The Burden of History & The Curse of Heritage

A Review of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Racist History and Present Day Iconolatry of Slave Owners 


“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. […] So you shall purge the evil (one) from your midst.Deuteronomy 13:1-5b ESV

Why The Invective? 

If you’re one of the readers who have kept up with my blog then you’re aware that I’m going through a rediscovery phase in my life. Much of my free time is spent on consuming literature that delves into Christian history, better informing myself about how Western Christianity was formed, meaning, the Christianity I was introduced to in Brazil as a child and matured through in Florida has shaped my orthodoxy or perhaps the fundamentalist heresy I have since denounced. This effort has caused me great pain as I have had to grapple with the reality that people who carried the canon of the gospel and sought to evangelize the heathen world whilst erasing cultures, committing genocide, enslaving the black race, and holding the global market hostage through capitalist greed all in the name of God.

   I could not, in good faith, believe that the line of faith and orthodoxy that began with Christ two millennia ago would lead humans to commit such acts. Something went wrong somewhere otherwise my faith, my Christ, my Bible, and the worldview derived from these not only support atrocities but considered them divine privileges. In the first, second, third, and fourth crusades Europeans sought to recapture Jerusalem from Muslim rule, no matter the cost, no matter the collateral damage, no matter the level of depravity that these armies and soldiers would have to sink to, in order to recapture a city-state from Mohammedans. All this under the protection and incentive of the Church. In the same air, I cannot account for the fact that this faith would allow post-colonialists to whip the backs of my ancestors, placing them on the same level as dogs and swine, so as to keep them uneducated, enchained, and forced to live with the shame of the color of their skin for four hundred years all for the glory of God and the Doctrine of Discovery, Manifest Destiny, and the Munroe Doctrine. 

   Something went wrong somewhere and it is my ardent effort to discover where and why. And while on this journey I will share with you, my dear reader and critic, (welcome in, of course) my findings. 

   So today I want to share with you the tainted inception and history of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and how its current president, the honorable Dr. Albert Mohler and Board of Trustees continue to idolize the slave owners who brought this educational institution into existence and later maintained it through funds derived from slave labor. The school has faced multiple calls for repentance and change, but so far, all they have given us is more material and history by which to condemn its past and also its present unwillingness to change which is an omen against an institution whose motto is:

For the truth. For the church. For the world. For the glory of God

Before We Proceed: A Brief History of The Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The reason why this baptist convention and seminary exist is that they are a sign and result of their time. In the mid-1800s the United States of America was forced to confront its hypocritical doctrines of life, freedom, and liberty in its initial documents  whilst they held and liberally traded hundreds of thousands of black people as if they were old rags. How could the nation that afforded our world the precious words of the Declaration of Independence, which state: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

But these same liberators and revolutionaries sought to keep in bondage the negroes within their borders and exploit the colored in central America, the Indigenous in ‘protected territories’, the Mexicans, Chinese, and so on. 

Therefore, the tides of sentiments in the Southern states changed as the British Empire came to its senses regarding the evil of slavery in general but more precisely slavery in the American south. English, Scottish, Irish, and Canadian abolitionists sought to convince their American neighbors to cease and desist of all slave trade, to liberate their black citizens and treat them as equal citizens, affording them the freedom that had long been delayed. The British empire sought to disrupt the slave trade in the Atlantic even seizing ships from western Africa that had planned to dock in Brazil. The will to end this nefarious industry was in full swing all around the world, save the United States of America and Brazil. 

Therefore, because abolitionists abroad and soft-abolitionists within began to stir trouble for already troubled minds, Christian baptists decided to take a stand against these evil disruptors of the peace and market to build for themselves conventions and institutions that would represent their industry-centered motives. Namely, the slave trade.

Thereby we have the Southern Baptist Convention. SBTS historians and committee members Dr. Curtis Wood, Dr. John Wilsey, Dr. Kevin Jones, Dr. Jarvis Williams, Dr. Matthew J. Hall, and Dr. Gregory Wills ventured to answer this conundrum in so few words concerning the inception of the convention:

“White southern Baptists established the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 for the stated purpose of advancing the gospel. They vindicated their separation from northern Baptists on the premise that slaveholding was morally legitimate.”

