May 2010


From my vantage point, there are three spiritual matters that the SBC Messengers need to address as we prepare to embrace a Great Commission Resurgence in the life of our convention. Consequently, I plan to offer the following resolutions and an amendment to the SBC Constitution in Orlando.

The amendment I plan to offer is as follows:

I hereby move to amend Article III, Section 1 of the SBC Constitution to read:  “1. One (1) messenger from each church which: (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work.  Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior or racial discrimination and bigotry in any form. And, (2) Has been a bona fide contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year preceding. ”

I have posted the first resolution below. My next two posts will contain the remaining two resolutions.

Dwight McKissic

RESOLUTION OF REPENTANCE FOR RACIST THEOLOGY AND AN AFFIRMATION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

Submitted by Wm. Dwight McKissic

Cornerstone Baptist Church Arlington, TX

Whereas, the Scripture teaches that “God is no respecter of persons,” and that the gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to all who believe, the Jew first and also the Gentile,” and

Whereas, Christ commanded that his disciples preach the Gospel “to every nation,” and

Whereas, the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost to men and women of many nations, tribes, and tongues, all of whom shall appear together before the Lord at the end of the age, and

Whereas, the Book of Acts records the apostolic expansion of the Gospel to people of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth, and

Whereas, enumerated among the earliest disciples were men and women of color and racially mixed ethnic heritage, and

Whereas, the Apostle Paul instructed the churches under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that there was neither “Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free,” thereby establishing the eternal truth that the Kingdom of God recognizes no inferiority and countenances no gender bias, racial bigotry, or socio-economic disparity among the followers of Jesus Christ, and

Whereas, through generations, and because the law of sin wages war against the law of God, the people of God have fallen short of his glory, particularly in reference to the full acceptance, affirmation, and recognition of the totality of God’s Kingdom in its intrinsic, multi-racial perfection, and

Whereas, aberrant theologies and false doctrines that attempt to account for ethnic superiority of one race or the other have been allowed to fester from time to time among those who call themselves followers of Christ, whether in the form of white or black supremacy, and

Whereas, among those heresies that have challenged the churches are those that locate the origin of racial diversity in narrative texts of Scripture that in no way pronounce God’s curse upon any person or group of persons either because of the color of their skin, or resulting in the color of their skin, and

Whereas, those who have taught contrary to this truth have been tolerated from time to time to hold professorships, pastorates, and other positions of teaching and administrative authority in Southern Baptist life, and

Whereas, the residual effects of this deplorable breach of Christ’s commands within the history of the Southern Baptist Convention are not easily obliterated from our cooperative missionary efforts, inasmuch as we cannot fully estimate the degree to which latent bigotry and soft racism continues to compromise our thoughts and actions toward all members of God’s family, and

Whereas, while tremendous efforts have been made to distance Southern Baptists from an impeachable record of racial unity, we have not yet fully realized the full participation of our vast ethnic diversity in convention life and leadership, and

Whereas, careless statements regarding persons of color who hold high elected office have been allowed to go publicly unchallenged, causing tremendous disappointment and frustration for those seeking to enlist and encourage greater participation among ethnic minorities in Southern Baptist life and leadership, and

Whereas, the purposeful inclusion of ethnic minorities in Southern Baptist life and leadership is far too often an afterthought instead of a strategic vision designed to affirm and increase rather than merely accept and allow persons of color who bring a rich tradition and robust partnership to our convention work, now

Be it therefore resolved that, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Fl, June 15-16, 2010, recognize and embrace with enthusiasm the challenge before us to more proactively include and affirm the full participation of all ethnic groups in the work, witness, life and leadership of our convention, and

Be it further resolved, that we detest any residual racism or latent bigotry in our cooperative work or among our churches, for we recognize that these cancerous theologies and perspectives are capable of spreading if tolerated, and

Be it further resolved, that we repent of the “curse of Ham” theology that has provided a theological and sociological cover for mistreatment of persons of color, and further amplify our 1995 statement on racial reconciliation to include this penitent resolve;

Be it further resolved that, we commit our full financial and spiritual resources to equip and encourage all Southern Baptists to serve in every area of convention life and leadership regardless of their ethnic heritage, and

Be it finally resolved, that we diligently pray for God to raise up pastors, professors, evangelists, teachers, missionaries, and laymen and women from all ethnic groups, for the responsibility of the Great Commission weighs heavy upon us, and we know that our ability to reach this nation — indeed the world — for Christ is inadequate and anemic without the witness and work of all God’s children: red, yellow, black and white.

