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PROPOSED RESOLUTION ON KINGDOM UNITY IN THE SBC AND THE NATION

WORKING DRAFT

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

I plan to present a “Resolution On Kingdom Unity In The SBC And The Nation” to the SBC June 2017 Phoenix Resolutions Committee that if accepted and adhered to will advance the Southern Baptist Convention toward the goal(s) of reconciliation, healing, unity, cross-cultural respect, appreciation for freedom of expression, and diversity of viewpoints; based on one’s convictions, conscious, cultural considerations, and more importantly—the Spirit of Christ. When the Southern Baptist Convention become one in the Spirit and be empowered by the Spirit—we will be the most potent Kingdom disciple-making movement in the history of the Christian Faith since the Book of Acts. I offer this resolution with the prayer that what I just declared will become reality; and this generation will see it in our lifetime.

I want this resolution to reflect the majority sentiments of all SBC messengers regardless of racial, regional, economic, educational, ideological bents, philosophical persuasions, political party orientation, or affiliations. I want the final product to be a statement of unity that all Southern Baptists can say “Amen” to. I know this seems like an impossible feat, but the SBC need healing and unity, beyond the ERLC—Prestonwood kerfuffle that hopefully has been resolved in recent days. The Graham-Moore controversy uncovered a political, philosophical, racial, and doctrinal divide that is not totally resolved by the much-needed recent reconciliation between the two of them.

If this resolution is passed, understood, believed and practiced—it could help to lead the SBC in experiencing what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the beloved community”—which is a greater sense of unity and bridging the gaps between the fault lines of all persons from all socioeconomic backgrounds. And from a biblical perspective, where there is evidence of unity, there is an increase in a greater spiritual harvest; and that’s our ultimate goal. Therefore, please offer criticism, critiques, suggested changes, etc. I thank you in advance for doing so. Here’s the proposed rough draft of the resolution. I’m also looking for co-contributors who are willing to attach their names as coauthors and/or contributors to the final draft that will be submitted.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention we recognize that convictional and demonstrable unity is essential to our mandate given by our Lord to evangelize and disciple every people group. Jesus prayed that His followers would walk in unity, so that the world would be convinced of His Incarnation (John 17:21); and

WHEREAS, we recognize in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention that our unity is centered around our Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God who is the Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6); and

WHEREAS, we recognize in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention that our unity is not centered in any political party of any stripe; and

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention recognize that there always has been and always will be a diversity of opinions on political parties, presidential candidates, policies and positions—but we will endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, undivided by secular politics; and

WHEREAS, the Bible extols the virtues, value and visual beauty and blessings of Kingdom unity (Psalm 133:1-3); and

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention we recognize that a house divided against itself cannot stand; and

WHEREAS, our Lord Jesus prayed for unity among His followers (John 17:21); and

WHEREAS, God placed His stamp of approval on visual, verbal and vital unity in the Kingdom of God on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 5) by the outpouring of His Spirit and the promise to do it again in the last days (Acts 2:17); and

WHEREAS, the first Gentile congregation in the history of the faith demonstrated ethnic unity in leadership with spiritually gifted men from Africa, Asia and Europe listed as leaders in the Church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-2); and

WHEREAS, within the Kingdom of God and within the Southern Baptist Convention there is a recognition that God’s Kingdom rules over all (Psalms 103:19), and neither the Democratic nor Republican Parties represent the Kingdom of God, but the kingdoms of this world (John 18:36); and

WHEREAS, racial and ideological polarization has been increasing dramatically in America since the Carter-Reagan era—and some would argue as far back as the Kennedy-Nixon era—and continues through this present hour; and

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention we recognize and joyfully accept our mandate to care for the “least among us”—we simultaneously allow for diversity of thought among our constituency as to what responsibility the federal government has as it relates to meeting the needs of the poor (II Corinthians 3:17); and

WHEREAS, within the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention there is unity in the Spirit surrounding biblical teaching regarding the common origin of the races of mankind (Acts 17:26); the equality of the races of mankind (Malachi 2:10); the fairness and favor of God toward all races of mankind (Acts 10:34); and the need to prophetically address biblical social and economic justice for all the races of mankind (Amos 5:24, Luke 4:16-21, Matthew 25:34-40, Ezekiel 16:49-50).  We believe that heaven will be comprised of people of every tribe, tongue, race and nation that have trusted the shed blood of Jesus as atonement for their sins (Revelation 5:19, 7:9); and

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention there is unity in the Spirit surrounding The Biblical Command to Pray with Purity of Hearts and Hands for secular political leaders; and therefore, we gladly assume the responsibility and requirement to pray for President Donald Trump, the 45th POTUS, his family, and Cabinet; and

WHEREAS, within the Kingdom of God and within the Southern Baptist Convention there is a recognition that if one believes in the fundamentals of the faith and the Lordship of Christ, believers who vote with their freedom of conscience for either party or candidate should not be viewed as spiritually suspect or be rendered ineligible from serving in the life of the SBC, based on their voting patterns, party affiliation, or ideological views that do not conflict with God’s inerrant and infallible Word. The Southern Baptist Convention allows for diversity of thought on matters not clearly addressed by Jesus, not mandated in Scripture, or not addressed in the BF&M 2000; and

WHEREAS, we acknowledge, along with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, historic discrimination and abuse of minorities; and therefore, and therefore, we encourage law enforcement officers to demonstrate respect and equal treatment toward all persons—regardless of their background—as it relates to police practices in law enforcement; and

WHEREAS, we acknowledge that there are citizens in our nation who view police persons with disdain and disrespect—the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention encourage all people of all backgrounds to hold police persons in high esteem and to respect and honor the necessary and life-threatening work that they do daily for the benefit of all American citizens. We condemn all police shootings by citizens as rebellious, defiant acts against the almighty God that police persons represent (Romans 13:4); and

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, we affirm marriage between one man and one woman; therefore we encourage President Trump and the Congress to proffer a constitutional amendment that places into law the traditional definition of marriage; and

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention it is taught that God created male and female. Therefore, we commend President Trump for reversing President Obama’s Executive Order sanctioning transgender restrooms among school students; and

 WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, we support the protection of innocent unborn life in the womb; and encourage the defunding of Planned Parenthood and commend President Donald Trump for defunding the Mexico policy; and

WHEREAS, in the Kingdom of God and the Southern Baptist Convention we recognize that the beauty of diversity within unity, often is accompanied with challenges, misunderstandings, suspicions, infighting and even sometimes temporal separation; and

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, THAT THE JUNE 2017 SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION GATHERING IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA, RESOLVE TO ENDEAVOR TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE “BOND OF PEACE” (EPHESIANS 4:3); RESPECT LEGITIMATE PHILOSOPHICAL, IDEOLOGICAL, POLITICAL PREFERENCES—CULTURAL AND “SHEEPFOLD” DIFFERENCES AMONG US—WITHOUT THOSE PREFERENCES AND DIFFERENCES BECOMING UNNECESSARILY DIVISIVE AND THE SOURCE OF THE BREAKING OF FELLOWSHIP AND REDUCING OR ESCROWING FUNDS EARMARKED FOR THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM.

A HILL ON WHICH [“NOT”] TO DIE

Biographical Reflections and Ruminations on the SBC

And

Responses to the Graham-Moore Controversy

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

At the conclusion of a recent Chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 8th, I stood in line to shake Judge Paul Pressler’s hand—an iconic and venerated figure in Southern Baptist Convention life. Judge Pressler greeted me warmly, as he always does. I immediately noticed that he was visibly and emotionally shaken at my presence; and I soon discovered in our friendly, but brief, conversation the reason why. My presence reminded him of a not-so-pleasant experience for him that took place at the Annual Southern Baptist Convention that met in St. Louis this past June.

Let me explain. I was not present in St. Louis, but a resolution that I submitted regarding the Confederate Flag generated much discussion and diverse opinions. Thankfully, the resolution overwhelmingly passed, and that action documented and evidenced a major turning point and quantum step forward regarding race relations and biblical righteousness in the SBC. It brought hope and encouragement to many American Americans in the SBC and unity to the entire Convention. However, due to parliamentary procedures and convention-established protocol, Judge Pressler was not permitted to address the Confederate Flag Resolution; and that decision may impact his desire to attend future SBC Annual Meetings. Not being allowed to address the Confederate Flag Resolution on the floor of the Annual Convention inflicted a deep wound or was received as one—on Judge Pressler that remains. Not being allowed to speak on the floor was the roots and fruit of Judge Pressler’s lingering rage and contemplation of never returning to a SBC Annual gathering. It was not the fact that I submitted the resolution that caused the rage. Our relationship and friendship remains intact. Not being able to speak on the floor of the Convention caused the rage.

I left our conversation with heartfelt identification with Judge Pressler’s pain, over feeling rejected because of a sense that my (our) freedom to speak was censured—rightly or wrongly—in different contexts—by an SBC official—on a SBC platform. We both felt entitled in our perspective forums to say what we wanted to say and what I did have an opportunity to say; but we were both publically censured, and we both felt rejected. Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, censured a sermon that I preached in Chapel in August 2006, that appealed to the SBC to not restrict the private prayers of IMB missionaries. Dr. Patterson favored the restriction of the private prayers of IMB missionaries. Dr. Patterson and I enjoy a relationship today not impacted by his decision to remove my message from the Seminary Library and release a statement that essentially denounced my Chapel sermon. I will go down in history as the only Chapel speaker in SWBTS history whose sermon was publically denounced. Yet, we have a mutually respectful and friendly relationship because of our shared Great Commission goals.

Therefore, I could feel Judge Pressler’s pain as I left his presence, weeping with him. I obviously disagree with his position on the issue. However, I’ve always loved, admired and appreciated Judge Pressler. Our personalities, convictions, and willingness to fight for what we believe to the bitter end, are similar. Nevertheless, the resolution passed without Judge Pressler being allowed to speak to it. I deeply regret that a decorated Southern Baptist patriarch, Christian soldier and aged sage was wounded in the process. Again, I share his pain, in spite of our different positions on the issue.

The passing of the Confederate Flag Resolution stands second only to the election of Dr. Fred Luter as President of the SBC, as the pinnacle signature moment in SBC history, regarding a statement on racial unity, healing and reconciliation. Judge Pressler’s legacy may have suffered damage had he spoken his sincere, valid and innocuous reasons for opposing the resolution. His speaking would have also resulted in generating huge, negative publicity for the SBC, based on the content of his speech and his emotional outrage toward the resolution.  A SBC church planter that my church sponsored was seated on the floor of the Convention and sent me a text while Judge Pressler was standing on the floor waiting to speak, describing “a guy screaming because he is upset about it” [The Confederate Flag Resolution]. This young church planter didn’t recognize Judge Paul Pressler’s face; but I was watching on live stream and immediately knew who this was “screaming” because he was upset about the Flag resolution and/or not being able to speak. For that reason I’m grateful that circumstances didn’t allow him to speak. But my heart bleeds that the Southern Baptist Convention is filled with tension, wounds, division, uncertainty and distrust over a plethora of issues—that include, but not limited to: the ever simmering Traditionalist/Calvinist debate; the Cooperative Program/Prestonwood/ERLC/Trump debate; the residual divisions over the IMB baptismal/tongues policies; and the Confederate Flag Resolution debate.

