Do SBC President Ronnie Floyd, ERLC Leader Russell Moore, and ‘Christian Post’ Executive Editor Richard Land Represent a Sea Change?
Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The apostle John described a picture in heaven of every racial, ethnic, and language group praising God together in unity. If heaven is a picture of racial unity and tranquility, shouldn’t—at least among God’s kingdom citizens on earth—there should be a demonstration of racial unity and peace? The Psalmist said, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
The Southern Baptist Convention, founded in 1845 in Augusta, GA, is renowned for being the largest protestant denomination and the most impactful and influential evangelistic, missionary, disciple-making ministry and kingdom-driven enterprise in the history of world Christianity. The SBC is also renowned for practicing and even preaching racism throughout the majority of her history. Thankfully, the SBC is making serious progress toward reversing the negative aspect of her legacy.
In a 1951 press release, “Looking Back: Southern Baptist seminaries desegregated before desegregation,” the SBC proudly announced that the SBC seminaries were opening their doors to “carefully selected Negroes”—not even realizing that that phraseology—“carefully selected Negroes”—reeks with racism. In 1995 the SBC gave a formal apology to America and African Americans for her racist practices and positions. A demonstration of genuine fruit of repentance related to race in the SBC certainly moved in the right direction with the election of Pastor Fred Luter as President in 2012, but a continued all-White executive cabinet level entity heads since 1995, still leaves the question in suspense—has the SBC genuinely turned the corner racially?
There are Southern Baptists who have expressed insensitive and myopic remarks with racial overtones, against the back drop of the Ferguson and Staten Island (Eric Garner) fiascos. Pastor J.D. Hall stated in response to the Ferguson protestors:
“The evangelical message needs to be, ‘We understand you have grievances. We understand you feel you’ve been wronged. Let’s discuss that, but first go home, tuck your kids in, and go to bed early so you can get up in the morning and be a productive citizen. Then, let’s talk.’”
Pastor Randy White stated in response to Professor Matthew Hall of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary statement in support of racial reconciliation being a gospel demand.
“Is racial reconciliation a ‘Gospel demand?’ Certainly not.”
However, recently The Lifeway Research Survey findings confirm that “Racial Reconciliation is mandated by the Gospel,” according to 90% of Protestant pastors surveyed.
Pastor and Professor Kevin Stilley labeled the response to Russell Moore’s expressing anguish and pain over the Eric Garner decision, “An Incendiary Statement”:
“Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission tweeted the following comment shortly after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a New York police officer in the death of Eric Garner.
And then the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention issued a press release in which Moore wrote:
“I’m stunned speechless by this news. We hear a lot about the rule of law—and rightly so. But a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.”
I thought these communications to be ill advised and tweeted this response,
…There are four reasons why I believe the comments of Russell Moore and the ERLC were inappropriate and incendiary.
- The comments of Moore were emotionally charged reactions, not well reasoned responses. The ERLC consistently states that it is its desire to show churches how they should respond in the midst of difficult cultural crises. Well, do we really want our churches and pastors out there emoting in the public sphere in a manner inconsistent with James 1:19-20?”
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William Dwight McKissic, Sr. is a prominent African-American Southern Baptist minister from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He is the founder and current senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.