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Dispatch from the Future on the Southern Baptist Convention Name Change

CR:V has received a leaked copy of an article planned for release during next year’s Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.  For the purposes of documentation it is provided below.

Southern Baptists Choose Name Change Rather than Deal with Racist Past
Jonathan Sansmerit
June 14th, 2021
RNS

Nashville A denomination in crisis, reeling from the scandal of widespread sexual abuse and facing a world that has largely moved beyond their sexual values,  the Southern Baptist Convention – still the largest Protestant denomination in the world if their reported numbers are to be believed – voted today to change the name of the denomination in an effort to close the door on a legacy of racism which has dogged the denomination since its founding.

Hailed as a historic moment by its leaders, Southern Baptists hope the name change will provide a clear and final break with the pro-slavery past which led to the founding of the denomination in Augusta, Georgia in 1845.  Previous superficial efforts at distancing contemporary Southern Baptists from their racist founders have largely failed to move the needle of public perception.  SBC institutional leaders and pastors believe now that a change in branding may be the ticket to a less embarrassing future.

Reigning Southern Baptist President J.D. Greear’s tenure has seen some of Southern Baptists’ greatest challenges – the aforementioned exposure of a rampant culture of sexual abuse and cover up among SBC Churches, the refusal by a considerable number of SBC churches to honor the government’s dictates during the coronavirus pandemic, and the public relations disaster of high profile leaders supporting Donald Trump – is enthusiastic about the change.  “Southern Baptists want to be a people who love their neighbors well.  We thought we had struck the fatal blow to racism when I earlier retired the Broadus gavel [Editor – named for another Pro-Confederacy Southern Baptist founder] but after some soul-searching, conversation among our leaders, and external polling we decided that a name change was our best way to signal to the world that Southern Baptists are listening and responding.”

Stephen Balmer of Dartmoth University’s history department commented on the decision: “It is amazing to me that Southern Baptists, born in a pro-slavery moment and continuing to exist largely in the deep South, believe that a simple name change will gloss over both their denominational legacy of racism and continuing position on the wrong side of history when it comes to a progressive understanding of human sexuality.  The Southern Baptist Convention never fails to surprise.”

Harry Banking, an historian of American Religion teaching at Baylor University, called the name change  “a spasm of desperation coming from a people terrified to lose their cultural power.”  He continued, “Surely someone within the Southern Baptist Convention is self-aware enough to realize that a PR stunt like this is going to be met immediately with just the kind of scorn it deserves from a world waiting for the SBC to get serious about the backward and fundamentalist elements at the core of its being.”

Meanwhile, Ronnie Floyd, President of the SBC’s Executive Committee sees the changing of the name as a meaningful step in the denomination’s efforts to bring advance their religion into the various cultures of the world.  “Southern Baptists want to be a people on mission with Jesus and if we are going to do so in a way that is winsome and empathetic we have to make important changes in how we present ourselves to the broader world.”  However, as Reverand Dawn Hutchings has noted, the pro-missions impulse Floyd refers to is itself an expression of problematic elements within evangelicalism. “…the so-called ‘great commission’ was added to the gospel by the Christian community sometime around 325 [and ] granted white European Christians the authority to claim, seize, conquer, and ‘Christianize’ any and all lands inhabited by people who were not Christian. Colonizing became Europe’s preferred method of evangelizing and in Jesus’ name indigenous people were slaughtered or subjugated.”  Thinking of the consequences of this idea, Dr. Anthony Bradley has written that the idea of a “Great Commission” toward missions for evangelicals is driven by “a truncated view of the gospel, the kingdom, and redemption that may permanently keep evangelicalism one of America’s only predominantly white spaces.”

