Social Justice Ideologies on Trial: Understanding and Responding to Resolution 9 at the Southern Baptist Convention
Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end… It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth.
—John Gresham Machen—
Key point: During the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention held in Birmingham, Alabama on June 11-12, 2019, the social justice movement strengthened its grip on the SBC. The good news, however, is that the people in the pews still can recognize the problems, rise up, speak out, and demand a return to biblical truth and the gospel. The hour is late, however, and Southern Baptists must act quickly and with firm resolve.
Phillip Johnson, a retired University of California at Berkeley law professor, turned the debate about natural selection on its head in 1991 with the release of his groundbreaking book Darwin on Trial. Writing from a legal perspective, Johnson successfully poked holes in the arguments Darwinists made for their particular perspective on origins. The brilliant professor showed how advocates of natural selection were unfairly framing the debate, cutting off advocates of a theistic theory of the origin of life on earth by saying things like, “Well, that’s religion, and here we deal with science.” Yet the scientific evidence strongly points to the existence of an intelligent being, not merely impersonal forces acting randomly.
Johnson also showed how Darwinists’ conclusions resulted from their philosophical presuppositions rather than an honest examination the evidence. He declared, “Darwinism is not merely a support for naturalistic philosophy: it is a product of naturalistic philosophy.” He also noted, “[I]t is not that evolutionary naturalists have been less brazen than the scientific creationists in holding science hostage, but rather that they have been infinitely more effective in getting away with it.”
Since Darwin on Trial made its mark on the scientific community and beyond, Darwinists have had a harder time dismissing the scientific arguments of those making the case for an intelligent designer, be He the God of the Bible or some other personal force.
Johnson went on to write several more books, including one titled An Easy-to-Understand Guide for Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds in 1997. In it, he cites a suggestion made by the late astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan, Johnson noted, was quite concerned that people were buying into irrational philosophies like astrology and the notion that aliens arrive on earth in flying saucers and abduct people to evaluate and study them. Equally worrisome, according to Sagan, was the reality that people continued to believe that they were created by—you guessed it—God, despite all he had done to convince them otherwise. Sagan suggested that “baloney detector kits” need to be made available so individuals readily can recognize and reject false reasoning. Johnson agreed with Sagan regarding his idea of the need for such kits, or skills—but he astutely applied the idea to the need Christians have to recognize the faulty logic Darwinists use when they contend for the validity of their own naturalistic worldview.
Social Justice Ideologies on Trial
Borrowing from both Sagan and Johnson, I would like to suggest that Southern Baptists need their own “baloney detector kits.” This especially was evident recently at the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama during the discussion and debate over Resolution 9—On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Go here for the complete text of the resolution. We will refer to various clauses in the resolution as they have been designated here (with W referring to a “whereas” clause, and R referring to a “resolved” clause).
Please know that in making the observations I’m about to make, I mean no disrespect to the Resolutions Committee or its members. Neither my concerns nor my criticisms are personal. I am not saying they or other SBC leaders are not my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet I am compelled to point out baloney when I see it. For our purposes here, the term baloney refers to information and ideas that are misleading or false, and therefore potentially or presently dangerous. I am assuming that Resolutions Committee members acted with good intentions, but good intentions on their part will not negate the damage Resolution 9 will cause. This makes shining the spotlight on the resolution’s problems all the more urgent. Dr. Phillip Johnson put Darwinism on trial; it is high time we put the ideologies of the social justice movement on trial as well. Fasten your seat belts! We have a lot to cover!
The upcoming film Enemies Within the Church will expose the ideas, persons, and organizations that are subverting the church and destroying it from within.
This article was contributed by Bev Nathaniel Sullivan. It originally appeared at Word Foundations.
Opinions expressed in this article reflect personal views of the author only.