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Last Monday I posted a letter I received from John V. Rutledge, that was clearly racist and expressed low regard for the intellectual capacities and Christian understanding and commitment to the biblical faith. A common response to the Rutledge letter from some Southern Baptists (SB) was that he was not representative of the SBC, and he has not been active in the SBC for the past 20 years (although he was active for 50 years).

The reason I posted the Rutledge letter was to make people aware that racist attitudes exist among some SB; and I raised the question, “what percentage of the SBC is represented by the mindset conveyed in this letter by John V. Rutledge?” I have no way of quantifying this percentage.

Today, I am publishing a letter written by Dr. Paige Patterson, former president of SWBTS, to Dr. Jimmy Draper, President Emeritus of Lifeway Christian Resources, an SBC entity. Roughly, from 1975 to 2020, Paige Patterson will be viewed by historians as the most influential personality in the SBC and the one who shaped the trajectory and doctrine of the SBC more so than anyone during that time frame.

My point is Paige Patterson is not a peripheral figure in SBC life and he currently is an active participant in SBC life. A copy of this letter is posted below. My sincere question is: what is the difference between the Patterson and the Rutledge letter? For sure Dr. Patterson does not use vile language to describe persons of African descent. But he does express a very similar discomfort with African American leadership and engagement with the SBC based on his perception of their lack of understanding of SBC issues—which is a polite way of referring to SBC African American pastors as ignorant of SBC doctrine.

Furthermore, he acknowledges that the election of a Black man as president caused him “quaking…a bit.” The letter indicates he believed the election of a Black pastor, Dr. Fred Luter, could result in a “slide a long way back” for the Convention. I am struggling to find—other than Patterson’s use of diplomatic and less offensive or alienating language—a difference between the Rutledge letter and the Patterson letter. They are both in agreement that Black leadership is unsettling and unwelcomed in the SBC, due to a perception that Blacks are somehow intellectually and doctrinally deficient.

Finally, you will never convince me that Paige Patterson’s mindset is not a significant current mindset of SBC pastors and congregants, although I want to believe they will be less than 50%.  The Conservative Baptist Network organized in 2020, represents the Patterson faction of the SBC. In their inaugural announcement, they made it very clear that they were anti-social justice. The Conservative Baptist Network (CBN) has also come out expressing full support for the Council of Seminary Presidents (CSP) statement that is a total denunciation of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and it is incompatible with the BF&M and the gospel.

The mere fact that the CSP, CBN, and former President Donald Trump are all in agreement on this issue is quite troubling for African Americans in the SBC. I am not sure why people want to paint Rutledge as an outlier when his views are represented in this Paige Patterson letter. The CSP statement is sanctioned by the Patterson-Trump faction of the SC which is a large segment of the SBC. How large? We don’t know. For all those SBC leaders who denounced the Rutledge letter should also denounce the Patterson letter. Rod Martin, a current member of the SBC Executive Committee called Ralph West a “Marxist.” Steve Swofford, also a current member of the SBC EC, called Madam Vice President, Kamala Harris, “Jezebel Harris.” Neither have been denounced by the SBC EC board.

Furthermore, there needs to be a walking back of the CSP statement if there is to be a rebuilding of the trust between African American Southern Baptists and the SBC. I assure you…trust has been broken, and it needs to be restored before we get to Nashville in June 2021. Evidence flies in the face of the SBC, that Rutledge is merely a lunatic and outlier, detached from current SBC mindsets. The current racial posture of the SBC is extremely disturbing.

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

In 2006, Dr. Jim Richards, the recently retired (2020) executive director of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention (SBTC), made a startling statement regarding pastors in the SBT—which included me—who believed in the continuation of all the gifts of the Spirit listed in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4, and their practice in the life of believers and churches today, gifts that are particularly often exercised in private worship. The backdrop of Dr. Richard’s comment was in response to a sermon that I preached in chapel at Southwestern Seminary in August 2006 entitled, “The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit.”

In this message, I challenged the International Mission Board of the SBC to rescind their policy adopted in 2005, that placed absolute restrictions on the SBC missionaries from praying and praising in tongues in private, because their policy was simply in direct contradiction to the plain teaching of Scripture; and it violated the religious liberty and conscience of the missionaries who were gifted by the Holy Spirit to pray, praise and give thanks to God in tongues, as practiced and preached by Paul (I Corinthians 14:2-5).

Dr. Paige Patterson responded to the sermon by releasing a public statement declaring my message was “harmful to the churches”; and he removed the recording of the message from the seminary archives, making it unavailable to the public. No chapel message in SWBTS chapel history had been treated like mine, not even the one preached by Dr. Karen Bullock in chapel, prior to Dr. Patterson’s arrival.

In 2015, under David Platt, President of the IMB at the time, the SBC-IMB reversed their anti-tongues policy and permitted missionaries to pray in tongues in private. In 2018, Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, then Interim President of SWBTS, restored my sermon to the seminary archives. Dr. Adam Greenway said to me, that if Dr. Bingham had not restored the sermon, he would have restored it upon becoming SWBTS’ new president. I love and appreciate Southwestern Seminary.

Back to Dr. Jim Richard’s statement: In 2006 in response to my chapel sermon, he stated, “If you have a private prayer language, you may ride on the bus at SBTC, but you will not be able to drive the bus.” I found that statement incredibly offensive as an African American and as one who has been spiritually gifted to pray, praise, intercede and give thanks in tongues, under the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit, as is taught in I Corinthians 14. I shared my pain and disagreement with Dr. Richards. He assured me that his comment was not intended to imply a racial connotation, only a theological one. Dr. Richards was gentle, respectful, and kind in his response to me, although he disagreed with my beliefs and practice. I visited him in 2006 to express to him why our church was withdrawing membership in the SBTC. However, I remained a member from then until today, simply to not break fellowship over a tertiary issue. I DECIDED TO STAY ON THE BUS FROM 2006 UNTIL JANUARY 2021. But, today, I have decided it is time to “get off the bus.” I no longer want to ride, and I certainly do not want to drive!

In November 2020, the SBTC adopted a strongly worded, anti-CRT policy that denounces all aspects of Critical Race Theory.  There are certain aspects of CRT I also disagree with. For instance, if it is an accurate representation of CRT teachings that only Whites can be racists, I totally disagree with that premise. Racism is a sin. And there is not one sin a Black person is incapable of committing, including racism. However, there are beneficial aspects of CRT that cannot be denied. And because the SBTC, and it appears the SBC, are poised to deny any beneficial aspects of CRT, in a most dishonest fashion, I have decided to get off the bus. The purpose of this article is to explain why.

There is a current debate in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT). The SBC , in her Annual Session in Birmingham, AL, June 2019, adopted a Resolution regarding CRT (Resolution 9). The resolution committee was chaired by Dr. Curtis Woods, who at that time, was a professor in the Black Church Studies Department at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, and also Associate Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist State Convention, which is affiliated with the SBC. Dr. Woods is the most articulate person in SBC life about CRT, having completed his doctoral dissertation related to the subject.

Resolution 9 was passed by the “Messengers.” In the time since the 2019 Convention, there has been major opposition to the Resolution from various sources in SBC life. The opposition disagrees in totality with any beneficial aspects to CRT. Those of us who support Resolution 9 agree with aspects of CRT. Dr. Tony Evans, who is associated but not affiliated with the SBC had the following comment on the subject:

“Members of the 2019 Resolution Committee of the SBC, without my awareness or permission, used my name in recent Affirmation of Recent Statements from Christian Leaders on Critical Race Theory. Upon reading this affirmation, I need to state that their use of my name and what I said in a sermon titled Race & Reconciliation released on 11/15/20 needs clarification of what I fully said. They have referenced a portion without giving it the context of my sermon. I have a great deal of respect for the SBC and the work that they do around the nation and the world, and this misunderstanding does not diminish that in any way.

“As I stated in my sermon, which I encourage everyone reading this to watch, I again affirm that the Bible must be the basis for analyzing any and all social, racial or political theories in order to identify what is legitimate or what is not legitimate. But I did not say, nor imply, that CRT or other ideologies lack beneficial aspects—rather that the Bible sits as the basis for determining that. I have long taught that racism, and its ongoing repercussions, are real and should be addressed intentionally, appropriately and based on the authority of God’s inerrant Word.”

