Sliding to the Left?

[Draft 2020-07-30]

In recent years there have been concerns raised about a seeming Leftward pivot by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a.k.a. Southern Seminary. While Seminary President Albert Mohler has strenuously denied that charge, the matters heated up during 2019, so much so that in the Spring of 2020, several faculty members were essentially fired because of their opposition to what they saw as a slide to the Left. Some details are provided below.

In May of 2020, Jon Harris of “Conversations that Matter” YouTube channel posted three interviews with former Southern Seminary Old Testament professor Russell Fuller, who had been fired from his tenured position due to his expressed concerns about toleration of Leftist thinking within the seminary. His general areas of concern included Theological Higher Criticism, Postmodernism, and Critical Race Theory.

Interestingly, within days of the posting of these videos, Southern Seminary posted YouTube interviews of several of the faculty members that Dr. Fuller had raised concerns about, seemingly in a kind of damage control.

Given below is a link to the third Jon Harris interview which deals with Critical Race Theory (CRT).  This is followed by the YouTube description of the video, which is then followed by a link to the apparent Southern Seminary damage control interviews.

Russell Fuller on Critical Race Theory at SBTS (Part III)

Posted on May 25, 2020

Downgrade at Southern Seminary Critical Theory Al Mohler Part III (25:20)

(From YouTube) In the third and final installment of the “Downgrade at Southern Seminary” series, Russell Fuller talks about Jarvis Williams and Matthew Hall’s critical theory laced teachings and the effect they have had on some students. He also recounts the story of Dr. Albert Mohler’s aggressive support, in a faculty meeting, for Matthew Hall’s promotion to the position of provost, despite opposition over critical theory. Fuller also reveals the stipulations of the “separation agreement” and challenges any members of the faculty at Southern Seminary to debate him on the merits of his concerns.

Posted on May 27, 2020

An Interview With Dr. Matthew Hall (22:12)

Posted on May 27

An Interview with Dr. Jarvis Williams (19:52)

Here is a Capstone Report posting summarizing important thoughts expressed in the Part III interview with Fuller.

Capstone Report – EXPLOSIVE: Russell Fuller details Critical Race Theory at SBTS & Al Mohler’s tantrum

Here are helpful notes from the Enemies within: The Church website which accompany this third interview:

Part III Accompanying Notes

Here is a letter that Dr. Fuller wrote opposing the proposed promotion of Dr. Matthew Hall. Ultimately, 22 tenured faculty voted in favor of promotion, while 9 – including Dr. Fuller – opposed.

Russell Fuller’s Speech Against Promoting Matthew Hall

And here is a copy of Dr. Fuller’s Nondisclosure form which would allow him to be paid severance from the Seminary. He refused to sign it.

Dr. Fuller Nondisclosure

Concerns About Dr. Hall and Critical Race Theory

The following comments are from Matthew Hall, recently promoted to be Provost of Southern Seminary. The issue at hand is the criticism of the Seminary that it is increasingly moving in a direction which approves Postmodern/neo-Marxist thinking, while at the same time professing to deem it as un-Biblical.

I am a racist – Matthew Hall Provost at Southern Seminary (00:44)

Within the following video, starting at 5:40, Dr. Hall discusses White Supremacy and power to a group of mostly White students:

Critical Race Theory Promoted by Three Professors at Flagship Southern Baptist Seminary-M–gMO64r6U (13:16)

Concerns About Dr. Williams and Critical Race Theory

Here are comments by Dr. Williams, from a 2018 video from Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfurt, KY, entitled Pursuing Gospel Centered Racial Reconciliation.

Jarvis Williams on “Whiteness” Pursuing Gospel Centered Racial Reconciliation 41m15s 45m25s foLO (4:10)

Here is an August 2019 blog posting concerning Dr. Williams from Evangelical website Reformation Charlotte

SBTS Professor Jarvis Williams Admits That Critical Race Theory Shaped His View on Justice

Discussion

Note: An extended review of some of the concepts of Critical Race Theory is found in this webpage.

