Please Disregard Wiley Drake’s Foolish Remarks!

Posted in christian thought, church reform, social justice, theology by Nathan Creitz on June 5, 2009

ImageServerDB “I am glad George Tiller is dead.”

Those words were not uttered by Tiller’s murderer (to my knowledge). Instead, they were uttered by someone who claims to believe in the Bible. They were uttered by a former VP in the Southern Baptist Convention. They were uttered by a pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California. His church must be so proud. They were uttered by Wiley Drake.

Will the real Wiley Drake please sit down!

Who is Wiley Drake? I’ve been to maybe eight or nine Southern Baptist Conventions so I know a little bit about him. At the convention each year, resolutions are voted for or against. Some are good, some are bad, some are crazy.

Since it is a democratic process, anyone, and I do mean ANYONE who is in attendance as an official delegate to the convention from ANY Southern Baptist church around the world, can submit a resolution on the floor of the convention. I’ve heard Wiley Drake’s name for years because he is always proposing some resolution. His resolutions are always from way out in left field.

Though the SBC has been trying to redeem its reputation as a positive force for Biblical values and social justice and care for neighbor, Wiley Drake seems to be stuck in a hyper-fundamentalist funk. As far as the SBC has come in recent years, they still make mistakes. A couple of years ago, for some reason, the SBC voted to make Wiley Drake our 2nd VP of the convention. What?

For Drake to become an official officer of the SBC was amazing. For all those years I remember the following scenario played out many times:

Moderator: “The platform recognizes microphone #3. State your name, church, and resolution.”

Drake: “My name is Wiley Drake…

ALL SBC convention delegates: *sigh* *groan* *oh boy, here we go*

Except seven Drake supporters: *applause* *whistle* *hoot*

Drake: “I’m the pastor and messenger of First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, California.

ALL SBC convention delegates (except those same seven supporters): *collective roll-of-the-eyes*

Drake: “Be it resolved that the SBC and all Bible-believing Christians must overthrow the US government because they don’t know God. Let’s go get our guns people!” (this is a hypothetical example from my own imagination but trust me, the truth is stranger than fiction)

So what did we do? We elected him. WE ELECTED HIM! It was a beautiful strategy (some thought): Now, all of a sudden, for at least one year, Wiley Drake was unable to propose any resolutions because he was an officer of the convention. yeah!

The drawback was that now when he does something controversial and public (those very well may be his core values) he’s referred to in the news as “former Vice President of the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention”. His title is given as if he speaks for all who call themselves Christian. As Richard Land said of Obama’s election recently, “Elections have consequences.” That was never more true than when the SBC elected Wiley Drake to be an officer of the convention.

So what did he do now?

So why am I talking about this today? Well, there was an Associated Baptist Press article about Drake’s interview with Alan Colmes. Many of his comments are disturbing. Drake had been praying for Tiller’s death because he thought some of the prayers David prays in the Psalms means God wants Tiller dead. Colmes asked him if he prayed those sorts of prayers about anyone else. Drake said, “The usurper that is in the White House is one, B. Hussein Obama.”

Colmes: “Are you praying for his death?”

Drake: “Yes,”

Colmes: “So you’re praying for the death of the president of the United States?”

Drake: “Yes.”

I want to ask: Are you praying for his salvation? his forgiveness? his family? his policy making? his soul? his redemption?

Here are a few more quotes from the interview: “I think it’s appropriate to pray the Word of God,” Drake said. “I’m not saying anything. What I am doing is repeating what God is saying.”

“I believe the whole Bible, Alan,” he explained. “I don’t just preach part of it. I don’t just preach the soft, fuzzy, warm stuff where we’re supposed to be nice to everybody. I preach the whole Bible.”

Does the Bible really say that?

Let me make a few points in response to Drake’s hate-prayers from the Bible of which he claims to know so well:

Romans 2:4 Do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (HCSB)

The fact that God doesn’t immediately wipe EVERYONE off the face of the earth is a miracle. Now, why is He holding back? So they might repent and turn to Him.

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (HCSB)

Jesus, for some reason, didn’t act vindictively against those who rejected Him. Maybe it was because of His love. In fact, when they nailed Him to a cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Did you get that, “forgive them“. Chances are, Tiller simply didn’t know what he was doing either. So, we pray for people’s souls and for their forgiveness, not for their death.

When someone takes matters into their own hands and murders someone like Tiller, they are taking away the possibility that Tiller might repent, turn from evil, choose good, and follow Christ. That’s why God restrains Himself. Imagine how many people are rejecting God and working against Him, even cursing Him. But does He want them dead? No, He wants them to repent!

Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (HCSB)

I’m not saying I have any enemies or that we should consider the Tiller’s of the world to be enemies, but what Jesus is saying is that it’s not enough to simply love your friends and family, if you are going to be children of God you have to act like Him and learn how to love everyone. I feel like loving people (not asking God to kill them) is a pretty strong commandment somewhere in the Bible…I’ve definitely heard it somewhere before…oh yeah: Matthew 19:19; 22:37ff, Mark 12:29ff, Luke 10:25ff, 1 John 4:21, Leviticus 19:18, etc.