Our Convention needs healing and a baptism of unity. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I pray that Judge Pressler’s heart is healed and love for attending the SBC Annual Meeting will return soon. We don’t need to leave any Southern Baptists behind—especially one with Judge Pressler’s illustrious history, as the father and architect of the much needed Conservative Resurgence in the SBC. Because of his historic role in restoring, systematizing, and mainstreaming the theological foundation of biblical inerrancy throughout SBC life, Judge Pressler is a celebrated figure among those of us who appreciate the Conservative Resurgence. Biblical Inerrancy was/is “A Hill on Which to Die” (which is the title of the book written by Judge Pressler detailing the inerrancy battle in the SBC).  The Confederate Flag Resolution was/is not “A Hill on Which to Die.”

Neither is an alignment with and official sanctioning of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party “A Hill on Which to Die.” I join with my President, Pastor Byron Day, of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention in appealing for unity in the life of our Convention. Although I’m unsure of whom the target audience might have been, but I concur with a recent tweet by my friend Bob Roberts: “mixing the Kingdom of God with the kingdoms of man always leads to a fake kingdom.” The SBC will morph into a “fake kingdom” if they continue this horrid love affair and identification with the Republican Party, particularly while Donald Trump is President.

Tony Evans is renowned for saying, “God is not riding the backs of donkeys or elephants. He doesn’t take sides, He takes over.” God is neither Republican nor Democrat. It would be a travesty for our Convention to make a decision that would be widely and rightfully interpreted as aligning us with the Republican Party. It would be equally unwise and unholy to align the SBC with the Democratic Party. We must always, at all times, on all matters adopt biblical positions on issues that align us with the Kingdom of God and not political parties of this world (John 18:36). The SBC should hammer out a biblical position on all issues; but never should we be branded or identified with either party. We must speak prophetically to both.

We must find a way to come together under one tent at one time, in spite of our various and sundry views on a multitude of issues. We must gather under the banner of Jesus, the Christ and affirm our unity and belief in One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One Hope, One Calling and One God, who is the Father of All.

I am hopeful for the SBC. The following statement will sound arrogant and prideful, but I believe it. The SBC is the only denomination because of its current racial diversity and theological orthodoxy that I believe is primed and pumped to be a conduit that God will use to bring revival to our nation again. But there are a few rough edges, yet, for God to knock off in the SBC before He can use our denomination to the fullest extent.

Somehow the SBC has to figure out a way for  a patriarchal and yet-needed figure, as Judge Pressler, who opposed the Confederate Flag Resolution—to work side-by-side in harmony and mutual respect and love with Kyle J. Howard—a young African-American Church Planter and Southern Seminary graduate who is excited about the Confederate Flag Resolution passing, yet troubled and baffled by the SBC love affair and duplicity related to President Donald Trump; as are many African-American SBC constituents.

Kyle J. Howard: “…As an African American church planter in the SBC, I wept and rejoiced at last year’s convention as the denomination denounced the confederate flag. Within a year, it went from denouncing racism to embracing a white nationalist who is also clearly a racist to anyone with ears to hear. I am disappointed in the SBC but also not surprised. I am a year out or so from planting, I will most likely not plant with NAMB at this point.” (Kyle Howard’s reply on Brent Hobb’s comment on a Facebook post; https://www.facebook.com/brent.hobbs)

The simple point and purpose of this article is to plead for unity in our Convention and to make sure that the SBC understand that alignment with the Republican Party is not “A Hill On Which To Die.” My prayer for Frank Page is that God will give him the grace to orchestrate these diverse views and opposing factions toward a common good. Each person must give up their right to be right and bury the hatchet for the advancement of the Kingdom. The beauty of the SBC is that a Judge Pressler and Kyle Howard belong to the same Convention. The challenge of the SBC is that both men are quite wounded at the moment for obviously different reasons. It is not easy to administrate diversity in the most diverse evangelical denomination on the planet. Again, Frank Page needs our prayers.

How can a Judge Pressler and a Kyle Howard love each other and—in spite of their different positions on The Confederate Flag and work together in harmony in the same Baptist Convention? How can a Paige Patterson and Dwight McKissic love each other and—in spite of our differences over the biblical legitimacy of praying in tongues in private, and the freedom that should be allowed IMB missionaries to pray in private as led and gifted by the Spirit—and yet work together in harmony in the same Baptist Convention to advance the Kingdom of God? I tell you how: by focusing on the Kingdom of God and prioritizing His Kingdom over our political and theological differences. If our unity is centered in the Kingdom of God and not our culture, politics and secondary and tertiary theology outside of the BF&M 2000—we will learn to live with our differences and love each other through them. The Parable of the Dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50) recognizes that there will be diversity in God’s Kingdom. How can Frank Page, President Steve Gaines, the Executive Committee of the SBC, or anyone else for that matter—manage the diversity in the Southern Baptist Convention? The answer to that question may be found in a seldom taught Parable of The Kingdom:

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

The point of the parable is to allow diversity that does not contradict the Scripture—to coexist in harmony until “the end of the age” and then “the angels will come forth and do the separating.” Until then we must allow for diversity within our unity, while we all remain committed to God’s Kingdom. Our commitment to World Evangelism and Discipleship requires that we remain committed in spite of our differences.

In the SBC, there are “gathered some of every kind.” We must learn to live together in harmony to advance God’s Kingdom in spite of our differences. Jesus told us His Kingdom would constitute diversity—“gathered some of every kind.” That could be the SBC’s greatest asset. Diversity and differences organically breed discontent and frustration. And that’s what we are currently experiencing. To remain committed to the SBC, you have to learn to endure and overcome the adversity that often accompanies diversity. But that’s a part of life in the Kingdom.

I understand Judge Pressler’s and Kyle Howard’s frustrations. I resigned from the Trustee Board at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary overwhelmed with my frustrations. But I remained committed to “the Southern Baptist Kingdom” and will continue to do so, as long as they remain committed to the King of Kings and not the Republican Party.

I shall forever be grateful to Frank Page, because when I felt wounded and rejected by the SBC for daring to take literally I Corinthians 14:2, and believe that the same God that Paul prayed to in a language that God understood, but not men—was yet moving in the Body of Christ—among men and sovereignly bestowing gifts to His body as He wills; it was Dr. Frank Page who publically addressed the issue in a redemptive, unifying manner:

“Page cited 1 Corinthians 14 as a passage which may be interpreted to permit a private prayer language, while noting that he does not personally have a private prayer language.” (Frank Page discusses SBC theological issues by James A. Smith Sr./Florida Baptist Witness)

“Churches must deal with charismatic issues and theology as a part of their own autonomous structure. I think that many charismatics function well within traditional Southern Baptist churches. In fact, we have several in our church. Some are more vocal and sometimes disruptive. Churches must deal with those kinds of attitudes on a case by case basis. Trustee bodies must do the same.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_McKissic#Position_on_speaking_in_tongues)

I was blessed by his statements and felt there was room in the SBC for a Baptist with my beliefs, based on Page’s words. Therefore, I remained in the SBC, and I’m glad I did. It was courageous and risky for Dr. Page to make the above statements at the time he made them, because they were viewed as supportive or sympathetic toward me and my position on the issue. Frank Page’s comments were in support of the principle of upholding unity in the midst of our diversity. His goal was not so much to support me personally. But I received his words as affirmation, because I was so deeply wounded. His words were like a balm in Gilead. A part from my relationship with God, it was Frank Page’s words that gave me the strength and identification to remain Southern Baptist. However, the ill treatment of Russell Moore has caused many African American Southern Baptists to ask the question: Should we remain Southern Baptists?

In 2015, Dr. David Platt led the IMB to change their policies that directly contradicted I Corinthians 14:2, and I greatly rejoice to see the SBC return to the pre-2005 policies that were aligned with the Word of God. I’m hopeful that under the leadership of Dr. Page unity can be restored to the SBC. Cessationism was/is not “A Hill on which to Die” in the SBC, and I’m grateful that Frank Page and David Platt would not let the SBC die on such a molehill. I was encouraged listening to David Platt preach a recorded sermon affirming all of the spiritual gifts and interpreting I Corinthians 14, similar, if not identical to how I interpret it. When Platt led the policy change at IMB, it was consistent with sermons he’d preached from his pulpit before ever being elected President of the IMB. Matt Chandler, an increasingly popular SBC pastor, is also on record affirming all the gifts of the Spirit, and an interpretation and application of the controversial tongues passages similar to the way I interpret them. Thank God that the SBC now allows diversity on the praying in tongues in private issue. Again, that was/is not “A Hill On Which [the SBC] Should Die.” The IMB 2015 policy reversal decision, inadvertently affirmed my August 2006 Chapel sermon at SWBTS that pleaded for freedom regarding the missionaries’ private prayers.

Judge Pressler feels wounded by the SBC just as I felt when the sermon I preached during Chapel at Southwestern was censured, simply because I echoed the theology of Jack McGorman, Matt Chandler, Jack Gray, Jack Taylor, David Platt and Joyce Rogers, Dr. Adrian Rogers’ widow (all Southern Baptists) on spiritual gifts and praying in tongues in private that the IMB later affirmed. Yet, I’ve had to—long time ago—let go of my wounded feelings for Kingdom unity. I pray Judge Pressler can do the same. When you’re right, time has a way of vindicating you. In the meantime, in the Kingdom, you often have to learn to live with diverse views and people, who sometimes think and believe different from you on non-essential matters.

Oxtails are a delicacy in most African American homes in the South. Many White Southerners have never heard of or eaten oxtails. While serving as a guest speaker in my pulpit a few years ago, I invited Frank Page and several SBC Anglo and African-American Pastors to my home for dinner. We had a great time of fellowship. Mostly all attendees ate oxtails that night, except Frank Page. I forgive him for not eating oxtails with the Gentiles that night. J But what a joy it has been to watch his ability to serve as President of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, in the midst of as much division and disunity over various issues more so than I’ve ever seen in my almost 40-year history with the SBC, including during the days of the inerrancy battle. Dr. Page has a tough job. He needs our prayers.

WE MUST LEARN TO LIVE WITH DIVERSITY IN THE SBC, OR SHE WILL DIE A SLOW DEATH. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” We must all pray for Frank Page because somewhere in his job description, he’s required to bring all of those warring factions together. Wouldn’t it be great if one night in the Phoenix 2017 Annual Meeting be declared “Unity Night,” and all opposing factions drop their swords and come together to seek God’s face, crying out for unity.

