Southern Baptist leaders are distancing themselves from a Founders Ministries video trailer that some say misrepresents their views on social justice, race, and gender.
This week, the Reformed Baptist organization which seeks to encourage the “biblical reformation of local churches” published a trailer for its upcoming “cinedoc” titled “By What Standard.”
In a trailer, Founders Ministries President Tim Ascol, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, warned that “godless ideologies” have “spread across Western civilization over the last decades with a vengeance.”
“Many of these ideologies have been smuggled into many evangelical churches and organizations through the Trojan horse of social justice,” Ascol warned.
A webpage promoting the project argues that 25 years after the success of the conservative resurgence within the SBC, there are “dangerous ideologies” gaining “inroads into the thinking of some leaders, churches, and organizations.”
“These ideologies are even being promoted among some evangelicals as reliable analytical tools that can assist our understandings and efforts in gospel ministry,” the webpage asserts. “The result is that, in the name of social justice, many unbiblical agendas are being advanced under the guise of honoring and protecting women, promoting racial reconciliation, and showing love and compassion to people experiencing sexual dysphoria.”
The trailer featured edited clips of panel discussions held at events like the SBC Annual Convention and Baptist 21.
“I believe that God has given particularly what we call white evangelicals a divine opportunity,” James Merritt, lead pastor at Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, and former SBC president, is shown saying during an SBC 19 panel titled “Undivided: Your Church and Racial Reconciliation.”
“We got an opportunity to prove that we can listen more than we talk,” he added. “Let’s really step up to the plate and humble ourselves the way Christians should humble themselves and say to the Dhatis and say to the sisters here ‘teach us.’”
Another clip seems to villainize Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore as he defended popular female Bible teacher Beth Moore during an SBC 19 panel on sexual abuse.
“A Southern Baptist Convention that doesn’t have a place for Beth Moore doesn’t have a place for a lot of us,” Moore said in the clip.
The trailer also negatively paints remarks by Texas Pastor Matt Chandler of Village Church in Flower Mound, who spoke during a B21 panel session on sexual abuse.
But the trailer also promotes commentary by influential SBC leaders such as Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and other biblical scholars.
After the trailer was released earlier this week, many of the leaders featured in the film have spoken out against it.
Mohler took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the trailer, which showed a brief clip of him talking with Ascol about complementarianism.
“Yes, folks, I have now seen the @FoundersMin video trailer and I am alarmed at how some respected SBC leaders are represented. Southern Baptists expect and deserve a respectful and honest exchange of ideas. I am convinced we are all capable of this,” Mohler wrote in a thread.
“I have also long known and enjoyed the company of the folks who made the video and the folks offended by the video and I am hopeful that @FoundersMin will respond appropriately and in a way that affirms their intention to be a responsible voice in the SBC.”
Akin posted a statement on Twitter explaining that he sat down for a short interview with Ascol during the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting for what he understood was to be a discussion on the authority of scripture.
“Today I was disappointed to see the trailer for that documentary,” Akin stated. “What I saw was edited footage that I believed to be misleading, which misrepresents important issues and what leaders in the SBC actually affirm.”
“I have concerns about what the tone, tenor and content of the full documentary will be, and I have requested that my association with and contributions to this film be removed,” Akin continued. “I hope my brothers and sisters will reconsider their strategy for communicating our deeply held South Baptist conviction that the Bible is our sole foundation and authority for all of life and faith.”
Allen responded to the trailer on social media, stating that it is “either a click-bait promo piece or it foreshadows a movie that’s uncharitable & unhelpful.”
“@FoundersMin has often played a constructive role in SBC life, but I’m afraid this video isn’t such an occasion,” Allen tweeted. “These issues demand we engage w clarity & charity, & we must.”
Greenway wrote on Twitter that he was asked by Ascol to join other seminary leaders he respected in being interviewed on the SBC Conservative Resurgence. However, he stressed that he would not “be part of any agenda seeking to divide Southern Baptists unnecessarily.”
Greenway added that there are “better ways to have the conversations we need to have as a convention of churches.”
“Undoubtedly there are important issues we must confront as Southern Baptists. But HOW we confront those issues matters as much to me as WHAT we are choosing to confront,” Greenway said. “Part of the SBC’s nature is our willingness to disagree charitably on matters outside our confession of faith.”
Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, also expressed displeasure with the way his comments were portrayed in the trailer.
McKissic retweeted a fellow pastor who tweeted: “They make a pastor who is a complimentarian [sic] appear to be an egalitarian and take Chandler and Mohler out of context to make them seem like liberal dupes. Breaking the 9th commandment is not the Christian way.”
In his own tweets, McKissic explained that he was “totally blindsided” by the trailer and disapproves of the message. McKissic called the trailer “very divisive, unnecessary and unfortunate.”
“I really don’t feel led or compelled to respond to the false, misleading, deceptive & unChristlike assaults of The Founders Ministry on Social Justice, while using myself & others as pawns,” McKissic wrote.
Amid the social media outrage surrounding the trailer, Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior chimed in.
“Perhaps a more ethical way to engage with wrong ideas is to present then and engage with them as they are, unedited and undistorted,” she wrote. “That’s my view anyway.”