Certainly a knowledge of some of the basic elements of Postmodernism, Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are useful when examining the controversy surrounding a Leftward movement on the part of Southern Seminary.  Additionally, it is probably obvious that these ideologies are important components of Identity Politics and Class Guilt, both of which then have as their bases neo-Marxism.

Consider a June 8, 2020 blog posting by Jordan Peterson in JBP Weekly (my comments in bold brackets):

One of the most awful elements, I think, is the idea that individuals should be defined in terms of their group identity at all. [Where in the Bible does it instruct Believers to define individuals by group?] This is one of these weird inversions that’s so characteristic of this chaotic state that we’re in.

When people originally started fighting against unfair discrimination… the initial idea was to eliminate the proclivity for people to be categorized according to their group identity, because that was interfering with everyone’s ability to view them as competent individuals. But that got flipped, probably in the 70s after the Soviet state so self-evidently was revealed as a catastrophe. That got flipped so that the world was turned into one group against another—a power struggle from one group against another [Is this group outcome Biblical?  No, it’s Postmodernism.]. And then the social justice warrior types and the lefties, even the Democratic Party, started categorizing everyone according to their ethnic or sexual or racial identity, and made that the canonical element of their being [Hence, where we are today, FROM THE LEFT’S PERSPECTIVE].

That’s an absolutely terrible thing to do. [My underline. Have Left-leaning Evangelicals stepped to the plate and considered the possibility that Identity Politics is disastrous?] In the Soviet Union when that happened, they introduced that idea along with the notion of “class guilt.” So, for example, when the Soviets collectivized the farms, they pretty much wiped out or raped and froze to death all of their competent farmers. They called them “kulaks,” and they attributed class guilt to them because they were successful peasants, and they defined their success as oppression and theft. They killed all of them, pretty much—shipped them off to Siberia and froze them to death. And they were the productive agriculturalists in the Soviet Union. And then in the 1930s in the Ukraine, because of that, about 6 million Ukrainians starved to death. The Soviets were big on collective guilt. [As well as American and Western Leftists, not to mention, sadly, some Evangelical seminary professors and presidents.]

And all of these things you hear about now, like “white privilege” for example, are variants of collective guilt. I pick [Peterson means the Leftist picks..] your bloody identity, whatever it happens to be, and then I make you a guilty member of that category [Isn’t that what is seen in Southern Seminary videos of meetings with groups of students or speeches at events, although NOT in the “damage control” interviews above, where they claim to reject CRT and similar?], and then you and the rest of the guilty members of that category are judged as a unit. It’s murderous, pushed to its extreme. And we’ve seen that many, many times. [Note: quoted by JBP permission]

It is clear that Peterson is strongly opposed to Identity Politics and Class Guilt, both fundamental elements of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.  And he is basing his distain on the basis of objective truth, logic and actual history.  There should be no problem to add scriptural basis for what he is saying.

Transcripts of Matthew Hall on Racism

Here’s the transcript from the brief video above where Dr. Hall confesses that he is a racist (my comments in bold italics):

…think more Biblically. And what I mean by that is: I have a pretty historic and I think Pauline or Biblical view of the power of sin. The problem is a lot worse than we think. What I mean by that is both individually, like: I am a racist. Ok, so if that freaks you out, if you think the worst thing someone can call you is a racist, then you’re not thinking Biblically. [In other videos, Dr. Hall is seen talking passionately to black students, and he seems greatly sympathetic to disadvantages that have accrued for blacks from actual and great past sins such as slavery and Jim Crow.  It seems unlikely that someone who is actually in their heart a “racist” would care about that terrible history.  Yet he says that he struggles with racism in his heart.  What might be the case is that he has overly internalized the CRT dictum that whites are irredeemably racist.] Because, guess what? I am going to struggle with racism and White Supremacy until the day I die and get my glorified body, and a completely renewed and sanctified mind. Because I am immersed in a culture where I benefit from racism all the time.  [Dr. Hall seems to conclude that he is a racist in part because he supposedly profits from what he labels “White Supremacy”.  Again, that’s a CRT dictum, that whites suffer from a kind of “original sin” that is exclusive to their race.    In sub-Saharan African countries where a few non-blacks reside, it is unlikely that black Christians struggle with racism and Black Supremacy until the day they die.  Also, while Dr. Hall says he benefits from racism all the time, is it really racism?  Or is it another example of internalizing a CRT dictum? Isn’t it simply that he lives in a multi-ethnic society where there are advantages to being a member of the majority ethnicity? That might be an advantage, but it’s difficult to associate that advantage with personal sin.] 