As abolitionist sentiments permeated through the North, allowing for faith leaders, clergy, and seminarians to condemn the ills of slavery, in the south, however, Baptists sought to identify their gospel-centric purity and correct biblical hermeneutic by creating a convention that promoted, supported, sanctioned and blessed chattel slavery. The reason ‘southern’ is in the name of this convention is that it identified with its predilection for the slave trade. 

Regarding the seminary, which was instituted a mere fourteen years later, the same historians state:

“When Southern Baptists established the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1859, the prevailing orthodoxy of its white clergy included commitment to the legitimacy of slavery.” 

And regarding North Baptist sentiments toward slaveholding Baptists in the south they state:

“Although most white Baptists in the North did not hold that slavery was intrinsically immoral, they found slavery in practice sufficiently troubling that they countenanced the minority among them who had begun advocating abolition in the 1830s. The abolitionist Baptists argued that they could not hold communion with slaveholding Christians. White southern Baptists argued that they could not in good conscience cooperate with abolitionists who demanded their excommunication.” 

From its inception, the Southern Baptist Convention functioned as the prime institution in the American south to promote the gospel, academic orthodoxy, and protect slavery as “an institution from heaven.” The very words of Iveson L. Brookes, a baptist minister from Rockingham County, N.C.

And the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the SBC’s clubfooted product of conception, a result of its deplorable wedding between poor hermeneutics, greed, and hyper-individualistic  ideologies, operated as the most prominent arm of support for chattel slavery before the Civil War. It later became a strident supporter of the Confederate revisionist idea of the Lost Cause after the souths embarrassing loss.

Quoting the same historians regarding the seminary’s support for slavery before and during the war: 

“James L. Reynold argued that slavery was in the best interest of the slaves themselves. Joseph E. Brown argued that slavery was no mere necessary evil but rather a God-ordained institution to be perpetuated.”

And they continue:

“Additionally, these voices not only defended slavery in theory, but in actual practice as well, denying that abuses, violence, assault, and rape were in any way commonplace or systemic. Instead, they thought these to be exceptions. Their perspective was undoubtedly veiled by their dependence on hired overseers who were charged with violent enforcement of the slave system.”

And regarding the seminary’s support of the Lost Cause and promotion of black inferiority after the war they state:

“They defended white rule and the disenfranchisement of blacks based upon the doctrine of white supremacy.”

One of the seminary’s founders, Basil Manly Jr., states that the presence of freed slaves in Greenville was an “incubus and plague.” And in an 1868 speech in a Baptists’ Home Mission Society, Manly again states that “We at the South do not recognize the social equality of the negro.”

Another of the seminary’s founders, John Broadus, said that the south was “a white man’s country.” 

Seminary faculty did support higher learning for black students in the fervency of the Jim Crow south but refused to integrate their institution in view that the negro race was intellectual and genetic dunces incapable of rising above or matching the academic prowess of the white race. 

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Edgar Young Mullins (1899-1928) concluded that “It is impossible and wrong to demand that negro civilization should be placed on par with white. This is fundamentally the issue.” 

Thankfully, in 1944 the seminary celebrated its first black graduate, Garland Offutt, who earned a Th.M. Quite the name if you ask me. But with the same hand that it issued a gesture of kindness, it demonstrated its racially flawed sentiment toward the graduate student by prohibiting him from participating in the commencement exercise. Instead, he was awarded his degree in a chapel service elsewhere. 

Even though the faculty later favored the civil rights efforts for blacks they also denounced the Civil Rights Movement, becoming suspicious of and “uncomfortable with Martin Luther King Jr.’s direct-action tactics.” Mind you, King wrote his Letter From Birmingham Jail no more than a five-hour car ride from where the seminary sat and his words echoed in the South as clergy and laity showed King nothing but cowardice or animosity in the face of a national crisis. In 1952, however, the school was not only advancing toward integrated classrooms and programs but also allowed three black students, B. J. Millers, Claude Taylor, and J. V. Bottoms to participate in an integrated graduation ceremony. 

