10 Reasons Why The Southern Baptist Convention Is Stained By Racism

Jones, K., & Williams, J. J. (2017). Removing The Stain of Racism From The Southern Baptist Convention: Diverse African American and White Perspectives. Broad & Holman

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My thankfulness for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is difficult to express. If I were to attempt to verbalize it I would exhaust my vocabulary. A Southern Baptist collegiate ministry was instrumental in my salvation. God allowed me to be a part of various mission trips sponsored by Southern Baptists. My theological education has been at a Southern Baptist seminary. I have work for collegiate ministries sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention. I love the universal church, but the Southern Baptist tribe has a special place in my heart.

But I love the SBC enough, to tell the truth about it. Our convention is stained by racism. The stained has affected every entity of the SBC. Jarvis Williams, Kevin Jones, and the other contributors give multiple reasons why the stain persists, but I will only mention ten.

1) Insufficient Follow-Up

 “Since the formation of the SBC in 1845, the denomination’s leaders have passed thirty-one resolutions on race. Each one resulted from a growing realization that things were not right.”

Craig Mitchell (62)

2) Divorcing History

 “But I am convinced we need to make sure we allow the ghost of our racist forebears to haunt us. We need to be reminded often that we are no different from them and that we are just as susceptible to hatred, pride, and wickedness apart from the mercy of God.”

Dr. Matthew Hall (14)

3) Intellectual Racism

“Among the most significant instances of racial disparity in South Baptist life is intellectual racism”

Dr. Jarvis Williams (19)

“Black and Brown scholarship is either dismissed or ignored in many colleges universities and seminaries”

Dr. Jarvis Williams (20)

4) Inferior Theological Development

“Formal theology has been disproportionately conducted by white men and the context of their theology affirms has become standardized”

Walter Strickland II (55)

“Superior theological development results for the diverse collective of the church (across age, genders, races, and cultures) rather than from individual or believers  isolated in their cultural context.”

Walter Strickland II (58)

5) Inadequate Pastoral Guidance

“Regarding the particular sin of racism, at least three consideration are relevant to preachers and pastors: their personal relationships, their understanding of leading from the pulpit, and their understanding of what repentance looks like in their particular context”

Dr. Kevin Smith (74)

6) Prayers for Revival But Not Reconciliation

“Our prayers for revival must include prayers for reconciliation in our denomination. However, prayer is not enough! We must pray and act. If when we rise from our knees God gives us hearts to love all races in our denomination, then we will see revival”

Mark A. Croston Sr. (87)

7) Minority Access to Education

“If Southern Baptist churches cooperate cross-racially to enhance ethnic minorities’ access to education, then we can make the stain less apparent”

 Dr. Kevin Jones  (92).

“Yet many of those same seminaries, especially Southern Baptist seminaries, often have failed to recruit and retain minorities”

Dr. Kevin Jones (91)

8) Mediocre News

“The gospel inherently entails reconciliation. So-called gospel publishing that neglects illustrating this unity in diversity may well not qualify as “good news” publishing, for it publishes only mediocre news”

Toby Jennings (109)

9) Whitewashed Teachings

“the SBC has historically neglected and still neglects to teach about people of color–including African/blacks–who played significant roles in the Old and New Testament, many Southern Baptists view biblical characters as being white, including Jesus.”

W. Dwight McKissic Sr. (133)

10) Indifferent Racism

“What you often find is not an active aggressive racism so much as a passive and indifferent racism. I gather with my tribe, and of course my tribe tends to look a whole like me. People of different ethnicities are certainly welcome to join us on our terms, adapting to our context and way of doing things. However, don’t expect us to change. Change is the responsibility of the others.”

Dr. Daniel Akin (138-139)

“Why We Can’t Wait?” By Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Take today to ponder the truth of these quotes and how they still apply to today. Ponder how the church can help further the legacy of Dr. King and what part can you play?

These are excerpts taken from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Why We Can’t Wait?

