The Southern Baptist Convention should not want black leadership. The very idea is doctrinally bothersome, theologically incoherent, ethnically untenable, and morally perverse.
After the MLK50 veneration conference, hosted by The
Social Gospel Coalition and the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Southern Baptists are calling for the white-guilted apologies offered to the world on behalf of past Southern Baptist sins to be proven by appointing black leaders to two openings at Southern Baptist entities. Both the International Mission Board (IMB), upon the resignation of David Platt, and the Presidency/CEO of the Executive Board of the SBC, upon the resignation of Frank Page, have openings which some feel should be filled based not upon the content of one’s character, but by the color of their skin.
I’m offering a few thoughts on the subject of filling race-based denominational appointment vacancies for barter here in the Marketplace of Ideas.
First, I understand the manufactured excitement that comes from a conference like MLK50, which was organized and hosted by radical Cultural Marxists and mission-drifting Critical Race Theorists. Neither The Gospel Coalition nor the ERLC are primarily religious organizations; they are political organizations funded by leftist billionaires and unsuspecting small-time donors whose chief ambition is to radically revolutionize the way evangelical Christians think about race and to change the political alliance between conservatism and Christianity. The Gospel Coalition (TGC) was founded by Tim Keller, a Marxist who self-professes to be influenced by the Frankfurt School of Social Theory, as written about in detail in E.S. William’s book, The New Calvinists. Daily on the cyber-pages of TGC, the ideas of intersectionality, globalism, and social justice are regularly promoted. They do so in the name of Jesus and the Gospel, which I find especially repugnant. Under the guise of being theologically astute, under the faux-imagery of Gospel-promotion, TGC promotes Affirmative Action, open borders and amnesty, reparations, and even lent their blog for explicit endorsements of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Russell Moore at the ERLC works for the George Soros-funded Evangelical Immigration Table, calls border walls a “golden calf” (likening it to idolatry), and is a former Democratic staffer who never left the Democratic party. It should only be expected that any bastardized offspring of these two organizations should bear the DNA of progressivism. Any conference hosted by the two organizations – especially that designed to venerate a Communist whoremonger who denied the deity of Christ and His resurrection, should certainly be expected to create an army of Useful Idiots eager to atone for sins they didn’t commit and vicariously apologize for sins of others. This is, after all, the goal of intersectionality.
Second, for the life of me, I cannot understand how four thousand people could gather in the name of Martin Luther King and Jesus (which is as absurd as gathering in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus) and overlook the message of King. In a disgraceful treatment of King’s actual legacy – as shameful as walking across his grave – MLK50 used his decaying, rotting corpse as a means to a political end that King himself would have opposed. Although King was funded by and sympathetic to economic Marxism, he promoted the notion of “color-blindness,” which both the ERLC and The Gospel Coalition have told us in recent days is “racist.” King, in spite of all of his theological and moral failings, taught that the difference between black and white was little more than color. MLK50 taught that racial differences were not only non-superficial but to assume them superficial is in itself racist. The greatest irony of all is that MLK50 would likely have been opposed by Martin Luther King, as much as Al Sharpton would be making King roll over in the grave, if corpses could respond to sacrilege. King wrote in his famous I Have a Dream speech:
“I have a dream, my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” and the desire to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood…And when this happens…and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
King, of course, was paraphrasing Scripture he didn’t believe inerrant, but did look to it for a degree of inspiration. King was echoing the words of Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” King was echoing the words of Colossians 3:11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” King was echoing the words of 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
Of course, the Scripture speaks of integrated harmony for those who are in Christ, but King’s paraphrase was not far off base. There are only two races on the planet; there is the race of Adam, in which all die, and there is a race of Christ, in which all will live. We are not baptized as black men, white men, or red men. We are baptized as men, and we are made alive in the representative of men, Jesus Christ. The very notion promoted by MLK50 and now being lauded in the Southern Baptist blogosphere is as repugnant to King as it is to the Apostle Paul who wrote those three passages.
Third, and this is the point of my contention, calling for vacancies in the SBC to be filled as proof of our repentance is morally obtuse. It is not wise, it is not thoughtful, and it is not original. It is racist. The echo-chamber and SBC pep-rally known as SBC Voices posted an article by Alan Cross entitled Why We Can’t Wait: The SBC’s Continual Need to Pursue Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Leadership. With all the short-lived but fiery enthusiasm of a youth group drop-out fresh out of church summer camp, Cross opined his thoughts after coming back from MLK50. And what did Cross come away with? Cross, proving that computers are not the only data processors that can be programmed, came away with the notion that to best live out the ethos of Martin Luther King, we need to promote people to denominational office NOT based upon the content of one’s character, but by the color of their skin. This is not genius; this is mentally deficient, morally deluded, and intellectually vapid. Cross writes:
Over the past 3 years since 2015, progress has been made. There have been more appointments, resolutions have been passed addressing white supremacy, and a heightened awareness has been raised of the need for Southern Baptists of all backgrounds to work together, serve together, and submit to one another as we all submit to and follow Jesus. We have seen progress with appointments and more of an open door for participation. I am grateful for this and what has come before. But, while good, this work is only seen as progress relative to the abysmal situation that preceded it.
