July 2020

Dr. Albert Mohler and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
2825 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40206

Dear Dr. Mohler and Board of Trustees,

Greetings in the Name of our Triune God, “in whom we live, move and have our very being” (Acts 17:28).

The impact you have made on the SBC and the nation will be felt for generations to come (Psalm 145:4).

The purpose of this correspondence is to humbly and respectfully request that the President and Board of Trustees at SBTS remove from SBTS campus, any memorabilia of the founders: James Pettigru Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly and William Williams.

Why? The founders should be acknowledged and appreciated for their role in the establishment and development of SBTS. However, it is biblically inappropriate to celebrate them though, due to the following reason(s): Because of the patriarchy, prejudice, and the promotion of “putrid exegesis,” practiced and preached by the founders of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, their names need to be removed from the Seminary as memorabilia; this includes the names of Boyce College, Broadus Chapel, and any other places where the names of the founders are displayed, including coffee mugs.

The founders stated motivations to relocate SBTS from Greenville, South Carolina, to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1877 was to escape the presence of freed slaves in Greenville, that they viewed as a “incubus and plague.” They expressed their desire to relocate the Seminary “in a White Man’s country.” Pastor Steve Bezner, who holds a PH.D. in history, recently tweeted: “Boyce helped found the school because the SBC was founded on a pro-slavery hermeneutic and needed a seminary which would support that hermeneutic.” Those scathing words alone merit revisiting this matter.

The founders should be acknowledged and appreciated for their role in the establishment of and development of SBTS. However, it is simply inappropriate and unbiblical to hallow and honor these men in a prominent and celebratory manner.

By allowing the names of the founders to continue to be plastered on walls and memorialized publicly as men of high moral character—you are in effect upholding their legacy of being theological and practical proponents and defenders of White Supremacy and Black inferiority. Furthermore, you are stuffing it down

the throats of those of us who find their actions incompatible with their faith and Baptist orthodoxy. As ministers of reconciliation, we can and ought to do better than this (II. Corinthians 5:18-20). When you build a monument, or highlight names of people in significant places, you are telling people, “they did good.” When you build a monument to evildoers, you are telling people, “These evildoers did good!”

The Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Honoring slaveholders by naming a college, chapel, library and attaching their names on other high-profile places on campus is honoring them. By having done so, you have effectively called “evil good and good evil.” To defend and honor slaveholders, is to defend and honor slavery.

It is a slap in the face of God’s people, and an affront to the Kingdom of God to keep saying slaveholders were theologically right but morally wrong. You cannot divorce theology and morality.

Currently, the BFM2K is the standard for doctrinal orthodoxy in the culture and life of the SBC. The founders of SBTS could not and would not meet the qualifications of being classified as orthodox, because they could not affirm the BFM2K, Section III, “Man.”

The first three sentences in this section reads, “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.”

The final sentence in Section III, “Man,” reads: “The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”

Boyce, Broadus, Manly and Williams did not believe that, “every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.” These men also opposed the suffrage movement and women voting as messengers in SBC annual sessions. These two positions were evidence of misogyny and patriarchy, which is counter culture to the spirit and the letter of the BFM2K, Section III, regarding “Man.”

Therefore, based on SBC’s doctrinal statement, these men cannot be classified as orthodox. To label these men as “orthodox” radically redefine the historic meaning and usage of the term.

Defending their beliefs and behaviors by suggesting that they were mere men of their times, simply do not justify their heterodoxy, or practices. The Quakers, Wilberforce, Spurgeon, James Madison Pendleton and the Sandy Creek Baptists, all were spiritual leaders during the era of slavery, but they chose to honor Scripture and the fact that man was made—male and female—in the image of God—the Imago Dei.

Throughout biblical and cultural history, God has often chosen to hit straight licks, with crooked sticks, to accomplish His will. That statement would fit all of us to a certain extent, certainly me. Men and women who engaged in a multitude of sins are listed on the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11). I am grateful that God has more grace, than we have sin (Romans 5:20). All of the names in Hebrew 11 were repentant sinners. The Founders of SBTS either left no record of their repentance, or in the case of Broadus, later in life, there is a record of him having changed his tune on practicing slavery; but I am yet to read where he changed his tune regarding his beliefs about the inferiority of the Negro.