Wait

“Undeniably, the Negro had been an object of sympathy and wore the scars of deep grievances, but the nation had come to count on him as a creature who could suffer quietly  endure and silently suffer and patiently wait”

“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “Wait””

“when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.” (BLM)

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens’ Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the presence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct actions”; who is paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time  and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

America

there is a certain irony in the picture of his (the Negro) country championing freedom in foreign lands and failing to ensure that freedom to twenty million of its own.”

“Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

“It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro with no alternative”

“For too long the depth of racism in American life  has been underestimated.”

“It is this tangled web of prejudice from which many Americans now seek to liberate themselves without realizing now deeply it has been woven into their consciousness.”

“We need a powerful sense of determination to banish the ugly blemish of racism scarring the image of America.”

“The sooner our society admits that the Negro Revolution is no momentary outburst soon to subside into placid passivity, the easier the  future will be for us all.”

Opportunity

“When he seeks opportunity, he is told, in effect, to lift himself by his own bootstraps, advice which does not take into account the fact that he is barefoot.”

Christianity

I suggested that only a “dry as dust” religion prompts a minister to extol the glories of heaven while ignoring the social conditions  that cause men an earthly hell”

“We did not take this radical step without prolonged and prayerful consideration.”

“God’s companionship does not stop at the door of the jail cell.”

“Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that is higher moral law was at stake.”

Silence

“The ultimate tragedy of Birmingham was not the brutality of the bad people, but the silence of good people”

“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the  good people.”

Injustice

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice  everywhere.”

Tension

“I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth”

White Voices

“A few white voices spoke out boldly, but few people listened with sympathy.”

Revolution

“A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.”

Solutions

“Solutions to the complex plight of the Negro will not be easy. This does not signify that they are impossible.”

“Unity has never meant uniformity”

“It is impossible to create a formula for the future which does not take into account that our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years. How then can he be absorbed into the mainstreams of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis?”

 

Why We Can’t Wait and Walter Scott

Martin Luther King Jr.’s  “Why We Can’t Waitstill speaks to the postcivil rights black community. Racist signs in the windows have come down, but there are still places we are not welcome. The dogs and the hoses aren’t that popular anymore. We don’t fear those in white sheets as much as we fear those with blue uniforms.

Walter Scott’s death is one of numerous of unarmed black males killed by the police. The case of his shooting ended with the judge declaring it a mistrial. Another life is gone, and no one held liable.  How do King’s words speak to us today?

Waiting

People frequently say in cases like Scott’s we must wait for the details. King writes:

when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.”

Nobodiness” is why the Black Lives Matter movement exists because we feel as if our people are nobodies. We are dying in the streets while the shooters walk away unscathed. For example, in New Orleans Joe McKnight died in the streets. The shooter spent 24 hours in jail,  released, and then charged. Mcknight’s  life appeared not to be worth over 24 hours in jail.  It was as if he didn’t murder a brother, uncle, or cousin. It is as if he murdered a nobody. King also writes:  “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “Wait.”” It is easy to saywait” when you and your people are not being attacked.

Silence Makes A Statement

The ultimate tragedy of Birmingham was not the brutality of the bad people, but the silence of good people” (MLK)

Throughout history, numerous churches have been quiet about racial issues. Their pro-life statements didn’t extend to the black males shot in their cities. Educational and economic racial disparities weren’t discussed in their mission strategies. Mission organizations learned enough to empathize with those in Africa but not those across tracks. The same is often true now. Silence says these are not my concerns. Silence implies I will let someone else talk about that. Silence means I don’t care. Shame on us if we are silent when our brother and sisters need our voices. We must repent of the silence of Christians.

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the  good people.” (MLK)

Responding

It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city‘s white power structure left the Negro with no alternative” (MLK)

What are our options to responding to racial matters? How should we respond Scott’s mistrial or injustice?  King acknowledges we don’t have that many options that get the majority to listen. Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem. Bilal Powell wears cleats about gun violence. Beyonce performs “Formation” at the Superbowl These are examples of utilizing our options. This is why you have the Black Lives Matter non-violent protest. Trevor Noah  asks, “What is the right way?