It was commendable of the seminary to integrate its programs, publicly acknowledge its black students, graduate them with an integrated group and finally invite King to speak and later, in 1986 it added the first black scholar to its faculty staff. 

1986, people. 

The Civil War came to a resounding close in 1865. It took this Christ-loving, gospel-centered, orthodoxy promoting, academically strict seminary one hundred and twenty-one years to grant a black qualified intellectual the position of scholar and professor within its institution.

On the Founding Fathers of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The seminary was founded by four prominent and well-respected Baptist ministers. James P. Boyce, John A. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams. The historians, whose work to uncover and recover most of the materials I quote on this article state that these men owned at least fifty slaves between them.

The same historians found that the average price for a slave in 1860 was $900. Manly’s personal estate was valued at $43,700, of which $6,300 was the value of his slaves. Boyce was a businessman with a personal estate value of $330,000 sparsed between “stocks, bonds, silver, and jewelry, in addition to slaves.” And because of this diversified investment and continued ventures, loss of documents, and mismanagement of the same over time, it is difficult to ascertain just how many slaves Boyce owned. That he did, it is irrefutable. 

Boyce was the only founding member who served in the confederate army, functioning “as chaplain in the 16th South Carolina Infantry.”  

The other two founding members of the institution, Broadus and Williams, owned slaves as well, according to the Greenville District census. Broadus owned two while Williams owned five. All fully willing to defend the existence of slavery from the seat of power as founding members, as professors and ministers, as confederate insurrectionists and separatists. They were all willful participants and practitioners of the damned industry. 

And in the year 1880, Joseph E. Brown, donor and chairman of the Board of Trustees, saved the school from “financial collapse” by donating to it a “gift of $50,000.” What Boyce, Manly, Broadus, and Williams knew then and what is irrefutable truth now, is that Brown made his wealth from his Dade coal mines, which functioned by taking in black men who had been falsely imprisoned for petty crimes or no crime at all (look up racist vagrancy laws of that era), not given due process, and relegated, by force, to work at Brown’s coal mines. Black men had been emancipated by the government but were forced back into slavery by government-sanctioned private companies like that of Joseph Brown. Prison-For-Profit is nothing new for black Americans because so many of them have lived through them while others died in their throes, forever unnamed, unheard, unjustified, and forgotten. And worse yet is that the SBTS gladly accepted this donation from this nefarious man whose coal mines were work camps long before the spawn of Nazi Germany version of the same, which were properly dubbed, death camps. 

“Investigations of Brown’s Dade Coal operation concluded that ‘if there is a hell on earth, it is the Dade coal mines.’” 

The Mohler Eruption

On October 12, 2020, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president and alumni, Albert Mohler, produced a lengthy letter titled The Burden of History & The Blessing of Heritage explaining to the Board of Trustees from the same institution that he had received several calls from students, faculty, and the public to remove the “name of James P. Boyce from the James P. Boyce Centennial Library and Boyce College, to remove the name of John A. Broadus from Broadus Chapel, to remove the name of Basil Manly Jr. from Manly Hall, and the name William Williams from Williams Hall.” To which he adds, “The full scope of their names throughout the institution does not end there, but these are the most public commemorations of their legacies.”

Mohler began his apologia for not removing these names of former slaveowners, slavery promotors, practitioners, and defenders with a verse from the Torah, found in Deuteronomy. 

“And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.’” Deuteronomy 9:26 

He goes on to explain the shifting tides in America as younger generations make “calls to revoke names from buildings, take down statues, and remove monuments that honor individuals known to have been complicit in American slavery and racial supremacy.” At this point, knowing Mohler’s gospel-centered compassionate heart I expected Mohler’s next words to echo a move for change, a step forward, away from a marred and atrocious past, in favor of promoting Christ and inclusion of all people in the name of Christian virtue. Mohler then adds.

“We must admit that this is not an easy demand to dismiss out of hand. We are responsible for choosing whom to honor and for making clear for what they are honored. We must admit that we have, for most of our history, just assumed that the answers to those questions are self-evident and sufficient. They are not.” 

Mohler then makes a case for the validity in keeping these figures on the pedestal of memory and honor by citing a “secular perspective” from Rebecca Solnit who writes that “It would be impossible and unwise to erase all signs of ugliness of this country’s past; success would be a landscape lobotomy.” 