Ironically, Russell Moore and I debated the biblical legitimacy of praying in tongues in private at the SBC Annual Meeting in June 2007. Moore argued cessationist theology. I argued continuationist theology. But, I believe that was the day we formed a certain level of friendship. While engaged in independent study at Southern Seminary, many months later following our debate, Russell Moore learned I was on campus in the library; he sought me out, extended a hearty welcome, ordered library staff to make all reference resources available to me, although I was not a Southern Student, and genuinely affirmed brotherhood and love toward me, although we hold diametrically opposing views on spiritual gifts. He allowed a spirit of love and unity to triumph over our theological differences. Russell Moore treated me as a brother in Christ and a fellow Southern Baptist, rather than with a John MacArthur spirit that says I represent “Strange Fire” and should be disfellowshipped. Thank God that Southern Baptists have rejected the MacArthur “Strange Fire” cessationist theology as a ruling policy theology position in SBC life. We need more of Russell Moore’s and Frank Page’s unity spirit (Ephesians 4:3) in the SBC, and our divisions would soon be healed.

I had no million dollars to threaten withholding from the SBC. Frank Page’s support for me was based on the principle of Christian unity and respect for the “Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” that I did not violate in my sermon that was censured at SWBTS in 2006. In many ways I’ve been marginalized in SBC life since then. But I remain committed for Kingdom purposes.

Republicanism, Cessationism, Confederate Flag Resolutions and Calvinism are not “Hills On Which to Die.” Biblical inerrancy, The Person, The Work, and Deity of Jesus Christ and the equality, dignity, and mutual respect of all races of mankind are “hills on which Baptists must be willing to die.” Frank Page and Russell Moore have proven to be Southern Baptists who are willing to die on those hills, and therein lay my hope for the future of the SBC.

My hope for the SBC can be summed up in the words of the great hymn:

“My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, [Southern Baptists should] stand;

All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

It is in this Hope—Christ—that ultimately the lions and the lambs will one day lie down together. Certainly Russell Moore and Jack Graham—because of their common hope in Christ—ought to be able to peacefully resolve this matter.

Finally, I close with lengthy and various quotes gleaned from three to four comment streams that truly reveal and provide hope and encouragement, and yes, also some disappointments with the current debate in the SBC. Frank Page and Russell Moore are so desperately needed in the SBC, because they represent the future as opposed to the past. If the SBC—in spite of our many differences—continue to refuse to die on either of these mole hills that currently confront us—our future is bright and prosperous. We must continue to find a way to let unity and love triumph over our differences. I’m believing God that the Graham-Moore debate will soon heal. It is certainly not a hill on which to die.

Quote by Chad Edgington:

Chad Edgington says

March 13, 2017 at 11:14 am

“The ‘referendum’ on Dr. Moore is really a choice between the past and the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. No doubt there are wonderful things about our collective past, but it’s also full of shameful, hurtful things. In Dr. Moore’s leadership we see the fruit of corporate repentance, but in his opposition we see a hanging-on to old attitudes that aren’t helpful.”

Additional significant quotes follow:

Louie Thinktank Gibbs Dr. Russell Moore‘s comments expose the deep rooted bigotry and comfortably arrogant position of many SBC pastors and members. To hear both the under and overtones of his critics is not only disheartening and sad, but spits in the face and laughs at those of us within the sometimes one sided denom, hopeless. I already have a tough time reconciling much of what I see, but now even more. God be with us!” (Comment from https://www.facebook.com/brent.hobbs)

arvan campbell says: (http://joinnoba.com/moore/);

December 28, 2016 at 9:36 am

“Perhaps the greatest weakness of the SBC is its inability to respect those who they do not agree with. That lack of respect also meant not working with someone even when you agree on many other things. The SBC seem to have a [mine] way or the highway attitude. Over the last 20 years, the SBC while down in attendance, baptisms, and the lack of diversity in their Agencies, has increased each year in the political arena. The SBC emphasizes its Great Commission status. Less so, is the SBC talking about the Great Commandment which emphasizes love for our brothers and sisters. Most of the “world” is made up of brown people. The SBC needs more Dr. Moores not less if we are going to win the “world” for Christ.” (“Hard-Pressed But Not Beaten: A Word of Support for Dr. Russell Moore and the ERLC”)

Jason Gray says (http://sbcvoices.com/important-statements-of-support-for-russell-moore/#comments)

March 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm

“I have known Dr. Moore personally for about 15 years, and I cannot think of a person more fit for the position he currently holds.

The task of ERLC President means that he will at time take positions and voice concerns that will be at odds with some segments of the SBC populace. In fact, at some point, he may offend and be at odds with everyone in the SBC. I do not always agree with the positions he takes, but I am always challenged to re-evaluate why I believe what I do. IMO, that is precisely what he is supposed to do.

That is why I support Dr. Moore.

The fact that people are mad that he isn’t just an echo chamber of their beliefs is both extremely arrogant and a denial of the task he was called to do at the ERLC. If you want to disagree with him, do so. If you want to publicly respond to his comments, do so. But to try and leverage political power and money in the way we are seeing is shameful, if not sinful.

I encourage SBC leaders and pastors to recognize differences and to not try and force a monolithic approach to politics on the SBC. The attempt to do so will trade our future and growing diversity in exchange for a meager amount of money in the present. That would be disastrous. May we not leverage our future as a convention and our Gospel witness over a politician and policy disagreement.”

Craig Eastman says:

March 7, 2017 at 10:35 am

I am white, but love biblical social justice for the poor and minorities, because they are God’s positions and commandments. I am licensed and ordained to preach by a large Southern Baptist Church, and have been active in jail and juvenile detention ministries for 18 years. Sadly, I have found white conservative evangelicals in the pews (on average as a whole) to actually hate the poor and minorities, based on their ubiquitous ugly Facebook memes and comments in response to my social justice posts, and their own posts on their own Facebook pages, even well before the recent election cycle. I am about done with it. If even one major black church finds it necessary to leave the SBC over this or any other issue connected to different paradigms on race matters, I will have no choice but to also withdraw from the convention. God’s word is clear about racial justice issues, and about how we are to work for racial justice (Isaiah 10:1-3, Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 31:8-9, Micah 6:8, and on and on), and about our attitudes toward, and our treatment of the poor. But many Southern Baptist preachers (e.g., Dr. Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, and others) are twisting the scriptures to justify unbiblical and covetous paradigms in the pews toward the poor (e.g., falsely teaching that government has no biblical role in fighting poverty). God is not at all pleased with the very unholy marriage between the white conservative ‘evangelical’ church and the far-right wing of the Republican Party. Theologians and imminent preachers like Reinhold Niebuhr, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Rev. Billy Graham have been warning against that for a century now. The attitudes and actions in the white conservative evangelical church have forsaken our Great Commission, and are causing the world to flee from Christians. Christ, and from the church. They have set the cause of Christ back at least 100 years. The world knows a hate group and a voting block weaponized against the poor and minorities when it sees one. I pray rhea SBC will repent, but fear that it won’t, especially if strong exhortation towards racial justice is silenced from the pulpits (not that there is more than a scintilla of it emanating therefrom in the first place). The church should be in the forefront of the fight against racially disparate mass-incarceration, minority voter suppression, and our nation’s 44,000 “Second Prison Laws,” but instead, we aren’t even a taillight, but have chosen to not speak up or lift a finger. And 81% voted for the Party that is actively working to suppress the minority vote. That’s all big-time sin, and God will hold the white Southern Baptist Church and its members and voters accountable for their oppression of the poor and minorities He loves so dearly.”

Scott Gordon says:

March 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

Brent,

I read Dwight’s post when I saw it on Facebook and had the same thought you did…we all need to read this thoughtfully trying to put ourselves in Dwight’s shoes. Over the past couple of years, my eyes have been opened to just how skewed my political thinking had been the point of advocating a “to be a good Christian, Southern Baptist you better be a card-carrying Republican.” I now see that is the antithesis of Kingdom-minded thinking.

Dwight,

Thank you for posting your thoughts on this. I appreciate your candor and conviction. You are a great brother in Christ.”

Matt Gregory says:

March 8, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Pastor Dwight McKissic, I agree wholeheartedly with your thorough assessment and conclusions. I am a white pastor who was relieved to hear Dr. Moore speak out and challenge the unholy alliance the SBC has often had with the Republican Party. Such an alliance has hurt our credibility and diverted our focus and commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. If this “investigation” concludes without an affirmation of Dr. Moore, there will be a brutally chilling effect throughout SBC churches – black and white. I am standing with you!

Various comments from https://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com:

Berrien Sutton Says:
March 4, 2017 at 2:38 pm e

History will show that Russell Moore and his surrogates are liberal activists
in the fast lane of political correctness . Moore uses his position to advance his elitist agenda. Moore would be better suited for an academic position in a liberal university where he would be amongst his friends who believe the little people in the SBC are “deplorables” and weak minded. We don’t need Moore to tell us who to vote for or what to believe.

Velma Brooks Says:

March 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Black churches need to get out of this organization. Please! Immediately. Jesus has set us free from oppression. Why would you place your congregation under the thumb of this organization?

Facebook Comment Stream – https://www.facebook.com/william.mckissic.1/posts;

Gerald Britt

Gerald Britt Dr. McKissic, I’m sure you have your reasons for affiliating with the SBC. Let me just say, I read halfway through and stopped. It’s just ONE of the reasons I never have wanted to be identified as a ‘Southern Baptist’…GOOD GRIEF! (March 4 at 7:39pm)

Richard Wingfield

Richard Wingfield IN other words, Dr. McKissic, nothing has really changed. (March 4 at 7:41pm)

Bob Cleveland

Bob Cleveland If the EC examines and criticizes Dr. Moore, I could easily consider leaving the SBC. They would really have become a group with which I would not want to be identified. I also note that I also quit the Rotary Club some years ago, for a similarly moral reason. (March 4,7:47pm)

Bob Cleveland And lest I be negligent in the obvious, yours is an excellent dissertation on the facts of the situation. (March 4 at 8:15pm)

Crystal Mullins

Crystal Mullins Jack Graham lost all credibility with me when he so quickly attached himself and the endorsement of the church to Trump’s candidacy. At the very least, he has and continues to display an egregious conflict of interest. The withholding of funds in this scenario only lends evidentiary support to same. (March 4 at 7:55pm)

Michael Linton

Michael Linton Know that as an SBC pastor, and newly elected member of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board, I will do all I can to end this ridiculous ‘investigation’ of the ERLC and Russell Moore by the LBC. I voted against it when it came up at the annual meeting in November, and I will fight it in the board meetings. (March 4 at 8:03pm)

Michael Linton I also did not vote for Trump, was very vocal about it, decried the SBC sleeping with the Republican Party, and thought Moore’s comments were spot-on. I am also EXTREMELY conservative, have voted Republican in every election in which I’ve voted, and could not vote for either the Democrat or the Republican in this presidential race.