When did the founders of SBTS face accountability for their racial and gender sins? They did not! When did the founders repent of their racial and gender sins? They did not!

I am aware that President Mohler and SBTS faculty have released a 71-page, well researched document, in recent years. This document acknowledges the Seminary’s complicity in participating and contributing greatly to the diabolical institution of American chattel slavery—which, by the way, was radically different than biblical slavery. One was much more brutal, and degrading than the other.

I applaud and appreciate SBTS for releasing this brutally honest document on SBTS slavery report. However, acknowledging their heinous sins, while leaving their celebratory memorabilia intact is shortsighted and incongruent. “If a person kidnap, steal and sell your child, where do you want to place the statues [memorabilia] of that person?” Absolutely nowhere! (Rev. Joel Bowman’s quote) Yet, that is exactly what SBTS has done.

We would all agree that the four founders of Southern Seminary could not imagine or fathom, that a day would come, that sons and daughters of their slaves would be admitted as students and serve on the faculty. They did such a good job of instilling the sin of White Supremacy and Black inferiority into the fabric, theology, policies and image of the school, until it was almost 100 years later before a Black student was admitted to SBTS. Is it really fair to ask this generation to honor these men in light of their heterodoxy and immoral lifestyles? If the founders had been drunkards and adulterers, rather than being men stealers and kidnappers, would you honor them? No! Why then are you honoring them? Is it because you don’t see the sin of slaveholding as wicked as drunkenness or adultery?

If there is one major takeaway to recent protests of police brutality and systemic racism, it is—this generation is not going to tolerate, accommodate, or defend the racial hypocrisy and sins of the forefathers. Black students and faculty currently have to walk the halls of SBTS always remembering and being asked to appreciate the captives of their ancestors. That’s a tall ask. Again, future generations will not tolerate what previous generations have accepted. Take note of the departure of Pastor John Onwuchekwa and the Cornerstone Church, Atlanta, from the SBC, if you don’t believe me.

One pushback to my request may be: shouldn’t we extend grace, forgiveness, forbearance, etc., toward the founders? Absolutely! Beyond a shadow of a doubt; and I do. But I can forgive you, and be gracious toward you, without hanging your pictures and memorializing your name in a celebratory fashion around my home.

You are honoring men who never repented of their rebellion and treasonous acts against the United States by serving in and supporting the confederacy. Why then honor them?

The founders were felons while engaged with the Confederacy. Why then honor them?

You are honoring men, who never recanted or repented for teaching and modeling White Supremacy. Why then honor them?

You are honoring men whom according to Dr Mohler, engaged in “putrid exegesis” of the Scripture in order to justify the enslavement of descendants of Africa. Why then honor them?

You are honoring men who would not have allowed T. Vaughn Walker, Curtis Woods, or Jarvis Williams to have taught at SBTS. Why then honor them?

You are honoring men who would not have allowed Martin Luther King, Charlie Dates, or HB Charles to have preached in chapel at SBTS. Why then honor them?

You are honoring men who would not have allowed your wives to cast a vote for President Mohler’s choice for President, Donald J. Trump. Why then honor them?

You are honoring men, who some were praised for being benevolent slaveholders. That is tantamount to honoring a person for being a benevolent kidnapper. Who would do that? No one, in their right mind. Why then honor them?

The founders were also child abusers. It is impossible to be slaveholders and not simultaneously be child abusers. Why honor them?

You are honoring men, who dishonored Black people and women of all colors. Black people and women had no say so in the decision to honor them. Why honor men who were elected to be honored by other men who essentially found no fault with their beliefs and behaviors?

To say that it is permissible to honor the founding slaveholders of SBTS because they were not primarily known as slaveholders, is simply an inaccurate statement. The slaves knew them exclusively as slavemasters. Shouldn’t they count? The slaves did not call the founders “Professor”; they called them “Massa.” Do you really want to continue honoring them? And one can’t study the history of the founders, without soon discovering that they were slaveholders and their wealth derived from slave labor helped to subsidize SBTS, mightily. To ignore the reality of the slaves’ relationship to the founders, is to abuse them posthumously. To downgrade the prominence of the founders being wellknown as slaveholders is being dishonest.

