July 5, 2020

The Cautionary Tale of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality”

Cultural Marxism — the first of two foundational bogeymen on which the conservative white evangelical church bases its Anti-Racial Justice (ARJ) Movement — is a hoax. It’s second bogeyman — the assertion that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are inherently and totally incompatible with the Gospel — is isegesis. And the ARJ Movement that conservative white evangelicals rest on those two foundational bogeymen is today’s New Jim Crow Theology

As I am not one to kick a struggling horse when it is trying to get up, I applaud the Southern Baptist Convention for its attempts to understand Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, the current evidence of which is the Resolution “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” passed in their annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama in June 2019. 

However, it would be less than candid to suggest the Resolution didn’t have a tortuous birth, or that messengers to the Convention rushed on stage like angelically coiffed choir boys and girls to enact the Resolution with child-like enthusiasm. Indeed, as reported by The Courier, the official online newspaper of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, in a June 27, 2019 article entitled SBC Resolution 9: Statement on Critical Race Theory & Intersectionality Point of Controversy and Disagreement, the intent of SBC Pastor Stephen Feinstein (the author of the Resolution as it was originally submitted) and his pastoral coalition, was substantially the opposite of the portent of the Resolution as it was finally adopted. The following four quotes from that article give a sense of the purpose of Pastor Feinstein and his coalition:

Quote # 1: Feinstein shared with The Baptist Courier that his “intent was to denounce Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality . . . so that we could hold accountable those espousing it, especially those within SBC institutions.”

(Note that the intent of the SBC’s authors is to not only establish an anti-racial justice ecclesiastical straight-jacket within the SBC, but also to inculcate it within conservative white evangelicalism generally.)

Quote # 2: Pastor Josh Buice stated that “the SBC has made a serious mistake and one that without stern correction will be the tipping point for an already vulnerable and numerically decreasing convention of churches.”

(Note that, while assuming absolutely no conscious bias on his part, Pastor Buice’s statement does not mention a concern for the accurate exegesis of Scripture; nor for the salvation or the physical or emotional well-being of 10/12ths of the world’s population whom the majority population in the U.S. that considers itself to be “white” socially classifies as “non-white;” nor an appreciation of the fact, as stated in the final Resolution and reflective of what some may term “common grace,” that “general revelation accounts for truthful insights found in human ideas that do not explicitly emerge from Scripture,” which can and does include truths from Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality — but only for the declining number of church attendees in the SBC (whom U.S. society, including SBC’s membership, sees and classifies socially as being overwhelmingly “white” — and who are therefore privileged to not have to contend with the very real issues which Critical Race Theory or Intersectionality address). His conscious focus (or at least that which he vocalized) is on the vulnerability of those who by social construct are considered to be “white,” instead of on those whom we who are considered by social construct to be “white” have made vulnerable. Jesus dealt with a lot of unconscious bias, instructing us to take the log out of our own eye (Matthew 7:3-5), and to condescend to those “of low estate” (Romans 12:16 — i.e., to those who society marginalizes) — including those who are assigned lesser social constructs, and who therefore receive lesser privilege than those of higher social constructs. We will offend them if we do not do that, and 1 Corinthians 10:32 pleads with us not to do that. And not only do we offend them, but, by virtue of perpetuating or being complicit in systemic racism (via our votes, our teaching/preaching or our knowing silence) we physically harm them. An example of this is that our persistent under caste has a life expectancy of 20 years less, on average, than our more privileged classes. To imply, by attacking racial justice and equity work in the Church, that loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40) and stopping oppression (Isaiah 1:17, 10:1-4, Proverbs 31:8-9 and Amos chapter 5, et seg.) is so much less important than our neighbors eternal salvation is specifically and ubiquitously de-sanctioned by the Bible. For the Bible says we are to fulfill both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission at the same time, lest we fall prey to telling the cold and hungry to be warm and well-fed (James 2:15). What good is that? But I digress for now.

Quote # 3: “Pastor Jeff Brown tweeted, “The only hope for the SBC is to repeal it and pass it as it was originally written.” Rev. Feinstein wants state-level conventions to adopt a resolution like his at the their annual meetings this fall.”

(So the battle does not appear to be over — but may be transferred to even more conservative state-level associations of the SBC.)

Quote # 4: Albert Mohler Jr., the 2020 presidential nominee of the SBC stated, “Both critical race theory and intersectionality are a part of the continuing transformative Marxism.”