(March 4 at 8:07pm)

Michael Linton Please allow me to BEG minority churches to continue to join and partner with the SBC. A reformation within the Convention is critical to our health, and it is more easily achieved from within than without. We need a strong, multi-ethnic, multiracial voice from WITHIN to work and cry and pray for the change that is necessary. From without, we’re merely throwing stones from a glass house, but from within, we can overhaul and remodel the very structure of the organization.
I face a similar situation in my church now. I have young people that want dramatic change, but are frustrated enough with the snail-like pace that is necessary right now that they want to leave. I understand the frustration. But I need those young people beside me as tangible and vocal evidence of the need for change. I need them to help lead the charge.
Those of us who want to see the needed change in our Convention happen need those beside us who benefit most from the change and are living, breathing examples of why change MUST happen.
Please, join us; don’t leave us. We need you in so many ways.

March 5, 3:37pm

Michael Linton 1. The body of Christ needs each member
2. The Southern Baptist Convention is stronger with diversity
3. Each of us has much we can learn from the other
4. A diversity of voices creates a more robust and effective ministry
5. The evil of racism is best fought by a unity of diversity
6. Unity in diversity, especially in crisis, is a powerful agent of change in stubborn or reluctant hearts
I could come up with more, but our evening service is about to start. I hope this will suffice for now. March 5 at 5:45pm

John L. Byrd Sounds like a Southern Baptist Convention discussion held in 1845, March 5 at 8:45am

Wilson Laura Green William Dwight McKissic Sr., I 100% fully agree. I was in the “never Trump” camp because of his past immorality. Al Mohler and Russell Moore championed this thought. As you clearly stated our membership in the kingdom supersedes any earthly, temporal affiliation. I support only democrats or republicans based on their closeness to Biblical principles. Thank you for your articulate response. God bless you brother.

March 5 at 10:31am

Jennifer Hardy Lusher Why does there need to be a “solution?”
What exactly has been done to that needs to solve?
Specifically and most directly considering Scripture. What has Russell Moore done that conflicts or rejects biblical standards?
I would like to show my cards and say I can’t find one thing he’s done…
If nothing then can’t we just call a spade a spade? March 6 at 6:18pm

Gerry West The presence and opinions of black evangelicals needs to be a part of all large and influential organizations such as the SBC but not just to affiliate with the culture and beliefs but we should be there to serve as a redemptive agent in shaping the application of biblical doctrine and kingdom minded theology. March 5 at 3:44am

Patricia Gray SBC sounds like the arm of the RNC. March 5 at 10:41am

Matt Brady Dwight, The issues with Dr. Moore’s leadership go far beyond the latest presidential election. Not all of Dr. Moore’s detractors were Trump supporters, neither are all, or probably any, of those detractors racists. Some were dissatisfied with Dr. Moore’s leadership long before the Presidential race ever began, and their dissatisfaction has nothing to do with racial issues. Further, I read the comment stream that you quote in your post. I wish I could find that conversation and link to it, because I believe you misrepresented the conversation and your comment that Scot was responding to concerning leaving the SBC. If you want to link back to it, that would be great. Perhaps you can refresh my memory, but my recollection of that conversation is very different. March 5 at 1:50am

Patricia A. Ashley Thank you Dr. McKissic for the courage to speak the truth. The church is late on addressing this subject in an honest manner. I was also blessed by many of the comments to your article. It has always been my belief that racism exist to the degree that it does because of the church.
We (the church) are the solution but if we are ignorant, or indifferent then we are impotent. I am glad to see now that there is real dialogue. I pray that hearts will hear the voice of the biblical Jesus and not the religious SBC Jesus. March 5 at 3:46am

Laurence Robinson Withholding funds from someone or a group that is not in agreement with another is the new way Satan is using to cause division or have someone sellout on their beliefs. The Federal Government and corporate entities like the NFL does it against the states, and unfortunately so does large financial contributors influence what is preached in a lot of churches. Because the preacher is afraid to lose financial contributions. It is time for the people of God to practice what God commands in Amos 5:23-24. March 5 at 12:22am

Barry Lyons Why are Black pastors even IN the SBC again???

March 4 at 11:32pm

Lee Kessee Dr. Mckissic,
I have just read your piece on what’s being contemplated by your SBC constituency. It seems to me that instead of raising the bar to one more level…i.e. whether Moore is investigated or not…to decide whether you should pack your bags and leave, you have cited several reasons already for doing so. When people show you who they really are, believe them. And…my friend, read through what you wrote again and see all of the ways you listed that the SBC shows you who they are. March 4 at 11:57pm

Barry Cook I said, Bro. McKissic, when the ban was placed on the Confederate Flag was issued, the alienation would begin, and political correctness would be the result. We are not racist, and grow weary of the inferences. How can one deny the effect Mike Pence, Dr. Carson, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions and other openly evangelical Christians will have. That, at this point, is more than enough to have supported Trump and to support him now. March 4 at 10:10pm

Warren H. Stewart Sr. William Dwight McKissic Sr., Stand on the wall, prophet!
I worked with Land when I was Chair of the National Immigration Forum in DC. Found him to be a breath of fresh air on immigration.
I believe Moore worked with the Forum also with its “Bibles, Badges and Business” endeavor.
Without a doubt, 81% White Evangelicals voting for Trump spoke loudly and clearly to African-American Evangelicals like us. And the message is deafening that “Make America Great Again” really means “Make America White Again”. Moreover, the WEs set aside the Bible and all the family morals they claim to advocate and voted for a megomaniacal, profane, arrogant, narcissistic, dangerous man who is an insult to the Christian faith and who in less than two months is leading our nation down dark, decadent path of self-destruction.
Lastly, on my birthday last December, I registered as an Independent because neither Democrats or Republicans advocate the holistic Biblical values by which I leave. No longer will I be taken for granted by Democrats and ignored by Republicans.
Enough said. Keep the faith and be encouraged!

Jay Camp Dr. McKissic –
I do not travel in SBC circles and had never heard of you until today. That being said, let me lend whatever aid and comfort I can to your article as it was posted. The SBC MUST rid itself of its marriage to the GOP if it intends to communicate the Gospel and to model Christian theology and practice to a world that is in need.
Grace and Peace to you, sir!

Ryan Rice Sr.

Ryan Rice Sr. Thankful for this post pastor William Dwight McKissic Sr. I think this is a part of the issue that is not being discussed. The surge of many minorities in SBC life has come from church planting as well. Sad to say that the attitude of pack your bags and leave is now invading the kingdom of God.

Tim Ahlen

Tim Ahlen Simply on the basis of Russell Moore’s stance on religious liberty for all Americans, he’s got my support. His statements about certain SBC leaders sleeping with Trump and the Republican Party serve to cement my support. They are a disgrace to the Kingdom for selling their birthright for a mess of political pottage. And I also am a conservative who did not vote for either Trump or Clinton.

THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION’S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE RUSSELL MOORE HAS HUGE IMPLICATIONS FOR BLACK SBC CHURCHES

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The Prestonwood Baptist Church of Plano, TX, (a Dallas suburb) led by Dr. Jack Graham, a former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, has determined to escrow funds totaling $1 million, that were previously designated for the Cooperative Program—the premier funding mechanism of the Southern Baptist Convention’s agencies— because of positions and policies taken by Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Other predominantly White Southern Baptist Churches are also threatening to withhold Cooperative Program funds surrounding public positions taken by Russell Moore and the ERLC.

Consequently, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has decided to investigate and explore the depths of why some churches aren’t giving and the best way to address the whole matter. They want to keep churches giving to the Cooperative Program while seeking a peaceful solution to the reactions to Russell Moore’s policies and position. Because of the Executive Committee’s approach to resolving this matter comprehensively, inevitably, the investigation will require determining the compatibility of Moore’s statements with the values, beliefs, and convictions of Southern Baptists.

Additionally, the Louisiana Baptist Convention has called for an investigation specifically targeting Dr. Moore. They are hostile toward Dr. Moore and would like to see him gone. Dr. Fred Luter, the first African-American President of the Southern Baptist Convention, who pastors the largest Southern Baptist Convention church in Louisiana, and Pastor David Crosby of First Baptist New Orleans have signed a statement vigorously dissenting to the Louisiana Convention’s call for an investigation of Dr. Moore.

The outcome of this investigation will speak volumes to Black Southern Baptist Convention Churches as to whether or not any church leader or entity head who publically, critically evaluate President Donald Trump will be welcome in the Southern Baptist Convention and eligible to serve in any and all levels of denominational life.

If Russell Moore cannot give a candid evaluation of Donald Trump without being publically humiliated and without White Churches withdrawing and threatening to withdraw funds, and the Southern Baptist Convention and a state affiliate, launching an investigation, I pity the Black SBC officeholder who would dare whisper a word of disagreement on a Trump statement or action.

Before increasing Cooperative Program gifts or affiliating with the Southern Baptist Convention, Black Baptist Churches may want to consider awaiting the Executive Committee’s investigation results regarding Russell Moore. Why am I singling out Black Churches to take a cautionary attitude toward supporting the Cooperative Program pending the outcome of this investigation? Why am I encouraging Black Baptist Churches who are considering affiliating with the Southern Baptist Convention to take a probative and aggressive approach to understanding the dynamics, roots, results and implications of the investigation before affiliating?

Estimates are over 80 percent of White evangelicals supported presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Russell Moore did not support Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump for President. In keeping with his responsibilities as the designated prophetic voice to Southern Baptists and the nation on ethics issues, Moore gave critical, ethical evaluations of both candidates. However, it was his critique of Trump that has caused a tremendous backlash that appears to be potentially as divisive as the “inerrancy battle” in SBC life that birth the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and consequently tremendously weakened the numerical, financial, and more importantly, the missionary strength of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The implications of such an investigation are clear, and the outcome will speak volumes to Black Southern Baptist Churches, and the Convention as a whole. History has proven that God often places prophetic voices in a community to lovingly and authoritatively challenge the powers-that-be on controversial moral, ethical, spiritual and political concerns.

Why such huge implications for Blacks in the Southern Baptist Convention? It is because the vast majority of Black Southern Baptist Convention Church leaders and pastors and future potential entity heads are not Trump-leaning, blindly loyal Republican voters. The majority of Black Baptist Church leaders would agree with Moore’s assessment of Trump, wholeheartedly. Therein lies the potential for the outcome of this investigation to be tremendously and racially polarizing.

There has never been a minority entity head in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. Until the advent of Frank Page in recent years as President of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, the highest ranking Black person working on staff at the seven-story Southern Baptist Convention Executive Building in Nashville, TN, was the head custodian.

If the Executive Committee’s investigation results in reprimanding, marginalizing, or firing Russell Moore—the message being sent is strict adherence to Republican Party loyalty is absolutely necessary to be elected as an entity head and to maintain one’s position in SBC organizational life. The implications of the Executive Committee’s investigative report is staggering and could be tantamount to an earthquake in the Convention. If Moore is marginalized or fired, 80-90 percent of Southern Baptist Black Churches who share Moore’s views on President Trump, would also simultaneously feel as if their political convictions regarding the current President of the United States would also be officially reprimanded, rejected and rebuked by the Southern Baptist Convention. Unintended consequences as a result of this shortsighted investigative decision should be weighed by the Executive Committee before they render a verdict. The attempt to mute a respected voice amongst us is plainly a step in the wrong direction.

