minorities and members of the LGBT community feared a Trump presidency.” The president-elect’s inauguration is set for Jan. 20, 2017. He also said the upcoming four-year term will be a “test” for evangelical Christians that voted for the controversial Republican.
“Will they have the courage to stand boldly against him – and the Republican party – wherever they perceive [Trump] pursuing an uncharitable agenda?” asked Greear.
“Many of our black and Hispanic brothers and sisters are fearful and confused today,” he continued. “These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, made in the image of God like us. Ask questions, acknowledge their hurts and above all, listen. Whatever else this moment calls for, it calls for empathy towards the hurting and afraid.
“Above all, we must not let politics dominate our agenda. Whether Clinton or Trump had won, we in the church have a mission far greater than politics. We are building a kingdom that can never perish, making investments in the souls of people that will last longer than any political kingdom. When we show more concern over politics than evangelism, we have gotten off course. Salvation does not come riding in on a donkey or an elephant. It’s not found in the stars and stripes of our flag, but the scars and stripes on our Savior. As someone at our church said recently, ‘If you are more concerned over who won this election than you are lost souls being saved, you are probably a citizen of the wrong kingdom.’"
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, commented via email, “… the American people spoke and so did the people of North Carolina. After weeks of the world watching us deliberate, it’s now time to reflect and pray for the days ahead. I have already begun praying fervently for our president-elect, Donald Trump. Closer to home, we must be patient as we await the results of our governor’s race, and prepare our hearts for what either path may mean for the future of our state.
“No matter the outcome, we honor our governing authorities but don’t look to them for our hope. That means we pray for them, we respect their authority, and we seek to be good citizens while honoring our Lord and loving our neighbors. Our mission to share the Good News, pursue reconciliation and reach the nations remains the focus of the church. America has never needed the gospel more than it does today, and we find our answers in King Jesus!”
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, said in a press release, “The results are in. We’ve elected Mr. Trump, and approximately half of America is relieved, while the other half is depressed. By all accounts, the majority of Americans were not, and are not, happy with the choice they faced and had to make. The president-elect will be the least popular to ever take office. So what do we do as Christians? First, we need to remember our heritage as Christians, not just as Americans. The Apostle Paul told us in Ephesians 2:13-18 that out of Jew and Greek, God created one new man, and that the Church was to reconcile both.”
“Last night was one of the hinge points in American history,” Land concluded. “The American people rose up in their collective wisdom and said, ‘Enough is enough. We want our country back.’ Mrs. Clinton’s extreme position on abortion was a major contributing factor. Eighty-one percent of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. This is higher than the vote for any previous candidate. It is still government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’ As a Christian, I believe that God in His mercy has decided to postpone His judgment of America and give us a temporary reprieve to turn back to Him. I pray we will do so.”
Mark Harris, former president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, told the Biblical Recorder, “When you look at the election of Donald Trump, it was historic. I can’t remember in my lifetime when the polls were any more wrong than in this election. I also feel like people across America in the heartland got involved.
“When you look at the map, the bulk of the country recognized what was at stake in the selection of the Supreme Court. I feel like God in His mercy has allowed our nation to correct course. My hope and prayer is that we will see men and women appointed to the Supreme Court who understand their role and will correct many of the decisions that we have seen in recent days that have removed power from the people. Our call now is of course to pray for our president-elect. Pray for God to work in his life and pray for God to work through him. Also, I think it is critically important that we pray for the team he is assembling in his administration.
“This is not a time for us to step away from engagement, but we must continue to be engaged with our voices. We’ve spoken with our vote, but it’s important for us to continue to speak with our voices a message of hope, a message of righteousness, a message of justice, and law and order. Of highest priority is that our voices say that ultimate hope, righteousness and truth is only found in Christ alone.”
Milton Hollifield, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, commented, “Along with many others, I would have preferred to have better choices in the candidates who ran for the office of U.S. President in 2016, but I do take hope in knowing that we may not have to live with some decisions that the Democratic candidate stated she would work to achieve.
“As far as the president-elect is concerned, it is uncertain what his position will be in the numerous decisions he will make. I hope he will surround himself with people who possess good character, integrity and wisdom. I hope that he will listen to wise counsel as he assumes responsibility for making important decisions and ultimately he will seek wisdom from God.
“As followers of Jesus Christ and citizens of this nation, we have a responsibility to pray for our president, support and cooperate with him as we can in good conscience. However, we must also maintain our primary allegiance to our God and know that ultimately we are dependent upon Him to provide for our needs, sustain and protect us. We must always recognize that we exist for God’s glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.
“This is an important time for the evangelical community to join together in prayer that the leaders in our government will look to God for guidance, trust in Christ alone for salvation and establish laws that do not conflict with God’s Holy Word.”