If white members of the Southern Baptist Convention (of which I am a member) are not already aware of what is happening with the convention at the national level, it is time for them to wake up. The leadership of the SBC is looking less and less like good Christian leaders and more like modern-day Pharisees. In this article, I will explain what is happening and why the leaders of the convention need to repent or be removed from their posts.
At the 2017 annual meeting, the SBC passed a resolution against white supremacy. It includes resolutions such as the SBC decrying “every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and, “That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil intended to bring suffering and division to our society.”1 Basically, the resolution states what most Christians believe today, which is that human beings are equal in the eyes of God despite their physical differences.
However, the resolution is unfairly vague and broad. What exactly does the SBC mean by ‘racism’ and ‘white supremacy’? Do they think it’s ‘hatred’ to have a preferential love for one’s own people? Do they think it’s ‘supremacy’ to prefer to live in a white country than a black one? More importantly, even if any examples of unjust hatred can be found, does it follow that anyone who can be classified as alt-right is himself guilty of such hatred? Of course, this SBC resolution is not intended to be faithful to Scripture or to clearly articulate the issue, only to virtue-signal and express platitudes.
Wrongful Removal of James Edwards’ Church
Many people in the SBC might not be aware that a Southern Baptist church was removed from the Mid-South Baptist Association after a black Southern Baptist preacher, Dwight McKissic, suggested that churches with ‘racist’ members be excluded from the SBC. In particular, McKissic was targeting the church of radio-host James Edwards. Edwards’ show, The Political Cesspool, covers politics, news, and culture from a white Southern Christian perspective.
Southern Baptist Church Member & Alt-Right Advocate, James Edwards, host KKK leader, on his radio Show. Alt-right persons shouldn’t be welcomed as members in SBC Churches. Need constitutional amendment exclude churches who openly embraces racists & racism. https://t.co/y17wfnjgqI
— Dwight McKissic (@pastordmack) March 18, 2018
For those who have not heard the Political Cesspool radio show, it is a refreshing alternative to the wretched and debased media establishment of the U.S. Notable aspects of the show include an annual Confederate History Month in April and an emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ each Easter and Christmas.2 Edwards is unapologetically proud to be a white Southern Christian and should rightly be labeled as a race realist and pro-white, pro-Southern advocate. He has no malice in his heart towards other peoples, and yet he is maligned simply for holding to such views on race and ethnicity, and especially for loving his Southern heritage and regretting the South’s subjugation during and following the Civil War. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center did not call Edwards a ‘white supremacist’ in a recent article they published on the removal of his church from the SBC. Instead, they call him a ‘white nationalist’.
As it turns out, Edwards’s church was removed from the Mid-South Baptist Association some time after McKissic’s demand was made. Edwards’s church leadership was not notified of the decision, and it is not clear when the decision was made, or who made it. It apparently was not voted on at the recent 2018 annual SBC meeting.
The Pharisaism of the SBC Leadership
As I learned of these events, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Pharisee from Luke 18 who prayed: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12). The Pharisee was quick to point out everything he was doing right, yet unwilling and unrepentant of the things he was doing wrong.
Love of One’s People Is Not a Sin
Before I get into how the leadership of the SBC is like the Pharisee, I would first like to qualify this analogy. The analogy breaks down slightly in that the Pharisee was thanking God for not making him like people who were committing actual sins (i.e., swindling, adultery, etc.). This is different because the SBC is removing churches with people who are not actually committing any sin regarding ‘white supremacy’. In fact, the SBC does not even clearly define what this sin is supposed to be, or why it is sinful. Is it wrong to believe that one’s people have aptitudes and strengths that others do not? Is it wrong to love, protect, and put one’s own family, people, and extended racial family before all others? All racial groups except whites in the U.S. are proud of their race and explicitly try to secure their peoples’ futures.
The only thing Edwards is guilty of is being explicitly and unapologetically pro-white. This is not a sin, but at the most, something closer to the issue that Paul dealt with in 1 Corinthians 8-9. Paul placed the preaching of the gospel above all other issues in the early Church. This led him to put aside cultural differences for the sake of teaching and preaching:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law (1 Cor. 9:19-21).
The leaders of the SBC are acting more like Peter in Gal. 2 than Paul in 1 Cor. 9 in that they are excluding people who come down on one side of a debate that has nothing to do with the gospel. Since it is not evil to love or be proud of your people, or to want your people to flourish, pro-white people should not be excluded from the SBC.