The investigation was triggered because Prestonwood Church in Dallas announced on February 16 that it was escrowing $1 million in Cooperative Program funds. Mike Buster, Executive Pastor for Prestonwood, explained why:

“various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

A Southern Baptist layman and attorney in private practice, sums up the roots of the Moore controversy in a comment stream at SBC Voices (http://sbcvoices.com/prestonwood-and-the-erlc-the-ec-responds/) (He blogs using the name “Louis”):

“This goes beyond last year’s election. It also involves ERLC initiatives on things such as immigration and race. Sometimes, as on immigration, there are real differences of opinion. The ERLC has gone on record as having a very convictional view of the immigration issue. I suspect that position and the policy prescription advocated by the ERLC is very different than most common folks in the SBC. On that issue, and others, I suspect the ERLC is going to have to pull back.”

“I believe that Dr. Moore and the ERLC may handle racial issues differently from some Southern Baptist churches. I believe that is a matter of strategy and emphasis. I do not believe that all SBC churches might agree on the strategy. And that would include things such as which groups to meet with, what policy prescriptions to support, how to balance concerns about race with law enforcement concerns etc.”

“On issues like race, there is not really a substantive disagreement, but a question of tone and cobelligerance. Most in the SBC are very comfortable with our good brothers like Fred Luter and Dwight McKissic, but they are not comfortable with groups like Black Lives Matter. I believe the ERLC is more comfortable with affiliating with some groups than the SBC base.”

There has been no contact at all between Russell Moore and “Black Lives Matter.” But the association between the two is often mentioned to rile the SBC base against him without any supporting evidence. Louis’ comment does not specifically state that the ERLC works with “Black Lives Matter.”

Louis is a friend of mine. He is not in favor of Dr. Russell Moore being fired, and my interactions with him have been mutually appreciative and respectful. I totally agree with Louis’ assessment of the roots and reasons of the Moore controversy. Moore’s “tone” is a Kingdom “tone” seldom heard in SBC life on matters of race and justice. This newness of his “tone” in SBC life is what his critics are responding to. Moore speaks with a prophetic mantle that is more common to African American Baptist church tradition than historic Southern Baptist tradition. Many of us find his “tone” refreshing and biblical. It’s the same Kingdom “tone” that Southern Baptists sound on abortion and homosexuality; but for some reason, Southern Baptists are uncomfortable with this same tone being sounded on race and justice.

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee is largely White, Republican and Trump-supporting. Immigration, tone and emphasis on race relations and positions taken on race and law enforcement are the root causes of the Moore controversy. On each of the positions, Moore tended to voice the pain, fears, hopes and dreams of the majority of the minorities in the SBC. Trying to find a SBC minority person, who would object to Moore’s published statements on the above three items, would be like attempting to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Minorities in the SBC are ecstatic about Moore and his leadership.

What is it about the “tone” of Moore on race that is problematic for White Southern Baptist Churches?

When Prestonwood questions Moore’s “beliefs and values” not reflecting the Southern Baptist Convention, just who are they referring to?

When David Hankins, Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, said to the Wall Street Journal: “The question before Southern Baptists now is, ‘Does the ERLC share our convictions and thus deserve our financial support’?” Whose “convictions” are Mr. Hankins referring to? In both instances they are referring to the White Republican constituency of the SBC.

Russell Moore’s “tone” is offensive to the base constituency of the SBC, but his text is a breath of fresh air for those of us who have longed for the SBC to address matters of race and justice. He is an anomaly in the SBC on race, and therefore he has to suffer for his “tone” while many of us celebrate his text.

One of the attractive features of the Southern Baptist Convention is its multi-ethnic inclusion and cooperation. However, most of the minorities in the Convention do not march in lock step with the Republican Party. The Executive Committee, by even launching this investigation, has moved dangerously close to consummating the obvious alliance between the Southern Baptist Convention and the Republican Party. If the alliance is consummated as a result of this unwarranted investigation, the message sent to all non-Republicans and to Black SBC churches is: “Pack your bags and leave.” This is the message that was recently spoken to me by Scott Young  in a Facebook comment section of The Baptist Message, “SBC Executive Committee creates two panels to investigate SBC entities,” February 25, 2017, by Will Hall, Message Editor.

In response to my position that Black Churches may want to voice our displeasure of the investigation by reducing funds to the Cooperative Program; and Black Baptist Churches contemplating joining the SBC may want to await the outcome of the investigation before making a decision: “If that is truly your view, then pack your bags and leave the convention!” Scott Young was bold, unfiltered and brazen enough to say what I suspect the 80% Trump voters in the SBC want to say to Russell Moore and those of us who couldn’t get on the “Trump train” for ethical, convictional and racial reasons. Will the Executive Committee, based on their decision, in essence say to those not on the Trump train: “Pack your bags and leave”? It is profane to the Kingdom of God to intertwine ecclesiology and secular politics in a manner that is foundational to the concerns and complaints regarding Russell Moore.

All four issues Russell Moore is being investigated over have a race-based component: immigration, race relations, police brutality denouncement and his Trump critique. Moore has attempted to provide a Kingdom perspective to these issues. His critics are responding to the political and racial overtones of his message, while missing the Kingdom perspective.

President George W. Bush, whom I proudly voted for twice, because of his commitment to protect traditional marriage, stated concerning President Trump’s racial views:

“’I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated,’ Bush told People magazine in an interview…”

While not plainly labeled, President Trump is viewed as a racist by a Republican President. Yet, the Southern Baptist Convention is now investigating the Chief Ethics Officer for speaking a truth that a secular President can say, but not a Kingdom representative, assigned to ethics issues? Something is wrong with that picture.

Dr. Russell Moore is essentially under investigation by the Southern Baptist Convention for his accurate, biblical, prophetic and outspoken views regarding race in America. Prestonwood, Louisiana Baptists, Abilene Baptist in Augusta, GA, did not challenge or withhold funds or threaten to withhold funds when former ERLC President Richard Land made controversial racial remarks:

“In The Tennessean article, dated April 14, 2012, Travis Loller reports:  

Land, who is white, said in an interview that he has no regrets. And he defended the idea that people are justified in seeing young black men as threatening: A black man is ‘statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.’”

Land referred to racism as a “central myth” in response to charges of racism relative to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Land dug in his heels and publically claimed that he’d received overwhelming email support from the Southern Baptist Convention people and leaders in support of his views. Yet, no large SBC church pastor withheld funds or criticized Richard Land. Russell Moore has only spoken the truth about race and four race-based issues, and they now condemn him. This is painful to watch. Thank God that Richard Land—after many weeks of stalling—apologized. I believe he was sincere, and I accepted his apology. Russell Moore has apologized for crimes he did not commit. Yet, the Convention wants to proceed with an investigation? Is the SBC troubled by Russell Moore because he does not view racism as a “central myth” as his predecessor once claimed?

I’m grateful and proud to be a Southern Baptist. I also hold dual membership in the National Baptist Convention, USA, because it is important to me to be a part of a Convention where entity heads include people who resemble me. The National Baptist Convention, USA, membership, contrary to the SBC, primarily has members who support the Democratic Party. The two most celebrated National Baptist preachers in the past 40 years are the late Dr. J.H. Jackson and the late Dr. E.V. Hill. Both were proud Republicans, and both were accepted and beloved in the National Baptist Convention. Admittedly though, there were times when there was strong opposition expressed in the National Baptist Convention regarding their political affiliations. Neither was investigated or threatened to be booted from office because of their politics. Dr. J.H. Jackson publically endorsed Richard Nixon for POTUS during his annual address as President of the National Baptist Convention back in 1972. His endorsement was met with loud, boisterous, boos from the massive audience. Yet he served as President of the Convention for 29 years and was elected annually following his Nixon endorsement until 1982. Although not affecting Jackson in his capacity as leader, Dr. Hill’s political leanings possibly did. Dr. E.V. Hill served as Vice President for many years under Dr. Jackson; but when Dr. Hill ran for President of the Convention, he lost to lesser-known, Dr. William Shaw. Many would say Hill’s defeat was in part due to his Republican affiliation. The Southern Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Convention tend to blindly follow the Republican and Democratic Parties, respectively, regardless of the candidate. The Kingdom of God cannot be pleased with either Convention, relative to this partisan blind loyalty.

However, in SBC life, it is all but political suicide to admit that you vote Democratic. This becomes a huge problem for the SBC as it relates to minority outreach. I once read in a SBC blog comment stream that Fred Luter was the first SBC President that the Convention did not know how he voted for POTUS. Neither do I know; but what I do know is, if he voted Democrat and let it be known, the Southern Baptist Convention would have rejected him; and that would have been tragic, sinful and shameful.

Why is it that we know for sure that every previous President of the Southern Baptist Convention since the Reagan era voted for Republicans, but we don’t know how Dr. Fred Luter, the only Black President in SBC history voted? It’s because if Luter even hinted at supporting anyone other than the Republican Presidential Candidate, he likely would have been booed at the Southern Baptist Convention just as J.H. Jackson was booed at the National Baptist Convention. Our loyalty to the Kingdom must supersede our loyalty to political alignments and the breaking of fellowship if one gets out of line.

If Russell Moore is reprimanded or rejected, it would be difficult for me to be able to continue to say, I’m proud and grateful to be a Southern Baptist.  I am not sure how a reprimand will affect many like-minded Black Baptists who are members of the SBC. For sure, it would be disheartening and disappointing. Therefore, this question must be raised: Should minority churches in SBC life financially increase or maintain their level of giving to a Convention that appears poised to respond punitively to an entity head, who would dare speak honestly and ethically—regarding a Republican Presidential candidate and race matters? Each minority SBC church will have to reach its own conclusion regarding this matter, pending the outcome of the investigation

Just as Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated by his generation, yet celebrated by the next generation; just as C.H. Spurgeon was vilified by his generation for preaching against slavery in Alabama, but he was lionized for preaching against slavery “out of season” by subsequent generations; and just as Jesus came unto his own, and “his own received Him not”; Dr. Russell Moore has brought a prophetic word to “his own” and “his own” receives him not. I predict in the next generation, Dr. Russell Moore will be celebrated as the Southern Baptists who had the greatest impact on race relations in her history and policies and positions that are objectionable to some Southern Baptists today, will be representative of the vast majority of Southern Baptists of all races in the next generation. The late Dr. T.B. Matson, former Ethics Professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, may be the only other Southern Baptist that would belong in the same sentence as Russell Moore in Southern Baptist history with regard to impacting race relations systemically and globally; thus, improving the image of Southern Baptists regarding racial issues, which is important to our Great Commission objectives.

History will vindicate Russell Moore. Now we will wait and see if the Executive Committee will.

Will The Church Die On The Streets of Sodom?