Do you want to continue the legacy and sins that were passed down to you, by passing over this God-given, perfect moment to “remove the stain of racism” from SBTS campus? Why continue to honor them?

Being slaveholders was very much their identity. They were also known as being providers of a theological license to the church and larger society to justify slaveholding. Why then honor them?

Christ should be honored above culture. This is your opportunity to redeem SBTS’ slavery legacy, for the Kingdom of God.

Please don’t let this moment pass. Please make the right decision for the health of the school and for future generations to not have to wrestle with the question: Why is our college and seminary buildings named after “putrid exegetes,” White Supremacist and misogynist, and men who were not orthodox according to the BFM2K and the Bible?

I am formally requesting that Dr. Mohler and the SBTS Board of Trustees, prayerfully and deliberately take up this matter in the 2020 Fall Trustee meeting, and publicly report their findings. Future generations will

honor you and hold your great legacy even higher, if you will make a wise decision, in the best interest of the SBC, SBTS and the nation’s health—that so desperately needs racial healing. Dr. Mohler, to paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, “Tear Down Those Names.”

For His Kingdom,

Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Faith and Fruit Are Inseparable

Regarding SBTS Founders

By: William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The cultural war over Confederate statues, monuments, and naming colleges, buildings, and other memorabilia after slave masters – is not simply cultural warfare – it is also spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is an eternal and cosmic conflict between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. It is also a conflict or battle between Baptist orthodoxy and Baptist heterodoxy.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was founded in 1859 at Greenville, South Carolina. After being closed during the civil war, it moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1877. President Al Mohler acknowledges that James Petigru Boyce and other founders of the seminary were involved either in the Confederacy or the support of the Confederacy. All of them were involved in slavery.

Dr. Mohler writes,

“Indeed, we cannot tell the story of the Southern Baptist Convention without starting with slavery. In fact, the SBC was not only founded by slaveholders; it was founded by men who held to an ideology of racial superiority and who bathed that ideology in scandalous theological argument. At times white superiority was defended by a putrid exegesis of the Bible that claimed a “curse of Ham” as the explanation of dark skin, an argument that reflects such ignorance of Scripture and such shameful exegesis that it could only be believed by those who were looking for an argument to satisfy their prejudices.” Quote taken from the book, Removing The Stain of Racism From The Southern Baptist Convention, page 3. Edited by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones.

The Bible College on the campus of SBTS is named after James Boyce. Steve Bezner recently tweeted a seldom spoken insight about the theological foundation(s) of SBTS:

“Boyce helped found the school because the SBC was founded on a pro-slavery hermeneutic and needed a seminary which would support that hermeneutic.”

Larry Johnson explains why you cannot separate beliefs from behavior relative to orthodoxy:

“His theological work is irrelevant if his life doesn’t match his practice. Don’t ask a person if Boyce was a believer ask John the Apostle 1 John 4:20 straightforward exegesis. Can’t Love God if you hate your brother. John’s word is more sure than our opinions.”

Dr. Mohler defends naming the college and buildings after slave masters and Confederate soldiers thusly:

“Their names on the buildings and institutions, however, are there not because of their dedication to slavery or the Confederacy. They are in there because of their steadfast commitment to the formation of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Without them and their leadership, there would be no Southern Seminary. It was Broadus who said, “Let us quietly agree that the seminary may die, but we’ll die first.” The founders of this seminary established an explicitly theological confessional heritage and confessional identity that governs our institution to this day. There is no school without them, and not just at the foundation. Their theological convictions define us even now.”

Mohler’s mainline of defense is the orthodox theology he maintains the founders of SBTS were committed to. The root question at the heart of whether or not James Petigru Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manley and William Williams should have a college and buildings named after them is this:

Can you be orthodox and simultaneously hold to a White Supremacy construct, Black inferiority and servitude, misogyny, and the denial of Scripture by practicing slavery and denying women the right to vote within the SBC and secular society, solely based on gender?

If you can be considered orthodox and hold these views, Mohler is right not to change the names on buildings at SBTS. The men who founded Southern Seminary supported and practiced the oppression of Black men and White and Black women. Baptist orthodoxy doesn’t embrace either one of those practices.