The reason this is a major concern for me, and by extension, the Cornerstone Church family, is because of the practical implications and ramifications of what could happen if Resolution 9 is rescinded or a 2021 resolution supplants/trumps the 2019 resolution. The most respected and major opposition is coming from the Council of Seminary Presidents (CSP) of the SBC. It is unprecedented for the CSP to take a defiant position to the resolution committee’s decision and the majority vote of the messengers. This link contains the seminary presidents’ (CSP) full statement. The crux of the CSP statement, which is the last 25 words, is the point of disagreement. The rest of the statement is innocuous, and we agree with it:

“In light of current conversations in the Southern Baptist Convention, we stand together on historic Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in any form and we also declare that affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.”

The following are the reasons why the existing CSP statement (and the proposed SBC statement) could have impact upon our churches, and by extension, African American SBC churches, at large:

1. If this CSP statement is adopted in the June 2021 SBC Annual Session, in any form or fashion, thereafter when one addresses the subject of CRT or “race” from a seminary class, local church pulpit, or Sunday School class, “it could be interpreted” by the SBC/CSP policy as violating the SBC/CSP statement/policy on CRT, which could make any professor, pastor, preacher, or Sunday School teacher that is judged by this SBC/CSP policy, “incompatible with Baptist Faith and Message (BFM).” This could be used as grounds to dis-fellowship that church from the SBC or dismiss professors from their teaching assignments.

I am not willing to concede that type of power to the SBC/CSP based on an academic policy that originated with six Anglo seminary presidents.

2. The perceived image or impression by persons outside of the SBC/CSP will be to view Cornerstone and African American churches as being subjected to the SBC/CSP regarding what we can teach about CRT, and by extension, race, and remain in compatibility with the BFM2K based on the CSP existing statement, and what could become the SBC statement in June 2021.

I am not willing to allow them to dictate what the belief systems, definitions and authoritative binding, academic and ecclesiastical decisions regarding how race is to be communicated in the local church or be subject to SBC interrogations and investigations for having spoken outside of the CSP-SBC CRT policy.

3. We are not willing to sign-off on SBC seminaries and affiliated entities to be able to indoctrinate African American congregations and seminary students regarding CRT. Why? (A) Because this policy was developed without consulting with at least one African American in its origination; and (B) this policy fails to acknowledge that there are beneficial aspects to CRT. To affirm this policy is to affirm a dishonest approach to CRT.

4. The existing and proposed CSP/SBC policy empowers entity heads who happen to be all Anglo, to be in a final decision-making authority to determine the content of all literature that flows to our churches on the subject of CRT, and by extension, the subject of race.

4. Given the SBC’s history on race, it is preposterous to ask African American churches to blindly trust their interpretations regarding CRT—and by extension, “race.”

5. I have absolutely no clue what Dr. Malcolm Yarnell was addressing in the following tweet. However, it is applicable in my judgment to the Council of Seminary Presidents statement on CRT.

“Theologically speaking, to require an affirmation of something not addressed by Scripture or to require a condemnation of something not addressed by Scripture—both of these equally contradict the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.”

Make no mistake about it, I believe the Bible speaks with supreme authority in every area, including race. Where any racial theory contradicts Scripture, Scripture rules overall! This is applicable to the CSP/SBC CRT kerfuffle.

7. The SBC is openly rejecting the collective wisdom of men like Fred Luter, Tony Evans, Marshal Ausberry, The National African American Fellowship of the SBC, hundreds of African American pastors, and her own African American professors by dismissing our claims that there are beneficial aspects to CRT.

For these reasons, we are pulling out of SBTC; and if the CSP/SBC policy is ratified in June, we are discontinuing our affiliation with the SBC also. We are “getting off the bus”!

Finally, let me be clear: we are maintaining and strengthening our relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT); we are also maintaining and strengthening our relationship with the National Baptist Convention, which I am humbled for the opportunity to serve as a member of their Executive Committee. Furthermore, we may explore partnering with and launching a church planting, disciple-making, cross cultural fellowship—Kingdom collective, whose DNA is interracial from the outset.

A gentleman said to me, “Please pastor, wait for a season. Just as the SBC in 2006 rejected your message on respecting liberties in private worship, and reversed course in 2015 and 2018, they may reverse course and recognize certain beneficial aspects to CRT.” The gentleman could be right.

However, a better solution is to treat CRT in the same way we treat a bruised apple. If you cut out the bruised part, no matter how large it may be, and you consume the rest. If the SBC would take a “bruised apple” approach to this controversy, the division over CRT immediately halts.

FROM BOYS TO MEN
My Response to the SBC Seminary Presidents’ CRT Statement

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11 CSB)

I am often asked the question, why do I remain in the Southern Baptist Convention? A recent joint statement on race made by the six seminary presidents of the SBC has brought that question back into discussion once again. The crux of the seminary presidents’ statement is as follows:

“In light of current conversations in the Southern Baptist Convention, we stand together on historic Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in any form and we also declare that affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.”

Initially, for the sake of unity and in the name of Christian charity, I was supportive of the statements released by the council of presidents and the resolutions committee. However, it then became apparent to me that these statements were merely paving the way for rescinding Resolution 9 at the upcoming annual meeting.

The first half of the above quote is innocuous. All believers and Baptists could and ought to give a hearty “Amen” to every single word up to the word, “and.”

The bombshell comprises the phrase on the other side of “and”: “we also declare that the affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message.” Those 25 words have created a fault line in the SBC that will have lingering repercussions and ramifications until Jesus returns or God sends a revival.

The repercussions are already occurring. African American SBC pastor, Rev. Joel Bowman of Louisville, Kentucky, upon reading the seminary presidents’ statement posted:

“I’m done with the Southern Baptist Convention! It took them 150 years to condemn chattel slavery, but only 1 year to condemn Critical Race Theory. It has no credibility on the issue of racism! None!!!

President Obama’s election was historic. However, it did not remove white supremacy from the US. Likewise, Fred Luter’s historic election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention did not remove white supremacy from it.

Many “Reformed” theologians aggressively teach the “total depravity” of Man. Yet, they won’t admit that depraved humans can create racist systems that must be confronted? Such denial is evidence of their own depravity.”

There may be one, but I am unaware of any SBC African American lead/senior pastor who would sign on to the seminary presidents’ statement without qualifications and caveats. Therein lies the fault line. Black pastors and churches, almost without exception, would oppose the above SBC presidents’ council statement.

Do Black pastors oppose the seminary presidents’ statement because we are advocates and proponents of Critical Race Theory (CRT)? Absolutely not! Black pastors do not preach CRT; we preach C-H-R-I-S-T. Black pastors do not preach Karl Marx; we preach from the gospel of Mark.

Dr. Tony Evans’ statement regarding this subject should be embraced by all Southern Baptists, no matter their race. Dr. Evans was prompted to comment on this controversy because he was unfairly quoted out of context. Here is a link to his full quote, lest I also be guilty. Dr. Evans’ tweet that includes his statement and sermon link: https://twitter.com/drtonyevans/status/1334275756164321281

“Members of the 2019 Resolution Committee of the SBC, without my awareness or permission, used my name in recent Affirmation of Recent Statements from Christian Leaders on Critical Race Theory. Upon reading this affirmation, I need to state that their use of my name and what I said in a sermon titled Race & Reconciliation released on 11/15/20 needs clarification of what I fully said. They have referenced a portion without giving it the context of my sermon. I have a great deal of respect for the SBC and the work that they do around the nation and the world, and this misunderstanding does not diminish that in any way.

As I stated in my sermon, which I encourage everyone reading this to watch, I again affirm that the Bible must be the basis for analyzing any and all social, racial or political theories in order to identify what is legitimate or what is not legitimate. But I did not say, nor imply, that CRT or other ideologies lack beneficial aspects—rather that the Bible sits as the basis for determining that. I have long taught that racism, and its ongoing repercussions, are real and should be addressed intentionally, appropriately and based on the authority of God’s inerrant Word.”