Four Distinct Last Days’ Church Positions On Sodomy (Homosexuality) Rev. 11:8

Here is the link to the message I presented Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in Arlington, TX.

http://www.lifestream.tv/m/cbca/video.php?f=t5nq649p

 

WILL THE CHURCH DIE ON THE STREETS OF SODOM?

FOUR DISTINCT LAST DAYS’ CHURCH POSITIONS ON SODOMY (HOMOSEXUALITY)

“…the great city which spiritually is called Sodom…” (Revelation 11:8 NKJV)

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

A firestorm of controversy erupted surrounding a message preached by gospel singer, Kim Burrell, recently, because of biblical values and views she expressed regarding homosexual activity. I will address Sis. Burrell’s remarks later in this message.

Interestingly though, according to the Bible, the very last two witnesses in the history of the Christian Church are slain in the streets; and the issue that the fight is surrounding may be the spirit of sodomy. The very last two witnesses of the church—before Christ returns—will lay dead in the streets of a city called Sodom. The history of the Christian Church will come to a fatal end in a great city which is spiritually called Sodom.

NOTE: The text says, “the great city which is spiritually called Sodom.” The spirit of Sodom had taken over the city where the two witnesses were slain. These two witnesses were slain in a city that was ruled by a spirit of sodomy. Even those who didn’t practice sodomy accepted it, applauded it or approved of it. The spirit of Sodom will be dominant in the world and in many churches at the end of the age.

The city is called Sodom for a reason. The name indicates the dominate sin of the city and the dominate sin of the church in the era in which her witness will die. The church will cease when Sodomy is pervasive on planet earth. Why was this city named Sodom where the witness of the church ceased? What was the sin of the city of Sodom in the Bible? I’m glad you asked. In Jude 7, the brother of our Lord reveals the dominant sin of the city of Sodom:

“as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 7)

The Greek word for “strange” means “different” from the norm, outside of the normal.

To be sure, sexual immorality was not the only sin of Sodom. Ezekiel 16:49-50 list other sins of Sodom:

49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”

Jesus indicated that when He returned, the world would be reminiscent of the period in biblical history in the days of Noah and Lot, specifically as it related to marriage and the sins of Sodom (Luke 17:27-29).

America is on a bullet speed train ride to that “great city which spiritually is called Sodom” (Rev. 11:8).

Jesus said, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: (Luke 17:26).” “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot…but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:28-29 NASB). John, in Revelation 11:8, and Jesus, in Luke 17:29, clearly prophesied that sodomy and issues related to marriage—would be prominent and prevalent practices and issues before Christ returns. The spiritual state of the world could be summed up in one word: Sodom. Sodomy was a crime in the state of Texas and most of the South until about twenty years ago. What both Jesus and John are saying is, when we begin to see the acceptance and approval of sodomy, know that the end is near. This is the first generation in world history that is witnessing the approval of homosexuality in every sector of society including the church.

The Church of The Lord Jesus Christ must interact with individuals inclined toward homosexuality with compassion, yet without compromise. MY THESIS IS CONSENSUAL—HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY IS A SIN—PERIOD. Just as adultery, fornication, drunkenness, gluttony, pride, laziness, racism, sexism, ingratitude and a host of other vices are also sin. By sin, I mean missing the mark; or falling short of the Glory of God; thinking or behavior displeasing to God. Yet, God loves homosexuals as He loves all sinners. God loves us while we are yet sinners, but He loves us too much to allow us to remain in our sins. He has called us to maturity, growth and holiness.

Just as the historic Black Church has stood strongly against the legalizing, normalizing and institutionalizing the immorality and insanity of racism, we must do likewise with homosexuality and with the same intensity and tenacity. Many have said that this is a battle that the church will lose or has already lost. And I must admit, viewing this subject through the eyes of prophecy, I’m not overly optimistic myself. But even if we lose the battle, there are some battles you fight simply as a matter of principle. We are living in an age where some men would rather switch than fight. With regard to this subject matter, I’d rather fight than switch. In the movie, Glory, a regiment of soldiers strategically decided in order for the Union to win the war, they would likely lose their lives in a strategic battle. Yet, they determined, if we go down, we’re going down standing up! I’m not convinced that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will even convince all of the Church, let alone the world, that homosexuality and homosexual marriage is displeasing to God. But if we lose this battle, we go down standing up. Standing for righteousness; standing up for holiness; standing up for truth; standing up for Jesus. And eventually, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Amen!

We will see four distinct models of church in the last days on the position of sodomy or homosexuality.

I.  THE END TIMES APOSTATE CHURCH MODEL (1 TIMOTHY 4:1)

 flunder-and-miller

If you want to see where the Black Church may be in 40 years—if we don’t hit the brakes on this now—is to simply look at Yvette Flunder and Shirley Miller. They are legally married and pastor a gay church in the Bay area of Northern California. Yvette Flunder is the voice on Walter Hawkins “Love Alive IV” singing “Thank You Lord for All You’ve Done for Me.” Shirley Miller is the voice on Edwin Hawkins, “Oh Happy Day.”

While speaking at the American Baptist College in Nashville, TN, a National Baptist institution, in 2014, Yvette Flunder made a statement on the nature of Scripture:

“God will not be fixed; God will not be stuck; God will not be concretized.”

She made that statement while intentionally flipping both ends of the Bible, to symbolize that God could not be “concretized” in the canon of Scripture. She further stated:

“My theology is alive and shifting and it’s not stuck between the corners and the pages of a book. Just like God spoke to them, God is speaking to us. I’d like to see Martin’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” canonized one day…maybe in a Testament III—because God is still speaking…Thank God for theological evolution.” [Emphasis Mine]

Referring to the Third Testament, equivalent to the Bible, that Flunder proposes, because “God is still speaking” Flunder suggested that it could include “skype,” “in-vitro fertilization,” and…”somebody will write about me and Shirley in 30 years.”

And, of course, Flunder released a statement in opposition to Burrell’s statement:

“I will not reciprocate and attack or seek to diminish you, but you must know the injury of your words…” (http://blackchristiannews.com/2017/01/homosexual-clergy-members-are-coming-after-kim-burrell-for-her-sermon-condemning-homosexuality/)

swearingen-and-sarratt

Pictures of White Lesbian pastors: Maria Swearingen and Sally Sarratt: (historic Baptist Church (Calvary Baptist Church) (https://baptistnews.com/article/same-sex-married-couple-to-lead-historic-baptist-church/#.WJp8v1MrKM9)

dc-gay-pastors

DC Gay Black Church Celebrates 4th Anniversary with Gay Pastor (https://bossip.com/927303/jesus-approves-dc-black-church-celebrates-4th-anniversary-with-gay-pastor-his-first-gentleman/)

cincinnati-gay-pastors

Black Gay Church Opening in Cincinnati; Black Gay Church Opening In Cincinnati-Pastor Mike Heard And First Gentleman Leigh Set To Start The Good Life Church! (https://obnoxioustelevision.com/2012/10/15/black-gay-church-opening-in-cincinnati-pastor-mike-heard-and-first-gentleman-leigh-set-to-start-the-good-life-church/)

Their justification is that they say they were born that way. But science disagrees with them.

No Scientific Evidence That People Are Born Gay or Transgender, Johns Hopkins Researchers Say (http://www.christianpost.com/news/no-scientific-evidence-that-people-are-born-gay-or-transgender-johns-hopkins-researchers-say-168263/)

Another justification they use is that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality. Wrong again! When Jesus affirmatively addressed the judgment of Sodom in Luke 17:29, He addressed homosexuality.

“ but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.”

Jesus taught that homosexuality is sin.

Mark 7:21, 23: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders…All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Where is homosexuality mentioned in this verse? The word “fornications” in Mark 7:21 is the Greek word “porneia” from which we get the English word “pornography.” The word “porneia” means illicit, various acts of various kinds. “Fornication” or “porneia,” here, means “of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.” This includes homosexuality. Jesus placed “homosexuality” under the broad category of “fornications.”

II. THE LIBERAL END TIMES CHURCH MODEL

reginald-sharpe-jr-blog

Any Pastor that affirms same-sex marriage is a liberal pastor—at least on the subject of homosexuality. A liberal church may adopt an “evangelical” or theological conservative doctrinal statement that I could embrace as opposed to the apostate church. But the liberal pastor would “liberally” interpret texts of Scripture that addresses homosexuality and respond with great opposition to Kim Burrell’s traditional, conservative position on this subject matter.

A brilliant, gifted, scholarly young preacher pastor (Vanderbilt Divinity School graduate), bursting on the national scene—Reginald Sharpe, who affirmed same-sex relationships in a chapel message at Morehouse ITC recently, responded to Kim Burrell’s traditional message on homosexuality with these words:

“And let me say a word to all of you secret supporters of Kim Burrell’s comments. You are a part of the reason the church is trouble! It was the secret supporters of Donald Trump that put a megalomaniac in office. She may be a wonderful person but what she said DID NOT represent the Jesus, the God, or the Holy Spirit I have come to know. God is love. Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror and find a way to heal our country with more love and wisdom. Hatred and ignorance has never helped heal anyone.”

Reginald Sharpe Jr. appears to embrace an extreme liberal view of homosexuality that would not declare homosexual activity as sin. He’s a generation younger than his Pastor, and my concern is that if the current patriarchs of the Black Church don’t sound the alarm, when we go in our graves—Reginald Sharpe’s theology will be the ruling theology of the Black Church on homosexuality. It will also spell the death of the Black Church as we know it today. To label Burrell’s views as “hatred” and “ignorance” is to deny the Bible and to deny her the respect and love that he’s anxious to give to gays. Sharpe’s pastor, Dr. Smith, was careful not to do that, and I appreciate him for that. If what Burrell spoke was hateful and ignorant, then what the Bible teaches is hateful and ignorant. Sharpe’s published statement reflects liberal theology and a denial of biblical truth on this topic.

III.  THE BIBLICAL BRIDGE-BUILDING END TIMES CHURCH

dr-smith

  • THE TRIANGULATION END TIMES CHURCH

dr-forrest-harris

Building bridges with the LGBTQI Community in order to establish grounds for friendship evangelism and to communicate and interact compassion, respect, dignity and respect is a strategy that Jesus employed in reaching persons outside the sheepfold (Luke 15:1-2; John 4). Liberal and Conservative churches find common ground in the deployment of a Bridge-Building Strategy to reach the homosexual community. My personal practice and by extension—our congregation—is taught to build bridges of respect and friendship with all people groups with the hope of winning some to authentic faith in Christ and citizenship in God’s Kingdom. E. Dewey Smith is a great example of a biblical bridge builder to this community, while affirming the biblical view of marriage between a man and woman, exclusively.