Black Pride in the SBC
Yet this is where the Pharisee analogy applies. The leadership of the SBC is excluding churches and members who are unapologetically pro-white while also including churches and members who are unapologetically pro-black. For example, McKissic, a Southern Baptist pastor, has written two books on the issue of black people in biblical and Christian history (Beyond Roots, parts 1 and 2). In the preface of the first book, McKissic writes, “It is my desire that these pages inspire others to explore the ethnic factor in Scripture, Christian history and contemporary society. This information is edifying, encouraging, inspiring and interesting to those of us who believe and are curious about the role of the Black man in biblical and historical Christianity.”3 Basically, McKissic has written a book that explicitly focuses on black people in the Bible specifically because they are black. This, he says, is because “there can be no authentic Black identity unless we reclaim our Black families. Unless we pass on the strengths of our God-given heritage to the next generation, we can never hope to see true, lasting change take place in our community.”4 McKissic here has written these books because he wants black people to have a strong racial identity so they can flourish as a people.
Another example is Dr. Chris Williamson, founder and senior pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church, who has written articles posted on the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website. One such article, entitled “How the Black Panther Has Inspired Me Since I was 9 Years Old,” relays how Williamson has been inspired by the Marvel comic-book character. In this regard, Williamson explains, “Everything changed for me and Harry once we discovered an African superhero called the Black Panther. Harry and I naturally gravitated toward this commanding character who looked like us. . . .For two black boys growing up in the hood, the Black Panther increased our sense of somebody-ness before we fully comprehended why we even needed that boost in our psychological development.”5 Williamson says that he and his friend needed a psychological boost because, when he was a kid, “The dominant presence and representation of white people in positions of power, textbooks, and the media painted a picture of what was considered ‘normal’ in America.” (Williamson here is somehow assuming that it is wrong for it to be normal to be white in a country founded and built by white people.) He goes on to praise the recent Black Panther movie because “my three daughters needed to behold how beautiful, black women were portrayed as scientists, royal mothers, and warriors. My sons needed to see African men who were full of royalty, purpose, and courage.” Williamson believes it is good for blacks to have a positive image of themselves, yet seems to simultaneously look down on white history. For example, he recently retweeted a comment that aims to portray the founding pioneers of the U.S. as evil rapist-colonizers who stole the land from the innocent, peaceful, God-fearing Indians.
Both of these men are unapologetically pro-black and want black people to flourish as a distinct race. Both see nothing wrong with being proud of black people and black culture.
The Hypocrisy of the Leadership of the SBC
While I do not agree with these men on how to reconcile blacks and whites in the U.S., I applaud them for being proud of and wanting the best for their people. However, it is obvious that the SBC only allows this type of pride in non-whites. Edwards and his church have been disfellowshipped from the SBC because Edwards is doing the same things that McKissic and Williamson are doing. Edwards is proud of his race and heritage and is always discussing how whites can best move forward in a country that increasingly demonizes them.
This double standard and hypocritical exclusion of whites who love their people is why the Pharisaical leadership of the SBC must repent. They are not being slaves to all for the sake of the gospel and are instead including one side of the ‘racial reconciliation’ debate while excluding the other. The question of whether blacks and whites should live together is not a gospel question, nor will it ever be. The leadership of the SBC is obviously conforming to the egalitarianism of the post-World War II era, just as the Pharisees conformed to the popular teachings of their day. The Pharisees needed to realize their hypocrisy and repent in order to further God’s kingdom. In the same way, the leadership of the SBC needs to repent and allow whites in the convention to be proud of and preserve their history and culture.
It is for these reasons that the leadership of the SBC needs either to repent and readmit James Edwards’s church, or to step down as leaders of the SBC. They are acting like Pharisees and Judaizers and must be stopped. The cultural Marxist-like atmosphere of the convention will prove only to further divide its members and drive good Christians and non-believers away. All members of the SBC, especially whites, need to work to change this shameful situation in the convention now.
- www.sbc.net/resolutions/2283/on-the-antigospel-of-altright-white-supremacy ↩
- As a Southerner, I especially enjoy Confederate History Month because whites are not allowed to explicitly celebrate their ethnic heritage in the U.S. ↩
- William Dwight McKissic, Sr., Beyond Roots: In Search of Blacks in the Bible (self-published, 2017), 7-8. ↩
- William Dwight McKissic, Sr., Beyond Roots 2: If Anybody Ask You Who I Am (self-published, 1994), 10. ↩
- https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/how-the-black-panther-has-inspired-me-since-i-was-9-years-old ↩