Robert Ascol, a Southern Baptist preacher from Florida noted:

“The postmodern, deconstructionist worldview — has given rise to godless ideologies like radical feminism, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality. These ideologies are being smuggled into conservative Christian churches and entities, often by well-meaning but misguided teachers. If they are not identified and repudiated, they will have disastrous consequences for the spread of the gospel and the faith of millions of people. These ideologies are not merely opposed but are actually antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (The example he gave of such “godless ideology smuggled in” was the Resolution in it’s finally-adopted form.)

One could be forgiven for the look of amazement on his or her face at such a view point. It is unlikely (but not, unfortunately, unimaginable) that the Southern Baptist Convention could pull in millions of new “disciples” eager to join in a neocolonial (and conservative, primarily white) weaponized voting block against the poor and minorities — although neo-Nazis and Alt-Right militia types would be very pleased had the Resolution Committee not spoken up against it, and had Ascol’s originally-worded amendments actually passed. As reported in the June 14, 2017 article in The Atlantic entitled “A Resolution Condemning White Supremacy Causes Chaos at the Southern Baptist Convention,” in 2017, Richard Spencer, the Alt-Right organizer of the Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally tweeted his approval when the Convention initially failed on first vote to adopt a Resolution proposed by Pastor Dwight McKissic, Sr. of Arlington, Texas, which condemned White Supremacy.

Moreover, when the resolution passed with modified language the following day (after much strong exhortation from the Convention’s new president and some members as to how this was being reported in the press), Spenser tweeted again referring to the “cucked SBC,” (whatever that might mean).

According to the Population Reference Bureau, (the “PRB,” likely the world’s primary, and most reliable source of population and demographic projections), by the year 2050, approximately 87.5 percent (or slightly more than 10/12ths) of the world’s population will be considered to be “non-white,” by socially-constructed racial classifications normative in the U.S. (calculated as the entire projected populations of Europe, North America and Oceana, as a percentage of the rest of the world). (The PRB’s web-site is embedded, below.) Therefore, rather than there being “disastrous consequences for the spread of the gospel and for the faith of millions,” it is far more likely that the 2019 Resolution, as originally worded (and as many powerful preachers in the SBC still want to bring about through state-level conventions), would have sent billions of potential new disciples of Christ fleeing from U.S. conservative white evangelicals and screaming out into the night. Indeed, as shown here, Pastor Ascol’s three proposed amendments to the Resolution read as follows:

Ascol’s Amendment # 1: WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality are godless ideologies that are indebted to radical feminism and postmodernism and neo-Marxism; and

Ascol’s Amendment # 2: RESOLVED, that we remind Southern Baptists that critical race theory and intersectionality emerge from a secular worldview that is rooted in ideologies that are incompatible with Christianity; and be it further

Ascol’s Amendment # 3: RESOLVED that we repudiate all forms of identity politics and any ideology that establishes human identity in anything other than the divine creation in the image of God and for all redeemed humanity, our common identity, together eternally united to Christ; and be it further

Fortunately, Ascol’s three amendments were defeated when the Resolutions Committee spoke against them and the resolution passed with a “clear majority.”

As iron sharpens iron, one could be considered a friend to suggest that Pastor Ascol may be living half a millennium too late, as his theories would have fit right in when European conquistadors were colonizing the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, one could be considered a friend to suggest to today’s conservative white evangelical church membership (or, more accurately perhaps, to approximately 82 percent of it), that such eisegetically invalid, hoax-based and, quite frankly, quaint theories more socially at home among their ecclesiastical forefathers centuries ago not be conjured up again, but left in the smoldering dust bin of slaveholder religion from whence they came.

All things considered, it was fortuitous to both the mission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and that of the conservative white evangelical church in America generally, that the SBC’s Resolution Committee brokered a modicum of peace and bought some time by changing the wording of the Resolution from one condemning Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality outright, and also rejected three amendments that again would have changed the entire character of the Resolution, to one accepting (if for no other reason than for political expediency and pure logic’s sake) the use of those theories in — as the Resolution implied, carefully monitored ways by willing professors at its seminaries and, by extension, in its pulpits and ministries.

