Rev. Otis Moss III, the eloquent and winsome young preacher who succeeded Rev. Jeremiah Wright as Pastor of The Trinity Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois, posted on Facebook a brutal response—tantamount to a rebuke—of the five Preaching professors at SWBTS pictured below, and by extension, a rebuke of the Seminary and the SBC. Moss’ intellectual and insightful mind is on full display in his “Standing on the Outside of the Window—Looking In” Interpretation of the Twitter photo.
Four years ago, I was privileged to be a table mate of Rev. Moss for three hours, during an invitation-only Phoenix gathering of high-profile Black pastors that I didn’t qualify to attend. I walked away from that table and the topic-driven table discussion impressed with Moss’ humility and quest to pursue excellence in ministry. Rev. Moss is well known and highly respected in the Black Church Community across theological camps, as the son of an iconic Civil Rights leader/pastor who was a co-laborer with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; a man with earned degrees from Morehouse, Yale Divinity School and Chicago Theological Seminary. Pastor Moss made history by being the youngest person to deliver the Lyman Beecher Lecture Series at Yale Divinity School in October 2014.
Rev. Moss and Dr. Hall , Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have engaged in a friendly dialogue about the history of racism in evangelicalism. The Moss-Hall dialogue is a much more effective way to reach across the aisle to Urban Communities addressing felt-need issues from a Kingdom perspective. An urban student would be attracted to enroll in a SBC Seminary by a substantive Kingdom dialogue, on an issue relevant to the Urban Community, between a respected SBC academician and a respected urban pastor, much more so than a gangsta rap parody/caricature picture of Preaching Professors.
This post is my second public pushback of a published Moss statement that I’ve felt compelled to give a public rebuttal. I strongly, biblically disagree with Moss’ support of “same gender loving couples”—his description of same-sex marriages, or homosexual relationships. Both Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama were frequent attenders of the Trinity Church of Christ, while pastored by Dr. Jeremiah Wright, who shared the same views on homosexuality as does Otis Moss III. Undoubtedly, the theology of the Trinity Church on homosexuality influenced Barack Obama, who later forever changed America on the subject of same-sex marriage.
Now because of the Twitter photo from SWBTS, here we go again! I will provide a “Standing on the Inside of the Window—Looking Out” Rebuttal to Moss’ Brutal, but Fair Statement Regarding the Twitter photo. What was lacking from Moss’ statement was an Insider’s perspective.
Please don’t misread or misunderstand my analogy. Anyone who knows my history with SWBTS and the SBC wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination consider me to be a “House Negro.” Inasmuch as our church was planted while I was a student at SWBTS and I’ve maintained a relationship with the SBC for over 42 years—dating back to my college days—that makes me somewhat of an insider in SBC life, compared to Moss, who has no known history with the SBC that I’m aware of, except that I’ve referenced above.
In addition to offering a gentle rebuttal and friendly, sympathetic critique regarding Rev. Moss’s positon on the Gangsta Gate Photo, I want to offer Rev. Moss’ full Facebook Post. A good friend and former adjunct Professor at SWBTS shared with me after visiting with Dr. David Allen, Dean of Preaching at SWBTS, and also pictured on the Twitter photo, that the disposition and posture of the Preaching faculty is that of “being a learner and listener” in the aftermath of the controversy. Believing Dr. Allen, Dr. Patterson, Dr. McCarty (who reached out to me in response to my previous Article on this subject), and all involved to be sincere, there’s no better outside critique, interpretation, evaluation (or whatever you want to call it) of the photo than you could get than the one following from Dr. Otis Moss III. I believe he voices the sentiments of most African Americans, who would view this photo similar to how Dr. Moss views it, without any prior relationship with the SBC or SWBTS. Dr. Moss’ Facebook statement:
“The Southern Baptist convention has had a long storied history of racialized thought and action beginning with the inception of the convention in Augusta, GA. The largest of the Protestant denominations has consistently stood on the wrong side on issues of race. I have over years made the claim evangelicals choose “whiteness” over Jesus because the real religion of Americanized Christianity is maintaining the structure of white supremacy. The rhetoric of “We are one in Christ” is used freely in evangelical circles as a veneer to cover-up the rotting flesh of a broken faith that no longer speaks for the vulnerable, but worships Eurocentric and racialized assumptions about humanity especially people of African descent. This article below is more than insensitivity, but a bold proclamation of privilege, ignorance and illegibility of black bodies. These “preaching professors” (I use this term loosely) demonstrate their clear homiletical bias not to preach Jesus, but proclaim the Gospel of George Wallace and Strom Thurmond. How devastatingly ugly for grown men to live in a sophomoric bubble where racial appropriation is not only okay, but the appropriate response for the farewell of a colleague. How cruel to preach a visual sermon that will outlast their words on the internet and injure hundreds if not thousands of women and men. These are the teachers of the new generation of leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention? Now I know why Steve Bannon, Jeff Session and Mike Flynn advise Trump maybe they were taught by professors at Southern Baptist Seminary. If these are the best minds of the Seminary America can expect graduates who colonize minds, injure spirits and mis-educated communities.
Tragic and beyond tragic”
MOSS CONNECTS THE PHOTO TO THE HISTORY OF RACISM IN THE SBC:
The SBC publicly apologized for their history of racism in ’95; yet they must recognize that America will always view the SBC as being birth in racism and continuing in that trajectory. The scars of some sins remain for a lifetime. I believe it was fair for Moss to connect the picture to the SBC’s racist history based on his—outside the window—interpretation of the picture. That’s why the SBC entities have to be mindful of perception, which is reality, to many.
As Dr. Fred Luter has so accurately and eloquently stated: “We cannot change our past—it is what it is; but we can change our future.” And Luter’s election as the first African-American President of the SBC provides a modicum of hope that the SBC may be willing to move in a different direction in her future. However, for many, the Twitter photo was reminiscent of the era when White males portrayed themselves as “Amos and Andy” complete with made-up Black faces. For those who argue that the twitter photo could reflect Vanilla Ice or Eminem—too late. There was an admission that “Notorious Biggie Small,” a Black Gangsta Rapper, was the inspiration for the “Notorious SOP” wall graffiti.
MOSS CONNECTS THE PHOTO TO HIS BELIEF THAT THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH PROPS UP WHITE SUPREMACY:
The photo lends itself to an interpretation of fostering White Supremacy. How? If you view, Gangsta Rap as having originated with and primarily associated with Blacks—as most Blacks do, and history verifies—then the picture represents five White men mocking or making fun of an aspect of Black culture. The only reason that you would do that is out of a feeling of superiority or supremacy.
The SBC has repented of their history of racism, but they’ve never repented of the White Supremacist Theology and ideology that provided and fed the racist attitudes and actions that still residually occur in various pockets throughout the SBC. I offered the SBC an opportunity to repent of their White Supremacist Theology a few years back, but they refused. (https://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/three-resolutions-and-an-amendment-to-the/) Inevitably, a racial brouhaha erupts in the SBC every few years and will continue to do so, until the SBC repents of the White Supremacist Theology that yet shackles her, and reoccurs openly on occasions (https://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/lessons-from-the-animal-kingdom/).
SBC Pastor Rick Patrick admits that there is a “bit” of an Alt-Right element in the SBC. The Alt-Right unashamedly promotes White Supremacy. I am considering submitting another resolution giving the SBC another opportunity to reject White Supremacy and White Supremacist Theology.
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William Dwight McKissic, Sr. is a prominent African-American Southern Baptist minister from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He is the founder and current senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. You can read his blog at http://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/