Thursday, June 15, 2017

SBC on the alt-right

Recently, the SBC passed this controversial resolution:

WHEREAS, Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as “white nationalism” or “alt-right”; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13–14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil; and be it further RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst; and be it further RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

It raises a host of issues:

1. It's fine to denounce racism. That said, how often must the living make ritual atonement for the misdeeds of the dead?

2. What's the objective of these denunciations?

i) Is it to disassociate oneself from an invidious social movement? Certainly there's a place for that. "They don't represent me!" 

ii) Is it to induce a cheap sense of moral satisfaction?

iii) Is it to persuade? I'd like to focus on (iii). If the objective is to convince people to leave the alt-right, merely denouncing the alt-right is ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. That plays into the alt-right narrative of the arrogant, out-of-touch "establishment". 

3. There's a risk of bringing Christianity into disrepute. I don't mean denominations ought to avoid taking public positions on social issues. I mean that given high rates of biblical illiteracy, it's not enough to use Christian buzzwords. You must make far more effort to explain and justify your Christian frame of reference. 

4. The resolution will inevitably be read against the backdrop of the last presidential campaign. Given that context, some people will feel, not without reason, that this is a veiled attack on Trump voters. Many conservatives felt they were boxed into a dilemma. The cultural elite is hostile to whites, men, Christians, and heterosexuals. Where are conservative and/or libertarian voters supposed to turn? It came down to choosing which candidate would do the least damage. One-sided resolutions like this fail to acknowledge and respect their predicament. 

5. By the same token, the obsession with white racism is arbitrarily selective. What about the racism of Black Lives Matter or La Raza? What about the way the Obama administration, and his attorneys general (Holder, Lynch) discriminated against whites? What about colleges that discriminate against white and Asian applicants? 

6. The phrase  "unintentional racism" has the Freudian connotation that whites are presumptively racist, and they can never do enough to overcome the odious presumption.

7. Voters have legitimate grievances about:

• judicial tyranny 

• infringements on the Bill of Rights

• affirmative action

• illegal immigration

• Muslim immigration

• voter fraud

• the regulatory state

When voters with legitimate grievances are demonized, when they are denied a reputable outlet to express their grievances and seek redress, that prompts many of them to take refuge in disreputable outlets. Resolutions like this are apt to be self-fulfilling oracles of doom. They contribute to the very phenomenon they denounce. 

8. Admittedly, some members of the alt-right are hateful and spiteful. They are not amendable to rational or ethical appeals. 

9. Now I'd like to tackle a couple of hot-button issues to illustrate my contentions:

i) Historically, whites are the majority race in the Republic. Of course, Indians were originally the majority race. I'm referring to the point at which they were overtaken by whites. I don't know when the tipping point occurred. And that's irrelevant to my analysis.

There are advantages to being the majority race. Political power. Power in numbers. I don't mean the power to push others around, although it can be abused in that way, but the power to protect yourself and your dependents from being pushed around by an oligarchy. To be a member of the majority race confers a degree of default power. It's harder to be oppressed by the cultural elite. You have the power of the ballot box.

But as the Caucasian share of the electorate shrinks, that leads to loss of political clout and eventually a shift in the balance of power. That will make whites vulnerable in a way they haven't traditionally experienced. I think it's understandable that some white Americans are apprehensive about that prospect.

To say it's understandable doesn't mean it's justifiable. But it's an issue that I think we need bring out into the open and discuss. 

ii) From a theological perspective, I'd say that's a price you pay to be a Christian. It would be unjust to exclude other races and ethnicities just because they pose a threat to your power-base. No particular race or ethnicity has a natural claim on this piece of real estate. Christians must be prepared to relinquish certain perks and sacrifice their self-interest for the good of others. 

iii) In addition, that's an incentive to evangelize immigrants, so that we share Christian social values in common. Of course, that's not the primary reason to evangelize the lots, but that's a significant fringe benefit.

iv) Christians of all races and ethnicities are brothers and sisters. That's a deeper, more important bond than race. 