Vancouver-area SBC church planter Preston Spiccoli hopes that the name change eases the burden of reaching his neighborhood in the name of Christ. “Honestly, the previous name was a barrier.  ‘Southern’ carries a lot of negative connotations here in Canada and I am hopeful the change lowers the degree of difficulty for us in terms of being understandable to our neighbors.”  Spiccoli, however, finds himself struggling in a vocation fast becoming obsolete.  The pandemic quarantine has demonstrated that churches need not actually gather in a physical location, as demonstrated by SBC President Greear dissolving his own church into a collection of home-gathering fellowships (in a state with lax masking and social distancing requirements) or Nashville-area Long Hollow Baptist Church looking to accommodate online-only church members. These changes toward an online Christianity leaves church planters like Spiccoli struggling to justify his work in a post-coronavirus America.

Time will tell whether or not this name change really is the seismic shift away from the problematic past of Southern Baptists and toward the more evolved values of the people which the SBC hopes to reach with their message.  Choosing a re-branding over meaningful action against their movement’s legacy of racism nonetheless appears a strange move by a people claiming to represent Jesus’ teaching of love for one’s neighbor.

 

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Controversy Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Missions Podcast Racism Social Justice

Neil Shenvi on Critical Theory, Post-Colonialism, and Missions on The Missions Podcast

Neil Shenvi recently appeared on The Missions Podcast to talk about a host of issues.  From the podcast’s website:

Social justice. Critical theory. Post-colonialism. Intersectionality. These issues have divided believers and unbelievers alike in the church over the last few years, and in 2020 the issue is impossible to escape. Is conservative evangelicalism beginning to compromise biblical teaching on complex social issues? And if so, what effect does that have on missions?

You can find the episode on your podcast app, stream the episode here, or watch on YouTube.

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Controversy Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Fallacies History Intersectionality Methodology Missions Podcast Racism SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

The Darwinian Root of Cultural Woes with Mike Berhow

On Ep. 11 of The CR:V Podcast Chris Bolt sits down with Mike Berhow to talk about a whole host of topics relevant to the Christian life of the mind:

New Atheism – Intelligent Design – Intellectual Dark Web – Deconversion Narratives – Identity Politics – Populism

Mike Berhow is Bible Teacher at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, FL. He taught philosophy and religion for 8 years at South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, and Augustana University. Mike was also a church planter within the SBC from 2012-2017, where he planted Veritas Church in Brookings, SD to reach skeptics and seekers at the university. Mike’s research focuses on the relationship between science and theology, philosophical questions related to intelligent design, and the application of intellectual virtues to issues related to faith and culture.

Click here to listen on Anchor or Apple Podacasts.

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Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Intersectionality Non-SBC Racism Social Justice

“Wokeness: old religion in a new bottle” (Sean Collins)

In this interview, non-SBC author Sean Collins interviews Joseph Bottum regarding how, “Woke anti-racism certainly appears to have taken on the trappings of religion. White people have been seen washing the feet of black people and asking for forgiveness, a ritual firmly in line with the Christian tradition. And terms like ‘white guilt’ and ‘white privilege’ are treated much as Original Sin used to be – things for which humanity must forever atone.”

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Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Racism SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

Tweeting about Jesus and Justice (Neil Shenvi)

In this post, Neil Shenvi responds to charges he is promoting ‘slave master theology,’ writing, “we need to recognize that there are deep problems at work in our culture and in the church. The social gospel and liberation theology are not dead; they are not even dormant. They are erupting.”

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Christology Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Fallacies History Racism SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

Do Whites Need Corporate Repentance for Historical Racial Sins? (Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer)

In this article, Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer argue, “Whites are not corporately guilty for their ancestors’ racial sins (much less the sins of historical strangers) and do not need to corporately repent for them.”

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Abortion Abuse Christology Complementarianism Controversy Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Debate Ecclesiology Fallacies Gender History Homosexuality Intersectionality Methodology Missions New Liberalism Non-SBC Podcast Prosperity Gospel Racism Reform Reviews SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

Conservative Resurgence Voices Turns One!

Conservative Resurgence Voices has posted its 200th article and turned one year old. We’d like to thank our contributors as well as our readership for a fantastic year! We look forward to many more, Lord willing.