Before those professors, church members and the world can breath a sigh of relief, however, they all should know that the SBC’s 2020 president-apparent, Pastor Al Mohler, Jr., apparently agrees with Pastor Ascol in substance, even if positionally he is well-advised to thread the needle more carefully, and, by virtue of temperament, uses less divisive language. In an August 1, 2019 article in the Baptist Press entitled “Akin, Mohler Dispute Claim of SBC Liberal Drift,” Mohler wrote that the SBC was facing a culture, quote: “pushing invidious ideologies and increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity.” And in an article in The Courier entitled “SBC Resolution 9: Statement on Critical Race Theory & Intersectionality Point of Controversy and Disagreement,” Mohler said, quote: “Both critical race theory and intersectionality are a part of the continuing transformative Marxism.”

It is a good thing that the Resolutions Committee stood its ground and exhibited the intellectual curiosity and rigor to see what, if anything, it might glean from those theories — and whether they might be a legitimate help as the Convention seeks to carry out the Great Commandment (love thy neighbor as thyself) and the Church’s Great Commission (go into all the world and make disciples).  

It took considerable ecclesiastical courage to address those issues and to not cave to the efforts to pass a racially oppressive Resolution, and the Convention is enduring significant blowback from powerful forces within its ranks for doing so.  For that, we should all applaud them, and we need to pray for their continued strength, as well as an increased urgency and determination to build on this Resolution as quickly as possible.     

Having said all that, there are some legitimate criticisms that need to be made about the Resolution as passed. But before that, I want to recognize that the Resolution started out as a negative one and was turned into a positive one by the Committee. That took hard work, and awareness of the colonized gospel and the hijacked faith, a commitment to do what is right and fidelity to the true meaning of Scripture and Spirit of Christ. As Mika Edmondson once said of Russell Moore concerning his advocacy for racial justice and equity within the SBC, “I can only imagine what kind of emails that brother gets.” I also recognize that in the infancy, and even in the maturity of any work for racial justice and equity, and any fledgling allyship for a community that you have long been complicit in (and still are) oppressing, there are going to be successes and failures, bumps and bruises, learning experiences and embarrassments, anguish and joy. That is a necessary part of the work.

Therefore I will say that with all the opposition and push back received, it is no wonder that the conditions exist with respect to the Resolution that I am going to comment on. Especially in light of all those factors, the Resolution is a good first step.

With all that in mind, I found the Resolution somewhat lacking in sufficient logos to adequately connect Scripture with the theories, where compatible (although such a task is certainly doable, and is a goal of the remainder of this article). Nor did the Resolution yet carry a sufficiently credible ethos, grounded in a commitment from the Convention’s pastors to exhort members to help end racial injustice and inequity via concrete steps (like voter education or the establishment of robust racial justice and equity ministries). And finally, the Resolution did not show sufficient “fire in the belly,” and thus may lack the pathos necessary to move the critical mass of members in the pews to introspection, confession and meaningful repentance. As I noted above, these characteristics are not surprising given 1) the circumstances of opposition out of which this Resolution was born, and with which its drafters had to contend, and 2) given the nature of early understanding, repentance and allyship. Racial justice and equity work is a learning process. It is not easy work, but it is necessary and will prove rewarding in direct relationship to the determination and extent to which it is pursued. I wish the Convention Godspeed and a “fire in the belly” with respect to this work. I have had many bumps along the way in my own work as an ally of the beloved communities to whom I am blessed to try to minister in. I am not one to extinguish a smoldering ember, but my aim is to help fan those embers until justice rolls down like a mighty river. I believe the Southern Baptist Convention can become a bright headlight to the Church, and a valued ally to the beloved Black and Latino communities, and other marginalized communities, to whom we are called to minister.

In the remainder of this article, I will articulate both the praise-worthy aspects of the Resolution, and the areas in which I believe it fails to properly apply Scripture to the problem of today’s national racial sins (which are great), to fully appreciate the biblical aspects of Critical Race Theory, or to properly incorporate those biblically acceptable aspects with the Church’s mission to make disciples. Each (or multiple) “WHEREAS” condition(s) will be stated separately, and then analyzed.  

The Resolution

“WHEREAS, Concerns have been raised by some evangelicals over the use of frameworks such as critical race theory and intersectionality; and”

“WHEREAS, Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience; and”

“WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, resulting in ideologies and methods that contradict Scripture; and”

Here, the Resolution is not rejecting Critical Race Theory or Intersectionality, just worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith.  As the Resolution is not here conflating the two, a yellow light is noted, and we will proceed.