A dark thought might be that confessing that he is a racist is actually a kind of unintentional virtue signaling by Dr. Hall, perhaps because he deeply wants to confess to his black colleagues and students that as a white person he is part of the “racial divide” problem, and I’m guessing that he teaches his white students to feel the same way, but probably not his black students.  However, what does he do with black students who support the thinking of conservative blacks such as Candace Owens or Larry Elder, who maintain that they are NOT victims?  As part of his penance for his sin of racism, does he attempt to persuade those conservative black students that they are wrong, and should understand that they really are victimized by whites?   At least that would be consistent even if ludicrous.

Incidentally, I’m not sure what Dr. Hall feels about Asians and Jewish people, because on the Intersectionality pyramid they certainly are more heavily oppressed than whites, although since they are often quite successful they sometimes get  propelled into an oppressor class, though if they also happen to be Gay, and maybe have an adopted child who is Autistic, that might be of benefit to them in the Intersectionality Olympics for the MOST OPPRESSED OF ALL!  Of course the fundamental problem is that the Bible in no way teaches Intersectionality, either as a reality or as a “useful tool”.

Consider another transcription from Dr. Hall in the video above dealing with the three SBTS professors who support CRT (my comments in bold italics):

[at 5:41 – Dr. Matthew Hall speaking to mostly White students]

Everything that you assumed or thought was normal in the world, everything you thought about your tradition, your denomination, your own family, there’s a whole…I’m going to pull the veil back.  And what looked like this beautiful narrative of faithfulness and orthodoxy and truth and righteousness and justice?  I’m going to peel that back and I’m going to show you the rotting corpse of White Supremacy that’s underneath that surface. [Quite a blanket indictment. Is that REALLY the case?  What statistics support that accusation? Tradition? Denomination?  Family?  All white families are rotting corpse White Supremacists when you really peel back the veil?  No exceptions?  It’s quintessential Marxist Class Guilt, and it’s difficult to see where there is Biblical support for that assessment.  However, once again it appears to be an additional internalizing of a CRT dictum by Dr. Hall.  What is distressing is that he seems to be laying a CRT-influenced “guilt trip” on his impressionable young white students, who themselves may well have been indoctrinated for many years in Marxist-dominated schools.]

But I think it’s clear we will as joint heirs of Christ we will exercise a ruling with Christ in the age to come, and that power will not be allocated in ways to make you comfortable. [That would seem to vary from person to person, and it will surely not necessarily have anything to do with race.  It’s unfortunate that his students have to once again be subjected to what appears to be CRT-influenced thinking.]  So it’s not going to be, “well, you get to retain more power because you’re a part of the White majority, and you get a little less power because you’re the Black or the Brown minority. [It seems like this is again CRT-influenced thinking. There’s so much wickedness in the world today, much of it from the Marxist Left.  Christians need all the help they can get.  Students of any color should not be shamed by CRT concepts.  It’s too bad that Dr. Hall cannot find anything negative to say about CRT, even though in his interview above, he states that it is not based on scripture.] So you might as well just live now, preparing yourself for the age to come, in your local church ministries.  So how can you look for ways – under the authority of scripture – what God plainly and clearly states to be required and proscripted for the local church. But outside of that, how can you actively seek to share power with your brothers and sisters in Christ?  [Again, CRT’s Class Guilt shouldn’t be invoked by Dr. Hall.  Let God direct.  Let the Holy Spirit call the shots.  I wish that this statement was being made to ALL the students, but I fear that it is directed on to the white students only.  If so, then it is a CRT-influenced directive.]

[Dr. ?? speaking]

One of the reasons why I love Dr. Hall is because he’s well versed in Critical Race Theory and history [… as well as Derrick Bell, Kimberlee Crenshaw and the others.]