UPDATE: REVISION AND EXPLANATION OF RACIST THEOLOGY RESOLUTION May 28, 2010

After a phone conversation and email exchanges with Chris Rodgers, an employee at Lifeway Christian Resources, I have removed two paragraphs of the above resolution dealing with a quote in Smith’s Bible Dictionary that was made available through Lifeway up until today.

I purchased a copy of Smith’s Bible Dictionary from Lifeway Christian Store in Arlington, Texas in the early to mid ‘90’s. This copy was published by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN., 1991. While researching Noah’s sons, I found the quote cited in the original resolution. Needless to say, I was shocked.

About a year ago I was curious to know if Smith’s Bible Dictionary was still available at Lifeway. I discovered it was and purchased another copy that was published in 2006 by Hendrickson Publishers. This copy contained the exact same quote and material. I purchased the second copy in order to document the fact that it was being made available at or through Lifeway some 10-15 years later. I can’t remember if my secretary ordered the book or not, but I know I personally went to Lifeway in Arlington and purchased it. Therefore, I assumed that Smith’s Bible Dictionary was available at all Lifeway Stores. I’ve since learned that they are only available when someone orders a copy but don’t pick it up. The store manager will then sell it from Lifeway shelves. I perhaps purchased a copy the second time that was available because someone else didn’t pick it up, or it’s possible that my secretary at the time ordered it, and then I went down to pick it up.

Nevertheless, I think that it is highly inappropriate for Lifeway to make available by special order or have on her shelves material that affirms racism. Therefore, I applaud and appreciate Lifeway for making the decision today to no longer make Smith’s Bible Dictionary available. Consequently, I have removed the reference to Lifeway and the Smith Bible Dictionary quote from my resolution.

With Chris Rodgers permission, I am publishing an email exchange between us regarding this matter.

Dear Brother Dwight,

Thank you for taking time to talk to me on the phone today.   I appreciate your gracious spirit.   LifeWay’s reputation and integrity are very precious to us and I wanted to make sure you knew firsthand our stand on this.

I apologize for the problem in our Arlington store and I assure you that is absolutely not the norm.   If you ever see anything stocked in our stores that you think is a problem please let me know.   Below is a statement per your request.    I do not have any exact dates; only what I remember.    Sorry I can’t be more specific.

A few years ago a LifeWay Christian Stores product buyer discovered the problem stated in your resolution concerning Smith’s Bible Dictionary.   We immediately removed them from our stores.   They have not been stocked in our chain for a number of years for the same reasons you pointed out.    Our goal is to carry products that are consistent with the Christian values set forth in the Bible   We will never knowingly carry any product that could be conceived to be racist or bigoted in any form.

I hope you have a great weekend and Memorial Day.    May God continue to bless your ministry in Arlington.

Sincerely,

Chris Rodgers

LifeWay Christian Stores

Dear Chris,

Thanks for your prompt response. Do I have your permission to post your email on my blog?

I also want to point out that Smith’s Bible Dictionary is still available to Lifeway Customers through special order. Would that be an accurate statement? It is my opinion that Lifeway should not make this publication available, because some readers may not be aware of the fact that the majority of Southern Baptists no longer reflect the racial view reflected in Smith’s Bible Dictionary. For the same reason that it is not available at the store, it should also not be available through special order.

I appreciate your phone call. The update and clarification is a significant one. If you grant me permission, I will place your email on my blog.

Tell Tom Rainer, hello. Thanks for the wonderful work Lifeway is doing.

Sincerely,

Wm. Dwight McKissic

Dear Dwight,

Yes, posting my statement will be fine.    It is correct that Smith’s is still available if a customer wants to place a special order although in reality customers show very little interest in ordering this product.    A great part of our ministry is to pastors and ministry staff, who may wish to order a product for critical study.   Out of the minute amount ordered annually, I would have serious doubts that someone would order Smiths because they agree with the racial statements.   I think those ordering Smiths would know what they are ordering and would be ordering if for reasons similar to yours.