10. Although I haven't researched the issue, I'm guessing that some working-class white resent successful Asians in America. They may feel that Asians are squeezing out white job applicants and college applicants. They may feel its unfair that the natives must compete with immigrants. The natives should get first pick. Assuming that reflects a widespread sentiment in that demographic group, how should Christians respond?

i) If anything, Asians are underrepresented in college.

ii) Many Asians in American aren't immigrants. They've been here for generations.

iii) America is the land of immigrants. We've always had that competitive dynamic. 

iv) In the Revolutionary War, we overthrew the monarchy and aristocracy. We have a competitive system based on achieved status rather than ascribed status. A meritocracy. That favors risk over security. If you can rise higher, you can fall farther. That's the tradeoff. 

In some ways that may be, or seem to be, harsher. A sink-or-swim system. 

The alternative is socialism. Socialism is deceptively appealing. One problem with socialism is that it punishes the creation of wealth. The result is to make society poorer. The end-result is to reduce the quality of goods and services. The security is illusory. The safety net is shredded because there's not enough wealth to sustain quality or access. Take public pension systems that go bankrupt.  

Not only does a free market system create wealth, thereby producing jobs as well as raising the quality of goods and services, but because there's more disposable income, people can be more generous in charitable donations. You still have a safety net. 

And by growing the economy, tycoons aren't enriching themselves at the expense of others, but raising the standard of living generally. 

Another problem with socialism is the loss of individual liberty. Your choices in life are dictated by unaccountable bureaucrats. 


  1. I agree here. I do want to add to this on a couple of points.

    First, there are certainly mixed reasons for proposing and passing the resolution, none of which actually accomplishes anything.

    As for accomplishing anything, the thing is that the SBC isn't a top-down organization. It's a bottom-up organization. That means that a central leading principle doesn't dictate to the subordinate members (churches, state conventions). The only thing it can do is restrict membership. Some things can be played out in the entities of the convention (seminaries, IMB, NAMB, Lifeway, the ERLC, etc). That's where both the liberal decline and the subsequent CR was played out. However, I don't see where there is a problem with the alt-right in any of these entities. If they want to exclude churches for alt-right activities, then it should be an amendment to the BF&M, which is usually the tool for that.

    For mixed motives, I would add two:

    1) On behalf of those who propose it, that it is nothing more than an expression of anger against a certain kind of sin that asks the institution to make the same kind of expression. It doesn't achieve anything, but it does make people feel better that we all agree on this. So if it accomplishes anything, it makes people feel better. I'm going to suggest that the folks who are behind the resolution know this and that this is only a prelude to other actions in the convention or the entities.

    2) One motive of passing this resolution would be to appease the people who want to feel better about it. Any hesitation on passing a resolution is the observation that these kinds of things are really not what resolutions are for. Of course we all repudiate the alt-right, but if it didn't pass because it wasn't an appropriate resolution, then everyone can easily be made out to look like a bunch of racists, which almost happened between the time when the convention leadership initially gave the resolution a funny look, then quickly re-wrote the thing to be at least marginally appropriate and passed it with flying colors. It's just awkward when people don't understand what the convention is supposed to be about and try to use it to make unnecessary statements.

    That brings me to the second point and that is that this resolution is tantamount to calling a sin a sin. We all now officially agree that this is a sin. There are many sins that aren't spelled out in convention literature. Should there be a resolution for each of them? We could generate a modern-day Mishnah that lists all the sins that we officially recognize so that we can repudiate each and every one of them. Unfortunately, we would all be condemned and have to leave the SBC. Perhaps there is a standard by which we can determine which sins we are going to officially repudiate and which sins we are going to allow as tolerable. This is the part that bothers me more than anything. We don't need a New Testament Mishnah.

  2. Steve,

    To your point about not referencing other forms of racism, such as La Raza and BLM - this resolution is about some much deeper going on inside the SBC, and sadly the wider "Reformed" world. That issue is, I fear, a new form of Social Gospel, and one informed by very un-Biblical principles. To put a name on it, it is "Critical Race Theory" and all its cognate forms, which I see from searching your blog site that you have yet to discuss. You may want to study up, quick - it's coming to a denomination and church near you, and fast.

    As a member of an SBC church, and having attended a couple annual gatherings, I find this resolution deeply disturbing and embarrassing. Not because what the basic gist of the wording is wrong, but because of the silence and intent lying behind it. As an original Never Trumper, I know what the Alt Right is and just how vastly despicable it is - they are genuine fascists. But they do NOT represent the base Trump voter. A proximate cause of this resolution and the support behind it has been a steady drumbeat since the election that 80%+ of self-described white evangelicals voted for Trump. This has given license to defame all Evangelical Whites as necessarily associated with, or at least tainted, by the Alt-Right. It's a denouncing of the majority of white christians. Of course, when in 2012 96% of black voters, and the vast majority of them "Christian" voted for a man who was actively pushing the LGBT agenda, no one spoke up about this at the SBC.

