The Southern Baptist Convention’s Big Trouble


SBC Executive Committee (Morris Abernathy/Baptist Press)

In 1840, 5 years ahead of the creation of the Southern Baptist Convention, Baptists from across America met in New York City and listened to an Address to Southern Baptists by Elon Galusha, a lawyer by education and a Baptist minister by vocation.

Mr. Galusha appealed to the Baptist ministers of the American South to give up the institution of slavery. The Southerners who listened to Mr. Galusha would 5 years later break away from the loose association of American Baptists referred to as The Triennial Convention and kind the Southern Baptist Convention (1845).

It really is clear Southern Baptists did not accept what Mr. Galusha stated in his address by their reaction to it. Right here are the highlights of Galusha’s appeal offered to Southern Baptists on Saturday, April 18, 1840, at the McDougal Street Baptist Residence of Worship in New York City:

“It is our firm conviction that the entire method of American slavery, in theory and practice, is a violation of the instincts of nature, — a perversion of the 1st principles of justice,–and a optimistic transgression of the revealed will of God.”

“We think that God only has the ideal to take away the overall health, the wife, the youngsters, or the life of males guilty of no social crime. When man, single or related, utilizes his energy for such ends by way of slavery of a different, he seems to us to arrogate to himself the prerogative of the Almighty, and to assume a duty below which an archangel would stagger.”

“We behold, in all Scriptures a virtual and total condemnation of American slavery.”

“American Calvinistic Baptists have been hitherto regarded by the Christian globe as accountable for the sins of Baptist Slaveholders, and the sufferings of a single hundred thousand slaves.” 

“And if we fail, as numerous do, to testify our abhorrence of a method that enables a fellow-Christian to sell his brother, or his brother’s wife or youngster, or to dissolve the marriage tie at pleasure, we see not how to escape the merited contempt of mankind, the reproaches of conscience, or the displeasure of God.” 

“Lastly, –if you need to, (which Heaven avert!) stay deaf to the voice of warning and entreaty, –If you nevertheless cling to the energy-maintained privilege of living on punpaid toil, and of claiming as house the image of God, which Jesus purchased with His valuable blood,–we solemnly declare, as we worry the Lord, that we can not and we dare not recognize you as constant brethren in Christ.

“We deplore your situation we pray for your deliverance.”

5 years later in Augusta, Georgia, Southern Baptists dissolved their alliance with Baptists who held to Mr. Galusha’s convictions about slavery and formed the Southern Baptist Convention, a Convention which supported their pastors, missionaries, and leaders becoming slave-holders and deemed the institution of slavery as “God-ordained.”

America fought a Civil War from 1861-1865. The North and the South fought, generally brother against brother, for the future of the Union referred to as the United States of America.

Soon after the South lost, Northern Baptists sought to reconcile with their Southern Baptist brothers. In May perhaps of 1888, 23 years immediately after the finish of the Civil War, the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Richmond, Virginia. A handful of days later, Northern Baptists chose to meet in Washington, D.C., just outdoors Richmond, in order to “excellent a much more excellent union” with the “brethren from the South.”  In other words, Northern Baptists wanted to reunite with Southern Baptists.

The union try utterly failed, with good satisfaction of top ministers of the Southern Baptist Convention. Six months later, in November 1888, the Baptist Congress met at Richmond, Virginia to take a different step toward reconciliation of all Baptists in America. Even even though it was the Southern Baptists who broke from Northern Baptists more than the situation of slavery, the Northern Baptists continually sought reconciliation “like our Lord did, the aggrieved going to the offender.”

This final try at Baptist union was met with “stern rebuff at the hands of Southern brethren.” What was the lead to of the rebuff? According to the Richmond Herold, the newspaper which reported on the Baptist Congress, the Southern Baptist rebuff of Baptist reunification“could be traced to its supply. Far behind all the trivial and petty variations will be identified the insurmountable — the Negro.”

Quick forward a single hundred years.

In 1988, I was a young Southern Baptist pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Southern Baptist Associational Missionary who supervised Southern Baptist Churches was identified for a statement he would make for the “requirements” he anticipated in the Tulsa County churches he led. I quote:

“No slacks, no tracs, no blacks.”

The Tulsa Baptist Associational Southern Baptist Missionary believed that girls need to put on dresses, music in churches need to be reside, not recorded and attendees in Southern Baptist churches need to not be African-American. It was my observation that SBC had not changed a great deal in 100 years.

The writer of the nation song  Take This Job And Shove It,  David Allan Coe, when produced this observation.

“It is not the beauty of a developing you need to appear at its the building of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”

The foundation of the SBC was constructed on the corrupt soil of authoritarian racist theology.

I’ve been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention my complete life. I’ve served as President of the Baptist Common Convention of Oklahoma (2002-04). I’ve been a pastor of the exact same SBC affiliated church for the final 27 years. Southern Baptists have carried out, are undertaking, and will some good items.

But we can not hide from our previous, nor need to we excuse our present. The SBC was constructed on a fractured foundation. We will not stand the test of time. We’ll collapse.

Unless we get rid of the foundation of authoritarianism, racism, and patronism.

Its time for some corporate repentance in the SBC.

On Monday evening, February 18, 2019, SBC President J.D. Greear spoke to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, proposing a 10-step strategic program to address sexual abuse inside our ranks.

The subsequent Saturday, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention rejected J.D. Greear’s impassioned plea that the SBC transform relating to its previous silence and cover-up of circumstances of predatory sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Equivalent to Southern Baptists in 1840 who separated from the Northern Baptists who have been advocating for the cessation of slavery amongst Southern Baptists, the 2019 Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention distanced itself from the SBC President who advocated for transformational transform in how Southern Baptists deal with predatory sexual abuse.


What is comparable in between Southern Baptists in 1840 and 2019?

The answer is identified in Mr. Galusha’s phrase from 1840. Southern Baptist leaders then – and these days – cling to energy-maintained privilege.”

SBC leaders, which contain pastors, denominational staff, institutional presidents, Executive Committee members, board trustees, and a host of other Southern Baptist men and women in positions of leadership need to boldly and unequivocally distance themselves 3 unbiblical and corrupt practices:

Patronism, which is defined as a practice or a culture in company and society that is primarily based on individual relations for advancements in position, earnings, and exposure. Beneath a method of patronism, prominent or effective men and women decide or influence choices primarily based on their personal criteria or interests.

Racism, which is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against somebody of a diverse race primarily based on the belief that one’s personal race is superior.

Authoritarianism, which is defined as a kind of radical, totalitarian leadership, characterized by dictatorial energy, forcible suppression of opposition and the robust regimentation of followers.

Abuse thrives and abusers hide in organizations constructed on the cracked foundation of patronism, racism, and authoritarianism.

It‘s time the Southern Baptist Convention repent of our unbiblical and damaging views of racial superiority, gender inferiority, and spiritual authority in the church, the house, and society.

This patronism, racism, and authoritarianism of the previous SBC kind the systemic challenges we face these days.

The Southern Baptist foundation of energy-maintained privilege need to be changed.


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