Engaging politics from a gospel perspective will be the focus of the second national conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) will present “The Gospel and Politics” as a one-day event Aug. 5 in Nashville. The conference, scheduled for the downtown Music City Center, is designed to equip pastors, other church leaders and church members in preparation for the 2016 presidential election.
Addressing politics from a scriptural basis is needed, said ERLC President Russell Moore.
“Many churches and church leaders are tired of the screaming and warring that too often characterizes conversations about politics,” Moore said in an April 2 news release from the ERLC. “Some are asking if we cannot just bow out of contentious political debates and focus on teaching the Romans Road of Salvation. But Christian engagement of politics is about much more than winning arguments: it’s also about loving our neighbors and winning them to the kingdom of Christ.”
Moore added, “Christians often instinctively know that politics matter but don’t know how to respond in a way that is faithful to the gospel. What we want to talk about is how Christians can understand the way the truths of the Bible intersect with social and political needs. We want to empower pastors and church members to lead out in their communities with a Jesus-centered and neighbor-loving vision of public policy.”
The announced conference speakers so far are Moore and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
The ERLC conference will be held the day after the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) SEND North America Conference, which is set for Aug. 3-4 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The International Mission Board is partnering with NAMB this year on the SEND Conference.
The ERLC is continuing its pattern since Moore became president in 2013 of hosting both a leadership summit and a national conference each year. The entity sponsored a leadership summit on racial reconciliation March 26-27. While the spring summit targets church leaders, the national conference held later in the year addresses a wider Christian audience.
Last year, the ERLC sponsored a leadership summit on human sexuality in April and a national conference titled “The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage” in October.
Next January, the ERLC will join Focus on the Family as primary sponsors of Evangelicals for Life, a major evangelical, pro-life conference in conjunction with the annual March for Life. The event – which will be co-sponsored by other organizations – will be held Jan. 21-22 in Washington, D.C.
The main sessions of the ERLC conference in August will be live-streamed at erlc.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)