There is only one phrase in Dr. Evans’ statement that would differ with these seminary presidents’ statement: “I did not say, nor imply that CRT or other ideologies lack beneficial aspects.” That one phrase is considered controversial, untrue, “liberal,” “Marxist,” “woke,” and in the minds of some, in conflict with the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and/or the Bible.

There it is, my friend. The current dispute, dissension, division, and debate in the SBC would boil down to who would agree or disagree with that statement.

Most SBC voters in the annual meeting in Birmingham approved of a resolution including language very similar to Dr. Evans’ statement. Here is a complete copy of the Resolution (Critical Race Theory, Resolution 9):

“WHEREAS, Concerns have been raised by some evangelicals over the use of frameworks such as critical race theory and intersectionality; and

WHEREAS, Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience; and

WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, resulting in ideologies and methods that contradict Scripture; and

WHEREAS, Evangelical scholars who affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture have employed selective insights from critical race theory and intersectionality to understand multifaceted social dynamics; and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states, “[A]ll Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article I); and

WHEREAS, General revelation accounts for truthful insights found in human ideas that do not explicitly emerge from Scripture and reflects what some may term “common grace”; and

WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences; and

WHEREAS, Scripture contains categories and principles by which to deal with racism, poverty, sexism, injustice, and abuse that are not rooted in secular ideologies; and

WHEREAS, Humanity is primarily identified in Scripture as image bearers of God, even as biblical authors address various audiences according to characteristics such as male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free; and

WHEREAS, The New Covenant further unites image bearers by creating a new humanity that will one day inhabit the new creation, and that the people of this new humanity, though descended from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, are all one through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:16; Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14); and

WHEREAS, Christian citizenship is not based on our differences but instead on our common salvation in Christ—the source of our truest and ultimate identity; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to racial reconciliation built upon biblical presuppositions and is committed to seeking biblical justice through biblical means; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11–12, 2019, affirm Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills, and we reject any conduct, creeds, and religious opinions which contradict Scripture; and be it further

RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the gospel of Jesus Christ alone grants the power to change people and society because “he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6); and be it further

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists will carefully analyze how the information gleaned from these tools are employed to address social dynamics; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptist churches and institutions repudiate the misuse of insights gained from critical race theory, intersectionality, and any unbiblical ideologies that can emerge from their use when absolutized as a worldview; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deny any philosophy or theology that fundamentally defines individuals using categories identified as sinful in Scripture rather than the transcendent reality shared by every image bearer and divinely affirmed distinctions; and be it further

RESOLVED, That while we denounce the misuse of critical race theory and intersectionality, we do not deny that ethnic, gender, and cultural distinctions exist and are a gift from God that will give Him absolute glory when all humanity gathers around His throne in worship because of the redemption accomplished by our resurrected Lord; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptist churches seek to exhibit this eschatological promise in our churches in the present by focusing on unity in Christ amid image bearers and rightly celebrate our differences as determined by God in the new creation.”

From my 46 years of being engaged in SBC life, there are two unprecedented things happening here:

  1. The presidents of the seminaries have never, ever, attempted to redress a resolution passed by the Convention.
  2. The SBC has never, ever in her history rescinded a resolution, as now those opposed to Resolution 9 have pledged to do. The seminary presidents’ statement gives them the greenlight to now do so.

I have deeply appreciated Dave Miller’s recent remarks article about Resolution 9 (What’s YOUR Problem with Resolution 9 – Be Specific). He has graciously asked critics to provide substantive criticism of its text, and it appears no one has been able to do so without overgeneralization or name-calling.

The seminary presidents’ statement represents a broken promise to the SBC, and especially to the African Americans in the SBC. In 1995, the SBC approved the following in a resolution:

“Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and”

The centerpiece of CRT is the existence of systemic racism and injustice, or the lingering repercussion and effects of the Jim Crow era. By denouncing CRT in totality, the seminary presidents have contradicted and taken back the words of the SBC in 1995. This is painful to watch. It is understandable why hundreds of African American Southern Baptists are reassessing their relationship to the SBC.

I am grateful that Dr. Danny Akin has offered helpful and clarifying words since the publication of their statement. Dr. Akin granted me permission in writing to reference his view on systemic injustice. The following was sent to me in a direct message:

“Dwight…I believe in personal and structural (systemic) racism. Sinful humans will inevitably build sinful structures. Again, I have been clear.”

Just as we all can embrace Dr. Evans’ statement, we all should be able to embrace Dr. Akin’s statement. It really feels icky belonging to a convention that debates the reality of systemic injustice and whether or not, as a means of general revelation or common grace, a secular ideology may express something beneficial.

As a boy, I appreciated the SBC. Although our church was and remains NBC, back home in Arkansas, we enjoyed great fraternal relations with Arkansas SBC churches. Dr. Robert Ferguson was the director of National Baptist relations for the SBC in Arkansas. He built a great rapport between Black and White Baptists in our state. He preached revivals in our churches. He funded, through Southern Baptists, the Arkansas AM&N/UAPB Baptist Student Center. He opened Camp Paron to Black churches in the summer to conduct camps that were otherwise unavailable to us. He funded scholarships for Black ministerial and missionary students to Baptist colleges. I was the recipient of one to Ouachita Baptist University. He hired me as a chaplain intern at Tucker Prison in Arkansas to minister full-time in the summers and on weekends twice a month while I was a college student. My point is my relationship and view of Southern Baptists in my early years were quite positive, and that remains true (though there is some tarnish on it now).

When I planted the church I currently pastor at age 27 through a partnership with Tate Springs Church, Tarrant Baptist Association, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, they provided our congregation over $200,000 during the first three-four years of our existence. That included pastoral funding, building payments and general budget expenditures. This was from 1983-1986. I was told at the time that our funding exceeded most White church plants. They wanted to use me as a test case to determine the potential of an adequately funded Black church plant. By God’s grace, we passed the test! I am grateful!

I have really been blessed with wonderful experiences being a Southern Baptist. I have had an opportunity to preach on many platforms all over Texas and America. In some instances, this was directly connected to my SBC affiliation. I am grateful!

It has taken me 39 years to complete my Master of Theological Studies Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The past two years on campus under Dr. Jeffrey Bingham (Interim President) and Dr. Adam Greenway (current President) have been wonderful. I have nothing but praise for Southwestern. My wife also graduated from SWBTS this year. My youngest son, J.E., is currently enrolled in their Master of Worship program. I highly recommend SWBTS and have watched them do everything possible to make Black students welcome and be extraordinarily generous in providing scholarships. I was blessed to have been granted opportunities to preach in chapel under the Dilday, Hemphill, and Patterson administrations. Grateful!

For many years, I looked at the SBC through the eyes of a boy; and I really saw a very beautiful picture. But as Paul said, when I was a child, I thought like a child; I reasoned like a child. [But] when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11).

As a man, I have sat at SBC tables and watched White churches pay 0% interest on small church loans, while Hispanic and Black churches had to pay 6%.

As a man, while touring the SBC Nashville headquarters and requesting information concerning the highest-ranking person in the seven-story facility, I was introduced to the head custodian.

As a man, I watched the SBC EC in Nashville grant the SBTC the right to launch another Texas convention because they wanted to be distinct and clear regarding inerrancy. When I requested the EC to allow another convention in Texas to be affirmed so there could be doctrinal distinction and clarity within the Baptist Faith & Message on spiritual gifts, my request was denied. The only difference was the skin color of who was making the request.

As a man, I watched the Chair of the Resolution Committee in Phoenix, Arizona, from the floor of the SBC, critique my alt-right resolution—something that was unprecedented—and call it, “poorly written and incendiary.” Never has any other resolution been criticized from the podium before.

As a man, I am watching the 2019 resolution committee having to eat humble pie and walk back Resolution 9—again, in an unprecedented fashion—led by a Black professor, Dr. Curtis Woods.

As a man, I was threatened to be removed by convention vote from SWBTS Trustee Board for making it known that I would vote against investing SWBTS money in liquor, cigarette, and gambling stocks. They labeled it “violating confidentiality.” Another man, who happened to be White, actually violated trustee confidentiality; he was never threatened with removal from the trustee board.