Cross defeats his own argument in the course of giving it. The SBC nominated and elected Fred Luter as its first black president (largely based on the color of his skin). H.B. Charles was elected the first black president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference. Dwight McKissic – a Bernie Sander’s supporting racist who puts dead babies at the bottom of the list of his ethical priorities – strong-armed SBC leadership into condemning the “alt-right,” after holding up his own denomination in scorn to the national media as purportedly racist for not following through on his race-baiting, politically-motivated propaganda tactics. Just today it was reported that a Georgia church was unilaterally kicked out of its convention for not allowing a little black girl to use the restroom. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a Malcom X read-in this year (good grief). Southern Baptist institutions like Ouachita Baptist University have a department of Social Justice, ostensibly funded by Clinton financier and globalist, James Riady. Cross needs to understand – as do all 45 of SBC Voices readers – that it will never be enough. The goal is not equality. Blacks and Whites are equal under both United States law and Southern Baptist polity. This is an undeniable fact. What racism remains is thoroughly repudiated and regularly expunged, and in a denomination with a tent as wide as the SBC, finding a church with truly “institutional racism” is rarer than finding Southern Baptist churches who handle snakes (that is not hyperbole). Neither is it unrealistic to say that being black in the Southern Baptist Convention (or any theologically conservative evangelical organization) is a matter of extreme privilege and puts one at the front of the line to share the spotlight. The reason it will never be good enough is because the goal is political. The goal is to change our worldview, our ideological positions, and even our theology.
Fourth, acting as though appointing minority ethnicities to denominational leadership would cure racism is woefully unbiblical. It is anti-gospel. Is racism not a sin? Is righteousness legislated? Is morality induced by executive fiat? Could that change hearts and minds? The answer to these questions is that racism is a sin, righteousness cannot be legislated, morality cannot be mandated by executive decision, and that hearts and minds aren’t changed by twisting arms to put men or women of color in charge our entities. Instead, appointing a person of minority status to a denominational position would be a worthless symbolic overture we’ve already done before, and done it again and again.
Fifth, acting as though appointing minority ethnicities to denominational leadership would cure racism grossly overlooks the real reason for the deficiency of minority leadership. Here are some inconvenient facts. Black churches are disproportionally rife with liberation theology. They are disproportionally tainted by Word-Faith, charismatic, and prosperity theology that is starkly at odds with traditional Southern Baptist values and doctrine. Black churches are disproportionally rife with many of the same family and cultural plagues of out-of-wedlock births, higher abortion rates, and fatherless homes as is the black community at large. Nothing in the groveling, pleading, bleeding commie-hearts on display at MLK50 even made a tangential effort to address the reason why there seem to be so few quality black leaders in the SBC; it is not racism. It is because there is, in reality, so few quality black leaders in the SBC. To propose filling agency positions with people merely based upon the color of one’s skin is not good for the denomination and it is not good for the black community because it doesn’t address the real reasons for those deficiencies which start with character and not with color.
By the way, for the sake of the weeping and gnashing of teeth I can already hear, there are plenty of quality and qualified men of color who could run our convention entities (in the same way there are many – I presume – “good” Southern Baptist churches comprised of primarily of black people). The argument, of course, is that raising race to the preeminent qualification for appointment is as racist as it is unhelpful.
Sixth and finally, none of this conversation – that started by MLK50 or that is being finished in the blogosphere – has been stained with the blood of Jesus. None of it. Throwing in the word “gospel” once in a while doesn’t make something saturated with the Good News. The Gospel mandates that forgiveness is given upon repentance, and with forgiveness must come restoration. The “white community” has apologized – profusely – and it needs to be said in the most pastoral way possible that making forgiveness contingent upon giving denominational appointments, scholarships or reparations is sinful on the part of the black person withholding forgiveness. Repentance does not have to be “proven,” it has to be confessed, and not to give forgiveness when it is requested is as wicked as the sin of slavery.
In conclusion, when Paul told the Colossians, the Galatians and the Corinthians that there were no slaves or free men, male or female, or Jews or Greeks, he was not implying that these “classes” or categories did not exist. In fact, Paul reaffirms these classes in Colossians and Corinthians when he orders slaves to obey their masters, for masters to be kind to their slaves, for wives to submit to husbands and husbands to love their wives. It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that one man is black and another is white, that Caitlyn Jenner is actually a man and if you have an XX chromosome you’re a woman. Neither was Paul arguing that there weren’t people born Jews or born Greeks. Paul’s point is that there is ultimate equality in the singular baptism that we receive in Christ, because Christ wasn’t an atonement for classes of people, but for the whole swath of believing humanity.
What should make us weep is that MLK50 and the Critical Race Theory imposed upon this generation of evangelicals through TGC and ERLC has set back a Biblical perspective of race to at least the days of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Following the ultimate prohibition of the Jim Crow laws and granting of equal rights in the Civil Rights Movement, there was a time and place (believe it or not) that the “races” (as terrible a term as that is) had far more harmony than today. What we must understand is that the Cultural Marxists who operate the ERLC and TGC are intentionally sowing discord and division between the races to accomplish their ultimate political purposes.
The Southern Baptist Convention should not want black leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should not want white leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should not want Eskimo leaders, Pygmy leaders, or polka-dotted leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should want godly leaders. And that, it seems, is in the shortest supply of all.