WHEREAS, Evangelical scholars who affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture have employed selective insights from critical race theory and intersectionality to understand multifaceted social dynamics; and

Note that the evangelical scholars spoken of who affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture who have employed selective insights from Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality to understand multifaceted social dynamics are professors who currently teach at Southern Baptist Convention seminaries – which is a good and courageous thing, in my view. In past centuries and decades, they would not likely have been permitted to teach in the SBC’s seminaries, and even now the SBC is enduring substantial blowback for that – hence this Resolution.

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states, “All Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article I); and

I affirm this WHEREAS in its entirety. It just bears pointing out that in prior centuries and decades, Scripture has not been the supreme standard by which all religious opinions have been tried by the white church, and indeed, with respect to matters that impact people of color, that is not the case in approximately 82 percent of conservative white evangelicalism today.  Scripture was twisted by the Southern Baptist Convention, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the Presbyterian Church and other white church denominations to invent Slaveholder Religion in the 1800’s.  Most of these same denominations also twisted Scripture to invent Jim Crow Theology in the last half of the 19th century and the first two-thirds of the 20th century.  And Scripture is being twisted by eisegetical (i.e., personally biased) interpretations by today’s progenitors of New Jim Crow Theology as well.  This includes many primarily (but not exclusively) white “conservative evangelical” and fundamental folk pastor/theologians in both the Southern Baptist Convention and other primarily white denominations, seminaries and para-church organizations. Except to point out that these progenitors are not so using Scripture, I agree entirely with the above WHEREAS.

“WHEREAS, General revelation accounts for truthful insights found in human ideas that do not explicitly emerge from Scripture and reflects what some may term “common grace”; and”

I also entirely agree with this WHEREAS, but pause to elaborate.  The above assertion carries with it the idea that, for a Christian, although all truth is God’s truth, it is not all found in the Bible.  Most Christians would agree that some of God’s truths are found in science textbooks, for example. They could agree that this is true to the extent that science has yet correctly uncovered God’s laws of the physical universe, and that pseudo-science has not perverted them to racist ends (as did Eugenics in the 1800’s and 1900’s).  Other theological fallacies arise because many theologians have improperly read things into Scripture that are not there; substituting instead their own eisegetical opinions, as did Ussher, Scofield and many others. These theologians, although well-meaning, formulated their own personal opinions of creation (such as the young-earth and gap-theories) in a fruitless attempt to reconcile what they believed to be a divergence between the Scriptural description of creation with modern geological science. A lengthy discussion of these various attempts can be found here.

It is not my intent here to take any position on such debates, but to propose that no debate is necessary at all.  Critical thought is not a bad idea per se, even when applied to theology. Nonetheless, it cannot always and need not explain all that remains concealed by written Scripture, as that is probably beyond the limits of what is objectively discoverable. Indeed, the writer of Ecclesiastes recorded that “the writing of many books is endless, and [such] excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” So – it is possible to forget that much truth is outside of Scripture; to twist Scripture around to meet personal or cultural biases; or to attempt to use critical thought to explain the inexplicable.  Nevertheless, the above WHEREAS is a theological way to say, “Many human ideas that don’t arise explicitly from Scripture are not incompatible with it, and indeed, are true and should be accepted as such.” This idea is not open to credible debate. 

“WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences; and”

This is where this Resolution begins to become insufficient.  I don’t mean to split hairs here.  But if it is true, as the previous WEHREAS asserts, that general revelation accounts for truthful insights found in human ideas that do not explicitly emerge from Scripture and reflect what some may term “common grace,” — then it is also true that the object of that truth — Critical Race Theory — can indeed be sufficient, due to the truth conferred to and affirmed in it via common grace, to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that it identifies – regardless that it does not linguistically style such causes as “sin.”  Christian theology can take it up from there, attribute that truth to sin, and apply the ultimate remedy for that sin, which is Christ.  But it cannot disaffirm that a correct diagnosis was made, or there is nothing that the gospel must remedy. Nor can it credibly assert that social redresses cannot be identified by or realized by remedies inherent in and consequent to the theory.  Scripture itself says to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.” 

To assert that nothing can change until the human heart changes is patently untrue.  Much was changed by the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of the 1960’s, regardless of the fact that not a whole lot was changed in the human heart.  And much was changed by the ten commandments. 