I know what it is like to participate and benefit from the SBC as a boy. I also know what it is like, as a man, to have contributed financially to the SBC far, far more than they gave our church in those early years.

I have been a boy in the SBC, and like most Blacks, I have sat at the kid’s table. Blacks have systemically been excluded from entity head positions in SBC life. In 70 years, the SBC has never seen it fit to appoint a qualified Asian, Hispanic or African American to serve as an entity head.

But on this issue and Resolution 9, we will not take this like a boy. We are going to fight back, like a man.

The reason I have not and will not leave the SBC is because I would rather fight than switch. This is my Convention too! I regret deeply that the seminary presidents would release a statement regarding race, but not have other races sit at the table for discussion. It is also worth noting that, historically and systemically, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics have been excluded from that room.

There is on overwhelming consensus among African American pastors in the SBC on this issue. I have been very encouraged by the recent remarks of the president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Marshal Ausberry (NAAF, Ausberry respond to seminary presidents’ statement).

Think about this for a moment: a council of seminary presidents (that, again, has never once seated a minority) released a statement that has labeled and limited what an African American pastor must say in his pulpit regarding race and CRT in order to remain within this new SBC “orthodoxy.” This is staggering!

Resolution 9 does not contradict the Baptist Faith & Message. Resolution 9 does not contradict the Bible.

Just as Richard Land invited eight Blacks and eight Whites into a room to hammer out the 1995 statement on race (a unifying moment for our Convention), I am saying to our Convention, as a man, that you need to bring all races into the room. If Resolution 9 is to be tweaked, all of us should have a say—not just six White men—because some of us have paid our dues to the SBC as boys. We are now ready to stand up and be men. We will not take this sitting down!

I am beginning to field questions regarding whether or not African Americans should enroll in or maintain their current enrollment in SBC seminaries. I believe in the mission of the six Southern Baptist Seminaries. A quality ministerial and theological education can be attained at our seminaries. I am partial to SWBTS. My wife and I recently graduated with the Master of Theological Studies degree. I have found Dr. Adam Greenway and Provost Randy Stinson to be friendly, faithful, accessible, and affirming. I love Dr. Greenway’s “Big Tent” vision, which is in part why I yet affirm and appreciate SWBTS. My prayers and financial and moral support will continue at SWBTS.

I remain enamored and highly recommend the Kingdom Diversity initiative at SEBTS led by Dr. Walter Strickland. Like Adam Greenway, I also totally believe in the heart of Danny Akin on the issue of race. I also remain extremely grateful for Southern Seminary’s $5,000,000 scholarship commitment named in honor of Garland Offutt, the first African American graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It certainly represents fruit worthy of repentance.

However, for those who feel if trust between the SBC seminaries and your convictions and sensibilities have been breached beyond repair, I highly recommend you consider Truett Seminary as a viable evangelical alternative to pursue theological studies.

I am grateful for a long-term friendship with Dr. Joel Gregory, who was a professor of mine in the 80’s at SWBTS. Dr. Gregory has preached for me at Cornerstone Church many times. I requested he forward me a statement expressing the thinking of his current teaching post. This is Truett Seminary’s position on matters currently under discussion:

BAYLOR UNIVERSITY’S GEORGE W. TRUETT THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, BLACK LIVES MATTER, AND CRITICAL RACE THEORY

In the living of these days, every institution has a moral responsibility to speak clearly and transparently addressing the issues of our times related to justice, equity, and biblical solidarity with persons of color.  Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of color in our ongoing cohesion and commonality with every effort of shared aims.  We are humans only as we are in community with other humans.  “God has made of one blood all people of the earth” (Acts 17:26).  There is no place for ambiguity in opposition to racism, either individual or embedded in systems of oppression.  We further believe this must not only be an expression of empathy or sympathy, but rather active intervention to right historic wrongs, confront the powers, and stand with others in unity.  To that end George W. Truett Seminary.  We deplore any effort that marginalizes or diminishes the seriousness of the situation of the struggle.

Truett Seminary:

-Has established a black church studies program led by Rev. Malcolm Foley, noted leader and PhD candidate at Baylor, who is also on President Linda Livingstone’s cabinet as a special advisor on racial issues.

-Has inaugurated the African American National Preaching Conference with an emphasis on the history and present practice of prophetic Black preaching;

-Has entered into an agreement with the alumni of now closed (1988) Bishop College to be a center of reserving the legacy, spirit, and documents of that storied school;

-Has for years has had an empowered Truett Black Students Association that regularly stages events and brings speakers that keep issues before the entire student body;

-Has for 15 years observed a two-day E.K. Bailey preaching event, honoring the life and legacy of that famed black preacher;

-Has joined with the larger Baylor African American community to stress campus-wide at the world’s largest Baptist University a zero tolerance for racism in any of its demonic forms and to stand in solidarity with brother and sisters of color to transform every area of university culture.  One impact of this is a student body that is 37% visible minorities;

-Has joined with Proclaimers Place® as an academic sponsor certifying the attendance of nearly 1500 African American ministers in biblical exegesis and preaching.

-Has identified with Compassion International in its global effort to relieve children from poverty in Jesus name, most of whom are children of color.  An African American graduate of Truett, Rev. Arbra Bailey, leads the Compassion African American team.

In each of these and more beside Truett stands with our African American brothers and sisters in the fight against racism, oppression, marginalization, tokenism, and stereotyping of any kind.

In this COVID-19 and George Floyd era, African Americans will make choices about where they invest their money, time, votes, and ministry alignments based on where there is a mutual, reciprocal, and beneficial relationship. Unfortunately, these six seminary presidents’ statements moved in the opposite direction.

I recognize, however, the pain the seminary presidents have caused. A group of White alumni and current seminary students will soon release a statement voicing their displeasure with the presidents’ statement. For that I am grateful. Their objection to the presidents’ statement was not just based on race, but also the unwise notion of making what one believes about CRT something more than a matter of conscience, but a test of orthodoxy.

I am grateful for the $5,000,000 scholarship commitment named in honor of Garland Offfutt, the first African American graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It certainly represents fruit worthy of repentance. It speaks to the past and to the future. Hats off to Dr. Mohler and the trustee board for this historic decision that is a step toward healing. It remains my deep conviction that there is a moral inconsistency with the orthodox Christian Faith that cannot reconcile the celebration and honoring of men stealers and child abusers with the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

Here is a letter I penned to Dr. Mohler this past Friday in anticipation of today’s decision that summarizes my full response.

October 9, 2020

Dr. R. Albert Mohler
2825 Lexington Rd.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, KY 40206

Dear Dr. Mohler,

Thank you for the candor and transparency you expressed in our 35-minute cordial conversation on Thursday evening, October 8, primarily regarding my request to remove the names of the slaveholding founders of SBTS.

You honored me by asking, what message would I want you to deliver to the trustees at Southern Seminary. I hope that you will convey to them this entire email, or whatever sentiments that I have expressed here, that you would want to pass on.

It remains my deep conviction that, there is a moral inconsistency with the orthodox Christian Faith, that cannot reconcile the celebration and honoring of men stealers and child abusers, with the inerrant and infallible Word of God (I Timothy 1:10; Matthew 18:6). There is an orthodoxy within me that will not permit the advocacy of an idea that is not biblically grounded. Honoring those who dishonored the Imago-Dei in others for profit, is simply not an honorable thing to do, or continue to do.

I am also persuaded that the next generation will not accept this moral inconsistency and will change the names of these unrepentant abusers of mankind, in their lifetime. They will be driven by biblical and ethical values, that will weigh heavier to them than the legitimate historic, emotional, and administrative challenges and ties, that makes this decision a heavy one on all involved. I pray the Lord will let me live long enough to see it.

It was, and is, my desire to obey God by bringing this matter to your attention and the SBTS/SBC’s attention.

For the sake of unity and peace in the Southern Baptist Zion, I too, accept your recommendation regarding the disposition of this matter and appreciate the serious deliberations you and the trustees are giving to this matter.

Furthermore, I honor you, Dr. Mohler, and the SBTS trustees for your preliminary proposed initiative to honor Garland Offutt, the first Black graduate of SBTS, with the generous funding of generous scholarships to be awarded to African American students. In a practical sense, the funding of these scholarships will be more meaningful to the recipients, than removing the slaveholder’s names.