An enemy of a Christian should receive more love and prayer and forgiveness than the friend of anyone else. An enemy of a Christian should benefit from that relationship in some way.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (HCSB)

I could say a lot about this verse. Suffice it to say that a) prayers and thanksgivings should be for “those who are in authority”, not against. b) Wiley Drake isn’t modeling this passage. c) Drake’s actions aren’t leading anyone “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (he certainly doesn’t seem to be living a tranquil and quiet life either). d) This doesn’t mean we can’t disagree with our leaders, but the focus here is on prayer for them and not on political activism.

Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. (HCSB)

I disagree more often than not with what Obama does, but I recognize that he, along with Pilate (John 19:11), and Nebuchadnezzer (Jeremiah 27:7) AND King David (1 Samuel 16) before him were given authority according to the counsel of God’s own will. Good rulers and bad, through the history of the world (and I’m suspending judgment on which kind of ruler Obama will be) have come along and we are to pray for them and recognize that God has a plan in allowing them to be in positions of power.

A call for a response

I’m not sure how to get in touch with Wiley Drake but I encourage him to respond to this post. You can find my email address on this blog. I will even allow him to write a guest post for ChurchETHOS to explain more fully his remarks about George Tiller’s murder. I prefer to go to confront someone in private but when someone damages the faith so publicly I take it upon myself to make it known to MY friends and family that I am not a follower of Wiley Drake (or of King David for that matter). I am a follower of Jesus and I refuse to stand by quietly and let the name of Christ be stained so publicly.

A lot has been said about George Tiller’s murder in recent days. The only thing that needs to be said by children of God and followers of Jesus is that murder is wrong and that we will be praying for his family. Drake’s comments are careless, theologically misguided, and damages the churches reputation with the unchurched.

In all fairness I should say that Drake did make a few qualifying remarks; like the fact that he hadn’t been praying for Tiller’s murder, just his death. Not much better.

He also had this to say:

“This whole concept that we’re always to pray little, nice, soft, fluffy, prayers — that we’re not to pray imprecatory prayer — has been something that just, in all honesty, that Southern Baptists have lost, and we need to regain imprecatory prayer,” Drake said. “It is in the Bible, and we are proud to say as Southern Baptists that we believe the Book. You’ve got to believe the whole Book, brother, or you don’t believe any of it.”

You got one thing right, Wiley, most Southern Baptists, to their credit, have lost this judgmental sort of prayer life.

I ask for my reader’s forgiveness

I don’t usually call someone out for their errors in such a public way and I pray my readers forgiveness for this post, but I don’t apologize for what I’m saying. If Wiley Drake can so publicly defame the name of Jesus with his careless comments I will exhort him publicly to return to Christ-like love, forgiveness, and grace. Wiley, I will pray for you and I offer these comments for your edification, not your destruction. My prayers are for your repentance and not your death. I can only hope that those who desire to reply to this post on this humble semi-private blog will reply with more tact and grace than I have exhibited in my reaction to the story that is playing out much more publicly in media outlets around the country.

If someone knows how to get in touch with Wiley Drake for his comments, please send this post on to him.

Related Post: Terminating Tiller’s Life is Worse than Tiller Terminating Lives ::  Subscribe


11 Responses

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  1. Aunt Lula said, on June 5, 2009 at 2.57 pm

    Good post, Nate. It all boils down to the thing I heard from your grandmother’s lips over and over: “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. Though I’ll have to admit that I also heard, though rarely, “Some people just need killin'”. Heh.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 16, 2009 at 8.00 am

      Thanks Aunt Lula 🙂

      Great quotes from a great source. I’m sure she would’ve been appalled at a story like this one.

  2. Helen Fuller said, on June 5, 2009 at 3.58 pm

    Nathan, as usual a thoughtful and biblical post. Are you being too harsh? I am not sure; discipline sometimes comes across as being harsh but it is necessary. Your response to Mr Drake is necessary; his comments will colour the view that outsiders have of the Southern Baptist Church and it is important that someone from the Church makes a stand and says that he does not speak on behalf of the whole Church. I do hope that Mr Drake will read this post and give it his careful consideration.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 16, 2009 at 8.51 am

      Thanks Helen. You make a great point and I think it’s important to understand that there is no spokesperson for Christ other than the Spirit of God. We all do our part to exalt Him through word and deed but we are all imperfect. Every once-in-a-while someone catches a glimpse of God because of something we say or do but those glimpses only happen because the Spirit caused them to happen. Sadly, more often than not, people like Wiley Drake, in their own human effort, close the curtain on God.

