Baptists and Racial Issues

For some reason a lot of Baptists are “expecting” an uproar over the likely election of African-American pastor Fred Luter to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.   While I don’t get all gushy on racial issues–and I think the very broaching of the topic today is often nothing more than a pseudo-marmy piety that dodges real issues, however I don’t expect an uproar.  Sure.  There are racists in the SBC.   Those churches are only about 30-member size.  It won’t be that much of a backlash.

For the record I hope Dr Luter gets it.  It would be kind of funny if he did, considering the origins of the SBC.

One must note, however, there are also other facets of the race and slavery issue.  Before I start I need to say that man-stealing is wrong (how come no one ever talks about how evil the African tribesmen were for man-stealing the kindred?   Slavery would have been impossible if not for that).

  • Defining church membership around race is a sin.  If nothing else, the New Perspective on Paul provides insight in that field.
  • However, denying that race exists, or that race is evil, or that blood and kin is evil, is also a sin for the simple fact that God created all of those things.  If, however, one retorts, that race doesn’t exist then why are you spending all of this time talking about it?
  • Manstealing is wrong.
  • Southern slavery as it was practiced was unbiblical and should have been abolished by legal and political means.
  • Slavery, however, is not for the simple fact that St Paul never said what American Evangelicals want him to have said.  Yes, we can say that the Christian gospel slowly and thoroughly eradicated slavery.  Wonderful.  That is an inference from Christian ethics.  It is not, however, exegesis.
  • If we are going to talk about racial issues, let’s consider the fact that if a group of African-americans thugs attack whites, the media will largely cover it up.  If the roles are reversed it will be the biggest story in the country.  I’m all for racial justice.  Now let’s make sure it is applied fairly.
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2 comments on “Baptists and Racial Issues

  1. When people say “slavery is wrong” it is important to pause and consider what exactly they meant by the term slavery in the particular historical context in which they were writing (I have studied the abolitionist/antislavery movement in the UK and USA for three years). By “slavery” most people writing against it in the mid-19th century were not referring to all forms of involuntary servitude or bond-service per se, but to race-based, chattel slavery that was founded on man-stealing. Obviously, it is cumbersome to write “we condemn race-based, chattel slavery that was founded on man-stealing” every time one refers to slavery in the British Empire or the United States; thus people usually just said they were condemning slavery, meaning slavery as it existed in these nations. I believe a war for abolition can be biblically justified, however, the ACW was not initially fought for that purpose (though it was an antislavery war, but not an abolitionist one). Whether it can be justified under the U.S. Constitution or not is a different question. I do not believe it can, but that is further evidence that the Constitution is a covenant with death.

  2. On the slavery issue, I would recommend the writings of the Old School Presbyterian, George Bourne of Virginia. Many of these are available on Googlebooks and archive.org. Nobody can accuse him of being anti-Southern! I was actually speaking at a conference on Covenanter antislavery on Friday, and a dear old American man came up to me at the end and asked if I had ever heard of George Bourne. His writings are an example of true patriotism, which rebukes the sins of its own nation.

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