    This of course brings in BLM and La Raza. Sadly, it has become the norm among "Reformed" African American church leaders to show "sympathy" and "empathy" for BLM and it's program. Never mind that BLM is a viscous anti-white, black supremacy outfit in it own right, not to mention its explicate Marxist program, it's openly stated goal of eliminating the family and gender "binariness", etc., no - you will still find the folks at RAAN saying that we must seek to understand "the heart cry" of BLM, etc. (Doubt me, just read - Far too many black "reformed" leaders have been allowed to align themselves with the at least wider penumbra of BLM, and no one will say nary word.

    It would take a long, long post to go into all the evil, racist ideology that is now being taught at SBTS (Jarvis Williams), and in the PCA, at RTS, and via the ERLC. But I'll give one example. You see in the resolution the idea of "unintended racism". This is a code word for a key tenant of Critical Race Theory - the idea that treating people in a color-blind manner is itself a form of Racism, etc. What used to be the standard of how to treat people is now being taught as a form of racism itself - CRT is, in fact, re-establishing the older Racism on a new rationale. Also, how do you, as a white person, know you are guilty of "unintended" racism? Well, only the "oppressed" have the right to define what racism is, so how do you know if you are guilty of "unintended" racism? When they tell you! And when they do, you'd better not dispute it. It grants all power to "minorities" to move the goal posts as they see fit. What will this do to those granted such power? What does history teach us to expect? I remember this from a decade ago, when doing some training for a govern contractor. We were told that the definition of "harassment" was no longer based on the idea of "how a reasonable person would define it", but instead is now entirely at the discretion of the accuser. I can still remember that on the very next slide (PPT in those days), we were informed about how incidents of harassment have been on the increase, and dramatically so. Gee, go figure!

    [Part 2 next]

  3. [Part 2...]

    So, if you wonder why BLM will not be condemned, this is why. Those who want the Alt Right to be condemned are in sympathy with BLM, even if they throw in a few caveats here and there. I assume they view La Raza the same way, despite La Raza's very Fascist origins and intents (just go read their own website and materials).

    And this is not just in the SBCC. See the PCA's new stated clerk, he is a "diversity" consultant, and pushes CRT and "microagressions" etc. inside the PCA. The new 2nd VP of the SBC is an advocate of what he calls "Black Theology," which from a first glance looks a lot like Liberation theology to me. This is no good for anyone. And oh yeah, we still have Steve Furtick to deal with, and now Greg Laurie is “associating” with us. Yippee….

    Also, the SBC is not so "Bottom up" as some imagine. Very few ever show up to these meetings, and once you pick the President, that's really all the SBC itself does. Almost everything else is done by the President via appointments. The problem has become that now that the SBC has bought into using CRT as the official hermeneutic for informing their "racial reconciliation" program, everyone appointed to the unelected positions, which collectively go into the several hundreds, if not thousands, are all a part of this. It would take a clean sweep and a Resurgence on par with the one in the '80s to pull that off. And sadly, far too many of the young folk in the SBC are simply clueless about history and have no idea what is going on. This is just the tip of the iceberg. In many respects, the SBC is now held hostage by a handful of radical neo-racialists. One of them, a black church leader in Louisiana, has been influential in pushing the SBC to abandon its Cessationist stance - if you don't, he'll take his "power of absolution" from the SBC, condemn it as racist, and leave, etc. This is the kind of power they are now wielding - dissent from their demands, and you and the SBC are deemed to be back in the 1870's or something. All this power granted to them is already corrupting them and the SBC.

    I don't know how it happened, but just in the last 5 years, the SBC has taken a dramatic turn, not toward a view of race wherein "all are held under sin," but a secular view wherein Whites need to accept a unique guilt and get out of the way. This will not end well, for anyone.

  4. I wonder when or if these libtards will ever realize that they themselves are pushing a racist agenda towards those they presumptuously claim to support; ie the racism of lower expectations. I shan't hold my breath.