He then shrinks to cite a Christian historian, Beth Barton Schweiger, who states “In history, the call to love one’s neighbor is extended to the dead. For the Christian, knowledge about the past, as any knowledge, should serve the ends of love.”

I believe, and this is my personal interjection into Mohler’s mind, that he sought to cite this last Christian historian because she suggests we offer grace to these dead malefactors who founded the institution. And I agree with Mohler if that is his effort here, that Christians should have a compassionate heart toward all sinners because we too share in their spiritual sickness. But what was absent in Mohler’s observation is the compassion for the fifty or more black souls these men owned. Poor and feeble blacks who were abused, violated, assaulted, and raped by the overseers contracted by these same men. That is if these men did not bed the female slaves themselves to produce their own half-blooded bastardized children. Whether any of the founders did sexually assault their slaves I do not know, whether there is evidence of that I cannot find it, but that these things happened elsewhere and happened often is irrefutable. 

Mohler then spends the next several paragraphs expanding on the works, efforts, monumental accomplishments that came into existence at the hands of these four founders, elaborately specifying who did what and when.

He makes a sudden and all-too-common shift toward citing King David’s flaws in scripture as a means to excuse the flaws of other men in other times. This is a common tactic within evangelical circles as an attempt to downplay the gravity of a contemporarys’ flaws because biblical characters committed their fair share of wrongs, therefore, who are we to judge our friends? If the King did it and was remembered then we can remember these men too. Right? We seldom venture into what consequences David suffered as a result of his predatory assault on Bathsheba, how he murdered her husband, how his first child with the same woman died as a result of God’s judgment over his life, and later on, David’s pride cost the lives of thousands of people. We focus primarily on David’s flaw, jump quickly to his redemption, evading the cost of sin and the consequence of sin that stagnates in the water he drank in his misery whilst dealing with the ramifications of his harmful decisions.

He then begs the question of “why are we honoring anyone in any way? What are we commemorating?” To this, he answers, vividly so, respecting his current audience immediately by stating: “We must be clear: We are not honoring the Confederacy. We are not honoring the horrible institution of American slavery. We are not honoring any form of racial supremacist ideology – specifically, we are not honoring white supremacy. We must condemn any form of racism and racial supremacy and we must condemn the American institution of race-based chattel slavery as an abomination.” 

And by all means, we all applaud this gesture and brevity of thought on the subject but it is recalcitrant toward his own conviction because it is contradictory to thought. 

Say I hang a photo of Adolf Hitler on my doorway, display emblems and insignias of the Schutz-Staffel, the Gestapo, the Reich’s Wehrmacht, and Luftwaffe all around my room, ensuring that no symbol or image of that forlorn administration fails to make it on to my wall. I tattoo Hitler’s despised mustache onto my upper lip, name my children Eva Braun Oliveira, Adolf Eichmann Oliveira, Rudolf Hess Oliveira, Joseph Goebbels Oliveira, Joseph Mengele Oliveira, Heinrich Himmler Oliveira, Hermann Goering Oliveira, and so, should I have that many kids, and that many boys, but then state that “I’m no Nazi, nor am I in favor of Nazism. I am simply admiring Germany’s military might, the diversification of German names, showing honor to German organizational skills in the face of chaos, German scientific research, and medicine, German philosophy of war tactics, and rules of engagement. Yes, I do have Heil Hitler spray-painted on my doorposts but that does not mean I honor Hitler or Nazi Germany’s crimes against humanity in my home. I am willfully and painstakingly selecting which part of German history and people to honor and which to dismiss. That’s all.”

You would paint me a mad man and a mockable one as well. 

If you were to visit Germany today you would not find a shred of Nazi Germany on public or private buildings or schools because these symbols and the progenitors of such stand for an evil so great nothing of it is worth redeeming. Unless its Operation Paperclip and you’re an American government official kidnapping former Nazi criminals to force them to work for your government by giving them freedoms in the USA, great jobs, scientific freedom and etc. Either way, Germans post-World War II found it in themselves, through the help and coercion of the Allied Forces, to endure the Denazification of their country and people. Nazism is found now in history books, museums, and in the stories of those who survived their atrocities and the children of the same. 

