The Council of Seminary Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) adopted a statement in a virtual meeting Nov. 23 that reaffirms the Baptist Faith & Message (2000) as the unifying doctrinal statement of all six seminaries, condemns racism and declares that a pair of social science theories called critical race theory and intersectionality are out of step with Southern Baptist beliefs. (Read the full statement below.)
The council is made up of seminary presidents from schools formally affiliated with the SBC. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., is currently chairman of the council.
“Our goal is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission,” Akin told Baptist Press. “We take that task seriously as we serve all Southern Baptists, and we ground our doctrinal fidelity in scripture as expressed through the Baptist Faith and Message.
“While we must continue to speak with clear conviction against any aspects of racism, the sure and certain cure to any evil of this age is the gospel of Jesus Christ. No unbiblical ideology can solve the social issues that confront us. Every faculty member of Southeastern Seminary is fully committed to teaching biblical truth in service to King Jesus, and to standing steadfast in an increasingly secular culture.”
The council said it developed the statement to honor the twentieth anniversary of the Baptist Faith & Message being revised and adopted by the SBC. The Baptist Faith & Message in its current form is celebrated as a crowning achievement of the convention’s “Conservative Resurgence.”
The council’s statement appears to come in response to critics who claim the convention is losing its conservative commitments. Controversy about what Southern Baptists should believe arose in 2019 when the convention passed a resolution saying critical race theory and intersectionality were acceptable “analytical tools” for examining racial dynamics and discrimination but could not be accepted as “transcendent ideological frameworks.”
Some critics claim “Resolution 9” was an effort to usher in leftist beliefs contrary to Southern Baptist faith and practice. The 2019 resolutions committee has denied such allegations and defended their position as being in line with the Baptist Faith & Message.
SBC president J.D. Greear said “outlandish claims, out-of-context sermons or teaching clips, along with outright lies, have been used to attack people and undermine the Great Commission work of our convention, its entities, state conventions and churches.
“As this statement demonstrates, our convention leaders affirm without reservation not only our historic Baptist theological confessions, but also a biblical view of justice, which I also affirm and applaud. While we lament the painful legacy that racism and discrimination have left in our country and remain committed to fighting it in every form, we also declare that ideological frameworks like critical race theory are incompatible with the [Baptist Faith & Message]. The gospel gives a better answer.”
Members of the 2019 SBC resolutions committee released a statement today on social media expressing full support for the statement by seminary presidents and comments by Greear.
They restated their position that they do not affirm critical race theory nor intersectionality “as a worldview, because as such, we believe that they conflict with core Christian teachings.”
“We pray that we can move forward together in the Great Commission assignment to which Jesus, our Lord and Savior, called us. We acknowledge the calling to be Great Commission Baptists does not lead us to ignore the social, cultural and political issues in our society. It does mean that those issues must be addressed ultimately by the proclamation of the crucified and resurrected Jesus.”
In September, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina‘s (BSC) Committee on Resolutions expressed support for Steve Scoggins in his intent to submit a resolution on scripture and critical race theory to the SBC for consideration at the 2021 annual meeting. Scoggins was the BSC president at the time. He serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C.
The resolution was developed in conjunction with Bill Sturm, pastor of Sandy Ridge Baptist Church in Hickory and Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Icard in Connelly Springs.
Pardue, who now serves as BSC president, said he welcomed the reaffirmation of the Baptist Faith & Message by seminary presidents, saying it “helps bond Southern Baptists together for the mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.”
He also expressed gratitude for their comments about critical race theory and intersectionality.
“Racism is abhorrent and denies the fundamental truth that each and every person is made in the image of God and precious in His sight,” Pardue told the Biblical Recorder. “Racism is sin in need of redemption. Secular ideologies deny the image of God and can never be compatible with our sacred work.
“As I traveled across North Carolina this fall, I heard numerous N.C. Baptists express concern about the perception that these ideologies are gaining ground in our convention. I’m thankful we can be confident that secular dogmas will not have a foothold in our seminaries.”
BSC executive director-treasurer Milton Hollifield said he appreciates and affirms the statement by seminary presidents, along with Greear.
“I am confident that these timely statements reflect the character and integrity of each man,” Hollfield told the Recorder.
“I personally know each of these men and admire them for their conservative theological stands on the Bible and also the way they are leading our seminaries and helping shape the future of our convention by training ministers and missionaries for the advancement of the gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission.”
The full statement reads:
On this twentieth anniversary year of the Baptist Faith & Message (as revised and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000), the Council of Seminary Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in its annual session, hereby reaffirms with eagerness the Baptist Faith & Message as the doctrinal statement that unites and defines Southern Baptist cooperation and establishes the confessional unity of our Convention.
Our six seminaries are confessional institutions, standing together in this classic statement of biblical truth. All professors must agree to teach in accordance with and not contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message. This is our sacred commitment and privilege, and every individual faculty member and trustee of our institutions shares this commitment. We are thankful for the theological commitments of the Southern Baptist Convention, standing against the tide of theological compromise and in the face of an increasingly hostile secular culture.
In light of current conversations in the Southern Baptist Convention, we stand together on historic Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in any form and we also declare that affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.
The Council of Seminary Presidents consists of the following members:
- Danny Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Jason Allen, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Jamie Dew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
- Adam Greenway, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Jeff Iorg, Gateway Seminary
- Albert Mohler, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
(Updated Dec. 1, 4:15 p.m.)