Southern Baptist leaders refuse a letter to Dwight McKissic

(RNS) – Southern Baptist Convention officials have strongly condemned a letter from an SBC critic to Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black Texas pastor who recently announced that he would be pulling his church out of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The January 25th letter was from John V. Rutledge of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who has published two books criticizing the SBC. “In recent years the Southern Baptist Convention has (foolishly) repented the ‘sin’ of white and re-baptized itself as an example of diversity,” wrote Rutledge in his letter, adding that “negroes” did not deserve “appointment positions” In the denomination.

At the beginning of the letter, Rutledge referred to a heading in the Baptist Standard: “McKissic is severing ties with SBTC, possibly SBC.” The Baptist Standard is an independent publishing partner of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the more progressive of the two Southern Baptist affiliates Convention.

Southern Baptist Dwight McKissic leaves the Texas group because of a critical attitude towards racial theory

McKissic, who in the past successfully urged the country’s largest Protestant denomination to condemn white supremacy and criticize the Confederate flag, has in recent weeks challenged the Texas State Convention’s recent rejection of critical racial theory , a series of academic ideas on systemic racism. This suggests he might leave the Southern Baptist Convention as well if a similar statement by the denomination seminary presidents released in November is circulated further.

Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, speaks to reporters after a similar resolution on racism was unanimously adopted the next day as it was on June 13, 2017. The messengers passed a resolution “on the anti-gospel of the old-right white supremacy”. Photo courtesy Baptist Press / Van Payne

After McKissic posted Rutledge’s letter on his Facebook page, SBC Executive Committee president Ronnie Floyd tweeted that Rutledge “left the Southern Baptist Convention twenty years ago,” and said the author’s letter “contradicted our commitment to them Human dignity”.

SBC President JD Greear confirmed another tweet from Rev. Marshal L. Ausberry Sr., president of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship, describing the letter in a tweet as “ice cold racists.”

“I agree with the 1st vice president of our convention and I am angry that any pastor would receive this,” tweeted Greear, a North Carolina pastor. “This has no place in an evangelical association of churches and should be given up all around. This attitude is against the gospel and should be treated as such. “

Likewise, Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, issued a statement saying, “The SBTC is urgently denouncing both the statements and feelings of Mr. Rutledge’s letter to Pastor Dwight McKissic.”

Richards added that although McKissic chose to withdraw his congregation from this state assembly, “he is still considered a beloved brother and a gifted pastor. He and none of our African American brothers and sisters in Christ should ever endure such racist, ungodly statements. “

The headquarters of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in Grapevine, Texas.  Image via Google Maps

The headquarters of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in Grapevine, Texas. Image via Google Maps

McKissic tweeted his gratitude for the officials’ reactions, saying, “You seem unanimously to denounce the racist letter I received. and for that I am grateful. “

Race controversy has long spread among the predominantly white denomination that was formed in 1845 to defend slavery. However, the November Council of Seminar Presidents’ decision that critical racial theory was inconsistent with denominational creed sparked a spate of testimony, a debate on social media, and a meeting attended by SBC executives, black leaders, and McKissic .

RELATED: Without an annual meeting, Southern Baptists in the midst of decline continue to debate race and women’s roles

After this meeting, the leaders and black leaders issued a joint statement confirming that it would have been better if black officials had been contacted before the seminar presidents made their statement.

McKissic has linked the controversy with the failure of the SBC leadership to recruit black workers in their leadership roles. “You would say, ‘This is not intentional racism. None of the people who were black qualified, ”he told the Religion News Service in January. “Critical race theory should say: ‘Not like that. So let’s look at why that is and how we can change that. ‘But you can apply the same principle to American corporation, to all aspects of America. “

More recently, McKissic told Word & Way, a publication for a number of Missouri Baptists, that he was reminded of how he felt about the SBC when he saw “One Night in Miami …” a recent film that did contains a scene with a soccer star Jim Brown is greeted by a man from the south, but is only allowed to be on the porch and not in the house.

“We’ll let you sit on the porch,” McKissic said. “We’re not going to include you as a department head. We won’t let you in. And we won’t let you move the furniture around the house. We could only enjoy your smile with you on the porch. “

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