Southern Baptists: The Gatekeepers of Christian Orthodoxy?

 

The Southern Baptist twittersphere has been up in arms about the Revoice Conference. One of the most extensive criticisms is from Owen Strachan of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Strachan’s article has been approvingly retweeted by numerous other Southern Baptists, including Jason Allen and Albert Mohler. Since the conference is hosted at a PCA church and features a speaker who is a professor at Covenant Theological Seminary, Strachan implicates both the denomination and the seminary in his criticism.

The Southern Baptist reaction to this conference has led Anthony Bradley to ask why Southern Baptists see themselves as the church’s gatekeepers of orthodoxy – our doctrinal and moral exemplars who have the prerogative to regularly condemn other denominations, churches, and individuals for supposed errors. It’s a good question, and one that I have thought about recently.

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The Formative Power of One’s Personal Story

Photo from Andy Savage’s Facebook profile.

 

Speech is power. And because speech is power, stories are powerful. Our stories help determine who we are. The way we narrate our stories determines how we define ourselves. But when our stories get wrested from us and revised by others, it inevitably does injury to our self-identity. Silencing someone’s narration of their own story is an act of oppression and violence. When we tell our own stories, we defy the attempts of others to control and define us.
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Book Review: Doctrine and Race

Mathews, Mary Beth Swetnam. Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism Between the Wars. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2017. 157pp.

Summary

The basic thesis of Doctrine and Race is that during the interwar period (c. 1920-1940), which was dominated by the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, African-American Christians largely adhered to fundamentalist doctrine but adapted modernist views of social justice and race relations. To support this thesis, Mathews shows that the constructs of “fundamentalism” and “modernism” were “racialized term[s]” (7). The category of fundamentalism was created and defined by white Christians, and modernism was also a primarily white phenomenon. Therefore, African-American churches do not fit this binary, so the polarity of fundamentalism-modernism is an inadequate lens through which to view African-American churches during this period.

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