In the past week, two pastors with opposing approaches to racial issues have entered the race to become the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Christianity Today reports.
Mike Stone, the former chairman of the Executive Committee of the SBC and the leader of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Georgia received his nomination last week. Following the nomination, Stone immediately was endorsed by Pastor Tom Ascol, the president of Founder’s Ministries. Gerald Harris, a retired editor of the Christian Index, also endorsed Stone as they both belong to the steering council of the Conservative Baptist Network.
Both Founders and the Conservative Baptist Network have been amongst the most vocal critics to the SBC’s embrace of critical race theory and social justice, despite being “within the mainstream of conservative theology” at face value.
Stone told the Baptist Message he wants to “champion the sufficiency of Scripture” amid growing uncertainty about the doctrine “originating in many corners of the Convention”.
“I want to foster greater involvement of grassroots Southern Baptists,” he explained. “We acknowledge ecclesiastically that we are not a top-down hierarchy. However, increasingly, we are being led by smaller and smaller groups of decision makers.”
Pastor Ed Litton of Redemption Church in Mobile, Alabama was nominated to join the race on Tuesday by Fred Luter, the SBCs first and only African American president.
Litton, along with other White and Black pastors, issued a joint statement on the gospel, reconciliation and justice last fall and recently, both he and Luter signed a statement “in opposition to any movement in the SBC that seeks to distract from racial reconciliation through the gospel and that denies the reality of systemic injustice.”
Both pastors join Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and host of the podcast “The Briefing”, in the race for SBC president.
Mohler, who also became president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2020 took his nomination last October.
“Anything that has happened in the last several months has only amplified the reasons I was willing this year to be nominated and now next year since the convention was delayed,” Molher told the Southern Baptist Texan at the time. “I think Southern Baptists face some incredible challenges and some very real issues, and I think we need to have the kinds of conversations that will clarify issues and bring Southern Baptists together.”
Despite being a major name in the SBC, Mohler has been criticized for shifting his stance on political issues, including his endorsement of Trump for reelection despite his criticism of the former president in 2016. Mohler also denounced Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, though he did maintain his decision to vote for him.
Last year, Mohler along with other seminary presidents, condemned critical race theory in a letter as they deemed it incompatible with SBC’s beliefs.
The current SBC president is J.D. Greear.
Photo courtesy: Southern Baptist Convention Facebook
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.