You can click here to understand what we’re all about, and here to find the statements we affirm. If you look around the site, you’ll find articles, series, and media pertaining to theological conservatism and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Will you consider supporting us through Likes, Retweets, Shares, and Reviews? And make sure to let your pastor or church members know about us, too! You can Follow us @voices_cr on Twitter, or find us on Facebook.

You can also listen to our new podcast on Anchor here or Apple Podcasts here.

Thank you for reading and listening to Conservative Resurgence Voices!

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Controversy Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Racism SBC Author Social Justice

The End of Evangelicalism: Another Argument for Closing Churches Indefinitely

“The End of Evangelicalism” is a series devoted to slippery slope style arguments pertaining to the social justice movement in evangelicalism. Each post features a ‘thin edge of the wedge’ line of thinking from seemingly sensible social justice measures that might nevertheless effectively end some major element of the evangelical faith. So while many of these posts will seem foolish on the surface, the idea is to think slightly further along the curve of critical theories in order to locate one’s ‘woke breaking point.’

Civil Disobedience

By now, you’re probably aware of Pastor John MacArthur and the Elders at Grace Community Church (GCC) stirring up much of the evangelical world over meeting for church even though California Governor Gavin Newsom said something like, “Hey…wait…they can’t do that!” Just in case you missed it, here’s the original announcement. Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director for 9Marks and an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church in Maryland, wrote a response here. Conservative Resurgence Voices authors wrote on the controversy here and here. Meanwhile, here’s an update from MacArthur on what GCC is doing on Sunday mornings. It might also be helpful to hear Phil Johnson’s comments on Cross Politic here. And GCC just announced here that they have legal counsel on retainer. Or, you can just skim the Federalist article summarizing everything here.

Leeman argued against MacArthur et al. based, in part, on state-established regulations:

Likewise, churches should observe state-established fire codes, building codes, zoning restrictions, historical-preservation-society codes (if you’re on Capitol Hill), and more, all of which impinge on and limit our gatherings. Yet most of us have not stopped and said, “This is hindering our worship” or “This is the state exercising authority over church practice.” Rather, we understand the state is doing its job even there. We understand that we are not ancient Israel. And though in one sense all space is sacred for a Christian because all space is under Christ’s lordship, in another sense no space is sacred, at least in a Temple-like way; and the government’s authority also extends everywhere inside its borders.

All that to say, it’s not immediately evident to me that a government’s original orders back in March and now again in July are, in MacArthur’s words, “an illegitimate intrusion of state authority into ecclesiastical matters.” One could argue they are doing their job by seeking to maintain peace, order, and the preservation of life, as hundreds of people gather, potentially infect one another, and then scatter into the wider community.

In an earlier post, I noted that of course one could argue that the government is doing their job to “maintain peace, order, and the preservation of life.” But one suspects that is almost always how a totalitarian government does argue for overstepping its God-ordained boundaries. We’ve seen such language used to disparage movements against government sanctioned racism in the United States of America, and we will no doubt see it used to disparage Christian worship that contradicts government sanctioned secularism. But now I want to take the argument in a different direction.

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Abortion History Racism Scripture Social Justice

Burning Down the House: How to Put out the Fire of Christian Cancel Culture

In their 1983 song Burning Down the House, the American Rock Band, Talking Heads, sang, “Watch out you might get what you’re after…”

Today’s evangelical talking heads are burning down the house by tossing every sinner they can find out of Christian orthodoxy. And I’m afraid, if things don’t change, they might just get what they’re after.

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Critical Race Theory Critical Theory History Homosexuality Intersectionality Racism SBC Author Social Justice

Black Lives Matter: Affirm the Sentence, Not the Movement (Albert Mohler)

In this article, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. explains how, “Black Lives Matter did not emerge merely as a sentence. Those three words function as a message and a platform making a significant political statement—one guided by Marxist ideology that seeks to revolutionize our culture and society.”