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.
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.
LifeWay Christian Stores
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.
Wm. Dwight McKissic
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.