In a recent article entitled “‘We out”, Chicago pastor Charlie Dates announced that his church would be leaving the SBC over its rejection of critical race theory. When I first saw this my initial response was “Good!” However, in an effort to be fair and understand his reasoning I read and reread his statement several times. The straw man argument that was evident the first time I read it did not improve with repetition. I struggled to find any real substance to it based on rational thought or biblical theology. But then again I reminded myself, this is all that CRT has to offer; racial slurs based on the idolatry of race.
Date’s worship of race became evident in the second sentence of the article as he writes;
“… the first time to my knowledge that white evangelicals had celebrated in concert the life, memory and work of the Rev. Martin L. King Jr.”
Why does Dates immediately cast aspersions on “white evangelicals” for not honoring King up to this point? What biblical principle is violated by whites not honoring King? Why does he care? (More on this later.) What is the point of further criticizing them?
“…as if they had come to reckon with the ghost of their past and the theological underpinnings that ignored his ministry.”
I would love to know what theological underpinnings is Dates talking about. I am fairly certain that he does not know. It just sounds good in his ears when he says it out loud. The truth is that Dates has no idea nor does he have any theological basis for anything he says in the article. When he criticized all six SBC seminary presidents for their opinion that a high view of scripture required total rejection of CRT and intersectionality it would have been the perfect place to make an argument from scripture. But that is not what he did. Instead, here is what he wrote:
“When did the theological architects of American slavery develop the moral character to tell the church how it should discuss and discern racism? When did those who have yet to hire multiple Black or brown faculty at their seminaries assume ethical authority on the subject of systemic injustice?”
He makes yet another argument based on skin color and nothing else. His ability to judge moral character, the direction of the church, the discernment of racism, how seminaries should hire employees, ethical authority and the understanding of injustice is not based on God’s word. No. It is based on one’s skin color. In addition, he falsely labels the white men at these seminars as “architects of American slavery.” Wow, I did not know white men lived so long!
Dates does not even pretend to base any of his views on the bible. Instead, he pivots to politics. He claims that SBC seminary presidents’ belief in a high view of scripture results in an adoption of Republican politics which leads to a dismissal of CRT and intersectionality. But why? Because they all fear liberalism!
“Conservatism is, and has always been, the god of the SBC. To them, a belief in a high view of Scripture must mean an adaptation of Republican politics and, with it, the dismissal of critical race theory and intersectionality because of a fear of “liberalism.”
To be fair, the six presidents did state that their objection to “liberalism” was based on the scriptures. However, Dates must confuse the issue because he does not know how to use the scriptures to refute it. Then, just in case someone notices that he does not use the scriptures to support his claim he goes on to say,
“our church has just as high a view (if not higher) of Scripture as any SBC church but theirs is an inconsistent epistemology.”
Oh good! Is Dates now going to show us his high view of scripture? Will he explain how the view of SBC presidents is an “inconsistent epistemology?” NOPE! He simply lists various “liberal” things that Southern Baptists were supposedly against throughout the years.
But what is “liberal” in the history of American Christianity? What is liberalism to the conservative Southern Baptists? I’ll tell you: abolition, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, a Black U.S. president who was initially against partial-birth abortion, non-white male faculty at their seminaries and now a theory that uncovers our nation’s de jure and de facto segregation.
Later in the article Dates claims that the SBC is ready to see their young adopt the very vestiges of hate that enslaved black Americans in the name of God’s authoritative word. This is the same sort of race baiting that has worked in politics for years; throwing charges of racism out into the ether without any real basis in reality.
Let me end this with a dose of reality. Charlie Dates and other blacks who buy into CRT do so from a mindset of inferiority. Dates writes:
“The hard reality of the seminary presidents’ statement is that Black people will never gain full equality in the Southern Baptist Convention. My acknowledgement of this is not a statement of submission, but an act of defiance. The SBC’s power structure wants to maintain white dominance.”
“None of our denominations, Black or white, are as relevant and biblically prophetic as our present age requires…”
“I respect the importance of Christian denominations, the accountability and resources they provide for the larger body. So, I propose to you that we need a new organism, not led in full by white men…”
So let’s ask the obvious question. Why is Dates railing against the SBC? If white men are the problem then why not go to the African Methodist Episcopal church, The Church or God in Christ, The National Baptist Convention of America, or any other Black denomination? Mr. Dates, why are you begging white men to like you, to affirm you, to treat you as an equal? Go to your beautiful black denominations and do God’s work. Or, do you think God can only work through the SBC? Mr. Dates does not even realize that as long as the dog begs for his master’s approval, the master will always be the master…
I chose to align myself with the SBC in the 90’s. The only reason for that was because in my opinion the SBC was the only credible denomination that upheld God’s word and challenged the culture with God’s truth. It had nothing to do with skin color! And the day the SBC is no longer the organization I believed it to be in the 90’s, I will leave it–even if it has six black seminary professors. Why is Pr. Dates making such a big deal of the SBC when there are alternative black denominations? Without realizing it Mr. Dates has revealed who he thinks is sovereign over the affairs of men and it is not the God of the bible!
Love the new website! And what an excellent article. Thank you Pastor James for a succinct, biblical rebuttal to Pastor Dates.
One other concerning point I gathered from his “We Out” article was how he was promised a “a new era of advancement on race and theology” by SBC leaders. So either Pastor Dates was mistaken on what they meant, or there are prominent leaders in our convention who support CRT/I and are clandestinely trying to move the SBC in that direction. Even if Pastor Dates is leaving, I fear CRT/I still has its supporters in the SBC.