We Need Consistency from Seminary Presidents on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality

On November 30, 2020, SBC Seminary presidents affirmed that critical race theory (CRT) is incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message. [1] While I appreciate their declaration, the message has been inconsistent, particularly from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) where Dr. Moler serves as president, and South Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) where Danny Akin serves as president. I mention only two of my concerns in this article. First, Jarvis Williams, a professor at SBTS, and Curtis A. Woods, a former professor at SBTS, endorse critical race theory.

For example, in the book, Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Jarvis Williams says, “Southern Baptists should be quick to listen and slow to speak on race when they do not understand the issues. White supremacy and racism are complicated issues. These issues relate to concepts such as racialization, critical race theory, mass incarceration, economic inequality, educational inequality, and other forms of systemic injustice”[2] (italics added).

Notice that he endorses CRT and, without qualification, relates all the disparities he mentions to racism, which is a common trait of critical race theory. See my book, A Corruption of Consequence, for other possible causes and influences.

In his chapter, in the same book, Dr. Curtis A. Woods says of Jarvis Williams, “He writes and speaks consistently on race and theology in multiple venues. Williams’s chapter incorporates history, sociology, critical race theory, and New Testament scholarship into a candid conversation about the myth of modern racial reasoning”[3] (italics added).

Thus, there have been and still are faculty at SBTS who unabashedly endorse CRT. They were recommended to the board and hired by Dr. Mohler. Such raises the question of why Dr. Mohler is hiring and retaining faculty who hold views that are incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message.

A second concern is that, to my knowledge, no Seminary President has condemned Resolution 9 that was adopted at the SBC Convention 2019 (see the two Whereases below), which could have and should have been done at the convention; the seminary presidents were at the 2019 convention. They could have joined with Tom Ascol, who offered an amendment, and Tom Buck who spoke against the Resolution. However, it is possible that some of them were unaware that a resolution affirming CRT/INT (intersectionality) would be presented. It is my understanding that Dr. Mohler did know, and maybe others.

I would ask that since there has been a groundswell of opposition to Resolution 9 across the SBC, will all our presidents and leaders denounce Resolution 9? Will they also support overturning or replacing it with a Resolution that condemns critical race theory and intersectionality or be supportive of some equally unambiguous rejective measure of Resolution 9? To date, I am not aware of such a statement from them.

It is worth noting that a former professor at SBTS, Curtis Woods, chaired the 2019 Resolutions Committee, and Walter Strickland, Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology and Associate Vice President for Diversity at SEBTS, was a member of the committee that endorsed and promoted Resolution 9. This endorsement came after the committee had rejected a Resolution by Stephen Feinstein that condemned critical race theory and intersectionality. Resultantly, it seems quite clear that the committee was strongly committed to passing a resolution that endorsed critical race theory and intersectionality, which is troubling indeed.

Resolution 9 reads in part:

WHEREAS, Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience; and . . .
WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences; Find more on Resolution 9 here

[1] https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/seminary-presidents-reaffirm-bfm-declare-crt-incompatible/ accessed 12/1/20
[2] Jarvis J. Williams, “Biblical Steps Toward Removing the Stain,” in Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention, edited by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2017)., 45.
[3] Curtis A. Woods, “Are We There Yet? Concluding Thoughts About Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention,” in Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention, edited by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2017)., 123.

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Ronnie W. Rogers