No less than three crucial statements on racial concept for the Southern Baptist Assembly

(RNS) – If he had had the opportunity to turn back time, says Pastor Stephen Feinstein, he might not have proposed resolution 9.

The innocuous-sounding and non-binding statement by the Southern Baptists who attended their 2019 annual meeting has fueled a bitter struggle over critical racial theory, an academic approach to understanding systemic racism. The resolution allowed the use of CRT as an analytical tool, but also stated that it should be subordinated to Scripture.

The CRT debate only grew more controversial in the years that followed, even though the country’s largest Protestant denomination was unable to meet in person for two years due to pandemic restrictions.

Pastor Stephen Feinstein. Courtesy photo

“Oh my god, I had no idea, and if I could do it again I would have just closed my fingers and typed nothing,” said the California pastor and chaplain of the US Army Reserve, who admits that he may have been thinking naively it would be accepted and harmony would prevail.

“That didn’t happen.”

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As the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2021 annual meeting grapples with a number of serious challenges – at least a four-way presidential election, declining membership, indictments and counter-charges over dealing with allegations of sexual abuse – some will focus specifically on resolutions related to CRT. focus and move to Resolution 9.

The two-day gathering is scheduled to begin on Tuesday June 15 in Nashville, Tennessee and is expected to attract more than 16,000 visitors, the highest in 25 years.

The CRT debate took on a higher dimension when the SBC’s Council of Seminar Presidents issued a statement late last year that the CRT and intersectionality, another academic theory that deals with exploitation when gender and race overlap, are incompatible with the latest version of the adopted denomination declaration of faith declared in 2000.

On Wednesday, two Southern Baptist pastors, Tom Ascol from Florida and Tom Buck from Texas, called on delegates to repeal Resolution 9.

But according to Southern Baptist policy, the resolutions of each meeting represent the thoughts of the messengers or delegates attending that particular meeting. A new resolution could be adopted, but historically old ones are not removed.

“This resolved resolution will always be in the record books,” said Jon Wilke, SBC Executive Committee media director, the Religion News Service in 2020.

However, at least three proposed resolutions for the 2021 meeting could be seen as clarifications to Resolution 9 that the Southern Baptists could possibly adopt this year.

A resolution proposed by Feinstein, despite his second considerations, clarifies his view that a critical racial theory is not necessary, that all the truths that flow from it are to be found in Scripture, while at the same time recognizing that it is systemic There is racism.

Pastor Todd Littleton.  Courtesy photo

Pastor Todd Littleton. Courtesy photo

A second resolution is proposed by Pastor Todd Littleton, a minister and podcaster in Oklahoma. Entitled “On the Incompatibility of Structural Racism and Oppression with the Baptist Faith and Message,” Littleton’s proposed resolution contradicts the seminar presidents’ declaration against the CRT.

In an interview shortly after the publication of a leaked 2020 letter from Russell Moore, who recently resigned as president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Littleton said it was ironic that there was a debate about the existence of structural racism give.

“Here we are, we have this big problem with the CRT and people are claiming that we are really not racist. We have dealt with all of this, we don’t need to talk about it,” he said. “And a year ago, the President of the ERLC wrote a letter outlining the reality of our denomination.”

But another Oklahoma SBC pastor – whose governor recently signed law banning schools from teaching concepts of critical racial theory – is a proponent of a third proposal for a resolution, entitled “Southern Baptists Against Racism.” This statement confirms the determination of the seminar presidents that critical racial theory and intersectionality are inconsistent with their denominational beliefs.

Wade Burleson, a pastor at a church in Enid, Oklahoma, argued that CRT is rooted in Marxism.

“Christ is a Unifier,” said Burleson. “I don’t see any association of CRT. I see it share. Marxism aims to divide. “

Texas pastor Dwight McKissic wrote an essay that was posted on on Wednesday in response to those associating CRT with the German philosopher Karl Marx.

“Derrick Bell, who is considered the father of Critical Racial Theory, denied any Marxist influence or European scientific influence on his development of the CRT,” wrote McKissic, who said he would leave the predominantly white SBC if messengers “denounce the CRT in its entirety” . at the meeting.

Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, speaks during the service in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, June 6, 2021. In December 2020, McKissic was a signatory to a statement by a multiethnic group of Southern Baptists alleging that systemic Racial injustice is a reality.

Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, speaks during the service in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, June 6, 2021. In December 2020, McKissic was a signatory to a statement by a multiethnic group of Southern Baptists claiming that it is systemic racial injustice Reality. “Some recent events have left many black brothers and sisters feeling betrayed and wondering whether the SBC is committed to racial reconciliation,” the statement said. (AP Photo / Richard W. Rodriguez)

“If you want to know what CRT is, that’s all Martin Luther King wrote, including his ‘I have A Dream Speech’.”

Should McKissic, who has already left the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention for his anti-CRT stance, leave the larger denomination, he would join several other prominent black leaders who have made the move in recent months.

This year’s resolution committee chairman James Merritt confirmed that the “thick notebook” proposed “at least 3 or 4” racial resolutions that he will review with other committee members before deciding which to adopt, reject, or refine Submit meeting for acceptance.

Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, said a resolution would not resolve the SBC’s growing debate over racial relations. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the work of the committee this year has been very work-dependent, with CRT being one of the “tension points” it faces.

“We call on the Lord of Heaven to give us wisdom and discernment,” said Merritt, who served as president of the SBC from 2000 to 2002, important decision-making committee in 40 years, and he may very well be right. “

In the Southern Baptist Convention, founded in defense of slavery in 1845, the divisions over CRT are not strictly between people of different races.

Voddie Baucham Jr. Courtesy photo

Voddie Baucham Jr. Courtesy photo

Voddie Baucham Jr., an African-American dean of a Zambia-based Divinity School, is against the use of CRT and is devoting pages of his new book “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe” to the development and passage of Resolution 9 – for the He blames the 2019 Resolutions Committee for opening the door to engagement with CRT.

Resolution 9 concluded: “Critical racial theory and intersectionality should only be used as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture – not as transcendent ideological frameworks.”

“That is the crux of the matter: The multi-million dollar question is whether the CRT is a worldview or just an analytical tool,” writes Baucham, who calls CRT a worldview. “Tools don’t explain; Do worldviews. ”

Rev. Marshal Ausberry Sr., president of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship, said most African American churches in the denomination do not see CRT as “the hill to die for.” He noted that several black churches have recently joined the SBC and its fellowship, although some black leaders have left the SBC.

Ausberry, who is also the SBC’s first vice president, noted that Feinstein’s 2019 resolution proposal was being refined by the resolution committee – by men and women who were not liberals, but mostly SBC-trained scholars.

“These are very conservative men and women who have got all sorts of qualifications in their CRT address,” he said, “not embracing the CRT, but simply creating a safe trail for someone – not in the pulpit, not in elementary school or High school, but in the safety of a college or similar classroom – to build cultural competencies in future pastors and church leaders that there are some things that can be systemic racism. “

Feinstein, who describes himself as the ethnically Jewish pastor of a Southern Baptist congregation, hopes there will be a way to move forward despite expectations of a controversial meeting fueled by debates on CRT and other issues.

“I just want our denomination to remain united in our collaboration on global missions and church planting according to the guidelines of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” he said. “I want the Lord to protect us from not really just being blown up.”

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