Many who adopt a Bridge-Building Strategy sometimes also attempt to engage in a Triangulation View of Homosexuality also as a matter of church policy. In other words—Liberal, Moderate and Conservative theological viewpoints regarding homosexuality are all given some level of respect; and neither view is declared the official position of the church. This seems to be the position taken by Dr. Forrest Harris and American Baptist College. For two consecutive years, Dr. Harris invited Bishop Flunder to American Baptist College. However, the official position of the National Baptist Convention is marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman.  Dr. Harris’ statement:

“It’s sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people,”

When asked to define “idolatry of the Bible,” Harris said:

“When people say (the Bible) is synonymous with God and the truth,” he said. “We can’t be guided and dictated by a first-century world view.” [Emphasis mine] http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2015/03/10/pastors-oppose-lesbian-bishop-at-baptist-college/24727465/

IV. THE BIBLICAL MODEL OF THE END TIMES CHURCH

kim-burrell-blog

Kim Burrell’s Biblical, Historic, Traditional Views on Homosexuality:

One could quiver with the tenor and tone of Kim Burrell’s speech; but the text of what she had to say is in line with Scripture and the traditional theology of the Black church on the subject. Burrell represented “The Old Landmark.” She spoke in graphic and no uncertain terms; but she captured the simplicity and summation of what the Bible teaches believers regarding engaging in homosexual activity.

“I came to tell you about sin. That sin nature. That perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women, and it’s caused a stain on the body of Christ…

You as a man, you open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face, you are perverted, and you cannot tell me ‘thus sayeth the Lord.’ You’re perverted. You are a woman and will shake your face in another woman’s breast, you are perverted.”  (http://www.dailywire.com/news/12057/gospel-singer-attacked-expressing-christian-views-frank-camp)

As I close, you ask what about those two witnesses lying dead in the streets of Sodom.

“Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet…And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.” (Revelations 11:11-12)

In the end, the Church is going to win. Just like it appeared that the Super Bowl game was over, but in the end the best team won. I need to tell you that with all of the Church’s faults, she’s still the mother of the best in society. And in the end, we are going to win. Those of us who hold to biblical standards may be rejected and ridiculed; but hang in there, because on the third day, God is going to raise us up. In the end, we are going to win. He’s going to say “Come up here.”  Churches that maintain biblical fidelity on homosexuality may experience verbal, physical and legal abuse, rejection and ridicule from the world and liberal churches; but if we are faithful to God’s Word, on the third day He will raise us up and restore us to new life. Therefore, I shall not be moved.

“I SHALL NOT, I SHALL NOT BE MOVED”

“I AM GOING WHERE THE WICKED SHALL CEASE FROM TROUBLING AND THE WEARY SHALL BE AT REST AND ALL OF THE SAINTS OF THE AGES ARE GOING TO SIT AT HIS FEET AND BE BLESSED!”

FOUR EMERGING/COMPETING VIEWS OF THE BLACK CHURCH ON HOMOSEXUALITY

REPRESENTED BY:

KIM BURRELL, E. DEWEY SMITH, REGINALD SHARPE JR. AND YVETTE FLUNDER

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

   e-dewey-smith600yvette-flunder

Are Kim Burrell, E. Dewey Smith, Reginald Sharpe Jr. and Yvette Flunder representative of the evolution and competing views of the contemporary Black Church on Homosexuality?

A Sunday morning sermon at the close of 2016 preached by noted gospel singer Kim Burrell in her Houston pulpit has erupted into a national controversy/discussion in the Black Church regarding various views that Black pastors and gospel singers hold on the topic of Homosexuality; and calling into question: What does this generation’s Black Church believe on the subject of homosexuality? Does the Black Church of today still hold a monolithic position regarding homosexuality?

No one would seriously dispute or debate that the absolute historic universal position of the Black Church regarding homosexuality has been and officially remains: Consensual Homosexual Sexual Activity Is A Sin—Period. Just as adultery, fornication, drunkenness, gluttony, pride, laziness, racism, sexism, pride, ingratitude and a host of other vices are also sin. By sin, I mean missing the mark; or falling short of the Glory of God; thinking or behavior displeasing to God. Yet, God loves homosexuals as He loves all sinners. God loves us while we are yet sinners, but He loves us too much to allow us to remain in our sins. He’s called us to maturity, growth and holiness.

However, in recent years—particularly since the declaration by the nation’s first African American President in 2012 affirming same-sex marriage and homosexuality—we have seen some cracks in the dam from high profile Black pastors and preachers who openly affirm homosexual marriage and by extension, homosexuality. The question before us is: Will the cracks in the dam become an avalanche and in short order crumble and crash the fortress of protection that has kept the act and lifestyle of homosexuality from being viewed as acceptable, normal, and approved as God-ordained behavior in the hearts and minds of most Black people in and outside of the Church? Historically, the Black Church has resisted homosexuality equally as strong as we have racism. With the bold affirmation of President Obama, we have lessened our resistance to homosexuality.

If the Black Church had not fought racism in America on her knees, in her pulpits and in the streets, the battle would have been lost. If the Black Church does not address homosexuality as a matter of spiritual warfare, demonstrating love and kindness, evangelizing and disciple-making—the battle will be lost.  My thesis is, just as the historic Black Church has stood strongly against the legalizing, normalizing and institutionalizing the immorality and insanity of racism, we must do likewise with homosexuality and with the same intensity and tenacity. Failure to do so may result in us seeing homosexuality mainstreamed in our lifetime.

Homosexuality is knocking hard, fast and furious at the door of the Black Church. And this generation appears to be the one that is attempting to pry the door open with all the strength they can muster in an attempt to radically alter the Black Church’s historic opposition to homosexuality. If homosexuality continues to infiltrate the Black Church, it will destroy it from within rendering it impotent and unable to fulfill her mission to exalt the Savior, evangelize sinners, edify saints and elevate society. Neither will the Black Church be able to combat racism if she’s destroyed from within because of homosexuality. Have we forgotten the lessons from Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19; Ezekiel 16:49-50). It is time for the patriarchs, matriarchs and gate keepers of the Black community to step up to the plate with the Word of God in our hand and the Holy Spirit as our guide and lovingly shut the door on allowing homosexuality to become unofficially and officially accepted, mainstreamed, and affirmed in our churches, communities and families.

By and large, we have been very effective as a church in fighting racism. God has used the Black Church and her leaders to bring about wonderful changes on the racial front in America. Will we allow God to use us to now fight and thwart the onslaught of homosexuality that seeks to ravish our churches, families and community? Do we have the character and courage to tackle homosexuality as we have tackled racism? Do we see homosexuality as a sin equally as evil as racism? Are we willing to fight it with the passion and reckless abandon as we have done with racism? It’s time for the Spiritual Adults in the Hood to come to the forefront and prophetically and lovingly address this issue. We need our denominational leaders to weigh in and take a stand on the Kim Burrell controversy.

The evolving and competing views of the Black Church can be illustrated with the published views of Kim Burrell, E. Dewey Smith, Reginald Sharpe and Yvette Flunder. They represent four distinct views:

I.  Kim Burrell’s Biblical, Historic, Traditional Views on Homosexuality:

One could quiver with the tenor and tone of Kim Burrell’s speech; but the text of what she had to say is in line with Scripture and the traditional theology of the Black church on the subject. Burrell represented “The Old Landmark.” She spoke in graphic and no uncertain terms; but she captured the simplicity and summation of what the Bible teaches believers regarding engaging in homosexual activity.

“I came to tell you about sin. That sin nature. That perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women, and it’s caused a stain on the body of Christ…

You as a man, you open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face, you are perverted, and you cannot tell me ‘thus sayeth the Lord.’ You’re perverted. You are a woman and will shake your face in another woman’s breast, you are perverted.”  (http://www.dailywire.com/news/12057/gospel-singer-attacked-expressing-christian-views-frank-camp)

Who would argue that what she spoke is essentially what the Bible teaches in the following Scriptures?

Galatians 6:16-20; I Cor. 6:9-10; I Tim. 1:8-10; Jude 5-7; Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:18-32; Leviticus 18:22.

II. Dewey Smith’s Biblical-Bridge Building—Triangulation View of Homosexuality

One of the more interesting responses to the Kim Burrell’s message came from Atlanta pastor, Dr. E. Dewey Smith. Dr. Smith has made it clear in a previous message in July 2015 that he affirms marriage is between a man and a woman. Tiga Finn, Executive Assistant to Smith, released a statement saying, “by no means is Smith now, nor has he ever been a proponent of same-sex marriage. Smith has always believed and taught that marriage is only designed for a man and woman.” I have no reason to believe that Pastor Smith has changed his view at all on biblical marriage. The Negro Baptist Preacher Table Talk report that during his tenure as a pastor in Macon, before he became, internationally known as he is today, he preached a sermon against homosexuality and repeated the tag line—“Get the Punks Out of the Church.” Dr. Smith has clearly moderated his tone since then and seeks to build bridges and lines of communication with the LGBT Community by speaking of them with compassion, understanding, and respect. So-much-so, he has been mistaken to now be affirming their lifestyle.

In response to Burrell, Smith gave five points:

#1: Smith raises the question: “Do we believe that 60% of African American women have been given the gift of ‘celibacy’ and will live their entire lives without any sexual relations or intimacy, based on what their churches teach?” Atlanta has a high Black single population, as does the rest of America. Smith is correct—these are practical questions our churches must address. But we must also make it clear that statistics and sociology does not drive our theology; our theology dictates our sociological beliefs and practices. The Word of God does not bow to contemporary culture. Contemporary culture must bow to the Word of God.

#2: Smith affirmed Burrell’s right to share her message without stating agreement or disagreement with her message. He affirmed Ellen Degeneres’ right to cancel Burrell’s appearance without expressing agreement or disagreement with Ellen’s decision.

#3: Smith referenced biblical passages that address homosexuality such as Genesis 19, Leviticus, Romans 1:26-27, and briefly highlights how opponents and proponents of homosexuality interpret those passages differently; and he does not give the readers his interpretation of those passages.

#4: Smith makes a case for peaceful coexistence with opponents and proponents of Burrell’s theology. I don’t find his emphasis here disagreeable, but I do find it interesting. No one argues for peaceful coexistence with proponents of adultery or “swingers”—not quite understanding why there’s a need to argue for peaceful coexistence with proponents of homosexuality—particularly within the Bible-believing churches.

#5: Smith asked eight questions that are critical and necessary in light of today’s changing views on homosexuality.

As I read E. Dewey Smith’s statement, it reminds me of Bill Clinton’s political philosophy which was “triangulation.” Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy; his “Three Strikes You’re Out” Policy; and his “Welfare” Policy all represent “triangulation”—where he combined conservative, liberal and moderate views on the issues in one policy. E. Dewey Smith has mastered “triangulation” as it relates to homosexuality in the Black Church. I find more in agreement with Smith than I find disagreement. Particularly, I support his non-negotiable view on marriage strictly being between a man and woman. I also agree that our tone and tenor in addressing these matters as the Bible says must be “truth spoken in love.” My concern in Smith’s approach, though, is that the truth that homosexuality is sin may get smothered in his effort not to offend. You cannot preach against sin without offending. Jesus, Himself, is a Rock of offense.

III. Reginald Sharpe’s Liberal, Bible-Denying View of Homosexuality

Whereas, E. Dewey Smith did not take a definitive position on Kim Burrell’s statement, his satellite pastor at his Macon location of House of Hope headquartered in Atlanta, GA, did.