      I think my own caricature of Wiley Drake’s role in the SBC was a foolish human argument and I want to take this moment to apologize publicly for those comments. On the other hand the comments about what Scripture says and my strenuous objection to what Wiley Drake said still stand. I let the post stand as written, warts and all, simply because it is a true glimpse into my own heart that can often make mistakes and I am no better than anyone else. It is a continuous reminder to me of what happens when I write against someone and not for their personal edification. I wrote this post as damage control rather than thinking of Wiley’s edification or as a personal rebuke or loving corrective.

      Anyway, that’s what I’ve written and it would be disingenuous to pull the article and try and pretend it didn’t happen. I stand by 90% of it and apologize for the unfair characterization I made of Wiley Drake. He has read this article and I’ve connected with him on Twitter so I will ask his forgiveness and point him to this comment in hopes that I can begin a personal (not public) dialogue with him about this issue. I pray that we can all learn to show more love and grace and I pray that I will be able to set a good example of being full of grace AND truth. After all, truth without grace isn’t going to win anyone over.

  3. kristarella said, on June 5, 2009 at 6.34 pm

    I am continually impressed with your ability to expess such important things clearly and biblically. I think it’s important not only for non-Christians to know he doesn’t speak for us or Jesus, but also for younger Christians too.
    Gee, I’d like to know which Psalms he is talking about!

  4. Jeremy Hoover said, on June 5, 2009 at 7.23 pm

    Yikes. This guy’s comments show how dangerous reading the Bible can be. He found a viewpoint in the Bible that I, for one, don’t think is there. But he found it nonetheless. It’s so important to keep rooted in Christ and to read the Bible through faith in him. Great post.

  5. kristarella said, on June 5, 2009 at 8.57 pm

    This guy’s comments show how dangerous reading the Bible can be.

    That’s an interesting way of putting it. Perhaps it it emphasises our need to depend on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding? It can be difficult to do, and yet impossible not to do if you really want to be able to apply the word to your life.

    • Jeremy Hoover said, on June 5, 2009 at 11.00 pm

      “Perhaps it it emphasises our need to depend on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding?”

      That’s *exactly* what I think. Great way of wording it! To me, it’s submission to God’s wisdom that creates the conditions for properly reading the Bible. Too many cultural readings of the Bible align “God” with our bigotry or biases. Only God cuts through the fog to bring us to his truth.

  6. Keith Ellis said, on June 6, 2009 at 4.26 pm

    OK, So this Wiley Post guy, or whatever his name is, seems to be kinda flaky. And he should be clear that his thoughts do not represent all of Christianity in general and the SBC in specific. However, to sling a little mud, the SBC puts itself in these situations repeatedly because of the whole autonomous local church thing. There is no consensus within SBC, just that you must love Jesus. I know Catholics that meet that qualification. OK so off of the SBC and back to important stuff. I find it interesting that Baptists will quote the Old Testament and then completely disregard it when it comes to theology. Christ did not erase the Old Testament, but fulfilled it’s prophesies. The original church used this text as it’s guide, but to modern Baptists it’s New Testament only, with the OT as supporting script only when convenient. Now, off the Baptists (I mean it this time!). When we teach Christ, please do not forget the destruction of the market in the temple. It is easy to see Him as a sweet, loving, caring (and he was) kind of guy, almost like a hippie. Make love, not war man! But He was righteous and he rebuked sinners. Even to the point of destroying their property (the temple). This is an example of Him being fully God…..God exercised His righteous wrath on all pagans, calling Israel to fully exterminate the inhabitants of the chosen land. Exterminate. Interesting. I’m not saying this Wiley Post cat has it right, by no means, I’m simply saying that it is an interesting thought. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that God’s Will happens, regardless of our feelings of it.

  7. Melodie said, on June 16, 2009 at 9.22 pm

    Good job Nathan. You are being sensitive to the Holy Spirit to apologize I believe. Yet, you aren’t backing down from the heart of the matter. I praise God Mr. Drake has made contact with you. This comment comes with a prayer that much good for the kingdom comes from your conversations. May God bless your gift with words, your scriptural insight, and your passion. They are all from him. He will use them well. Courage and humility are a rare combination. They look good on you brother.

  8. cinamingrl said, on July 12, 2009 at 10.19 pm

    Drake has long gone off the deep end. He uses his pulpit for his own personal agendas. Such as “boycotting Disneyland” for employing gays…..and his latest escapade, trying to prove that the President is an “illegal alien”. Drake seems to suffer from a mental illness named “narcissistic personality disorder”. People who suffer from this illness have symptoms such as delusions of grandeur. He seems to believe that acting like an insane person will get him fame. But he is only making a spectacle of himself. I feel sorry for his family. He has become an embarrassment to the FSBC. Maybe at one time his ideas about helping the homeless were positive and helpful. But he has turned his pulpit into a circus. His church services are no longer religious, but more political. And some people have been thrown out of the church physically for dissenting out loud. If he’d use his position for the good of mankind, instead of for how own personal agendas, he night be doing a service to Orange County. But he isn’t. He should go back to Arkansas where his racism and hick ways are accepted. Because most of the citizens in O.C. think he is crazy and needs to be institutionalized.

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