I maintain that a White Supremacist, Scripture denying, men stealing, misogynist, and child abusers – cannot be labeled orthodox – as Mohler labels them.

“If someone kidnapped your child and stole them, where would you want to put a statue of that person?” Joel Bowman writes. I agree with Pastor Bowman. Al Mohler wants the names of these persons to forever be celebrated at SBTS. Acknowledged? Yes; celebrated with buildings and colleges named after them – NO!

It took 150 years for the SBC to acknowledge and repent of the sin of slavery and their complicity with this evil institution.

It took 156 years for the SBC to acknowledge that the Confederate flag represented racism and the oppression of an entire race of people.

It took 73 years before the SBC allowed women to vote as messengers in their annual sessions. The SBC has never repented to women for denying them a right to vote and their example and complicity in denying women in America their constitutional right to vote.

President Donald Trump supports the protection of honoring the legacy of White Supremacy by his adamant posture of honoring the names of Confederate soldiers on military bases and statues and monuments that celebrate White Supremacist. Al Mohler says he’s embarrassed by this President, yet he publicly announces he plans to vote for him. Mohler is following President Trump’s example by the insistence of honoring White Supremacist on the campus of Southern Seminary.

Therefore, I’m not surprised that Mohler will dig in his heels and continue to honor enslavers, which clearly violates Scripture, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,” (1 Timothy 1:10). My huge disappointment is that Mohler compartmentalizes the aberrant theology of the founders of SBTS, relative to the imago-Dei and the curse of Ham, from their theology related to Christology. The Bible teaches that the “Scripture cannot be broken”, (John 10:35). Dr. Mohler attempts to break the Scripture by separating their theological beliefs from their theological practices. The Bible condemns those who engage in the abuse of children, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6). It’s impossible to be a slave master and not abuse children.

You cannot have an orthodox view of soteriology while denying an orthodox view of anthropology. If you have a flawed view of one, you have a false view of the other. These men were not orthodox as Mohler purports. These men were racist and deniers of the very inerrant infallible Word of God that Mohler claims is the reason he still wants to honor them. The logic, theology and cultural hermeneutics of 1845 birthed the SBC. It’s that same line of thinking, compartmentalization, and current SBC cultural theology, that’s driving Al Mohler’s thinking on this matter. Again, given the SBC history, it’s not surprising that Mohler would refuse to deny these kidnappers, men stealing, child abusing, Scripture denying, White Supremacist men – honor. It’s simply the DNA of the SBC for Mohler to cover and protect these men. They separated orthodoxy from orthopraxy in order to justify slavery. Mohler is doing the exact same thing in order to justify not removing the name of these heterodox men.

Princeton University, the State of Mississippi, County Governments, City Halls, and many other institutions all over America are re-examining and removing symbols, statues, signs, and memorabilia to slave holders. Two of the holdouts are President Trump and Al Mohler. Perhaps Jesus had situations like this in mind when He said, “for the children of this world are in their generations wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).

Given history, I suspect by 2040, the names on those buildings will come tumbling down. Truth crushed to the ground will rise again. The universe is so constructed that a lie just won’t stand, because the world was framed on the truth of God’s Word. Buildings and colleges that inherently honor White Supremacy on SBTS campus, simply will not stand. As he did in 1998, when Mohler affirmed American chattel slavery, and called his position “stupid” twenty years later, we are going to see history repeat itself. The next generation will call his rationale for maintaining the names “stupid” even if Mohler does not. As a matter of fact, all over America, except in the White House and Southern Seminary, they are already calling honoring the Confederacy, “stupid.” The argument to defend these men leaves the appearance that they were noble.

“People like to do bad things. People like to do bad things together, that’s systemic racism.” SBTS was founded to perpetrate and defend systemic racism, cloaked in “orthodoxy.” The four men who founded the school deserve remembering but not honoring. I pray that the Lord will let me live long enough to see the names changed. It happened in Mississippi; it can happen in Louisville.

The stronghold of racism that engulfed the SBC from her beginning, still has a grip with building names that memorialize and remind Baptists of a period of heterodoxy, misogyny, “putrid exegesis” and unrestrained racism. The only reason SBTS would resist changing names is because they would allow culture to trump Christ. “This means war.”