In the analyses above, what seems apparent is that even as Dr. Hall (in the May 27 Southern Seminary interview) decries Critical Race Theory and similar, he has actually internalized their beliefs, for example in his repeated use of the term “White Supremacy”.  There is serious disconnect, and it is not helpful for true racial understanding and reconciliation, in part because Critical Race Theory is about power and not racial harmony.

Finally, the greatest problem is that when white people who are otherwise kind and sympathetic confess their “racism” when they really want to help with racial reconciliation, they are causing real and lasting damage to the people that – I think – they really care about, because it reinforces a victim mentality that is perhaps the most debilitating problem of all for many Blacks.  If Dr. Hall is “racist” simply because he’s white, and he is speaking as a Christian leader, then what could be more damaging for racial reconciliation?

Black Conservatives

It occurs to me that there’s a third group of people that isn’t represented in this sad tale.  Besides the Left-leaning Seminary people on the one hand, and the fired conservatives – along with their supporters such as Enemies Within: The Church, and the crafters and signers of the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel on the other – there’s a hidden goldmine: black conservatives.  And some of them are strong Christians; I’m guessing all are pro-Christianity.

Would Southern Seminary ever invite black conservative Voddie Baucham to speak?  Perhaps they have.  But I doubt it, because he was one of the drafters of the (apparently according to Dr. Mohler, “infamous“) Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel.  Dr. Baucham has a lot of insight on these issues, and in an intellectual environment where all sides of problems should be addressed, why NOT have opposing points of view discussed, especially among believing Christians?  Let the students decide.  Don’t add to the ideological indoctrination that has been their lot most of their lives.

I wonder how much students or faculty – not to mention Dr. Mohler – know about the thinking of black conservatives? People such as Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, Star Parker, Bob Woodson, Mason Weaver, Shelby Steele, Deneen Borelli, Stacy Washington, Jesse Lee Peterson, Carol Swain, Larry Elder, Jason Riley, Herman Cain, Ken Blackwell, Alveda King, Brandon Tatum, Derryck Green, David Webb, Coleman Hughes, Bevelyn Beatty, Ryan Bomberger, Allen West, Candace Owens, and other participants at Project 21 and the 1776 Unites Campaign, all highly successful, articulate, and not victims as proclaimed by Identity Politics, but who understand that there are intentional victimizers of the black community; namely, the Postmodern/neo-Marxist Left, and their pernicious doctrines such as Identity Politics, Class Guilt, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality. 

Leftist Policies Harm the Black Community

So how do black conservatives in the US deal with issues of racism, etc.?   Clearly, a fundamental characteristic is their rejection of Leftist policies as racist and damaging to the Black community.  Here are some examples:

Leftist Policy Damage to Black Community
Affirmative Action Sets up recipients for failure, demeaning (note: it may have been needed 50 years ago)
Minimum Wage Drives away businesses, jobs
Lack of School Choice Traps youth in failing public schools, and open to Leftist indoctrination
Feminism anti-male rhetoric Destructive, especially to young Black males
Entertainment media support of negative cultural traits Destructive to youth
Welfare, other government assistance with little incentive to leave Enslavement of the poor on the government plantations
Fostering a sense of victimization via false narratives (e.g. “hands up, don’t shoot”) Hopelessness, resentment, separatism rather than assimilation
Opposition to voter ID laws Demeaning, opens door to fraud
Left’s war on law enforcement Lack of law and order, high crime, drives out business
Leftist paternalism, suggesting that Blacks need White help Demeaning, fosters dependency, resentment
Exemption of Black students from behavior rules Lack of self-discipline, fosters unruly behavior
Illegal immigration Takes jobs from Black community
Anti-Christian, anti-family policies Devastating to the Black community
Early sex education, normalization of LGBTQ behavior Increases promiscuity, increase in AIDS and other STDs
Increasing attacks on Christianity and public Christian expression Reduces influence of the Christian church
Continuation of the “Negro Project” via nearby abortion clinics Weakens families, emotionally devastating to women, fosters promiscuity

How can today’s extreme victimization of blacks – especially the underclass – by the Leftist Identity Politics policies be considered anything but racist?  Fine, if there were problems with these policies after two or three years when the Left took control at the end of 1960s, maybe give them a little more time.  But after 50 years – with black “leadership” in charge of all governmental entities in the majority of our urban centers – the plight along many indices show catastrophic decline: illiteracy, illegitimate births, aborted pregnancies, crime, infrastructure, business climate, employment.  Yet ideologies such as Critical Race Theory prohibits criticism of the underlying culture of the underclass.

