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An Insider’s Guide To The 2021 Southern Baptist Convention
The Federalist ^ | June 21, 2021 | Josh Herring

Posted on 06/21/2021 10:54:47 AM PDT by Kaslin

This year, the nation’s largest Protestant body focused on three interrelated issues: the aftermath of Russell Moore’s resignation, the denomination’s presidency, and critical race theory.

The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and other outlets published major articles previewing the 2021 annual Southern Baptist Convention. Now that the convention is over, here’s a more detailed overview of what happened from an insider’s perspective. As a lifelong Southern Baptist, a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an observer of Baptist politics over the last decade, I offer the following thoughts.

The 2021 SBC was essentially a family squabble worked out through a democratic polity on the national stage. This year, the squabble was composed of three interrelated issues: the aftermath of Russell Moore’s resignation, the SBC presidency, and denomination’s relation to critical race theory (CRT). Let’s look at those in turn.

Russell Moore

In 2013, Russell Moore was appointed head of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, the SBC’s public policy arm. Moore did a wonderful job speaking truth to power and working to show that the Bible is sufficient for all of life.

In May 2021, two letters were leaked. The first, written by Moore to the ERLC’s trustees, describes the attempts of one Southern Baptist politician-pastor, Mike Stone, to launch two secret investigations of Moore. In both cases, Moore was exonerated.

The effects of these investigations on Moore’s reputation, however, were significant. He describes having to answer his son’s question: “Dad, have you had a moral failing?” That’s Southern Baptist language for committing adultery.

Moore also describes a damning account of executive committee officers working to use the power of the purse to prevent sexual assault survivors from sharing their stories. The second letter, written to 2019-2021 Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greer, reiterates much of the first but adds a note of comradery between Moore and Greer, who both faced opposition in their efforts to advance conversations about racial reconciliation.

Written by a prominent ethicist with the courage to withstand the SBC’s strong pro-Donald Trump element and a consistent witness on racial reconciliation and sexual assault within churches, Moore’s letters, and subsequent resigniation, provoked an immediate response.

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention can propose motions and resolutions demanding action and affirmations from the convention. This year, five proposed resolutions called for the executive committee to be investigated by a third-party organization.

Executive committee leadership had already announced they would be commissioning such an investigation through Guidepost Solutions, but in a surprising turn of events, the convention voted that the newly elected SBC president would appoint a task force to oversee that investigation. This means the executive committee will not be allowed to supervise their own investigation.

In the midst of this drama, questions arose about responses to sexual assault and abuse of power by trusted individuals. It appeared to some that a small group of leaders was trying to avoid accountability—an accountability forced onto them by the overwhelming majority of messengers. The SBC began with an air of tension, and its decision of how to respond to the executive committee comprised the first major chain of events at the 2021 convention.

Electing the President

In 2021, four men campaigned for the SBC presidency. Randy Adams from Oregon ran on a platform of changing the structures of funding North American missions. Mike Stone ran on an anti-CRT and blessing-of-Paige-Patterson platform. Al Mohler ran on name recognition and a willingness to oppose secular culture. Ed Litton emphasized racial reconciliation and continuity in leadership.

To win the election, a candidate must receive 50 percent of the vote; an initial split vote resulted in a run-off between Litton and Stone. Despite immense recognition in the convention as a hero of the Conservative Resurgence, president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and host of The Briefing podcast, Mohler lacked two key qualities to win pastors’ votes: he has spent his career in the academy, adjacent to the church; and he is a man of (metaphorical) war.

Mohler’s work has been key to advancing conservative theological scholarship, but that is not the work of a pastor. He has also cultivated an aura of consistent opposition to increased secularism. Mohler’s method of worldview analysis clarifies the differences between secular and Christian life, but does not provide a pastoral spirit preparing Christians to live without cultural hegemony. Mohler leans towards a culture warrior mentality rather than pastoral counsel. In the minds of many voting messengers, Mohler was not the unifying leader needed for this moment.

Stone deserves a bit more backstory. As pastor of a church with approximately 1,000 members, his candidacy for president seems odd, as it is typical for serious candidates to lead the largest churches in the convention, which total many thousands more members. Stone’s candidacy was made possible by his connection to Paige Patterson.

Three years ago, Patterson was ousted from the presidency of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a denominational statesman and fellow leader of the Conservative Resurgence alongside Mohler, Danny Akin, and Judge Pressler, Patterson’s shadow loomed large. His departure from seminary leadership resulted in the formation of the Conservative Baptist Network, of which Stone is a key leader.

Stone rode the wave of anti-CRT sentiment and nostalgia for Patterson’s leadership to a competitive position in the SBC presidential race. Then, just as his bid for office seemed to pit him as the conservative, CRT-hating candidate against Litton, Moore’s leaked letters described Stone as the chief agent in multiple false attacks on Moore’s character.

The SBC presidential race was really about three different visions of the Southern Baptist Convention: Stone would publicly rally the conservative base against CRT while possibly continuing the worst of backroom politics; Mohler would sound the charge of culture war; Litton would lead the convention towards racial reconciliation, equipping pastors to lead churches, and encouraging growth in evangelism and missions. When faced with the runoff choices of Litton versus Stone, the convention voted for Litton.

