SBC ALT-RIGHT CRISIS
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is finishing up their annual convention in Phoenix, and things are not going as planned. This convention is like most gatherings: a time of teaching, workshops and relationship-building. But it is also an opportunity to vote on resolutions.
One such resolution was proposed by Dwight McKissic, the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist in Arlington, TX. It called for a vote for resolution that the SBC condemn alt-right ideology and white supremacy outright (read it here). The convention declined to consider it.
I certainly understand that hurt and anger, because to most people, this would be a no-brainer. Several of the resolutions they endorsed yesterday were just carte blanche things Southern Baptists believe. And so, it becomes a mystery how you can so easily affirm standard beliefs about other things, but we get to white supremacy … and all of a sudden, we’ve got a problem here.
The convention hastily re-gathered once the crisis was apparent, and voted a re-worded resolution out of committee for consideration by the general assembly. But it isn’t easy to get the toothpaste back in the tube.
Not many know that the SCB was originally formed during the lead up to the American Civil War, and that a hallmark of their founding ideas was a biblical defense of the institution of slavery. In 1860, Baptist minister Thornton Stringfellow wrote:
Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory command. … Under the gospel, [slavery] has brought within the range of gospel influence, millions of Ham’s descendant’s among ourselves, who but for this institution, would have sunk down to eternal ruin.
Only a few weeks ago, SBC’s Southwestern Seminary embroiled itself in a racially-charged fiasco by tweeting a picture of a group of seminary professors dressed as gang-bangers.
Jemar Tisby gave a well-stated response to this incident in the Washington Post. He helps outline what makes an image like this offensive, and he quotes SWBTS president Paige Patterson’s apology statement:
As all members of the preaching faculty have acknowledged, this was a mistake, and one for which we deeply apologize. Sometimes, Anglo Americans do not recognize the degree that racism has crept into our lives…
Southwestern cannot make a moment of bad judgment disappear. But we can and will redouble our efforts to put an end to any form of racism on this campus and to return to a focus that is our priority—namely, getting the Gospel to every man and woman on the earth.
It is laudable that Patterson quickly responded to this issue. And it does constitute a regrettable area of ongoing blindness. But Tisby actually identifies a blindness in the apology itself,
His apology sounds biblical; For Christians, evangelism is certainly a critical priority. But he treats racism like a distraction from sharing the Gospel. When will white evangelicals realize, addressing racism is inherently a Gospel issue?
I’m finishing up my series on racism this Friday, but, suffice it to say, this issue is demanding attention in our society and in our institutions. The church, above all, ought to have an inherent basis for eradicating racism (as Tisby said), but the insidiousness of this issue obviously demonstrates that its forms can be quite elusive.
AJPLUS: RACIAL INEQUALITY IN CHICAGO
Chicago finds itself in the news a lot. It is a placeholder for inner-city ills like violence, drugs and neighborhood decay.
Al Jazera‘s AJPlus media arm produced a 5 part series delving into the roots of many of these issues, and I applaud them for it!
(So humble and mutually credit sharing!)
If you want to have a more sophisticated understanding of the state of Chicago, and of other urban centers, this is a great place to start.
The final 4 videos simply would not embed correctly (only critique!), so here is the link to the rest!
OJ: MADE IN AMERICA
Speaking of 5-part series, my wife and I just finished watching the spellbinding ESPN documentary OJ: Make in America. You may remember that this series took home the Academy Award for best documentary?
We both agreed that director Ezra Edelman does amazing and thorough work telling this winding, sorrowful and surreal tale. We both agreed that it gave a revealing backdrop to racial tensions in America. We also agreed that it could be argued that OJ’s debacle and trial and their aftermath seem to have ushered in our modern American media landscape. (I.e., it could have been titled “OJ: Making America”.) You’ll remember Robert Kardashian was one of his lawyers?
It is an eerie, eye-opening and worthwhile watch. You can do so here.
My mouth hung open the whole time I watched this!