Further, Marxist groups such as Black Lives Matter work diligently to decrease effectiveness of law enforcement in the urban areas, ensuring high crime rates, with little interest in the establishment or retention of businesses in these areas, for example by raising minimum wages.  And the Left also adamantly opposes school choice for poor families to get their kids out of failing schools, which might offer some hope.  And for many years the Left has ensured policies which incentivize single-parent households, going back to the mid-1960s when they rejected the findings of the 1965 Moynihan Report as “blaming the victim”, and then passed the Great Society legislation that President Lyndon Johnson said would secure the Black vote for the next 200 years.

No, it appears that the Left – at the elite level – has no incentive to see positive change; they support false narratives to enhance a sense of victimization, but demonize groups that support abstinence until married programs, preferring earlier and more inappropriate sex education for small children.  It’s no wonder that anti-family policies emanate from today’s Left; their founders wanted to trash traditional families and smash monogamy (and they led extremely licentious lifestyles to “walk their talk”).

Note that the black community – whose family structure just prior to the Leftist takeover in the 1960s was not that far behind the general population (and that was under Jim Crow and similar institutional racism) – has unfortunately responded “well” to the Leftist founders’ wishes, with catastrophic results.  In what sense is this NOT racism of the Left?

White Guilt and Black Protests

Black Conservative author Shelby Steele published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Black Protest Has Lost Its Power”.  In it he states that for many years, protest was the means of gaining freedom in the wider culture; the Civil Rights movement after World War II being a prime example.

But what if all the major objectives of protest have been achieved, and essential freedom the result?  Steele brings up the 4,000 black-on-black murders in Chicago in 2016.  He goes on to say:

“We can say that past oppression left us unprepared for freedom. This is certainly true. But it is no consolation. Freedom is just freedom. It is a condition, not an agent of change. It does not develop or uplift those who win it. Freedom holds us accountable no matter the disadvantages we inherit from the past. The tragedy in Chicago—rightly or wrongly—reflects on black America.

“That’s why, in the face of freedom’s unsparing judgmentalism, we reflexively claim that freedom is a lie. We conjure elaborate narratives that give white racism new life in the present: “systemic” and “structural” racism, racist “microaggressions,” “white privilege,” and so on. All these narratives insist that blacks are still victims of racism, and that freedom’s accountability is an injustice.

“We end up giving victimization the charisma of black authenticity. Suffering, poverty and underdevelopment are the things that make you “truly black.” Success and achievement throw your authenticity into question.”

Leading the charge for maintaining that self-defeating sense of victimization is Identity Politics as applied to matters of race.  Steele expands on this thinking in an interview with Mark Levin, entitled “White Guilt is Black Power”.

Black Conservatives are not Victims

When everything is taken into account, there is no question that black conservatism provides an alternative to Identity Politics and the problems in the black underclass, with the emphasis on responsibility and the individual as the antidote.  Yet the Democrat party marginalizes, demonizes and opposes Black conservatives and the non-Leftist policies they propose.  In fact, these people are the best hope for the entire country, because they have suffered, yet have TRANSCENDED victimhood!

Consider quotes from some black conservative writers concerning the negative effect of progressive policies emanating from Identity Politics on the black community:

Jason Riley: “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

In Please Stop Helping Us, Jason L. Riley examines how well-intentioned welfare programs are in fact holding black Americans back. Minimum-wage laws may lift earnings for people who are already employed, but they price a disproportionate number of blacks out of the labor force. Affirmative action in higher education is intended to address past discrimination, but the result is fewer black college graduates than would otherwise exist. And so it goes with everything from soft-on-crime laws, which make black neighborhoods more dangerous, to policies that limit school choice out of a mistaken belief that charter schools and voucher programs harm the traditional public schools that most low-income students attend. (from Amazon description: bold letters added)

Derryck Green – “Where is the Black Church

Under the current societal trappings of “tolerance,” “diversity” and moral relativism, blacks have willingly relinquished the painful but necessary process of self-critique. This behavioral and spiritual deficiency leads black culture to define “authenticity” as comporting oneself with stereotypes that the generations of many of our grandparents and great grandparents sought to avoid and overcome.  In other condescending terms, this “authenticity” is often equated with “acting black.”