Casting Litton as a theological liberal or political progressive misunderstands the question; no liberal ran for the SBC presidency. Instead, the question was one of transparency, unity, and future vision for Southern Baptists.

Critical Race Theory

Woven through this year’s convention were multiple calls to ban CRT explicitly. To understand CRT’s role in Southern Baptist life, two factors merit attention.

First, the vast majority of Southern Baptists do not study arcane matters of academic interest or complexity; they trust pastors, seminary professors, and Christian academics to guard the SBC’s orthodoxy. Second, in 2019, the last year the SBC met in person, the convention adopted Resolution 9. Thousands of messengers voted to affirm that a thing called “intersectionality” could be used as a tool for gospel proclamation.

Since 2019, an internet cottage industry has grown up decrying CRT. Neil Shenvi is the most recent (and most helpful) of such public intellectuals, while Tom Ascol of Founder’s Ministries is perhaps the most prolific. By the conclusion of the convention, messengers voted to reject any “vain philosophy” that operates in contradiction to the gospel—an intentionally broad statement that could apply to CRT or any other philosophical position contrary to historic Christianity.

One year, one resolution, one convention at a time, Southern Baptists strive to follow Jesus. Hopefully, next year’s Anaheim convention will be more peaceful. But who knows? After all, our King did say, “I came not to bring peace but a sword.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: christianity; criticalracetheory; edlitton; hallelujahbrutha; justanothersect; protestants; religion; russellmoore; sbc; southernbaptists

1 posted on 06/21/2021 10:54:47 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Written by a prominent ethicist with the courage to withstand the SBC’s strong pro-Donald Trump element

I believe the author has shown his true colors by that statement and it isn’t good for the SBC. He is an anti-Trump liberal that would gladly have Pope Francis take over control of the SBC.

2 posted on 06/21/2021 11:15:53 AM PDT by dirtymac ( Now Is The Time For All Good Men To ComeTo The Aid Of Their Country! NOW)
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To: dirtymac

The Southern Baptists have lost their focus. Moore was one of the big problems as well. Baptists need to be about their Father’s business. Maybe there needs to be a split like the Methodist Church. The Remnant vs the Liberal Woke faction. Right now we have a Remnant Baptist Church on auto pilot with Holy Spirit and will have to make a decision what we support within the denomination. The sheep and goats are separating right before our very eyes within the churches.

3 posted on 06/21/2021 11:23:19 AM PDT by Maudeen (
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To: Kaslin

The writer doesn’t relate what the “truth” was Moore spoke to which “power” because it never happened. The idiot is finally gone.

4 posted on 06/21/2021 11:29:24 AM PDT by odawg
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To: Kaslin

This is an apology piece written by a liberal in the vein of Beth Moore, Russell Moore and JD Greear. Those three scum have done everything in their power that they could to destroy the SBC from within.

Ed Litton is a race-baiting SJW heretic.

Greear propped him up and pushed him, and Russell Moore did everything he could to sabotage Stone through the media right before the convention.

Russell Moore is a lifelong Democrat who desperately wants to remove Conservatives from influence.

After he and Beth Moore did their damage, they both left the SBC.

The author of this piece is an apologist for these filth.

5 posted on 06/21/2021 11:32:03 AM PDT by TexasGurl24
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To: TexasGurl24

I know a pastor who was there. Voted for Stone. We were texting back and forth while I watched live. I said at many points I was watching a DNC convention. The corruption is off the chain.

Pastor said, after this, the SBC will be bleeding money from affiliated churhes IHO.

6 posted on 06/21/2021 11:50:25 AM PDT by RushIsMyTeddyBear (RIP my "teddy bear". )
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To: RushIsMyTeddyBear


7 posted on 06/21/2021 12:07:42 PM PDT by Guenevere (When the foundations are being destroyed what can the righteous do)
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To: Kaslin
Not just the SBC. The DS has infiltrated all "christian" denominations, and I dare say other religions as well. Their (DS) biggest advantage is that they are practically invisible, yet operate openly without anyone noticing or protesting...

Sheeple to the slaughter...

8 posted on 06/21/2021 12:11:30 PM PDT by Dubh_Ghlase (Oh boy!)
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To: RushIsMyTeddyBear

I expect our small SBC to leave the SBC after this convention. If they want to commit suicide denominational suicide like the others and spit in the face of God more power too them but our church won’t support CRT marxist garbage.

9 posted on 06/21/2021 12:47:36 PM PDT by sarge83
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To: dirtymac

Why are they so anti Trump…. Other than so many are dems??

10 posted on 06/21/2021 1:57:31 PM PDT by Nifster (I see puppy dogs in the clouds)
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To: Kaslin

Russ Moore is part of the BDS movement against Israel and a social justice promoter.

The writer sounds like a religious liberal.

11 posted on 06/21/2021 2:07:19 PM PDT by lurk ( )
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