People kneel during the anthem and they are told to leave the country. They protest and they are whiners. What are the right methods?

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens’ Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the presence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct actions”; who is paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time  and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

Solutions

“Solutions to the complex plight of the Negro will not be easy. This does not signify that they are impossible.” (MLK)

The issues that African-Americans face are difficult to solve, but they are not hopeless. There is not a 3-step process to fix America overnight.  Finding solutions begins with awareness, confession, and action.

It is impossible to create a formula for the future which does not take into account that our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years. How then can he be absorbed into the mainstreams of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis?” (MLK)

 BUT GOD

“God’s companionship does not stop at the door of the jail cell.” (MLK)

    African-Americans have a history of oppression. We have been a people who have depended on God to deliver us from oppression. The slaves believed God would free them. Those under the yoke of Jim crow believed God would bring justice. They never believed God left them during the beatings, hoses, verbal abuse, and injustice.   God didn’t leave King when he was sitting in solitary confinement. Immanuel was still with him.

God is still with us. This why Judy Scott confidently proclaims the power of God in light of her son’s mistrial. God’s companionship has not left us in injustice. We should remember God’s presence and role in the fight for justice.

Three Souls of Black Folk

“So DeAron why do black people (insert action)?”  Before I attended college, I was never asked that question.  My friends and classmates had labeled me a black apologist.  I began to discover that my white friends had different filters for processing information. Our difference of filters caused many discussions. We need more discussions about how we process information in the church.

 Double Consciousness

W.E.B. Du Bois in his book “The Souls of Black Folk”,  introduces the concept of “double consciousness“. Double consciousness is having “warring ideals” within one’s soul.  He likens it to having “two souls”, “two thoughts”,  and “two unreconciled strivings”. The two warring ideals within black people are American ideals and African-American ideals. Schools and media teach us how to be good Americans.  Our families and churches instruct us in the ways of the black community. We attempt to balance these opposing cultures without being an outcast or losing opportunities. We fear Americanization and ethnocentricism. Du Bois’s concept of double consciousness is accurate. I propose black believers have another dimension of consciousness, which is Christian consciousness.

    Christian Consciousness

The war between Americanism and African-Americanism is often tiring because they rarely agree. The Christain consciousness is another opponent for both. Our Americanism and blackness must submit to our Christian consciousness. Romans 14 is an example of how our culture  can influence our Christianity. The Jews in the Roman church upheld holy days and did not eat meat because of their Jewish upbringing. Their Jewish culture and Christian freedom were at odds.

There have been times that I have discovered my thoughts are too ethnocentric or worldly. It is difficult because the Word of God has affected so much of my culture and this country. Our forefathers came to America for religious freedom. The Word of God gave black slaves the hope of freedom. The first book printed in America was the Bible and slaves had a yearning to read just to read it. Black believers have a triple consciousness that causes warring in our members.

Encouragement

Christians of color, our brothers need to hear our voices. They need to know why we are weeping and why we are mourning. They need to know we struggle with singing The Star Spangled Banner and supporting Black Lives Matter. Our brothers need to know we have wrestled with how to think and respond to racial issues. We have failed in responding without error, but we are trying. We must allow them to hear how we process information so they might develop compassion.

To our white brothers and sisters take the time to listen. Trust we have filtered our statements through history, society, and Christianity. We have wrestled before responding. Ask questions so you will comprehend our position(s). Listen before you identify us as heretics, race-baiters, or un-American.

I pray this helps us be slow to speak, quick to listen (James 1:19), speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) so that the body of Christ will be unified in thoughts, words, and deeds.

 

 

Frederick Douglass

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Black history is the story of how God has been faithful and sufficient for those of African descent. I believe each individual included in the story of black history was an instrument in the hands of God. I believe God used the militancy of the Black Panthers and the peacefulness of MLK for his divine purposes.  One significant person, God has used to impact black history is Frederick Douglass.