Additionally, I am really elated by any consideration and recommendation that you may give to honoring the 51+ slaves, who actually contributed greatly to the initial funding of SBTS by virtue of the wealth they provided to Boyce, Broadus, Manly, and Williams, with their involuntary free labor.

Honestly, if the unnamed slaves are given a significant memorial, tribute prominently displayed on campus, it would go a long way toward reckoning and righting the wrong (the moral wrong) of the founder’s names being prominently displayed. I will be glad to contribute to a noteworthy, highly visible memorial in honor of the slaves who have never been recognized for their mammoth financial contribution to the school. I am grateful for your heart to consider giving honor to whom honor is due. This may be a “Solomonic” solution to addressing needs and concerns of all who care about this situation.

Finally, thanks again for your phone call. I sincerely enjoyed and was edified by the conversation. Much appreciation and respect for you! May God continue to smile upon your ministry at SBTS.

For His Kingdom,

Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr., 
Senior Pastor
Cornerstone Baptist Church

When the Past Meets the Present

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

 “Sitting in Broadus Chapel waiting for my Christian Preaching Class to begin. Oddly enough the man who this chapel is named after would have likely observed me as an individual that he just had to deal with or even in his own words, ‘one who belongs to a very low grade of humanity.’ As I’ve walked across the campus today, I realize that an unfortunate reality is that the attitude and heart of John A. Broadus still exists. Nevertheless, I know who I am. I know what I am. I know who I belong to. I know what I’ve been called to do and I’m thankful to be learning under the teaching of Dr. York.” (Deryk Hayes)

The reason I am so passionate about addressing the topic slaveholders’ names being prominently embedded in the life of Southern Seminary, can be illustrated by this Facebook Post of a current SBTS student, Deryk Hayes, having to reckon with the words of John A. Broadus, the namesake of Broadus Chapel, speaking of his assessment of African descendants: “one who belongs to every low grade of humanity.”

The past and the present shook hands as Deryk Hayes began his seminary journey at SBTS. Those in the undergraduate school at SBTS, Boyce College, must wrestle and reckon with an equally racist posture of their namesake, Dr. James P. Boyce. No student of any race should have to begin the first day of class having to process an unwelcoming posture, advocated by prominent historical personalities in the school’s history.

The late Dr. T. Vaughn Walker was a well-known, highly respected preacher, professor, and pastor who, if I am not mistaken, was the first Black tenured professor in SBC seminary history. He predates Al Mohler at SBTS. My congregation recently donated $5000 to a scholarship fund in honor of Dr. Walker, that we are now requesting be given to Deryk Hayes.

My friend, Dr. Tom Nettles, recently responded to my letter to Dr. Al Mohler, wherein I requested the name of Dr. James P. Boyce no longer be given the place of honor it has been given at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He specifically called me to task by arguing that the removal of the name of Boyce would require the removal of the school’s commitment to engage in theological education at the undergraduate level and at the doctoral level. Moreover, he implied that to deny Boyce the place of a hero at Southern Seminary would cast into doubt the need for the school’s Abstract of Principles, and for the truths it upholds, such as biblical hermeneutics and Baptist polity.

While I have not responded to Dr. Nettles at length before now, please allow me the privilege of addressing certain questions about Boyce and the racist slave legacy which hinders the future prosperity of our Louisville seminary. I will not defend my previous arguments, since there is nothing within Dr. Nettles’ presentation which undermines the fundamentals of what I previously said. (I do appreciate Dr. Nettles affirming that we should seek freedom if possible, according to 1 Corinthians 7:21. I hope he will one day see that the whole message of the Bible is for human freedom, in body and soul.) Here, I only want to engage with Dr. Nettles about Boyce in particular. Dr. Nettles has written a large biography full of appreciation for Boyce, among other books and articles detailing his professional passion for the early Southern Baptists.

Please remember I am fully supportive of the educational mission of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as it has been authorized by our Southern Baptist Convention of churches. I am merely arguing for the removal from their current place of honor the names of Boyce and others who bought, sold, or continued to hold kidnapped human beings precisely. I am arguing for this so that Southern’s mission can be maintained with integrity. As long as our seminary makes heroes of those who were “menstealers,” she elevates those who taught “contrary to the sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:10).

Southern Seminary wants to be “trusted for truth,” but if it continues to elevate Boyce, it contradicts the truth given to the Apostle Paul, which he said was “committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:12). I want to help Southern Seminary be trusted fully among those who love God and believe his inerrant Word but who do not, like Nettles, see Boyce as a hero. Many of us see him as a problematic person with a checkered legacy, who does not deserve the status of hero that he has been given.

Second, I disagree with Nettles’ contention that to remove these names somehow undermines the educational mission and theological integrity of the seminary. He argued in flowery language that maintaining respect for persons like Boyce is necessary for maintaining respect for the principles of the seminary. He said Boyce and other slaveholders constructed, or even are “immovable pillars, made in denominational identity and theological perpetuity in the establishing of the institution itself.” Nettles seems to believe that persons and principles are so bound together that if you disagree with a person then you must reject everything he said. I certainly do not believe this. As we preachers used to say, “God can make straight licks with crooked sticks.” But the sticks must still be seen as crooked.

Nettles’ way of thoroughly integrating truths with persons, making the truth itself dependent upon the messenger of truth, is what encourages the “cancel culture” he says he dislikes. Nettles’ method feeds into “cancel culture” because it encourages “hero-worship” toward fallible men. One of us exalts Boyce as a hero; the other reminds us of his moral failure. Dr. Jonathan Arnold, one of Nettles’ own former colleagues at Southern Seminary, says in a recent podcast we must be careful to avoid the opposite errors of “hero-worship” and “cancel culture.” I agree. Let’s remove the hero-worship and, in this way, avoid the cancel culture. Let’s keep Boyce in our studies. But let’s not exalt him as a hero. Let’s treat him as a real person with real faults who gloriously confessed Jesus as Lord but then went on to say some true things and some false things.

Third, let’s talk about Boyce for a moment. Perhaps Nettles wants us to treat Boyce as if he actually repented of his support of slavery. Nettles cites one letter, written immediately before the Civil War, in a number of different places. In that letter, Boyce said, “I believe I see in all this the end of slavery. I believe we are cutting its throat, curtailing its domain.” Boyce then conceded, “Yet I bow to what God will do. I feel that our sins as to this institution have cursed us.” Such a concession almost sounds like repentance for the institution of race-based chattel slavery itself. But this most certainly is not repentance. For, in the sentence between his prophecy of slavery’s demise and his concession to divine providence, he states unequivocally, “And I have been, and am, an ultra pro-slavery man.” The letter itself was written in defense of secession from the United States and for the establishment of the Confederacy.

What is going on with Boyce? Why did he say these things? John Lee Eighmy, a highly respected historian who taught at Oklahoma Baptist University disclosed in his book, Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists, that such sentiments were part of the southern apology for white supremacy and slavery. Southern Baptist slaveowners developed a strategy for supporting slavery, by expounding first, “on the fanaticism of abolitionism,” second, “the scriptural support of slavery,” and third, “the need for humane treatment and religious instruction of slaves.” Boyce wasn’t arguing against slavery but against inhumane practices within slavery, all while failing to recognize his racist chattel slavery is not biblical and not humane.

Eighmy also says the Southern Baptist slavery apologists argued for the institution as a means of reaching the heathen: “justification of slavery ultimately rested on the opportunity the system provided for the African’s salvation from heathenism.” Nettles himself buys into this same argument for the institution of race-based chattel slavery. In Teaching Truths, Training Hearts, Nettles writes, “Dagg’s vision of the evangelistic advantages of the providence of slavery is not wholly indefensible.” I appreciate the founders’ concern for the souls of my ancestors, but there was a better way to bring them the gospel than by kidnapping them, chaining them, abusing them, selling them, buying them, and holding them as property. Evangelism is very, very important, but the human beings we evangelize are important, too. The founders could have followed Jesus’ Great Commission by “going” to my ancestors with the biblical message of freedom rather than by forcing them to come in chains to the “masters” who bought them like things.