But in Mohler’s perspective, we can pick and choose which side of slave-owning demoniacs of a time long past we honor and which we willfully brush off as merely, “history” that needs to be forgiven while honoring the same evil men.    

Mohler later asks the question: “So, what now?” 

To which black Baptists and the rest of America shouts: “Remove their names! Remove their statues! Remove their busts! Remove it all!”

And Mohler ignores their cries for change and goes on to relay to the Board of Trustees four steps of progress he would suggest they make for the school. 

  1. He states that the school should “express lament over the sinful dimensions of our legacy and pledge to be ever more faithful in serving the Body of Christ by the education of godly ministers.”

This sounds magnificent if you ask me. Christians in the face of error should follow the four steps of redemptive efforts: lament, confess, repent, and reconcile. Here Mohler pioneers the need for lamentation but falters shortly after by stating that the institution should be faithful to serving the Body of Christ with education. And don’t get me wrong, that’s amazing, but the Body of Christ and secular intellectuals are calling for the removal of these slave owners from this learning institution. Saying hello to Boyce before Philosophy 101 or Manly after Chemistry as a black or colored student can be and is traumatizing. You serve by listening to the Body and the Body of Christ is hurting, badly, for change. This is not enough effort, Mohler. I’m getting personal here because I ache for change too. 

  1. He plans to allocate $5,000,000 over the span of several years as “endowed and restricted funds to serve as an endowment for assistance to qualified Black students at Southern Seminary.” The name of this grant or endeavor is the “Garland Offutt Scholars Program” which if you recall is named after the first black graduate of the school.

This is a beautiful effort at restitution, but it is only in part. How they managed that number is beyond me and is it enough? You’d have to ask the black students who qualify. But the failure to address the removal of Boyce, Broadus, Manly, and Williams is still evident. To throw money at black students to appease their calls for change in hopes of silencing the disruption altogether is dismissive. What happens after the $5,000,000 has been spent? Will you find another “first-black-fill-in-the-blank” person to name the grant after? How much money are you willing to allocate to silencing justice? Silencing the calls for change? 

  1. Mohler makes the pledge to be a faithful storyteller, retelling the story of SBTS founders “with accuracy and biblical wholeness. This means contextualizing and it implies humility.”

I sincerely commend Mohler for this third point because he is aware that this topic will resurface in coming generations. We are asking these questions. Our children will ask and theirs after them. With that in mind, he makes mentions that their effort is to push for an effort to maintain the truth at the forefront of this conversation on history, which is a dedicated and honorable approach. Never should history be sugar-coated. Therefore we must bring forth the vileness of SBTS founders, their broken theological praxis (practice), and how much of their sentiments toward colored people was absolutely antithetical to the very message they proudly spoke of daily. We must be contextually accurate, as well, as so many theologians and ministers of their day also condemned their efforts, their prose, their ideas, and the industry they amassed wealth from but they willingly turned a blind eye to because they opted for mercantile greed instead of grace, mercy, and love. That’s the contextualized truth.

  1. Lastly, Mohler makes a half-hearted attempt to challenge, condemn, and praise the $50,000 donation Joseph E. Brown made toward the seminary to preserve the financial stability of the institution in the late 1800s. Mohler struggles with the celebration and condemnation of this corrupt and morally bankrupt governor who solidified his wealth on the unjust jailing and slavering away of black prisoners. He suggests the Board of Trustees remove the chair position under Brown’s name from the school, which Mohler was honored to sit under for a time. 

Mohler wants to distance the school from the broken character of Governor Brown but also celebrate the money received from the same. At this point, it is impossible to give the money back but it’s quite the effort on his part to venture away from Brown. He also half-heartedly suggests to the Board of Trustees that they ought to remove the Joseph Brown Chair from the seminary and replace it with something more innocuous, which, again, I agree but a more robust request would have been more admirable from the president of the seminary. But, I want you to pay close attention to Mohler’s choice of words and how he places them, delicately attempting not to harm his own image concerning his knowledge of Brown’s history.

