Theologian Says MLK50 Conference Was ‘Propaganda’; Criticizes SBC’s ERLC and The Gospel Coalition

An esteemed theologian on the issue of sexual ethics is criticizing the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Reformed group The Gospel Coalition for their recent conference honoring Martin Luther King Jr. 

In a lengthy Facebook post Sunday, Robert Gagnon, former New Testament professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, took issue with the Christian groups’ MLK50 conference that took place last week, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee.

Gagnon observed that the ERLC and TGC conference ignored King’s documented sexual sins and theological errors while the two entities have taken a self-righteous approach to President Donald Trump and his past sexual sins and have castigated the Christians who supported him in the 2016 election.

“At one point only (so far as I can tell) did the MLK50 Conference address the problem of King’s heretical views and extraordinary sexual immorality. It was a brief perfunctory whitewash, pure and simple,” Gagnon wrote, noting that they stuck to a script of “foreordained” conclusions about King’s greatness.

During a half-hour discussion at the conference where panelists addressed “complex aspects” of the revered Civil Rights icon only 10 minutes were spent speaking about two concerns about King’s theology and sexual misconduct, he said.

ERLC President Russell Moore argued that King could not be blamed for being influenced by liberals, Gagnon said. And when conservatives complain about that they are accused of exhibiting “a great deal of hypocrisy” since conservative seminaries would not accept black people.

“Yet I studied at Harvard Divinity School (hardly a conservative institution) and didn’t turn away from central elements of the faith. Moreover, King didn’t come to seminary as a theologically orthodox student. According to his own reminiscences while in seminary, King denied the resurrection of Christ from the age of 13 on. He remained liberal at least through his undergraduate, divinity, and doctoral degrees. No excuse for heresy here,” he stressed.

Some insist that King made a return to orthodox Christianity, pointing to a 1957 Easter Sunday sermon as evidence, but Gagnon finds such an assertion flimsy since “liberals are skilled at using orthodox language to mean something else.”

Two years after that 1957 sermon, King preached a sermon that suggested he did not believe in the atonement and regarded Christ’s resurrection as symbolic instead of an actual event, Gagnon asserted. Likewise, he added, a 1960 Christian Century article King authored “gives no indication of any return to orthodoxy (much less to evangelicalism).”

Gagnon was also irked by another speaker at the MLK conference, Trillia Newbell, director of community outreach for the ERLC, who said that those who bring up King’s illicit behavior have bad motives, particularly that they “want to do anything to disqualify King and his message.”

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Source: Christian Post