I know that the “theological key” in the above WHEREAS is the word “root.”  I will grant that the “root” cause of racial injustice and inequity is sin – no question.  But the glaring truth also is that the remedy for that “root” cause – salvation in Christ and meaningful repentance — includes full and equitable reparations for wealth that we as white people continue to enjoy today.  “Our” wealth was acquired through extorted labor, the title to which cannot theologically be transferred to us – but was only through the unjust rule of man’s law. 

Furthermore, either salvation in Christ has been insufficient to redress the diagnosed social ills (intergenerational poverty caused by chattel slavery, Jim Crow and the New Jim Crow), or millions of supposed white Christians must check their papers and truly get “in-Christ,” so that the redress is obvious and physical.  Nobody can “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” without bringing them forth. 

Accordingly, the remedy proposed – salvation in Christ, although theologically a correct ULTIMATE answer, will be made broadly and socially efficacious only in heaven (note that the state where there will be no more tears (Revelation 21:4) and no more curse (Revelation 22;3) both appear in heaven, not on this Earth).  Christ was not ignorant – He knew what He was talking about when He made His Revelation to the Apostle John.  It may be individually efficacious in some instances to bring forth true repentance of heart here on Earth, but those (relatively few) individually changed hearts are by no means a remedy for our national sin – nor do they result in a doing away with our racially caste-like underclass or result in the theologically required reparation of ill-enjoyed wealth – at least the evidence does not support it to date (and most probably never will). Of course that ultimate remedy will be realized in the sweet by and by.  Moreover, of course individual hearts can (but often are not) changed by salvation in Christ – or there are very few actual salvations among the conservative white evangelical Church.

But to imply, as the above WHREAS does, that CRT and changes in laws are not efficacious in changing racial injustice and inequity on the ground – that those are the sole result of salvation in Christ — is just not to understand the Church or the world around you.  Moreover, this is true regardless of the predicate point, which is 100% true, that CRT and Intersectionality can, as analytical tools, aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences. 

The world says to you, if you are going to reject something that has been proven to work, then show us something that has been proven to work better.

“WHEREAS, Scripture contains categories and principles by which to deal with racism, poverty, sexism, injustice, and abuse that are not rooted in secular ideologies; and”

Here’s where credulity begins to be strained beyond the breaking point.  Theology should be efficacious, not crinkly.  It should be demonstratively workable by historical observation in the real world. Even the Word of God can (and does) contain things that are 100% true – if they were only applied.  One has to submit that because this WHEREAS is true, it has not been applied.  Something can be true but inapplicable.  So whereas Scripture does contain categories and principles by which to deal with racism, poverty, sexism, injustice and abuse that are not rooted in secular ideologies – if they are not applied, they are of no current-world use.  Moreover, if, as The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel (a conservative white evangelical statement on blast) does, assert that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are the biggest dangers to the gospel known in the lifetime of its authors, then such discouragement to apply such remedies is for sure rendered moot within most of conservative white evangelicalism today, with whom those authors hold a death-grip sway.

Further, the Scripture says to exhort and rebuke sin with all authority.  Where is that with respect to our national racial sins of today in today’s conservative white evangelical pulpits?  Where are your robust racial justice ministries?  Where? 

Again, this Resolution is a good beginning, but it needs more work. Moreover, I know that robust racial justice ministries take time to sell and to implement.  Therefore, I only encourage the SBC to keep going.    

“WHEREAS, Humanity is primarily identified in Scripture as image bearers of God, even as biblical authors address various audiences according to characteristics such as male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free; and”

Just a little bit of ignoring of facts turns truth into less than truth. It is not good to emphasize vertical truths (Love God) while giving short shrift to horizontal truths (love your neighbor as yourselves). Jesus spoke of both in the same discourse.  And He precluded the possibility of the former without the latter, saying, “For the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

While the above WHEREAS is true when used in context, it loses all theological fidelity if used to imply that, since it is true, systemic racism is any less a sin; that current socially-constructed concepts of race are any less “things” that are used to oppress people; that all efforts should not be made to eliminate such structural inequities which result from racial sin in our society; that such is not an essential part of making disciples in the world, or that we should all be “color-blind.” 

