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#SBC17, Alt-Right White Supremacy, & Racial Reconciliation: A Reflection

At the risk of not “striking while the iron is hot,” I’ve decided to reflect on the Alt-Right developments at #SBC17.  The annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) never fails to generate attention—this year was no exception.  The media buzzed with developments leading to the adoption of Resolution 10 On the Anti-Gospel of Alt Right White Supremacy .

On Tuesday the messengers (or representatives) of SBC churches elected not to take a stand on Alt-Right white nationalism before arriving at a unanimous decision to denounce it on Wednesday afternoon.  As I reflect on the ups and downs of the process between Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ve concluded that, in a perfect world, the resolution would have been and adopted in some form on Tuesday afternoon, but the conversation would have ended without consequence.

Because we live in an imperfect world, the process of engaging race and racism is not going to be executed flawlessly.  But this is not a total loss, in fact, I think something is gained in the process of working toward understanding.  The rigors of the process occasioned conversation that generated understanding, empathy, and healing that would have been missed if the resolution was adopted without a hitch.

If the work of racial unity is messy, we have to fight against the cultural current that is quick to cast judgment and dismiss people even for earnest missteps.  Brothers and sisters in Christ must be longsuffering with each other as we fumble our way toward racial unity.  This admonition does not mean that flawed thinking is never confronted. It means that in moments of confusion Christians must act like a family who loves one another enough to spur each other toward redemptive thought and action.

In an era that is characterized by broken relationships, we must commit to not give up on those who are earnest in the faith and trust that we have each other’s best interests in mind.  This is most important in the midst of the emotional strain and misunderstandings.  Let us not grow weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9) because we could miss the blessing that the Lord has for us around the corner.

Let #SBC17 be a lesson to us all, if messengers did not fight through the emotional difficulty and resolve to work together, we’d be left with Tuesday night’s headlines and missed the redemption that took place on Wednesday afternoon.  #SBC17 is an example of the difficult yet rewarding work that needs to be done throughout the SBC.  May this be a teachable moment to encourage each of us to stay the course because the process generates the character qualities and understanding necessary to achieve new depths of racial reconciliation than we could have never imagined.

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A Letter from a Birmingham Jail: 50+ Years Later

 

In honor of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was asked to lead a forum that explored King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail sponsored by the Sam James Institute of the Summit Church in Durham, NC. Our hope was to reacquaint ourselves with the letter and its author, in order to discuss how the letter’s content is applicable today.  Here is an outline of the video marked by a timestamp:

  • Quotes by MLK (through 33:30)
  • Welcome by Bowe Butler (33:31)
  • Introductory Comments by JD Greear: Why this conversation is important for a church to have (35:37)
  • My introduction to Dr. King and the Letter from a Birmingham Jail (59:01)
  • Panel discussion (1:09:30)