SBC presidential hopeful Mike Stone wants denomination to fully reject critical race theory

Mike Stone
Mike Stone | Photo: Courtesy of Mike Stone

Two years after the Southern Baptist Convention acknowledged in Resolution 9 that critical race theory can be a useful analytical tool to explain how race has and continues to function in society, Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Georgia, is proposing a new resolution asking the denomination to condemn the theory. 

Stone, who is vying to become the next president of the world’s largest Baptist denomination at its annual meeting next month in Nashville, Tennessee, promoted his proposal on Twitter last Wednesday.

The pastor said the proposed resolution seeks to “provide leadership with clarity, compassion, and conviction” in addressing critical race theory and intersectionality.

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He explained that the proposal has more than 50 supporters. They include Owen Strachan, an associate professor of Christian theology and director of the Center for Public Theology at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Carol Swain, a retired professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University.

“The inclusion of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, since the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Birmingham, Ala., has brought confusion and division among its churches by describing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as analytical tools that are helpful to explain how racism functions in society and how to evaluate human experiences,” they argue in the proposal.

“Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are ideologies rooted in Neo-Marxist and postmodern worldviews, by which our civilization is being deconstructed around our families, communities, and nations, which make them incompatible with Scripture as they are characterized by worldly ‘philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ’ (Col 2:8)."

The proposed resolution seeks to affirm the controversial portion of the Nov. 20, 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."

Some progressive critics dismissed the CSP statement as critics as “anti-intellectual.”

“We deny that any analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences if those analytical tools are themselves rooted in worldviews incompatible with the Word of God,” Stone's resolution continues. “We reaffirm our agreement with historic, biblically faithful Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in any and all forms and our agreement with The Baptist Faith and Message which states ‘that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”

The proposal reiterates the “absolute conviction” of supporters that “a proper interpretation of the Holy Scriptures — apart from any worldly ideology, any personal identity trait, or any lived experience — is sufficient to serve as the sole standard by which our faith and practice are to be measured.”

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 currently 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.

Last Wednesday, McKissic wrote on Twitter that the SBC's response to Stone’s proposal would be a “defining moment.”

“The decision made about this resolution will be a defining moment," he tweeted. "Interesting that there is not one African American lead or senior pastor on this list of signatories. This may be the most racially divisive resolution ever proposed in the SBC. Approval makes decision mkg easy."

Despite McKissic's claim, there are black signatories to the resolution as of Tuesday, including Swain and former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. 

Critical race theory, which has been a lightning rod for debate and division in evangelical circles in recent years, is defined as an ideological framework that some legal scholars argue interrogates the relationship between race, law and power.

Last September, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order in which he classified critical race theory and related concepts like “white privilege” as “offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating." He previously directed federal agencies to stop teaching government workers about the concept in diversity training sessions.

In January, the Labor Department suspended enforcement of Trump’s order after a federal judge blocked it.

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