However, I understand your point.   So our position is very clear, I will have our system set where Smiths will no longer be available even for special order.   The only exception would be if I find there is a revised version that has removed the objectionable content.    (Also, there is one type of special order that is rarely used where an order could possibly go through because we are using a distributors database.)

I hope this information is helpful.   Hope you have a great weekend.   Let me know if I can help you in any way.

Blessings,

Chris

Answering the Supporters and Family Members of Evangelist Jimmy Davis

The questions and comments that I will address in this post were all raised by persons whom are Anglo and share the concern, “Is there a way to challenge an African American President policies without being accused of racism?” The persons who raised this question and other President Obama related questions are all to some degree sympathetic to or totally supportive of Evangelist Jimmy Davis. Evangelist Jimmy Davis made some controversial remarks and prayer requests concerning President Obama at the Southern Baptist of Texas Evangelism Conference in February 2010 that you can find here and here. I’m specifically responding to questions generated by my post entitled, “ATTITUDES TOWARD RACE IN SBC LIFE” and a CBS Channel 11 local news story addressing current racial concerns in the SBC, that featured a quote by Bro. Davis.

Dennis Thurman and Charity Davis Melchor, the daughter of Evangelist Davis, both raised the question in my blog post, “Is Anglo Criticism of President Obama’s Policies Racist?” I’ve chosen that question as the topic of this post. This is a valid and legitimate question that was alluded to by all of Evangelist Davis’ supporters. I’m anxious to answer the question.

 Anybody who really knows me is aware of that fact that in my pulpit and other public and private settings, I make it very clear that I strongly disagree with several of President Obama’s policies. I’m in total disagreement with President Obama’s gay rights, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, same sex civil unions, and gay pride promotion policies. Does that make me a racist? I disagree with President Obama’s appointing Supreme Court and Federal Judges who support Roe vs. Wade, the federal funding of abortions in the recently passed health care legislation, and his abortion policies in general. Does that make me a racist?  I’m in disagreement with his bailout policies; stimulus package spending policies, and health care tax increase and any other tax increase policy. Does that make me a racist? Notwithstanding the current oil spill in the Gulf. My oil drilling exploration philosophy can be summed up with these words: “Drill Baby Drill!” Does that make me a racist? Because of policy differences, I did not vote for President Obama. Does that make me a racist? NO!

 Any American citizen who criticizes the Office of the President – no matter who holds that office – needs to make sure that the criticism is policy and principle driven, and not pigmentation or personality driven. This premise holds true for any American, of any color, particularly Christians, who for whatever reasons choose to criticize the President. IT IS NOT RACIST FOR AN ANGLO TO CRITICIZE PRESIDENT OBAMA’S POLICIES, nor for an African American to criticize President Obama,  President Bush, or any other President’s policies.

 Here is the problem. In his message to the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference, Evangelist Davis argued from the premise that President Obama is not a Christian, fully aware that the President claims to be a Christian. To argue that the President is not a Christian and to ask for prayer requests for the salvation of the President is not stating a policy difference. It is pronouncing a judgment and communicating an assumption (that was not shared by all of his audience) without providing one iota of evidence to support his assumption or judgment. Brother Davis, in boldly proclaiming that President Obama was not a Christian, I repeat, was not expressing a policy difference; but rather a personal judgment difference. Bro. Davis and President Obama have a difference in judgment about the President’s Christianity. This is a major issue in our dispute over this matter. The vast majority of African American Baptists and many Anglo Baptists would not agree with Evangelist Davis’ assessment of President Obama’s Christianity. If Evangelist Davis had presented his belief and prayer request at the National Baptist Convention (Black Baptists) maintaining that President Obama is not a Christian, he would have been “booed” or ushered off the stage: Not because President Obama is African American, but because Evangelist Davis provided no evidence for his premise that President Obama is not a Christian. And no, it is not apparent to all. Admittedly, President Obama is a liberal Christian. Are we saying that liberal Christians are not Christians at all?

 Brother Davis is well within his right to call into question, doubt, or disbelieve the authenticity of the Christian testimony of President Obama. However, to do so raises a series of questions in the mind of an objective believer. Questions such as; By what standard did Brother Davis discredit the Christian testimony of President Obama? Did he apply the same standards to the Christian testimonies of Presidents Bush, Clinton, Daddy Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Kennedy and the President whom my mother named me after, President Dwight D. Eisenhower? Did Brother Davis ever ask a group of Southern Baptists to pray to God that one or more of the above named Presidents be sent by God into “exile” or be “providentially” removed from office if they didn’t repent?

