June 26, 2017

South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion: Res­o­lu­tion #10

The South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion is always a won­der­ful time of fel­low­ship and encour­age­ment. I attend­ed this year’s con­ven­tion in Phoenix, AZ. Our con­ven­tion is basi­cal­ly a two day busi­ness meet­ing. The con­ven­tion is a very pub­lic event that is cov­ered by many news pub­li­ca­tions.
My com­mit­tee chair and men­tor at New Orleans Bap­tist The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary was Dr. Jeff Riley, pro­fes­sor of the­ol­o­gy and ethics. This year Jeff was on the con­ven­tion’s Res­o­lu­tion Com­mit­tee. Res­o­lu­tions are sub­mit­ted by pas­tors and lead­ers for adop­tion by our denom­i­na­tion. A Res­o­lu­tion is a state­ment adopt­ed by the con­ven­tion that pub­licly express­es our thoughts and gen­er­al dis­po­si­tion regard­ing a mat­ter of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance. The Res­o­lu­tion com­mit­tee sifts the res­o­lu­tions to iden­ti­fy those that are well writ­ten, rep­re­sent the spir­it of our denom­i­na­tion, are time­ly and deal with issues that have not been thor­ough­ly cov­ered in recent­ly adopt­ed res­o­lu­tions. The Res­o­lu­tion com­mit­tee received and con­sid­ered 12+ res­o­lu­tions this year. The Res­o­lu­tion Com­mit­tee decides which res­o­lu­tions to bring forth for the con­sid­er­a­tion and vote of the mes­sen­gers in the gen­er­al assem­bly.

This year pro­posed res­o­lu­tion #10 was sub­mit­ted by Texas pas­tor Dwight McKissic. Res­o­lu­tion #10 denounced “white suprema­cy and every form of racial and eth­nic hatred as of the dev­il.” Sounds good. How­ev­er, the Res­o­lu­tion com­mit­tee chose not to bring the res­o­lu­tion to the gen­er­al assem­bly for vote. Why? Could be because South­ern Bap­tist are sym­pa­thet­ic to the white suprema­cist agen­da. How­ev­er, while we were hav­ing din­ner togeth­er after the first day of the con­ven­tion, my friend Jeff Riley told me that Res­o­lu­tion #10 was not brought to the gen­er­al assem­bly because it was not well writ­ten, using inflam­ma­to­ry lan­guage and repu­di­at­ing not only “white-nation­al­ism,” but sen­ti­ments of nation­al­ism and patri­o­tism gen­er­al­ly speak­ing. Jeff also not­ed that South­ern Bap­tists have addressed the issues of racism through res­o­lu­tions passed at our past three con­ven­tions. “In recent res­o­lu­tions the South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion called on ‘all Chris­t­ian men and women to pray and labor for the day when our Lord will set all things right and racial prej­u­dice and injus­tice will be no more’ (2014); expressed con­tin­ued grief ‘over the pres­ence of racism and the recent esca­la­tion of racial ten­sion in our nation’ (2015); and urged fel­low Chris­tians to dis­con­tin­ue using the Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag, acknowl­edg­ing that it is a sym­bol of hatred, big­otry, and racism, offend­ing mil­lions of peo­ple’ (2016).”

Pas­tor McKissic, the author of Res­o­lu­tion #10 request­ed for the gen­er­al assem­bly to vote on allow­ing his res­o­lu­tion to come to the gen­er­al assem­bly. The assem­bly vot­ed and denied the res­o­lu­tion the oppor­tu­ni­ty to come to the gen­er­al assem­bly. Was this a vote in favor of the alt-right move­ment and white suprema­cy? No, not even a pas­sive affir­ma­tion of racism. No south­ern bap­tist, at any point, argued in favor of the alt-right agen­da. The assem­bly did not vote down a well writ­ten res­o­lu­tion that made a stand against dis­crim­i­na­tion, but instead sim­ply vot­ed not to bring to the floor a poor­ly writ­ten res­o­lu­tion cov­er­ing the issue of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, which we have addressed recent­ly.

How­ev­er, a media storm ensued, pro­claim­ing that South­ern Bap­tists are torn over racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and the alt-right move­ment. The Res­o­lu­tions Com­mit­tee was recon­vened and the Res­o­lu­tion Com­mit­tee wrote a res­o­lu­tion repu­di­at­ing the alt-right and white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy and request­ed a vote by the gen­er­al assem­bly to allow this new res­o­lu­tion to be brought to the gen­er­al assem­bly. The gen­er­al assem­bly vot­ed to allow the new res­o­lu­tion on the floor and the next day, the gen­er­al assem­bly vot­ed, almost unan­i­mous­ly, to adopt the res­o­lu­tion.

I’m not insin­u­at­ing that South­ern Bap­tists do not have racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion in our past, nor would I argue that we all have repent­ed and turned away from racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion and these ugly, anti-gospel sen­ti­ments can no longer be found in our denom­i­na­tion. How­ev­er, I am con­fi­dent that, regard­ing res­o­lu­tion #10 at this year’s con­ven­tion, we were not being sym­pa­thet­ic to the ide­ol­o­gy of white suprema­cy.

So what do I take away from this event? One, a watch­ing world is eager to place the label of racists on South­ern Bap­tists. We can respond by say­ing “we don’t care what you think about us,” but that is not true and we should care because we are to live in such a way as to adorn the gospel and be ambas­sadors for Christ. Two, we cer­tain­ly must be vig­i­lant and inten­tion­al to guard our rep­u­ta­tion. Because of our past, we need to be very clear and even very pub­lic on where we stand regard­ing the gospel and our love for all the eth­nic­i­ties of this world. We cer­tain­ly must be faith­ful to the truth of the gospel and vig­i­lant and inten­tion­al about the work of the gospel. Your con­gre­ga­tion will fol­low you in this mat­ter. Teach them that the love of Christ breaks through all barriers.

Con­sid­er also this arti­cle in Chris­tian­i­ty Today


June 2017