In this open letter, Adam W. Greenway, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, addresses recent controversy surrounding a recent statement from the Council of Seminary Presidents.
I just read the new statement on Justice, Repentance, and the SBC (hereafter referred to as JRS) posted over at https://www.justicerepentancesbc.org on 12/18/2020. I’d like to offer several quick reactions.
Included in these reactions is also my reaction to J.D. Greear’s statement on the JRS statement. I guess you’re reading a statement on statements that are themselves responses to statements (like here and more recently here).
In this post-Thanksgiving 2020 season, we’ve been inundated with a cornucopia of statements. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
So, here are my initial reactions:
1. I’m not sure how many times the SBC can repent for its being founded on slavery. The JRS statement is proudly headlined with “PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 18TH 2020, THE 155TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PROCLAMATION OF THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT, ABOLISHING SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE”
Which, to me, is in itself another statement. Praise God that slavery has been abolished in our country. But it is placed in the article in such a way as to show a union exists between the JRS and the 13th amendment that doesn’t exist between those who would oppose the JRS.
The SBC has repeatedly acknowledged its ugly, sin-laden history and repented of it. In fact, I challenge anyone to find one Southern Baptist who does not repudiate slavery.
The point, of course, is to label one’s position in such a way that to disagree with it is to disagree with the 13th amendment. As Captain Hook would say, “Bad form.”
2. The original statement is so laden with CRT categories like “power” and “influence” that it is either done in blatant ignorance or maliciously. I don’t understand how those writing this statement could not see this.
To say that those opposed to CRT are just concerned about losing power is to itself affirm the tenets of CRT even if people continue to deny holding to CRT!
3. To accuse brothers, like me, who rightly hate CRT of only caring about “winning” is the height of uncharitableness.
Faithful brothers and sisters who have given their lives to serving Christ are boiled down to simply only being concerned about “winning”. That’s a shameful move.
4. President Greear said “I, for one, remain committed to a posture of humility.” A statement on abasement I guess.
I have a few issues with that. First, J.D. could have exemplified this humility by stepping down as president and giving his position to a minority person. That is if he *actually* believed what he is writing. But it appears to me he does not. If he did, then why hasn’t he humbly stepped aside?
Secondly, why is pro CRT the “humble” position? This seems like virtue signaling to the max. Thirdly, we must be wary of the tactic over the years of moving away from certainty not with the word “doubt” but with the word “humility.” Note that I am not accusing J.D. of being sinister.
But I am saying this historically orthodoxy moves from certainty, to “humility”, to doubt, to rejection. This is not the type of humility we want to have.
Fourthly, and I am not the one who initially pointed this out, this statement reeks of the “Trumpism” so many rail against. It sounds like, “I’m the most humble person I know.” A leader who is humble doesn’t have to tell people how humble he is.
5. “Great Commission Baptists” is going to mean woke Baptists isn’t it? It’s going to mean that if you’re not woke, you don’t care about the Great Commission. This is sad.
6. The SBC presidents’ statement against CRT has stirred this up. Good. It needs to be stirred up.
We need the battle lines drawn so that Southern Baptists can clearly see what is going on and what is at stake here. I don’t agree with the JRS statement (as you have probably discerned) but I’m glad it now exists because it helps to identify that there are two diametrically opposed views here.
7. The issue remains over the sufficiency of Scripture. I don’t care how many times someone says they hold to the sufficiency of Scripture. If they employ CRT categories, they practically deny it (whether sinisterly intentional or just ignorantly).
8. Please pray for the SBC. Nashville is going to be telling toward our future. I remain committed to the Southern Baptist Convention because I refuse to hand over our institutions to a liberal trajectory and wokism. May God bring reformation.
In this article from Ronnie Floyd’s Advancing the Vision series, Floyd writes, “The future is not in having cultural conversations apart from the Bible. This will always lead to division. Southern Baptist pastors, leaders, and churches need to be having biblical conversations about cultural matters.”
Detractors from the overall program of ensuring that the Southern Baptist Convention does not forsake the principles regained during the Conservative Resurgence often note the absurdity of believing that Southern Baptists believe in anything less than the authority and infallibility of the Bible. In doing so, they miss the current point of contention. The concern is not, and has never been for the past twenty years or so, whether or not Southern Baptists are giving up on their stated belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. Nor is the worry over whether or not we have left behind the fundamentals of the faith, like the virgin birth and penal substitutionary atonement of Christ. Rather, the problem is something like this: we say we believe them while failing to apply them to all areas of life.
In this post, Denny Burk reviews How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, explaining, “as American cities began to burn (including my own) due to the violence of radicals, it became clear that what we are facing is more than an academic theory. This ‘theory’ has hands and feet, it’s on the street, and it’s spreading at the popular level—including among those in evangelical churches. These ideologies are well into the mainstream, and every follower of Christ will have to reckon with them one way or the other.”
According to the description for this episode of UNSHACKLED! titled ‘The Enemy Within,’ “In this homage to CS Lewis’s ‘The Screwtape Letters’, a Senior Tempter instructs a Junior Tempter how to secure the damnation of their latest ‘patient.’ The fact that this patient is part of a Bible study only emboldens their efforts.”
In this post, Owen Strachan argues, “while wokeness supposedly shares a vision for equity and virtue, it is radically different from Scripture and the biblical worldview. When you actually delve into woke literature, and when you study Critical Race Theory and intersectionality in particular, you come away shocked by what you see in many senses.”
In this post, non-SBC author Timon Cline comments on the nature and content of a recent exchange he had with Jonathan Leeman of 9Marks on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.
In this post, Owen Strachan responds to critiques of his recent lecture series on Christianity and wokeness, defining wokeness as:
…first and foremost a mindset and a posture borne of Critical Race Theory and related systems of thought. The term itself means that one is “awake” to the true nature of our society where so many fail to see it. In the most specific sense, this means one sees the comprehensive inequity of our social order and the corresponding need for racial and social justice.