Through reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass I learned several lessons, but the most significant lessons were about conviction and having the resolve to fight. I believe Douglass’s life along with the life of other African-Americans can contribute to our understanding of the Christian life and theology.

Conviction

Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland in February 1818. He was born into slavery and had several masters during his time as a slave. For a season in his life, he was owned by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Auld. Mrs. Auld secretly taught Douglass the alphabet and spelling, which was highly discouraged. Once her husband discovered she was teaching him, he immediately urged her not to educate him anymore because she would ruin him as a slave. “A n***** should know nothing of but to obey his master—to do as he is told. Learning would spoil the best n***** in the world.” said Mr. Auld. He continued with “if you teach that n***** how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever make him unfit to be a slave.”  Douglass overheard this conversation, which sparked his determination to pursue knowledge so he might escape the horrors of chattel slavery.

During Douglas’s time, a black man was born as a slave and died as a slave. They were never offered the opportunity to receive an education, and they only knew what their masters told them. Douglass refused to accept the norm after hearing Mr. Auld’s words. He developed a deep conviction that motivated him to pursue knowledge and be free from bondage.

In his autobiography, he writes “From my earliest recollection, I date of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace.” As a result, Douglass became an educated free man and abolitionist who spoke about the evils of slavery. Though his journey was difficult and contained a lot of opposition, his conviction spurred him onward.

Resolve to Fight

When Douglass was born he was his master’s property and not a person. Black people in his time were considered a result of the curse of Ham. Therefore, the popular opinion was that slavery was morally correct and biblically supported. As a result, Douglass was subject to being painfully beaten at any time while his master quoted scripture to him such as, “He that knoweth his master’s will and doeth, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Reference to Luke 12:47).

Douglass had multiple significant events that occurred during his time as a slave, but one particular incident changed Douglass’s perspective as a slave. On one occasion Mr. Covey, one of Douglass’s masters, was preparing to whip Douglas as he had many times before, but this time Douglass had a “resolved to fight.” He grabbed Mr. Covey by the throat, which led him to call for help. Douglass bested Mr. Covey’s helpers in an altercation that lasted about two hours. After their fight, Douglass said, “I did not hesitate to let it be known of me that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me.”

His fight changed his relationship with his oppressors. Douglass was never again whipped anymore while he was with Mr. Covey, but he did have several fights. Douglass’s “resolve to fight” resulted in him no longer peacefully submitting to his oppressors, but fighting them.

Where’s the Conviction?

Douglass’s steadfast conviction is a wonderful attribute that Christians should strive to have. Where have our deep biblical convictions gone?  What are we willing to exchange for our conviction of the Gospel? Are we willing to lay our convictions at the altar of a political party or candidate? Do we put them aside for the sake of our need for entertainment or for the sake of being relevant? If these questions do not pierce the soul of anybody else, they do mine because I have missed the mark. I have bowed my knee too many times to worldly ideas when I should have focused on my biblical convictions. Paul encouraged the church in Corinth to “stand firm in the faith”, which through the help of the Spirit I must encourage myself to do.

Will you Fight?

Douglass had a resolve to fight because he was tired of his oppressors. His life leads me to ask the questions to myself “Am I willing to fight my oppressor?” Sin is the greatest oppressor on this earth. It has been wreaking havoc among men since Adam and Eve left the Garden. It has held countless individuals captive and has done more damage than the most brutal slave master.
I began my life as a slave to this cruel master and I was held firmly by its chains. However, Jesus broke the chains that gripped me so tightly and transferred me to a different master, the King of Kings. Jesus set me free, and now my old master is like a bossy roommate. Sin is like a roommate, but I am not obligated to live peacefully with it. I should be a terrible roommate and fight with my sin every chance I get. Reading the book of Proverbs has given me a clearer view of sin and has given me a resolve to fight. Sin is not a harmless, little puppy with no teeth. Sin is a devilish, deceitful oppressor, that we must fight until Christ returns. The good news is until Christ returns he has given us the Holy Spirit to fuel and guide our fight with sin. The question that I must answer often is “have I resolved to fight sin?”