Reginald Sharpe Jr. had this to say in response to Kim Burrell’s message:

“And let me say a word to all of you secret supporters of Kim Burrell’s comments. You are a part of the reason the church is trouble! It was the secret supporters of Donald Trump that put a megalomaniac in office. She may be a wonderful person but what she said DID NOT represent the Jesus, the God, or the Holy Spirit I have come to know. God is love. Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror and find a way to heal our country with more love and wisdom. Hatred and ignorance has never helped heal anyone.”

Reginald Sharpe Jr. appears to embrace an extreme liberal view of homosexuality that would not declare homosexual activity as sin. He’s a generation younger than his Pastor, and my concern is that if the current patriarchs of the Black Church don’t sound the alarm, when we go in our graves—Reginald Sharpe’s theology will be the ruling theology of the Black Church on homosexuality. It will also spell the death of the Black Church as we know it today. To label Burrell’s views as “hatred” and “ignorance” is to deny the Bible and to deny her the respect and love that he’s anxious to give to gays. Sharpe’s pastor, Dr. Smith, was careful not to do that, and I appreciate him for that. If what Burrell spoke was hateful and ignorant, then what the Bible teaches is hateful and ignorant. Sharpe’s published statement reflects liberal theology and a denial of biblical truth on this topic.

IV. Yvette Flunder’s “Third New Testament” View on Homosexuality

If you want to see where the Black Church may be in 40 years—if we don’t hit the brakes on this now—is to simply look at Yvette Flunder and Shirley Miller. They are legally married and pastor a gay church in the Bay area of Northern California. Yvette Flunder is the voice on Walter Hawkins “Love Alive IV” singing “Thank You Lord for All You’ve Done for Me.” Shirley Miller is the voice on Edwin Hawkins, “Oh Happy Day.”

While speaking at the American Baptist College in Nashville, TN, a National Baptist institution, in 2014, Yvette Flunder made a statement on the nature of Scripture:

“God will not be fixed; God will not be stuck; God will not be concretized.”

She made that statement while intentionally flipping both ends of the Bible, to symbolize that God could not be “concretized” in the canon of Scripture. She further stated:

“My theology is alive and shifting and it’s not stuck between the corners and the pages of a book. Just like God spoke to them, God is speaking to us. I’d like to see Martin’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” canonized one day…maybe in a Testament III—because God is still speaking…Thank God for theological evolution.” [Emphasis Mine]

Referring to the Third Testament, equivalent to the Bible, that Flunder proposes, because “God is still speaking” Flunder suggested that it could include “skype,” “in-vitro fertilization,” and…”somebody will write about me and Shirley in 30 years.”

And, of course, Flunder released a statement in opposition to Burrell’s statement:

“I will not reciprocate and attack or seek to diminish you, but you must know the injury of your words…” (http://blackchristiannews.com/2017/01/homosexual-clergy-members-are-coming-after-kim-burrell-for-her-sermon-condemning-homosexuality/)

Kim Burrell’s words were only injurious if they were false or contradicted Scripture. And, they did not.

By 2040, I predict if the Black Church does not act with the same urgency and intensity by which she did with the Civil Right Movement, we will see open/ practicing homosexuals occupying our pulpits, serving on our ministry teams and in leadership in our churches. Flunder and Miller will be the norm.

The time is now. The crisis is apparent. Shirley Caesar is correct:  Someone should have spoken up in 2012 when President Obama came out in support of homosexuality. Nevertheless, the future of our families and churches hang in the balance. Will The Church of Jesus Christ Stand Up? And just for the record, my view is somewhere between Burrell’s and Smith’s; but I lean closer to Burrell’s view.

Anybody who does not believe that homosexual activity is sin is on the wrong side of the Bible. I’d rather be on the wrong side of history, than the wrong side of the Bible.

IF RUSSELL MOORE IS FIRED, “UNTO US” A TRUMP BAPTIST CONVENTION IS BORN

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The first cabinet member that soon-to-be President Donald Trump will fire, may not be in his White House Cabinet. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics, and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC–a cabinet level entity head position within the SBC org chart–will be the first person fired by the direct influence of Donald Trump and his influential supporters within SBC circles, if they are successful in their unprecedented public attempts, to discredit and dismiss from office the most compelling and effective spokesman ever to hold that office in the history of the SBC. The lynch mob in SBC life who is going after Moore are taking their cues from Donald Trump who was among the first to attack Moore with one of his infamous tweets during the primary season:

“Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”

What has Russell Moore done to generate such vitriol and hatred from Trump and his supporters and sycophants in SBC life? Moore dared asked the SBC if it is in keeping with their values to support a person for POTUS who mocks the disabled; engages in race baiting; owns strip joints and casinos; admits to sexual predatory behaviors; wants to create a Muslim registry, which violates the religious freedom beliefs of the SBC; and speaks of unlawfully targeting non-combatant in war acts. One would think that a person assigned to address the SBC regarding ethical issues is fulfilling their assignment in addressing these matters.

Future Supreme Court Judges and Reversing Gay Marriage were believed to have a better chance of lining up with SBC values under a Trump Administration. Therefore, many SBC personalities argued in spite of Trump’s misgivings and failures in the aforementioned areas, he’s still worthy of support because of who he might appoint to the Supreme Court who would reverse Roe vs Wade and Gay Marriage. To which Russell Moore responded, how can we count on Donald Trump to keep his word on these matters any more than anyone named Mrs. Trump could depend on him to keep his word to them? This was a brilliant and prophetic response.

Shortly after he was elected, Trump announced that Gay Marriage was settled law, and he would not revisit that matter. Ironically, Pastor Robert Jeffress at FBC, Dallas agreed with Trump on this. Go figure? He has already gone back on his word even before he took office, and many SBC persons voted for him under the delusion that Trump would somehow reverse or, at least, redress gay marriage. With a majority Republican House, Senate, soon to be Supreme Court—and of course occupying the White House–there is absolutely no reason why gay marriage can’t and shouldn’t be reversed; other than Trump doesn’t want to reverse it. Now, a prominent SBC leader is backing Trump in this bait and switch campaign tactic. Rather than holding Trump accountable for his pre-election position supporting traditional marriage, they’d rather spend their time attacking Moore. Again, Moore warned us that Trump’s history did not lend itself to counting on him to keep his word. You would think he would be given credit for his insight. Instead, they’re crushing him. If President Elect Trump—not candidate Trump—view is that gay marriage is settled law, why is it not his view that Roe vs Wade is settled law, using the same logic? Already Moore has proven to be 50% accurate in the lack of trust worthiness of Donald Trump on an issue important to Evangelicals—gay marriage. If and when Donald Trump says the same thing about Roe vs Wade, Moore will be 100% correct in saying that Donald Trump was not a trustworthy candidate in addressing matters important to Southern Baptists. On what grounds then are the ones calling for Moore’s dismissal upset?

Make no mistake about it. The union between the SBC and the Republican Convention is an unhealthy and unholy one, particularly with Trump as President. But that would be equally as true with anyone else as President and equally as true if such a union existed with the SBC and The Democratic Party. It is detrimental to our witness, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, race relations and the identity of our seminaries. This is a malignancy that must be excised from our Convention.

To fire Russell Moore though, cements and consummate the relationship between the SBC and The Republican Party. We shouldn’t give Trump that kind of influence over our Convention. We shouldn’t by default say to the public we value loyalty to the Republican brand over a critical evaluation of a Republican nominee for President.

It’s not enough to say that Russell Moore was speaking against the majority of the SBC and those who pay his salary, as a reason to silence his voice. The Bible is inerrant and infallible, the SBC is not. What’s been missing from SBC history to often was a Russell Moore.

When the majority of the SBC embraced the diabolical institution of slavery, we needed a Russell Moore, even if he was being paid by the SBC. When the majority of the SBC denied women the right to vote as messengers within the SBC annual meetings, and supported laws forbidding women the right to vote in the secular realm, we needed a Russell Moore. When the majority of the SBC voted to support Jim Crow laws and would not support Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, we needed a Russell Moore. When the majority of the messengers in the ‘mid ’70’s voted in a SBC annual meeting to support abortion, we needed a Russell Moore. When the IMB created unbiblical landmark baptismal policies and unbiblical policies restricting missionaries’ private worship in 2005, God raised up a Wade Burleson to prophetically address these matters; and he was publicly maligned and marginalized, and now the same attempt is being made toward Russell Moore.  In 2015, everything Wade Burleson was asking the IMB to do, they did: Return to the pre-2005 private prayer policies, and the prior baptismal policies. Now that they have done so, Wade Burleson is owed an apology, because their actions now prove he was right from the beginning.

SBC, are we going to now make the same mistake with Russell Moore as we did with all of the aforementioned matters that we later reversed policies on? Are we really going to place that much stock in Trump and choose Trump over Moore?

Honestly, a convention that would even consider this is a severely spiritually sick convention. If it were not for a great health insurance plan that I appreciate (connected to GuideStone), and a small life insurance and small retirement account that may be useful at some point, I’d seriously consider whether I could actually belong to a convention that’s so invested and identified in every way with the Republican Party and Donald Trump. To fire Russell Moore will have far-reaching consequences than most persons realize. It defines being SBC as also being Republican, or at least not publicly criticizing a Republican candidate. Minorities tend not to be Republican because they view Democrats as being more sensitive to social and economic justice, equality and fairness issues. They also view these matters as life issues and equally as important as abortion and gay marriage issues. Russell Moore is one of the few Southern Baptists that really have a heartfelt identification and understanding of social justice issues from a minority perspective. There are those who think that this backlash against him is rooted in his outspokenness on race issues and police brutality issues. Russell Moore really feels our pain. In many ways he is being treated as a racial minority by the Convention in this situation. So to fire Russell Moore is to say to minorities, you are only welcome in the SBC if you remain silent regarding your political views. Seriously? Is that what you really want? If so, continue with this lynch party and proposed firing. And Congratulations!!! You will have just birth THE TRUMP BAPTIST CONVENTION.

Russell Moore has spoken as a prophet. The late Professor Jack Gray defined the spiritual gift of prophecy as the ability to communicate a particular truth, to a particular people, at a particular time. This is what Moore has done. To fire Russell Moore is in effect to make the statement that the gift of prophecy is unwelcome among Southern Baptists if it conflicts with our politics. Russell Moore would have gotten the same kind of treatment in SBC life had he spoken prophetically against slavery in 1845-1863 as he is getting now. Southern Baptists can and should do better than this. I pray that we drop this vendetta against Russell Moore. He has asked for an apology if he was misunderstood or crossed over a line. Let’s forgive him and move on. Threatening to withhold funds over a critique of Donald Trump is too small of an issue for us to divide over. During this yuletide season, let’s practice our faith and seek peace on earth and in the SBC and good will toward all men. Brethren, let’s drop our swords and be The Southern Baptist Great Commission Convention and not the Trump Baptist Convention.

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