Whatever Boyce’s daughter said about his treatment of his own slaves, before or after the war, I am not aware that Boyce ever actually repented of his own actions and support for an institution established for the stealing of precious human beings made in the image of God. Conceding to providential judgment is not the same thing as repenting of “man-stealing.” This is why, with all due respect to Dr. Nettles, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary should bring down their names from the place of heroes so that we can remember that they were but men. Southern’s first president was a man, who could be saved by grace through faith in the abused Son of God, just like any of us can be. But Boyce was also an “ultra pro-slavery man” and not a hero. Jesus Christ, who never owned a man but bought us freedom with his own blood, is our true hero. 

NOTE: Due to the demands of two seminary classes, three outside speaking engagements, and regular pastoral responsibilities, my time for commenting and responding to comments, will be very limited.

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.”

MEMORIES OF MY BEST FRIEND AND MENTOR, DR. ROBERT E. FOWLER

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

FOWLER

I sometimes process grief by writing.

Most persons who read this article never met, or heard of my best friend over the past 33 years, Rev. Robert E. Fowler. I encourage you to read the entire tribute though, because I assure you as I unpack memories of our friendship and his mentorship in my life, at some point you will be encouraged, enlightened, and ministered to, in a manner worthy of your time investment. You will also be ministering to me, as you help me celebrate and memorialize the life and legacy of Bob Fowler.

A familiar name flashed across my cell phone caller ID, at 11:23 a.m. yesterday, specifically Vance Pittman, a well-known SBC pastor in Las Vegas, Nevada. After exchanging the pleasantries of the morning, Vance informed me that news was beginning to circulate in Vegas that our mutual friend, Bob Fowler, also a Vegas pastor, passed. Vance knew the depth of my friendship with Fowler, so he assumed I might know. If indeed true, he wanted to gear up to minister to his family. That was the first inkling of knowledge that my dear friend may no longer be “tabernacling” among us.

The thought of that possibility overwhelmed me. I wanted to immediately get off the phone with Vance to seek confirmation before I allowed my emotions to spin out of control. In our less than two-minute conversation, I told Vance I would call him back, when I learned more. Before our conversation concluded with the traditional goodbye’s, another call was coming in. This call came from another pastor, a Southern California pastor and mutual acquaintance/friend of Bob Fowler and mine, Rev. Weaver. I had not talked to him in 5-7 years or so. Early in the conversation he made it known that he was calling to console me relative to the home-going of my dear friend, Pastor Fowler. I wanted clarification, so I asked him was this simply a rumor or was it true that Bob Fowler was dead. He said, “no reverend, it’s not a rumor; it’s the truth.”

I lost it. I didn’t even bring the conversation to a close. I threw my cell phone down on the carpeted floor and fell down and balled like a baby. My wife picked up the phone, and I assumed, closed out the conversation with Pastor Weaver.

Denial is the first step in the grief process, I learned in seminary many years ago. After I collected myself many minutes later, I told myself, it can’t be true. Maybe I did not hear Pastor Weaver out. He may even be confused. I reflected on the fact that twice in the past rumors circulated in certain pockets of the Black preaching community that I passed, about 12 or so years ago. I actually answered the church phone when two friends called to confirm my death and were shocked that I answered, because it was publicly announced in a church in New Jersey that I had passed. I also remembered hearing an announcement of a man who had passed at the close of a revival meeting where I was visiting; and it was misinformation. The man had been hospitalized, but remained alive. Based on those two experiences, I was hoping against hope that Pastors Pittman and Weaver were mistaken, or had been misinformed. I decided to dial Fowler’s number, no one answered.

I then remembered that the last time I preached in Las Vegas for Pastor Fowler I had an unusual experience as I was dismounting the pulpit, on my way to my seat. I literally inexplicably fell to the floor, head first. I did not faint, because I was fully cognizant of what was happening. My legs just gave away, and I could not muster the strength to erect myself. I heard the congregation give a collective gasp. Several men rushed to pick me up from the floor and helped me to my seat. They encouraged me to go to the hospital, but I refused. As Bob was driving me back to my hotel after the service, I received a phone call from Rev David Wade of Mesa, Arizona. He said, “Dwight, I heard you fell tonight, are you alright?” I then asked David how did he get the news so quickly, I had fallen less than 15 minutes before he called. He said, “I got too many friends in Vegas for something like that to happen, and I not be informed.”

Aha, as I thought about that, my mind said, call David Wade. He would know for sure if Fowler was dead, so I did. When David answered he said, Dwight, I just got some of the worst news in my life, Bob Fowler died this morning. By then, I knew for sure it was true. I had to give up my denial. My son and daughter-in-law came to console me. My wife had sent the message to my kids. Other calls from around the country began to come in. I made a few phone calls. We were all in stark disbelief that Dr. Bob Fowler, pastor of the Victory Baptist Church of Las Vegas for 24 years, had passed.

I want to share several memories of our 30+ year friendship that I trust will somehow be an encouragement to your life and ministry.

Bob and I both pastored in the Tarrant Baptist Association in the Ft. Worth area, where we met in the mid to late 80’s. We were often the only two Black pastors who regularly attended the TBA weekly meetings, therefore we forged a natural affinity. Bob was single at the time, and I was honored when he asked me to be the best man in his wedding to Joyce, whom he remained married to till his departure early Tuesday morning. Bob and Joyce were gracious and kind to Vera (my wife) and our four children who were just above toddlers then. They were always willing to babysit on several occasions, and even during one or two times when we were out of town a couple of days. My kids affectionately call him, Uncle Fowler, to this day.

In one of our TBA meetings, as Bob and I were seated together waiting on the meeting to begin, the guest speaker for that day came in, walked by our table and began to dialogue with us. He was touted as “The Billy Graham of Australia,” so we were all eager to hear him. Bob and I only knew who he was because of his Australian accent. He reached out to shake our hands and asked us, “Do you speak English?” Bob and I assumed he was joking, so we simply politely laughed, while he stood as if he was awaiting an answer. He then repeated the question. Bob and I recognized then, that his question was a serious one, and we then gave sort of a clumsy answer, “well, yea, yes.”

Bob nor I thought the gentleman was being racist in his question, but as far as we could tell, as he worked the room, shaking hands, we do not think anyone else was asked that question. We could only conclude that he thought maybe we were the American equivalents/counterparts of the Australian Aboriginals, who do not (as a rule) speak English. I mention that because that incident occurs over 30 years ago, but Bob and I would revisit that incident at least annually, because it documented to us, we stand out in a majority White setting; and upon meeting people in that context, there are assumptions about you, that you usually simply are not privy to–maybe some good, maybe some bad. Clearly, we were the “others” in the room. We never forgot that lesson. We were even thought of as speaking a different language.

When Russell Dilday was being voted out as President of SWBTS, by the trustees, Bob and I were summoned early that morning to go to the seminary and join a protest with other pastors to the firing of Russell Dilday. Rev. L.B. George, a highly respected Black TBA pastor and the first Black moderator of the TBA, asked Bob and I to join the protest.

Pastor George’s requests presented a dilemma for us. He assumed we supported Russell Dilday, but he never asked us, if we agreed with the protesters, he just ordered us to join in. That is often a common practice as to how seasoned, senior, respected Black preachers, relate to younger, up and coming, aspiring Black preachers. The protesters were singing “We Shall Overcome,” the mantra of the Civil Rights Movement.

Bob and I thought that song was inappropriate for that occasion. We also had mixed feelings about Russell Dilday. We liked him personally. He had even invited me to preach in chapel at SWBTS in my early 30’s. But he was being painted as a theological liberal and one who rejected inerrancy. Bob and I philosophically agreed with the “conservatives” as opposed to the “moderates” in the SBC. We wanted to honor Rev. L. B. George though, by complying with his request to protest. So, we stood there with the protesters and sang, halfheartedly with our shoulders slumped. Later, Pastor George and Pastor Charles Wade told us that they sensed our not being fully with the program and our hearts were not in the protest. We apologized to them, explained our conflicting emotions and asked for his understanding and forgiveness. They were gracious to us, and we remained great friends until Pastor George passed. I still remain good friends with Charles Wade.

