The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, has been fighting over Critical Race Theory, social justice and what many see as an “increase of woke ideology” into SBC ministries.
During an intense argument regarding the organization's presidency in June of 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee, the issue finally reached a boiling point.
According to an article written by The Daily Wire, document leaks and sensitive confrontations at the last minute on the convention floor led to Pastor Ed Litton from Mobile, Alabama, winning a run-off vote over Mike Stone, who was known as a much more “conservative candidate.”
Heading into this summer’s SBC election, many conservative SBC members are concerned with the denomination’s liberal drift. Litton has decided to focus on “racial reconciliation” instead of seeking re-election.
Pastor Tom Ascol, president of the Institute for Public Theology and Founders Ministries, has been nominated for the SBC presidency by a group of conservative Baptists. They desire to push the SBC towards what they believe to be a “more biblically faithful direction.”
The same group has also nominated Voddie Baucham, the dean of theology at Zambia’s African Christian University, for president of the pastor’s conference.
Baucham is an African-American who grew up in the projects of South Central Los Angeles. He has a solid reputation for criticizing wokeness and Critical Race Theory. Baucham views both as “godless ideologies” and says they are “incompatible with the teachings of Scripture.”
With liberal ideas and terminology used regarding race growing in popularity with Evangelical church circles, Baucham’s book, “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe,” soared to the top of many best-sellers lists.
Baucham “agreed to be nominated for president of the SBC’s Pastors Conference because he feels sound preaching has fallen out of favor in his denomination. Baucham believes the Pastors’ Conference leader sets the spiritual tone for the annual meeting and offers a chance to highlight great preachers and make a statement about what preaching ought to be,” the Daily Wire wrote.
“I would love to see a revival of great biblical preaching in the SBC,” Baucham told The Daily Wire.
“The Pastors’ Conference has the potential to play a significant part in that, especially if it is part of a larger movement that brings a man like Tom Ascol into the SBC presidency,” Baucham continued.
According to The Daily Wire, several other African-American SBC members support Ascol, including SBC Vice President Lee Brand and Carol Swain, a former law and politics professor. They share a growing fear that SBC institutions are being pushed closer to the current culture than Jesus by a small group of current leaders.
“Radical feminism masked as soft complementarianism,” the “false gospel of Critical Theory and Intersectionality,” and “race marxism [that] divides everyone by their most superficial features, in a never-ending cycle of recrimination and hate,” are just a few of the issues they want to highlight, the Daily Wire said.
Swain, Brand and other church and ministry leaders within the SBC emphasize Scripture’s ability to address sins like racism without philosophies such as Critical Race Theory that have been created by man.
They are saying, “At this critical juncture, we need men to serve who can unite our convention around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe there are no two better men to lead us in this vital task.”
Ascol told the Daily Wire that he feels the current leaders of the SBC are showing a lack of responsiveness to smaller churches such as the one he leads. The congregations are concerned with worldly ideas distorting and infecting core doctrines of the SBC denomination.
“We’re a pretty typical SBC church in South Florida,” Ascol said. “We’ve got a few hundred people, and we just try to faithfully disciple people in our area, make disciples for Jesus, and worship and send missionaries. And churches like ours have just been dismissed time and again by SBC leadership when we raise concerns about things that are happening in some of our institutions. We’re told, you know, there’s nothing to see here. You’re meddling in business that doesn’t pertain to you.”
There has only been one other pastor nominated for the SBC presidency so far to run against Ascol, and that is Willy Rice from Clearwater, Florida.