 The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he believes President Obama is not a Christian. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he considers President Obama the most wicked President in American history. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he considers President Obama more wicked than the slavery/segregation promoting Presidents. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he considers President Obama to be more wicked than President Clinton, President Nixon, or a host of other American Presidents. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he believes it is exegetically accurate to compare a theocratic King-Manasseh/Israel, with a secular President – Obama/U.S.A., and hold them to the same standard and judgment.

 These are not policy questions. These are personal and spiritual questions. Consequently, this then is why the issue of race or double standards is raised.

Lonnie Massey, an Anglo brother, makes it clear and I agree with him, that Evangelist Jimmy Davis is not a racist. However, he described the “exile” quote as “intemperate and inflammatory.” Brother Davis’ statements may not have been race based. They could have been simply personal preference and personal judgment based. Nevertheless, they were clearly inappropriate and without foundation. Bro. Massey made another relevant and insightful statement; “Anyone who speaks for a living should always consider his or her audience.” I believe Bro. Jimmy failed to give full consideration to the diversity of his audience. There were Anglo persons in the audience who disagreed with Bro. Jimmy’s statements as well. To call President Obama’s Christianity into question using a different standard than what is used for Southern Baptist Pro-Choice advocates, Baptist slaveholders, Presidents Clinton, Bush I and II, and to call for prayer requests for God to send President Obama into “exile”, or “providentially” remove him from office – are personal judgments not policy differences.

The Bible teaches us to pray for those in authority so “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (I Tim. 2:2). When Paul wrote this, Christians were under great persecution from a pagan Roman Government. However, Paul did not instruct them to pray for the Roman Emperor’s or Governors “exile” or “providential” removal from office. I agree with my friend Tim Rogers, who is certainly not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination; “I agree we should not call for the providential removal of our Nations leaders as it speaks clearly that we are asking God to kill them.” Well spoken Bro. Tim. Therefore, the prayer requests that Evangelist Jimmy Davis offered for President Obama can either be labeled, intemperate, inconsiderate, inflammatory, inconsistent, ill thought, unrighteous, unbiblical, race based, or simply wrong. Pick one. I accept the testimony of his family members that Bro. Davis is not racist nor was his prayer request race based. So that leaves one or more of the other categories to choose from. Again, pick one.

 The issue of race, not racism as it relates to Southern Baptists and Bro. Jimmy Davis, was raised on my blog post, because, quite frankly, many of us have never heard imprecatory prayers prayed toward a sitting President in our lifetime. Why now? Why President Obama?

 If anyone can prove with a recording that Brother Davis has made identical remarks or prayers toward any other President, I will immediately publicly release a statement of apology to Evangelist Davis. Until Evangelist Davis provides a biblical rationale that can be applied to all of the other Presidents and all Southern Baptists, that invalidates President Obama’s testimony, I stand by my blog post and public remarks. These are not policy questions, they are judgment questions. Therefore, the call for evidence and questions about the motivation of these unusual prayers are based on a lack of documentation that this has been done in the past.

 If President Obama’s abortion policies invalidated his salvation, we must disqualify all Southern Baptists who claim to be Christian, but are pro-choice, including the majority of the voting messengers to the 1971 SBC Annual Meeting.

 President Obama and President Bush hold the exact same position on gay marriage and civil unions. Their positions are: Gay marriage? No. Gay Civil Unions? Yes. I’m totally against both. However, if you disqualify one’s salvation based on same sex civil unions, you also have to disqualify the other. Presidents Bush and Obama are both Universalist and President Bush says he believes that there are errors in the Bible. I disagree with both Presidents on Universalism and I strongly disagree with President Bush’s beliefs that there are errors in the Bible. However, I do not question whether or not either is a genuine Christian.

 An Anglo or any other American can question President Obama’s policies without being accused of racism. However, one must stick to policy issues and not delve into imprecatory prayers and judging any President’s salvation without offering evidence. I share Bro. Jimmy’s heart for righteousness and revival. Other than the Obama portion, I agreed with the entirety of Bro. Jimmy’s message.