“The challenge with Governor Brown is that he was controversial in his own day, due to his involvement in the convict labor system, widely described as a functional continuation of race-based slavery. Governor Brown’s name has been attached to our history as the oldest endowed chair in the Seminary’s history. In financial terms, there is no means at present of accounting for the status of all the funds in the Brown legacy through more than a century. Functionally, the question would be whether the chair should be occupied or unoccupied. I was very honored when the Board of Trustees elected me to this chair. It has been held, for example, by James P. Boyce and E. Y. Mullins as presidents.”

Now we’re coming to the more pressing and embarrassing part of Mohler’s iconophilia as it becomes impossible to deny. 

“I did not know of the depth of Governor Brown’s role in the convict labor system, though I did know of his role in the Confederacy.” 

I’m not sure which is worse. Southern Americans fighting for their right to own black people as a whole and continue to treat them and their children for generations to come as subhuman slaves, as chattel, like dung in the field, as women to rape and impregnate, and then enslave their offspring OR, as the greater evil in Mohler’s eyes, that post Civil War confederate degenerates would reimprison the negro population and force them to slave away on coal mines. 

God damn it, Mohler!

Yes, it enrages me because he selects an evil that was perpetuated for hundreds of years as a lesser evil. He knew of Brown’s affiliation with the Confederacy but opted to shove that valuable piece of damnable information down the drain? And only thought of denouncing, albeit, very kindly, Brown’s participation in a new form of slavery? The question then becomes when did Mohler find out about Brown’s more nefarious sin? That is if being a Confederate was wrong in Mohler’s mind, to begin with?

Progressing now to Mohler’s humble request:

“There is a distinction between telling the history and honoring a name. With pain, I do advise the Board that in my view this name is problematic.”

My God. 

With pain.

Joseph E. Brown is the problem within the halls of seminary leaders, professors, and founding members who owned slaves. Just Brown? 

Sigh.

SBTS Board of Trustees Vote Unanimously to Keep the Names Alive

I should have guessed that this would be the result of a Seminary whose very inception and fruition came about under the auspices of leaders who lived and were also willing to die for the industry of chattel slavery. 

Mohler then turns his attention from the Board of Trustees to the members of the Southern Baptist Convention and students, faculty, and alumni of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in a different article.

“In the light of the burdens of history, some schools hasten to remove names, announce plans, and declare moral superiority. That is not what I intend to do, nor do I believe that to be what the Southern Baptist Convention or our Board of Trustees would have us to do.”

This unanimous vote took place late in the year 2020. I want to inform the reader if you’re still with me at this point, what the makeup of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees looked like that year. 

Now read the demographic makeup of the same group. Mind you, out of the 41 listed state, local, and at-large members of the board, four of them could not be determined to be either white or black. What I could determine is listed below.

In view of this demographic I need you to ask yourself this: Was this vote fair? 

2019 data pulled from the seminary’s website concerning the demographic makeup of its school is shocking to the uninitiated but to those who understand its history, it is just another day in the deep south. 

In 2019, out of the 3,478 students enrolled in the school, only 135 are black. 

Here is a more in-depth excerpt, again from their website. 

“The enrolled student population at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is 77% White, 3.82% Asian, 3.26% Black or African American, 2.37% Hispanic or Latino, 0.266% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.193% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and 0.0483% Two or More Races. This includes both full-time and part-time students as well as graduate and undergraduates. By comparison, enrollment for all Special Focus Institutions is 44.8% White, 15.6% Hispanic or Latino, and 14.5% Black or African American.”

By their comparison, they’re willing to admit that there are more black people willing to die for the country than there are willing to enroll with their seminary. 

3.26% black.

Imagine if students had to vote over the Board of Trustees? Imagine if 100% of the black student body and 100% of the black presence within the Board of Trustees voted in favor of removing the names, statues, busts, and halls named after these confederates, slave owners, prison-for-profit promoters, even then it would not have mattered because the grand majority, the overwhelming majority of the school, staff, faculty, leadership, and board are all white. 

Not only does the school lack awareness and empathy for the brokenhearted members in their midst but they lack the awareness of their overwhelming majority and how that sway is working against their fiber within Christendom.

