(Updated July 24, 1:35 p.m.)
Four Southern Baptist seminary presidents featured in a video published online by Founders Ministries on July 23 have expressed concerns that the edited footage does not accurately portray their views or the views of other Southern Baptists.
The video is a trailer for a forthcoming documentary film titled “By What Standard?” which is slated for release in September. The film, described as a “cinedoc,” is meant to “sound an alarm” about “godless ideologies” being promoted among Southern Baptists “in the name of social justice,” according to a promotional web page at Founders.org.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, called the trailer “misleading” and asked that his association with the documentary and interview material be retracted. Akin and three other seminary presidents were among interviewees that agreed to discuss doctrinal issues such as the authority of scripture and gender roles in ministry with Founders in on-camera interviews.
Image captured from Founders Ministries video
“As a Southern Baptist who has staked the whole of my life and ministry on the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture, I was happy to share my convictions on the matter,” Akin said in a statement posted online hours after the video’s release. “Today I was disappointed to see the trailer for that documentary. What I saw was edited footage that I believe to be misleading, which misrepresents important issues and what leaders in the SBC actually affirm.”
The seminary presidents expressed concerns when they discovered interview clips were stitched together with ominous portrayals of fellow evangelical leaders, such as well-known author and speaker Beth Moore; Curtis Woods, an executive leader at the Kentucky Baptist Convention; Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and Rachael Denhollander, author and advocate for victims of sexual abuse.
“I am alarmed at how some respected SBC leaders are represented,” Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said as part of a series of posts on Twitter.
Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in email comments to the Biblical Recorder, “You can’t judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge a movie by its trailer. But this trailer is either a click-bait promotional piece or it represents a movie that’s uncharitable and unhelpful. Founders Ministry has often played a constructive role in SBC life, but I’m afraid this video isn’t one such occasion. It doesn’t appear to be the type of documentary I thought I – and other SBC leaders – was signing up for. These issues demand we engage with clarity and charity, and we should do just that. “
Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on social media that he was interviewed about the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Conservative Resurgence,” but added, “I will not, however, be part of any agenda seeking to divide Southern Baptists unnecessarily.”
Jonathan Leeman, editorial director for 9Marks, noted on social media that he and Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., were also interviewed by Founders on the topic of complementarianism. Leeman shared Akin’s statement on Twitter, saying, “our experience and reaction is the same.”
Founders Ministries is a Calvinistic group that developed in the early 1980s to host events and publish material to promote conservative evangelical beliefs. Founders President Tom Ascol is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Liz Tablazon contributed to this report.)