Stephen:

Thanks for reading. This is something I have been thinking through a lot lately, not just the GBC’s resolution here but more broadly, and I do not have a definitive thought regarding the issue of an individual focus on salvation. This sole focus, while I get it because I grew up in an evangelical church and still attend an SBC church, allows for individuals to focus on one person, not the systemic issues.

I always go back to a quote from James Baldwin in “The Price of the Ticket.” He’s talking about the white church, and at the end, he basically says, “If I go over there and tell those [Black]kids about Jesus, they’d spit in my face.” They’d seen what the white church had done, and the church did not focus on their needs here and now. Instead, they positioned everything on the eternal.

Again, as a Christian, I agree with the latter, but I do not agree with the latter in absence of the former. I wanted to deal with the GBC’s resolution on racism, but I didn’t have space. I go to these two moments:

“WHEREAS, Racism is sin because it disregards the image of God in all people and denies the truth of the Gospel that believers are all one in Him; and

WHEREAS, In 1994, the Georgia Baptist Convention publicly repented of its own complicity in the sin of racism that has divided both the body of Christ and the broader culture; and”

On the surface, yes these are good. However, the first denies the ways that racism still works, through systems and other means, to infect us. CRT provides the framework to see that. Racism is not simply yelling epithets at people or doing physical violence.

I like Bradley Mason’s discussion here where he talks about the argument that “Racism isn’t the problem sin is the problem.” Mason talks about how the church approaches something pornography, something the Bible does not explicitly discuss, at least in the way we have it today. He points out, as CRT scholars do as well, that racism, as we know it, is not explicitly covered in the Bible either because racism and race in our context began around the sixteenth century.

Coupled with this, the statement about the 1994 convention offers platitudes, not restoration. The systems that racism support continue to affect individuals. So, what good do words do? How do we move towards equity when people aren’t equitable from the start? Or even close to equitable from the start?

David Walker wrote this in 1829, and I think it sums this point up well:

“It is indeed surprising, that a man of such great learning [Thomas Jefferson], combined with such excellent natural parts, should speak so of a set of men in chains. I do not know what to compare it to, unless, like putting one wild deer in an iron cage, where it will be secured, and hold another by the side of the same, then let it go, and expect the one in the cage to run as fast as the one at liberty.”

Along with all of this, the SBC’s resolution 9 does not privilege CRT above the Bible. In fact, they explicitly state, “RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture — not as transcendent ideological frameworks”

This means that they do not differ from the CBN or the GBC on the overall framework. They just see CRT as a beneficial tool to rectify the sins of the past and the present. The CBN’s and GBC’s statement completely ignore that aspect, and that is telling because for them, CRT becomes the latest culture war flashpoint.

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Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.

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