Bob was later asked to serve on the old Sunday School Board (if my memory serves me correctly, which was the forerunner to Lifeway, I think) and some 12-15 years later, I was asked to serve on the Board of Trustees at SWBTS, the very board that fired Dr. Dilday that day. That was one of the saddest days in the history of SWBTS. In hindsight, I believe Dr. Dilday was greatly mistreated. His book, “The Doctrine of Biblical Authority,” is crystal clear that he is not a theological liberal; and he holds a high view of Scripture. His book was even published by the SBC’s, publishing arm. I honestly believe the never-ending unrest and bickering in the SBC is rooted in the unrepentant acts of mistreatment of Dr. Dilday. Ken Hemphill followed Dr. Dilday. He and I became friends. I respect him immensely. He also invited me on several occasions to speak in SWBTS chapel. Bob Fowler and I throughout our friendship would also revisit our experiences at SWBTS the day Dilday was unceremoniously fired.

Bob was pastoring the Eastland Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth at the time. Eastland was once a predominately Anglo SBC church; but by the late ‘80s, it had become predominantly African American. Bob was the second AA pastor in their history. While at Eastland Street, Bob’s Church and Cornerstone where I pastor, partnered together to construct a church building in Lebowa, South Africa, in the late ‘80s, while Mandela was still in prison. Members of both churches spent 15 days there holding VBS and doing construction work. That was a wild and wonderful experience. Too much to unpack now though.

Bob and I invited Pastor Lionel Malebono, pastor of the South African congregation, to Texas. While the three of us dined for breakfast at Denny’s, Pastor Malebono, literally started crying. Bob and I did not understand his tears. We thought we had unintentionally offended him, somehow. He finally explained to us that he was crying because that was his first experience being served by a White waitress. And for her to treat him with dignity, respect and call him “sir,” and clearly interact with him as a servant, it was an historic, unprecedented moment for him. He thought he would never, ever know what that experience was like. Therefore, experiencing the reality was quite dramatic and emotional for him. Another 30-year marker for Bob and me.

Bob’s dad was 16, when he was born. He did not know him. Later, his mother married a wonderful man, whom Bob loved dearly and he never experienced father deprivation except for the brief period before his mother married and blessed him with a wonderful stepfather.

At age 32, having graduated from SWBTS with an MDiv, and pastoring in Fort Worth, Bob became intrigued with the notion of meeting his biological father. He hired a lawyer to search for him, with success. The lawyer after two weeks gave Bob a man’s name, address, phone number and other biographical data, and told Bob, it is a high, high probability that this name is your father.

Armed with that information, he caught a plane to White Plains, New York, and registered in a hotel a couple of blocks from the man’s address. He then called the phone number, got the man on the phone, and began to ask him a series of questions, trying to confirm the man’s identity to see if it matched the information provided by the lawyer; and it did. As Bob was interrogating the man, he interrupted Bob and said, “you must be my son. I have wanted to connect with you for a long time.” As Bob listened to the man’s answers, he started to realize that he was talking to his biological father for the very first time in his life. Unlike me, Bob Fowler is not emotional. But, hearing his father’s voice for the first time, brought a river of tears to his eyes. I had never thought to give God thanks, or to appreciate and value the voice of my father. I simply took it for granted. But I began that day, as Bob called me from New York and told me the story, to regularly give God thanks for my father’s voice. Bob gave me permission to share his story many, many years ago. I have done so many times, because if you are blessed to have been raised by your biological father, learn to value and appreciate his presence and voice.

Fowler was called to pastor the St John Church in Lawton, Oklahoma in about 1993. He honored me by having me preach his installation service. In 1996, he was called to pastor the Victory Church in Vegas, where he remained until his death.

Interesting story how he was called to Victory. A San Diego pastor, Dr Timothy Winters, invited me to preach three nights at his church surrounding my book, “Beyond Roots: In Search of Blacks in The Bible.” I had a scheduling conflict and could not make it. Fowler, helped me research the book, and checked a book out of the library at SWBTS entitled, “Noah’s Three Sons: Human History In Three Dimensions,” by Dr. Arthur C. Custance, published by Zondervan Press. That book was the major extra-biblical source that informed my book. When I asked Fowler, if there were any Blacks in the Bible, he said, “I don’t know.” But he sought to help me answer that question and helped me tremendously with research, freely given.

Consequently, I recommended Fowler to go and speak in my place in San Diego, for Dr. Winters. Dr. Winters accepted him, loved his preaching, and later recommended him to preach at Victory in Vegas in view of a call. The rest is history.

Because Bob pastored the largest African American Church in the state of Nevada, politicians flocked to his church. The State Attorney General and many prominent politicians are members of his congregation. I have preached there on many occasions, and the reigning Republican Senator Ensign, at the time, was worshiping there. He loved my message and stayed around to chat. Senator Joseph Liberman was at his church one Sunday, and he is a practicing Jew. Bob asked him permission to share the gospel with him. Senator Liberman said, under one condition: “You cannot use Scripture from the New Testament.” Bob said, “fine,” and gave an exposition of the Gospel of Christ based on Isaiah 53. The Senator did not accept Christ, but he told Bob that he appreciated learning about Jesus in that passage.

Bob was still pastoring in Fort Worth in 1994 when my mother passed. His schedule would not allow him to attend my mother’s funeral; but, he and Rev. Lee Hill, his understudy, drove to my father’s home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, two days before the funeral, to sit with and comfort my father.

My father, also a Baptist pastor, loved to travel to National Baptist gatherings, with Bob and me. Daddy would have been proud of both of us, as we mounted the lecture stage together this past September in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the National Baptist Convention to lecture on Church Growth and Development.

In November, this past year, I was preaching at a conference in Los Angeles. Bob drove down from Vegas to support me and hang out for a couple of days. He affirmed me and my message in a manner way beyond anytime in the past. I did not realize that would be the last time he heard me preach in person.

Bob and Joyce maintained a house in Fort Worth, and often he would preach for me while in town. Cornerstone absolutely adored him.

Obviously, I could tell many other stories about my friendship with Bob Fowler, that has impacted my life like none other. Let me conclude with this one. The last time I saw Bob was in January of this year. He came to town with his wife to visit family, and to check on three investment properties that he owns here. While in town, he spent a day with Vera and I. We had a Systematic Theology III class that morning; he came with us. He also wanted to experience SWBTS again, and we had a blast, sitting in class like teen-age boys, as we were whispering to each other regarding Dr. Madison Grace’s great lecture. Afterwards the three of us enjoyed a hearty breakfast. It was a very special time. I had recommended to Dr. Paige Patterson to invite Dr. Fowler to preach in chapel at SWBTS a few years earlier. Dr. Patterson invited him. I attended chapel that day and was so blessed to hear my friend preach. Fowler recently completed a DMin in Church Growth from Biola. He also earned a DMin from Tyndale Theological Seminary. Bob Fowler was my theological, exegetical and ecclesiastical mentor, in addition to being the best friend I have ever had.

I am going to miss my friend. I am awaiting the details regarding his funeral services. I have not traveled since the virus outbreak. But, if The Lord says the same, I am going to Vegas and love on my friend’s family and congregation. And, I want to go on his turf and bid him farewell. I need that for closure and healing. Thank you for sharing my grief and listening to my long story. I pray that there was something said that was inspirational and a blessing to you! More importantly, as Bob would have it, I pray that this tribute glorified our Savior and Lord.

Al Mohler is a tried and trusted leader among Southern Baptists. His election as President of the SBC in June 2020 is probably inevitable.

The timing of his announcement, I find unusual and unprecedented. I believe there is an agenda—a specific agenda—associated with his nomination. I just don’t know what all it might include.

As with all nominations, for the SBC President, H.B. Charles’ nominating Al Mohler is a strategic move. H.B. is lending his enormous credibility and influence to Mohler, and that will bode well in Mohler’s favor with a wide variety of people. I applaud and appreciate H.B. Charles’ nominating Al Mohler. Mohler will inherit a reservoir of good will from all of us who love H.B. Charles.

I do not plan to attend the Orlando SBC as my way of protesting the five entity head vacancies over the past two years, choosing to not elect, or in some cases, even interview minority candidates. This decision was made before Mohler’s nomination.