John McWhorter – “What’s Holding Blacks Back?

“Victimology, separatism, and anti-intellectualism underlie the general black community’s response to all race-related issues.… Today, these three thought patterns impede black advancement much more than racism; and dysfunctional inner cities, corporate glass ceilings, and black educational underachievement will persist until such thinking disappears. In my experience, trying to show many African-Americans how mistaken and counterproductive these ideas are is like trying to convince a religious person that God does not exist: the sentiments are beyond the reach of rational, civil discourse.”

Shelby Steele – “The Loneliness of the Black Conservative

“Today a public ‘black conservative’ will surely meet a stunning amount of animus, demonization, misunderstanding, and flat-out, undifferentiated contempt. And there is a kind of licensing process involved here in which the black leadership—normally protective even of people like Marion Barry and O. J. Simpson—licenses blacks and whites to have contempt for the black conservative. It is a part of the group’s manipulation of shame to let certain of its members languish outside the perimeter of group protection where even politically correct whites (who normally repress criticism of blacks) can show contempt for them.”

A question may be asked as to the scriptural basis for refutation of the above contemporary views of black conservatives.  For Christians who support the Democrat party, how does one frame the overt racism from Andrew Jackson to LBJ, or the covert Postmodern racism (at the elite level) of Identity Politics which has created and maintained today’s urban plantation for the Black underclass?

The bottom line is that Evangelicals should scrupulously be distancing themselves from Postmodern neo-Marxism in all its manifestations, and become able to mount effective critiques for both Christians and non-Christians:

  • Identity Politics and Class Guilt
  • Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. 
  • All other forms of Critical Theory: Feminist, Gender, Sexual Preference, Law, Fat, etc.

Additionally, Evangelicals of all ethnicities must become intimately familiar with the thinking of Black conservatives and their collaborators, especially relative to how and why they view Leftists policies as historically and contemporarily destructive to the Black community.

Additional Resources

Two documentary films that deal with the negative effect of Leftist thinking and action are extremely important to view:

“Uncle Tom Documentary” – Larry Elder (2020)

Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time? – Dinesh D’Souza (2018) In addition, thoughts of some black conservatives and their collaborators can be found on the following webpages:

Black Conservatives – Videos and Books

Leftist Damage Done to the Black Community

Summary

It seems clear that the toleration of Leftist-comfortable ideology within Evangelical churches, seminaries and other educational institutions constitutes a drastic misunderstanding of the damage done to all ethnicities by this ideology.  It appears to be a kind of ideological possession where racial harmony and ethnic contentment are the victims, and the Gospel is contaminated to a degree with what can be labeled as 1 Timothy 4:1 doctrines of demons.

If people who are susceptible to such Leftist influence would avail themselves of the thinking of Black conservatives, these problems would be greatly reduced, and an uncontaminated Gospel could be presented to the world, with the sufficiency of scripture being the rule.

Further, black conservatives are very uncomfortable with the kind of “White Guilt” demonstrated by Matthew Hall and the others in the videos above.  They would much prefer comprehensive refutation of all forms of Marxist Identity Politics and Class Guilt, while still acknowledging that the evil of the past has contemporary consequences, which should be dealt with at the individual level.

The title of this webpage is in the form of a question; in effect, is Southern Seminary (and many other institutions in the Evangelical world) “sliding to the Left?  The answer seems unavoidable: Yes.  And that of course means that as their students become indoctrinated with Leftist thought, the Gospel will be diluted, and the multi-generational march through the institutions will continue with the Evangelical church, and in the process, racial harmony will be more difficult to achieve, and the Gospel less effective.

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