Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality Continues to Be Debated

Curtis Woods (left), chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee, and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, speak during a press conference after the conclusion of the 2019 SBC annual meeting. Photo b

Ongoing discussion of a Southern Baptist Convention resolution “on critical race theory and intersectionality” reflects a healthy desire among Southern Baptists to discern the line between engaging culture with the gospel and compromising with the culture, says Criswell College President Barry Creamer.

“Having the discussion” is “really important,” Creamer, a radio talk show host and cultural commentator, told the TEXAN. “It’s really important for people to learn how to hang on to” aspects of culture that “need to be conserved and are important and let go of the things that don’t matter.”

The discussion at issue stemmed from a resolution adopted June 12 by SBC messengers in Birmingham, Ala. Critical race theory and intersectionality (CRT/I), the resolution stated, should “be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture” but not “absolutized as a worldview.”

Critical race theory, according to a blog published by the UCLA School of Public Affairs, claims “institutional racism” is “engrained in the fabric and system of American society” and “based on white privilege.” Intersectionality refers to examination of “race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation” as intersecting factors contributing to “disempowerment” of certain individuals.

For example, an African-American lesbian likely would experience more disempowerment than a heterosexual black man, according to intersectionality, because she would have a larger intersection of disempowering traits.

Some Southern Baptists claim insights from CRT/I can be appropriated to understand the plight of victimized populations and to more effectively approach them with the gospel. Others say the theories’ origins—typically ascribed to postmodernism and to neo-Marxism—undermine their usefulness for believers.

That difference of opinion was manifested during a 13-minute floor debate at the SBC annual meeting. Discussion continued through ensuing media reports, blog posts and social media exchanges.

‘Protect the gospel’

The resolution defined critical race theory as “a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society.” Intersectionality is defined as “the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience.” The resolution acknowledged that “critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, resulting in ideologies and methods that contradict Scripture.”

“Southern Baptists,” the resolution stated, “will carefully analyze how the information gleaned from these tools [is] employed to address social dynamics.”

California pastor Stephen Feinstein submitted the resolution draft edited by the SBC Resolutions Committee to yield its statement on CRT/I. The submitted draft appeared to take a stronger stance against CRT/I than the final resolution, “decry[ing] … critical race theory and intersectionality as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, since they divide the people of Christ by defining fundamental identity as something other than our identity in Jesus Christ,” according to a copy of the draft posted on Feinstein’s blog. The draft also claimed CRT/I ideas are “rooted in Marxist anti-gospel presuppositions.”

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Source: Southern Baptist Texan