If I had concerns about Mohler, they would be: I am afraid he might be representing a certain SBC constituency who wants to move the clock back in certain ways. Mohler loves to inter-mix his personal opinion—not backed by the BFM2K—that a female, such as Beth Moore, should not be allowed to preach to a coed audience. There were more women platformed at the ’19 SBC Birmingham meeting than any other convention in SBC history. I hope that we will see this continue in a Mohler-led Convention.

Mohler supported the IMB policies that restricted SBC missionaries from praying in private according to the dictates of their own conscience and biblical convictions. I would hope that he does not try and turn the clock back on the decision for freedom exercised in private prayer among IMB missionaries.

I celebrate the fact that Mohler refused to publicly support Donald Trump due to character issues. His consistency here trumps many of his evangelical counterparts. Much respect to him for his position. I also appreciate the fact that Mohler would not sign John MacArthur’s anti-social justice statement. He showed a backbone in doing so that I greatly admire.

I do not share Mohler’s beliefs regarding Calvinist soteriology. I believe that Christ died for all, and all can be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. I do not embrace the idea that only the elect can be saved. God elected those, who based on His foreknowledge, would elect Him. I find Mohler’s view of soteriology lacking biblical support and particularly, historically anathema, to the Black church. Calvinism is the theology that drove slavery in America, and provided a false theological justification for its existence. The African American Baptist Church is largely anti-Calvinistic. I would hope that Calvinism does not exponentially increase as a result of Mohler’s election in SBC life.

I appreciatively applaud Mohler leading SBTS to acknowledge their complicity with slavery and the corresponding benefit to the institution. That is a huge counter-culture move in SBC life. Much respect I give to Mohler for this.

Unless a better candidate emerges—such as Beth Moore or some other well qualified woman—or male pastor that share my convictions—I would be comfortable with Al Mohler as President, because he is tried, trusted and tested as leader, with regard to character and competence.

Some are afraid that the SBC is beginning to run off the rails. Al Mohler’s agenda, I believe, is to keep that from happening. In doing so, I question whether or not, he might be more tradition-driven, than biblical and Spirit-driven. I am watching his nomination with prayerful and careful eyes. I pray that he will not turn the clock back.

REBUTTAL TO INTERPRETATIONS RESTRICTING WOMEN FROM PREACHING
1 Timothy 2:12
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

There is no single verse in the Bible that has generated more controversy than 1Timothy 2:12. Dr. Maurice Pugh is correct in his assessment as to why there is so much controversy surrounding this verse.

“The crux of the controversy: some would say take it as it is written, others would say what is going on behind what is written; then others compare it with the other verses that have been written.”

Paul taught that women in the Kingdom were to model the pattern of leadership God set forth in creation whereby leadership is exhibited by male and female God-given dominion. The male is given leadership responsibilities in the partnership and the woman is the follower. The temple of Artemis at Ephesus had a woman at the center and men were followers. This was a reversal of the creation model. Paul writes what he does in 1 Timothy 2:12 as a corrective to say women should not swap roles with the man. Women can preach on the Lord’s Day of worship if they follow leadership as did Huldah, Phoebe and the New Testament prophetess and not rebel against leadership as did Eve and Jezebel.

  1. Inconsistent Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9-12: The same stringent interpretation we have for v. 12 is not used for vv. 9-10, which states: “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” If the instructions in vv. 9-10 are relative to the church in Ephesus and their particular situation, then why do we try to take v. 12 to its logical extent, without focus on why Paul would give such instructions?  We would not dare instruct a woman that she should not wear braids, pearls or costly clothing based on vs. 9; thus, we should not take a different hermeneutical approach with vs. 12. To do so presents an impermissibly inconsistent interpretation of 1Timothy 2:9-12.
  2. 1 Timothy 2:11 – There is a misunderstanding and misapplication of the text related to “silence” and women applied to preaching/speaking opportunities in worship: Silence does not mean silence. As in 1 Corinthians 14:34, the instructions for silence must be taken in the context of the situation. Paul cannot mean that women must be completely silent; otherwise women cannot publicly declare their own salvation in church.  The context must suggest that women be allowed to learn in an environment with order.  The problem Paul is addressing in Ephesus is similar to Corinth where women are stepping out of their roles opposing the men.  Why else would Paul have to address their appearance as he did in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16? Again, the definition of the term “silence” has been misunderstood and misapplied.
  1. 1 Timothy 2:12 – There is a failure to understand the historical context of Paul’s instructions when he referenced “Teach” and “have authority.” This was not an outright prohibition but rather was instructional on “how” the teaching should occur. When Paul says that he does not allow a woman to teach or have full power over a man, he is saying this with focus on abuse of authority and teaching.  In classical Greek the substantive form of the verb used (to have authority) is referring to a person who acts with so much unrestraint that they are like a murderer or someone who takes one’s life by force.  Paul does not mean that women should not be able to teach, preach, or have any ability to speak in church.  If he meant that, then 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 would be contradictory.  So, either Paul meant for his instructions in Ephesus to be different from Corinth, or we are misinterpreting what he meant for Ephesus.  Paul is speaking of women dominating the man in worship.  Women should not have complete or full authority over the men.  Rather, women should be allowed to preach and teach under the counsel and authority of men.
  1. 1 Timothy 2:13-15 – Applying The Creation Story to Eve—but not to Adam is flawed: “There is a serious theological contradiction in telling a woman when she comes to faith in Christ, her personal sins are forgiven but she must continue to be punished for the sins of Eve” (Richard Clark Kroeger, Catherine Kroeger, I Suffer Not A Woman, Baker Book House, pp. 21-22).

The Creation Story is meant to protect women not oppress them. Paul mentions Adam’s creation prior to Eve not to argue that women are to be beneath the heel of a men but that women are to be covered and protected by men (1 Corinthians 11:3ff).  Especially in this setting, where the cultural climate lent itself to empowering women in mystical and religious matters, Paul was urging the church to buck the trend of the world and keep biblical order.  If there are women who are attempting to overrule the men in the congregation, or there was a temptation to allow Christian women who believe there was neither male nor female (Galatians 3:28) to dominate; there is a failure to understand the historical context of Paul’s instructions when he referenced “Teach” and “have authority.” This was not an outright prohibition but rather was instructional on “how” the teaching should occur. Just as we abuse Scripture today, it was easy to abuse Galatians 3:28 and argue that there were no longer any differences, and women should be the heads now.  Paul had to support his position with the Bible.  The Scripture taught that when God’s order got perverted, women were the ones who were deceived. That meant that men should help them learn in silence, in an orderly environment.

  1. Too many people are overlooking Hermeneutics 101: It demands all to interpret Scripture with Scripture. It is necessary to compare Scripture with Scripture to find the correct meaning. We must understand 1 Timothy 2:12 in light of every other relevant message concerning gender roles in ministry in the Bible. By doing so, we could not possibly conclude what Paul meant in 1 Timothy 2:12, is for a female to never, ever, be given the opportunity to preach in the Lord’s Day of Worship.

The Bible may contain paradoxes, perplexities, and problems but not outright contradictions.

Quoting the late L.E. Maxwell, he “declared that more than a hundred passages in the Bible affirm women in roles of leadership, and fewer than half a dozen appear to be in opposition” (Kroeger, p. 33). We must seek to understand the role of women by the more than hundred affirmative verses, not just the few that appear to be unduly restrictive.

Phoebe and Jezebel are examples of females who addressed the congregation on the Lord’s Day of worship (Romans 16:1-2; Revelations 2:18-23).

Phoebe addressed the congregation at the direction of Paul. Jezebel addressed the congregation at Thyatira by the permission of “the angel of the house”—male leadership. Phoebe followed instructions. Jezebel spoke contrary to the Word and Will of God. But the speaking hour was not off limits to her based on gender. Her disqualification was based on false teaching, which is the same thing that men are often rebuked for in Scripture.

I think we need to acknowledge that, however firmly we hold our convictions; there might be some things we don’t know. It seems those who hold firmly to “I don’t suffer a woman to teach” will often dismiss “let the women keep silent.”

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