In what is shaping up to be a historic annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, this month, the denomination’s Resolution 9 acknowledging critical race theory as a useful tool to explain how race has and continues to function in society is the target of multiple resolutions seeking to strip it of its power.
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, revealed in a blog post Friday that he was aware of nearly 60 resolutions being submitted to the Resolutions Committee asking SBC messengers to condemn critical race theory.
“I am aware that a number of people have submitted resolutions relating to CRT. I know of at least three that are opposed to CRT (here, here, and here) and one that is in favor of CRT (here). As I write this, it looks like there are about 57 people submitting the exact same resolution as Mike Stone’s proposed resolution,” Burk wrote.
Mike Stone, the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Georgia, and one of three nominees vying to become the next president of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, recently proposed a resolution asking the denomination to condemn the theory.
The proposed resolution also seeks to affirm the controversial portion of the November 2020 statement from the Council of Seminary Presidents that states, “affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message."
“And these are just the ones I know about because they’ve been publicized on the internet," Burk added.
"I have heard through the grapevine that there are other proposals that haven’t been publicized and that we won’t know about until the Resolutions Committee reports on them at the convention. This means that the committee is not going to be able to please all sides and likely won’t try to. It also means that they have their work cut out for them."
Regardless of what happens, Burk expressed confidence that SBC messengers “won’t leave Nashville without a strong resolution against critical race theory.”
“I have heard of at least one effort to rescind 2019’s Resolution 9. If that came to the floor of the convention, I would support it, but I’m not sure if it’s possible under the rules (someone else who knows more about Robert’s Rules can weigh-in)," he wrote.
"But I’m also not sure that it’s even necessary. If the convention passes a strong resolution against CRT, it would serve as a de facto rescinding of Resolution 9 (sort of like subsequent resolutions became a de facto repudiation of the SBC’s infamous pro-choice resolution of 1971). For me, the priority is getting a strong statement against CRT. That is the main thing."
The professor expressed support for a resolution proposed by Stephen Feinstein, a pastor at Sovereign Way Christian Church in Hesperia, California, and a chaplain in the United States Army Reserve.
“What I like about this is that it defines ‘institutional racism’ not as CRT does, but in terms of willful discrimination," Burk explained.
"In CRT, no human agency is required at all for racism to be present in a given institution or system (as I have written about here). CRT says that racism is everywhere all the time and that all white people are racists whether they choose to be or not. Any racially disparate outcome is racism even if no one willfully discriminated against anyone."
Burk argues that such an argument is "completely incompatible with what scripture teaches about sin and judgment, but this resolution fixes that."
"It recognizes that sinful partiality can affect institutions and systems while not alleging that all institutions and systems are racist by default (as in CRT)," he wrote.
Any member of a cooperating Southern Baptist church can propose a resolution for adoption by the SBC.
However, the SBC Committee on Resolutions may decline to recommend properly submitted resolutions to the convention for adoption.
Prominent Southern Baptist Pastor Dwight McKissic, who founded and leads Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, warned earlier this year that if Resolution 9 is rescinded, he would leave the SBC.
His threat came after he quit the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention after leaders adopted a “strongly worded, anti-CRT policy that denounces all aspects of critical race theory.”
McKissic's declaration also came amid an exodus of prominent black Southern Baptist pastors, such as Ralph West and Charlie Dates, over the Council of Seminary Presidents’ renouncing critical race theory and intersectionality.
The 2021 annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention is set to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 15 and June 16. More than 13,000 messengers have pre-registered for the event, according to Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee.
Only four other conventions have attracted at least 10,000 messengers since 2000, he said.
“This could be one of our largest gatherings since 1995 in Atlanta, when we had 20,654 messengers,” he recently noted.