As of today, there are more than 12,000 preregistered messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. That’s a big uptick in registrations considering that we are just coming out of the COVID-19 season. What’s the reason for the uptick? Without a doubt, many are going to the SBC for the first time this year in order to vote for the next president. Why is this so important? There are many factors that play into the cultural moment, but as we examine this entire scenario—it’s quite clear that we are approaching a true synthesis moment in the life of the SBC. Many churches are on the fence and many pastors are tired of the leftward drift. How do we make sense of what’s happening in the SBC?
For the last few years, we have heard much about critical race theory and intersectionality (CRT/I) and what has been referred to as cultural Marxism. While the present social justice movement does have some Marxist elements, there is something different that’s happening in both the social sphere as well as the religious sphere of our nation. There is a purposeful drift leftward within evangelical circles that transcends some cultural spillover effect from the progressive culture. Such a purposeful and tactical move is the result of what we know as the Hegelian dialectic.
Suffice it to say, if people within the SBC were confused by CRT/I and Marxism, the teachings of Hegel will cause their heads to spin even more. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher who pulled from Immanuel Kant and developed a dialectical approach that can be used to transition culture, people, and thought in a preferred direction. The way it works is by taking the thesis and introducing antithesis (contradiction or chaos) which creates the necessary friction resulting in the ultimate goal—synthesis. In other words, if life as you know it is the “thesis” and the goal is to move to a new perspective of life called “synthesis” there is a process of development and a certain amount of movement that needs to take place in order to achieve that stated goal. It’s the chaos or contradiction that moves people in the direction of synthesis. In Hegel’s thought, we are always in motion or development and to control it there needs to be a dialectical method to the madness.
- Thesis (life as you know it)
- Anthesis (contradiction, often built-in, resulting in friction and chaos)
- Synthesis (what is considered to be the most pure form of truth or the broader reality of truth)
Now, at this point, ask yourself the following questions. A few years ago when you had never heard about critical theory and egalitarianism was a battle of the past—how did we move from that point to where we are today? Did the Board members of once trusted seminaries become left-leaning and progressive by accident? Were professors who promote men like James Cone and ideas like CRT/I hired by pure accident? Was the Beth Moore moment of the SBC culturally produced or was it purposeful? Was the MLK50 event really designed to create unity among different ethnicities within the SBC? What purpose did J.D. Greear serve as the president of the SBC? Why did the Resolutions Committee rewrite the original version of Resolution 9 in 2019 that resulted in the infamous Resolution 9—On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality?
As we examine our current social justice controversy, remember two very important points. First of all, the social justice controversy is far more than a “women preacher” controversy within the SBC. Secondly, all of these events, personalities, and leadership decisions are far more than random chance. They serve as the necessary contradiction in order to move the SBC to the preferred synthesis. In other words, everything that we are experiencing in this cultural controversy known as social justice is not by accident or random chance. There are leaders within evangelical denominations (yes, this is not just a SBC controversy) who are creating the narrative and introducing the specific elements of contradiction and controversy that will result in a progressive leftward shift.
Three years ago in early June of 2018 I penned an article titled, “The SBC at the Intersection of Intersectionality.” A well known SBC professor tweeted it out, and immediately Russell Moore contacted his provost and had him remove the tweet. One year later the SBC voted to adopt CRT/I as “analytical tools” for gospel ministry. We have moved, in fact, we have shifted quite a bit over these last several years. The shift has not been in the right direction to say the least.
In 2018, a group of us worked together to release the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel as a means of combating and pushing back against the social justice movement. It was later in 2019 that the Resolutions Committee rewrote a resolution that was submitted for the SBC to consider at the annual meeting. Could it be that the heavily revised version was a response to the Statement on Social Justice?
Consider the reality that very few professors and presidents from the SBC have signed the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel and those who have signed it have done so to their own detriment. Some of the professors who signed the Statement are no longer employed at a SBC seminary while men who have promoted the teachings of James Cone and CRT/I are being hired and promoted within these institutions. Could all of this be reduced down to mere chance or could it be a result of the necessary chaos that would move the SBC to a more progressive version of the SBC (synthesis)?
The SBC stands at a synthesis moment. A small number of people speak for a vast number of SBC churches. A smaller number of people serve in leadership positions in the SBC and control the purse strings of a large pool of money that flows through the SBC channel every single year. Some SBC leaders have postured themselves as conservative and have learned how to use “conservative” language in order to satisfy the churches and pastors of the SBC while embracing dangerous ideologies and using a dialectical method to lead the SBC down a leftward path. One of the founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, James P. Boyce, stated the following:
The sinful actions of men may be sinful, either from the motives which prompt them, the ends in view, or the means by which they are accomplished.
When conservative voices speak up with legitimate concern, they are heavily criticized for their “tone” and their motives are condemned through social media. Many SBC elite voices continue to argue for a big tent approach to the SBC that requires more and more capitulation in order to maintain the “necessary” size. When did the size become the most important factor of the SBC? Perhaps a smaller SBC would be a more healthy SBC.
People are being manipulated by ideas and techniques within the SBC and unless the ideas are exposed and immediate correction of course is taken, this agenda will continue to move the SBC in a progressive direction. Follow the dialectical method (thesis, anthesis, synthesis) and remember, Beth Moore is the target they want you to aim for in this moment. She serves as a distraction and necessary chaos in order to continue moving the agenda forward. Remember, this social justice movement is not about women preachers or Beth Moore just as Black Lives Matter was never about black lives. It’s about their progressive politics and attack on the nuclear family. The same can be said of the cultural controversies and figures within the SBC social justice agenda. There is something more beneath the surface. Some are pawns and others are kings, but make no mistake about it—we have not arrived at this point by mistake.
The upcoming SBC presidential vote is critically important, and unless enough concerned pastors and messengers of the SBC stand up, speak up, and travel to Nashville to vote—the SBC may never recover. I would urge you to pray and to vote as we approach the annual meeting of the SBC in just two weeks from now.