Sister Lori Mulkey, I share your belief that “supporting homosexuality and the murder of children is not producing Christian fruit.” My question to you is this: Since, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton held these same views do you also maintain that they were not Christians? Do you believe that the Southern Baptists were Christians who voted in 1971 in their Annual Session – to use your vernacular- support “the murder of children.”? Do you believe that President George Bush, who believed that there were errors in the Bible, believed in Universalism and same sex civil unions, is a Christian? In order for me to address your concerns about President Obama, I would have to know how you feel about these questions. Please provide definitive answers for me.

Sister Lori, you asked, “Could you tell me exactly what it is that you agree with the President on?” I agree with him that the Executive Cabinet of our Government should look like America. The SBC, CEO positions are all held by White Males. In that regard, President Obama’s practice of the Christian faith exceeds Southern Baptists (Acts 10:34). I agree with him that family life and commitment is of utmost importance. He far exceeds John McCain in the family department. I disagree, as you do, with many of his policies. But, I’ve read his Christian testimony. In spite of his policies, his testimony is clearer than most Southern Baptists. I agree with him, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that He was buried and rose again on the third day. President Obama has expressed his faith on these matters many times. Unfortunately, many Southern Baptists don’t believe him. Consequently, the questions of a double standard and race-based criticism are inevitable. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were Southern Baptists with views identical to President Obama. I don’t recall the prayers for “exile” and “providential” removal from office when they were in office. Was Obama really more wicked than Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and a host of other Presidents?

Bro. Jake Davis, I loved my father; he is in heaven now. I can tell you loved your dad. I celebrate the loyalty and love you all have for each other. I have not called your father a racist. I’ve never met him. I’m sure he’s not a racist.  From what I’ve heard, he sounds like a great man. He must be a great father.

Please point to the written verbal statement where I called your dad a racist.

Do you believe that it is proper that prayers are prayed asking God to send into exile and providentially remove any President who believes in abortion or same sex civil unions? I don’t question whether or not your daddy is a racist. I question the appropriateness of the two types of prayers he mentioned to pray for President Obama. I question his evidence for his belief that President Obama is not a Christian and the most “wicked President in the history of America”. What is Evangelist Davis’ answer to these questions:

(1)   Were the Baptists slave owners Christians? (2) Were the SBC Messengers who voted in favor of abortion in 1971 Christians? I’m questioning whether or not your father prayed these identical prayers for other Presidents with President Obama’s views on abortion and homosexuality. If so, where’s the evidence? (3) Where is the evidence that President Obama is the most wicked President in history?

Evangelist Davis may simply be guilty of applying a different standard to President Obama or he may have made subconsciously race-based remarks. It is possible that neither is true. I will be glad to apologize if you offer me evidence to the contrary. Please provide a copy of the tape of your Dad praying “exile” and “providential” removal prayers for the other Presidents.

I applaud your support for your dad and I don’t believe your daddy is a racist. Remember, being racial is not the same as being racist in my original blog post, “Attitudes On Race In SBC Life.”

Bro. Casey Harrington, I trust I’ve answered most of your questions by answering the questions of others. I’m unaware of the report that President Obama actually “knelt and bowed down in a Muslim Mosque”. Before I could address this issue, you’ll have to point me to the source of your information on President Obama allegedly kneeling down at a Muslim Mosque.

Bro. Harrington, I would also ask you to answer the questions that I asked Bro. Jake Davis.

Bro. Harrington, your “exile” question deserves far more attention than I have space or time to answer. Suffice it to say at this point, there is no biblical precedence for “exile” prayers (I Timothy 2:1-8) and where were these prayers for other Presidents with similar views to President Obama?

Sis. Margaret Bouman, I believe that I’ve addressed your questions in my response to others. If not, ask a clear, specific question and I will give you a clear specific answer.

Sis. Darla,

Thanks for visiting. I hope I’ve addressed your concerns in my comments to others. If not, please ask a specific question and I will give you a specific answer.

Sis. Lori,

Thanks for visiting. I’m concerned about your “exile” comment but I respect your right to your belief.

Finally, please forgive the length of this post. I enjoy company. I love each of you with the love of the Lord.

Dwight