Although the sin of ruling over the kingdoms of this world in return for forsaking Christ certainly existed from Christ’s earliest ministry as recorded in his temptation by the Devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8), and was was later consummated by the marriage of the Church to the Roman Empire by Constantine in the fourth century, the relatively modern concept of “white” people, “whiteness” and “white supremacy” weren’t developed until starting in the 1600’s, at which time they were married with the sin of idolatrous Empire.  The sin of Empire seeking became inextricably bound with the modern sin of White Supremacy. 

Therefore, to assert that all humans are made in the image of God is 100% true – but it should not be used to by any measure imply that these other things are less than 100% true as well. To do so makes Scripture ineffective against modern manifestations of sin and this-world remedies for its terrible effects in the here and now. 

“WHEREAS, The New Covenant further unites image bearers by creating a new humanity that will one day inhabit the new creation, and that the people of this new humanity, though descended from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, are all one through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:16Revelation 21:1–49–14); and”

Again, true – but.  Scripture should never be turned into tropes and hauled out to negate other truths; to justify lack of effort through robust racial justice ministries or to perpetuate or minimize multi-century traumatization of people. YES, we look forward to complete elimination of the social construct of “race” in heaven, and will miss those who missed out on it.  BUT we also desire what God desires and commands His Church to pursue – remedies for racial sin and oppression today. 

“WHEREAS, Christian citizenship is not based on our differences but instead on our common salvation in Christ—the source of our truest and ultimate identity; and”

OK, come on already.  Again, this WHEREAS is true if it is not used unlawfully – which is to say, as a cloak for our sin.  And it does cloak our sin if it is used to minimize race-based traumatization or inequities, and thereby operates to prolong and perpetuate the sin, the injustice, the inequity and the traumatization.  “Color blind” theories serve to erase injustice and inequities and their effects, and Scripture should never be used in this way.  To do so demeans Scripture, the perception of God in the public’s eye, and His image-bearers who are harmed thereby.

“WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to racial reconciliation built upon biblical presuppositions and is committed to seeking biblical justice through biblical means; now, therefore, be it”

Great, but with a flashing yellow light.  It all depends upon what the Southern Baptist Convention defines as “biblical presuppositions,” “biblical justice” and “biblical means.” 

IF any of the above questions or criticisms are true, then the SBC’s presuppositions are not biblical at all. 

Similarly, if any of the above questions or criticisms are true, or if the SBS’s  “justice” does not remedy our generation’s rubber-stamping of our ancestor’s racial sins by virtue of our permitting ourselves to continue to enjoy the massive wealth that was extorted from folks our ancestors enslaved – but to which neither they nor we hold theological title – while continuing to watch and force its rightful heirs to live in intergenerational poverty — then the Southern Baptist Convention’s “justice” is not biblical at all. 

Similarly, if any of the above questions or criticisms are true, or if the Southern Baptist Convention’s recommended means do not include full reparations (for the reasons described above), then such “means,” whatever they are, are not “biblical” at all.

“RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11–12, 2019, affirm Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills, and we reject any conduct, creeds, and religious opinions which contradict Scripture; and be it further”

As discussed in detail above, the Devil is in the details, SBC.  If he gets in the details of this resolution, you will be guilty of progenerating today’s New Jim Crow Theology, in the same way your ecclesiastical predecessors were of progenerating Slaveholder Religion and Jim Crow Theology.

“RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks; and be it further”

Again, true.  But why did you feel it necessary to state this?  It is likely because you have very powerful persons and congregations within your Convention that look at CRT and Intersectionality very askance, without a willingness to give it a fair hearing as you are attempting to do.  I hope they will do so, for the reasons stated in this Resolution. 

“RESOLVED, That the gospel of Jesus Christ alone grants the power to change people and society because “he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6); and be it further”

Please be careful not to use Scripture as tropes or platitudes to support any worldview that isn’t strictly biblical.  This RESOLVED statement has already been dealt with above.

“RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists will carefully analyze how the information gleaned from these tools are employed to address social dynamics; and be it further”

There is a flashing yellow light here. This should not be done with a pre-defined “gotcha” agenda as Barney Fife might do. Rather, if you do this, also apply it to those in the SBC who would preach against any use of CRT or Intersectionality, thereby incorrectly “dividing the word.” If that is done, great harm will be done to the Black, Latino, refugee and other marginalized communities, as well as to the cause of Christ and the fulfillment of the Great Commandment and Great Commission by the Church. Rather, do it from right motives and with courage. It is far better to repent fully of all racial sin (conscious, unconscious, past and present) than to have your candlestick removed.  It is better to let those people and congregations go that want to hold on to racist paradigms than to lose your soul or your mission.