Listen. Let me write it down plainly.

White Southern Baptists, in the word of the aforementioned historians, “The denomination that established it spoke distinctly in support of the morality of slaveholding and the justness of the Confederate effort to preserve it.”

And in 2020, an overwhelmingly white Southern Baptist Board of Trustees voted to retain the names, statues, busts, and halls named after these individuals? 

Would it not be better to wipe the institution of everything pertaining to this horrific past and relegate it to a museum, as Germany did after the war with its Nazi past? 

What is the point of leaving it all out in the air for all to see? For Neo-Confederates to boast about? For Neo-Nazis to glamour over? For Southern racists to find shelter within? 

Because the black voices, and the white ones that have joined their cause, are calling for change but none, other than $5,000,000 thrown at blacks for a couple of years and the removal of Joseph Brown’s name from a seat that possibly should have never existed in the first place are given as righteous steps of restitution by leadership.

The voices have made their claim, their complaint, and yet, Mohler, the Board of Trustees, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Southern Baptist Convention have turned a blind eye to these voices? 

Concluding Thoughts

Mohler began his letter titled The Burden of History & The Blessing of Heritage with a small passage from Deuteronomy. I’ll quote it again.

“And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy

Your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your

 greatness, whom you brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.’”

Deuteronomy 9:26

And he finished his letter with these words:

“The burden of history and the blessing of heritage are our responsibility now. This is the duty of the living, the stewardship of the present moment. Other sincere and faithful believers might well make other decisions in fulfillment of this stewardship. We respect that fact and respect those faithful believers who may have decided the issues otherwise. I pray that our Lord will find us all faithful as we serve The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in these crucial days.”

Sincerely, 

R. Albert Mohler Jr., President

I began my post with a passage from Deuteronomy as well: 

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. […] So you shall purge the evil (one) from your midst.Deuteronomy 13:1-5b ESV

And these are my final words.

Mohler, SBTS, SBC, and any other institution that waves the banner of Christianity, there is no heritage sacred or holy enough worth holding on to that matches the worth and value of our shared movement in and for Christ Jesus. This world and our traditions are worth dismissing and destroying a million times over so that the face of Christ shines through them. The people and heritage Moses spoke about were the Jews of antiquity, whose posterity is still walking this earth, to this day, because of God’s covenant with them. I’m certain Moses did not mean Americans, nevertheless Southern Americans, or the racist chattel slavery promoting heritage that some so proudly idolized in the past and still do today through the existence of your institution. It is easier to remove a commandment from the law of God than it is to distance Southern Baptists from their southern heritage of racism, hate, and evil.

And let it be known that if any man or woman arises among us and gives us signs, teachings, theologies, seminars, instructions, motives, and blessings, and all of these to our benefit and maturation in Christ, and should the same person ask that we go after other gods, say, those of racism, slavery, the Confederacy, Reconstruction Era prison-for-profit industries, Jim Crow, and beyond, do not follow them because God has sent them to test our hearts, to see if we truly love Him. Our duty, as per Moses and God’s instruction, is to purge the evil, and the evil ones, from our midst. 

So, my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters, the time has come for you to purge the idols from your midst. 

I’ll leave you with the enigmatic words of the German poet Marteria, from his work titled Elfenbein:

Ich fühl’ mich an wie aus Elfenbein

Doch stell dich darauf ein, dass ich mich wehr’

Das Wasser kommt und wäscht all die Felsen Rein

Und die Steine, die sich weigern, haben’s schwer

RISE

Signed,

Olivet Theory


Featured Image.

Sources:

The Burden of History & The Blessing of Heritage

Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

2020 Southern Baptist Convention Annual

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Rejects Building Renaming Bid

SBTS Trustees Keep Controversial Names

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 2019 USA Data, School Demographics

Doctrine of Discovery

Monroe Doctrine

Manifest Destiny

Published by olivettheory

My name is Jarrel and I'm a lover of words, people, odd behaviors, theology, independent films, all-immersive RPGs, Christian metal, podcasts, and history. Not in that order. I'm a writer... in training. Let’s read and talk about things together. This is my Olivet Theory. Husband - Dad - Dude

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