by John Ellis
At the time of my writing this, the Southern Baptist Convention has yet to decide whether to denounce the alt-right or not. My understanding is that they should make a decision sometime this afternoon. Even if the SBC does denounce the alt-right, and I pray that they do, this article is still relevant. If they don’t, then I may need to write an addendum (I may need to write an addendum if they do renounce).
For those who are unaware, the Southern Baptist Convention is holding their annual meeting in Phoenix this week. Yesterday at the Convention, African-American pastor Dwight McKissic proposed a resolution denouncing racism and the alt-right. At first, the proposal was rejected. The SBC has since reversed course, and they will be voting on the resolution this afternoon. Reportedly, the SBC’s concern is over some of the wording; although, I’ve read McKissic’s resolution and fail to see how any of the rhetoric could be deemed problematic (you can read the resolution by clicking here). To be fair, and plagiarizing a friend’s tweet, on this side of things, it’s hard to tell if the SBC’s hesitation is due to a reticence to make such a politically charged action as denouncing the alt-right or, hopefully, it’s simply a procedural issue.
I first became aware of the issue when tweets about it from brothers and sisters in Christ like Jackie Hill Perry, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Isaac Adams started showing up in my Twitter feed yesterday. As events were unfolding, there was quite a bit of confusion about what was actually happening. This morning, things are a little clearer, and many of us are praying that future clarity will reveal that the SBC is indeed committed to a Biblical approach to racial injustice and that they will unequivocally denounce the alt-right. Even if that does happen, I’m afraid that the bumbling of the situation (if that’s what it is) has done damage to the gospel witness of the SBC and its member churches.
I’ve written about the alt-right here; their brand of race-baiting, white supremacy, and the overall self-serving hijacking of Christianity needs to be shouted down by followers of King Jesus. As McKissic states in the draft of his resolution, “all Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society, opposing all forms of racism, selfishness, and vice, and bringing government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.”
McKissic points out that the SBC was founded over the issue of slavery, and the false and damnable belief that those of African heritage are descendants of Ham and are forever cursed to be inferior servants was the major premise used by professing Christians of the 19th century to justify slavery. A major plank of his resolution includes that, “The SBC officially renounces the ‘curse of Ham’ theory.”
McKissic’s resolution is righteous and just because it mirrors the Bible’s teaching that all humans have worth and dignity before God because all humans are made in the image of God. Racism is a flat-out denial of this truth. In fact, racism is an attack on God. It is a heinous sin, an obvious heinous sin that creates major stumbling blocks to the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His resolution is also timely, and a needed statement from the Southern Baptist Convention that has a history darkened by racism.
If there are any questions or doubts as to where the SBC stands on the alt-right and the “curse of Ham” theory, why should any black person listen to members of the SBC on anything? If a black person has cause to think that the person speaking is aligned, even a little, with the alt-right, what incentive do they have to listen to the gospel message? And if they do listen, how can they hear the clarity of the good news about the incarnation of Jesus without the clouds of hatred obscuring that good news?
To be clear, I believe that the Holy Spirit is more than able to contravene any and all human frailty and sin for the sake of the spread of the gospel. God forbid, if the SBC were to reject McKissic’s resolution, those of us who are members of SBC churches are still commanded to share the gospel. But human actions/sins have consequences, and it’s not ok to throw our hands up and sigh, “Well, the Holy Spirit will take care of it.”
As followers of King Jesus, Christians are commanded to pursue holiness. In 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul writes, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
The alt-right represents some of the worst “lawlessness” and “darkness” in our society. The SBC needs to separate from that lawlessness and darkness. I’m thankful for the good Kingdom work done by the members of the SBC, and I’m praying that they strike a blow for the Kingdom today by denouncing the alt-right and the “curse of Ham” theory. I’m also praying that the SBC will clear up the confusion over what happened yesterday, and that we’ll discover that it was simply a procedural issue. In that eventuality, I implore fellow Believers to exhibit grace and forgive the bumbling. If, however, the hesitancy turns out to be due to cowardice or worse, I implore those on the executive committee guilty of those sins to repent, seek reconciliation with their African-American brothers and sisters in Christ, and move forward in the knowledge that their sins are forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria
(addendum – the resolution has been revised, you can read it here. Based off the revised resolution, my hot take is that the SBC wanted language included that also reflected their past repentance for racism as well as their continued growth in the area. That’s fine. It’s true, and it doesn’t necessarily soften the resolution’s impact. However, I do wish that they had left the “curse of Ham theory” denunciation in.)
 That’s actually a bit of a redundancy because the Southern Baptist Convention is the annual meeting.
 I believe that they will pass the resolution.