“RESOLVED, That Southern Baptist churches and institutions repudiate the misuse of insights gained from critical race theory, intersectionality, and any unbiblical ideologies that can emerge from their use when absolutized as a worldview; and be it further”

Again, there is a flashing yellow light here — just be sure you do not “absolutize” that which is not “absolute.”  Do not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Stay true to your earlier WHEREAS about truth being found in places other than the Scriptures (as long as they do not contradict). Experience shows that many in the SBC will need a lot of help with this.

“RESOLVED, That we deny any philosophy or theology that fundamentally defines individuals using categories identified as sinful in Scripture rather than the transcendent reality shared by every image bearer and divinely affirmed distinctions; and be it further”

Unless I am misinterpreting this RESOLVED statement, there is some chance it may not be biblical, as it may aid and abet current-day racial sin.  To determine that, what are “categories identified as sinful in Scripture?”  Does this allude to differences in skin color, culture or ethnicity, or to ethnic or cultural pride and the full, unfettered flourishing of like communities?  If so, it is likely an attempt (consciously or not) to impose a “color blindness” litmus test on our identification of social evils, racial sin or on those so aggrieved to petition the Church for relief, or to request that it stop perpetuating racial sin or under-castes.  It kind of sounds like this RESOLVED statement does that, which is fortified by it’s last part that refers back to the “transcendent reality shared by every image bearer and divinely affirmed distinctions.” The “Image Bearer” concern was dealt with previously.

However, if by “categories identified as sinful in Scripture” you mean socially-constructed race categories, and that alone, then that resolves this concern.  Socially-constructed race categories are part of White Supremacy, under which those categories of people are oppressed.  If this is what was meant, good for the Southern Baptist Convention. But I have my doubts.

“RESOLVED, That while we denounce the misuse of critical race theory and intersectionality, we do not deny that ethnic, gender, and cultural distinctions exist and are a gift from God that will give Him absolute glory when all humanity gathers around His throne in worship because of the redemption accomplished by our resurrected Lord; and be it finally”

Well, this gives considerable comfort with respect to the immediately preceding RESOLVED statement. I would only encourage the Southern Baptist Convention to develop and offer its members, or better yet, to encourage them to develop robust racial justice and equity ministries and advocacies within individual churches, as methods by which they could “work out their own salvation” in these ways. Some other denominations have such robust racial justice ministries, which could be useful as potential models. These should be developed and encouraged in accordance with Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Stop the oppressors,” and Titus 3:8 “This is a trustworthy statement, and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.”    

“RESOLVED, That Southern Baptist churches seek to exhibit this eschatological promise in our churches in the present by focusing on unity in Christ amid image bearers and rightly celebrate our differences as determined by God in the new creation.”

OK, I know that theological language (such as “bathing” something in prayer) is recognizable by Christians today.  Perhaps this RESOLVED statement could have been more helpful if it had been more descriptive of possible real-world actions.  Moreover, language that says “focusing on unity in Christ,” if used as a platitude to discourage preachers from “exhorting and rebuking with all authority” any and all racial sin or complicity in their congregations can be misused.  Finally, voting as a weaponized voting block against the interests of minorities and the poor is racial sin, as it builds the New Jim Crow, which is White Supremacy. All pastors in conservative white evangelical churches today should give instruction in how to apply the warning in Isaiah 10:1-4 as it applies to voting in such a way as to harm racial minorities and the poor.      


In closing, I again commend the Southern Baptist Convention on taking this courageous step in the face of certain and significant blowback among some of its most powerful pastors and affluent congregations.  As has occurred in the past, it is again risking a decline in giving toward its cooperative missions program by opposing churches. But the Lord Himself will reward fidelity to His principles and commands, and so I encourage the Southern Baptist Convention to stay the course.  Nevertheless, no primarily white body is going to get racial justice and equity entirely right, without listening to its minority members and pastors, and even then, without trial and error.  While there are some yellow lights flashing, that is to be expected.  I hope the Convention will work hard and stay the course this Resolution gives voice to, and improve upon it and its application as it does so.  It is to be commended for taking these first steps.