In April 2018, the Ethics And Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) released a video entitled “What Do White Christians Need To Be Mindful Of When Speaking About Racial Reconciliation?” Produced during the tenure of Russell Moore, the 1-1/2 minute video features Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
While the gist of Akin’s brief answer to the question was for white people to stop talking and “begin to listen,” it is his concluding remark that bears consideration, particularly in light of the admitted pulpit plagiarism (and subsequent coverup) of newly elected SBC President Ed Litton.
Akin’s remark ought be considered pulled directly from the critical race theory playbook. You might perhaps search for “reparations.” Here is the concluding part of Akin’s comments:
“As I often say, not only do we need to invite ethnic minorities in our room and to have a seat at the table, we even need to be willing to surrender leadership at the table if we’re really going to make progress and really help our brothers and sisters understand that we see them on an equal plane with ourselves.”
Oops, I’m Sorry
As many have pointed out, the intentional plagiarizing of even a single sermon should be grounds for a pastor to be removed from his position for, as Albert Mohler has even stated, “he’s not a preacher.” In Litton’s case, he not only admitted to plagiarizing one sermon, but he also affirmed that there were other sermons that represented the same reprehensible behavior. Only, Litton didn’t call it reprehensible. His “apology” was more in the tone of “Oops, I got caught. Sorry.” Litton’s “sorry” was apparently unpalatable enough for him to scrub some 143 additional sermons from his church’s website. One presumes he doesn’t want to be caught again.
In addition to his sin of theft (stealing sermons to re-preach them) and the sin of deceit (presenting said sermons as his own), Litton elsewhere has confessed to “lying” when asked about his sermon prep time. He’s also admitted making up stories to preach because, well, the Bible apparently isn’t either sufficient enough or sufficiently creative enough.
A “Litton-y” of Unrighteousness
“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, skillful in teaching” 1 Tim. 3:1-2
So here’s where things stand with Litton. He’s plagiarized. He’s deceived. He’s lied. He’s attempted to conceal his sins. And these despicable behaviors, a word Al Mohler uses, have been committed by Litton in the discharge of the single most important responsibility given the preacher: “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Given Litton’s larcenous pulpit behavior, it ought cause one to ponder whether he is “above reproach” and “skillful in teaching,” two qualifications Paul includes as necessary for the pastor.
“Plagiarism is a grave moral failing that rightly shuts down careers – especially pastoral careers, because we who teach Scripture are held to the highest standard on planet earth (see James 3:1). It must be so, and in any sound church and institution, it will be so … The preaching and teaching office is to be held only by godly men of consistent character.” Owen Strachan via Facebook
Here’s where things stand for Akin
He’s clearly stated that there are times, pursuant to the guidelines of the gospel of CRT, when “we even need to be willing to surrender leadership.” It’s now evident in the SBC that a surrender of the presidency is not to be based on admitted moral compromise, or else the pressure of righteousness would’ve already forced Litton to concede. So, rather than rebuke Litton for his preaching peccability, Akin stands by his man.
On the day Litton released his sorry “sorry” statement, Akin rushed to his support. “Thank you my friend,” Akin tweeted. “I appreciate your humility, transparency and integrity. Grateful for you!”
Just in case you missed it, what Akin did was to redefine “humility, transparency and integrity.” No longer does it mean what it used to mean. In Akin SBC-speak, “humility, transparency and integrity” means “issue an apology when you get caught, but only when you get caught.” Remember that Litton’s plagiarism took place a year and a half ago. Only when it came to light did Litton say “sorry.”
The question is clear
Why wouldn’t Akin, why wouldn’t the SBC, for the sake of its witness to the world – because, “the world is watching” as so many platformed convention speakers reminded us – demand Litton’s resignation? Why wouldn’t the elite of the SBC, whose reputations are also being tarnished by the support of him, be demanding his resignation?
Well, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a reason. And that reason just might be a name. And that name would be Lee Brand. Lee Brand just happens to be the newly elected First Vice-President of the SBC. He is also the Dean of the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Vice-President. Elected at the same Convention as Litton, Brand stands directly behind Litton in succession for the Presidency. Lee Brand happens to be, by the way, a black man.
It’s Almost Like God Has Arranged This
Wow! Wouldn’t this sort of situation be like an inverse of the proverbial perfect storm? Here’s a morally compromised, admitted liar and thief in Litton who, just for his moral failings alone, should not only be forced from the presidency, but also from his pastorate. But behind him is a sound, credentialed black man? How much better could a scandal turn out? Even a seminary student would be expelled for plagiarism.
In what would be both a biblically obedient move, as well as one about which the woke SBC elite could wrongly but gleefully gloat about the validity of CRT, the replacement of the morally compromised white man with a discerning and respectable black man would seem a no-brainer. But it’s not a no-brainer for the SBC.
In other words – in Akin’s words to be exact – the white man could “surrender leadership,” and in this case be forced to do so, so that a black man could be placed on “an equal plane with ourselves.” The SBC could claim the Scripturally moral high ground while at the same time say, “See, CRT works!” From their standpoint, it could be viewed as a perfect situation. It’s even like God could have arranged it or something.
But, hang on a sec …
God may have arranged this opportunity (and in fact He did), but, just as “sinners gonna sin,” the SBC’s gonna SBC. The CRT “surrender leadership” call of Akin isn’t playing out. The analytical tool isn’t being abided by. Scriptural allegiance isn’t being abided by either, but then that’s just a pesky detail to the power elite of the SBC.
According to Scripture, unrepentant sin calls for church discipline. When repentance is not forthcoming – and no, a sorry “sorry I got caught” apology is not repentance – Scripture ultimately prescribes ex-communication, the disfellowshipping of the unrepentant person from the church. (See Matthew 18:15-17).
But Akin isn’t following Scripture. Litton’s church isn’t following Scripture. The SBC isn’t following Scripture. Likewise, they aren’t even following a tenet of critical race theory Akin so pithily summarized in the ERLC video. It’s nuanced CRT hypocrisy in the midst of biblical infidelity.
So what’s going on? Well, perhaps here’s what’s going on.
Neither Akin nor the SBC has rebuked Litton for his scandalous plagiarizing, lying, and cover-up. They can’t. They have to keep him in place. It’s not merely a matter of obeying the SBC’s 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Southern Baptist, especially one in leadership.” It’s not merely even a matter of protecting their own ivory-towered power structure itself. Akin himself would be rightly embarrassed should the man “who can lead us best,” – as his “vote Litton” tweet during the election reveals -be acknowledged as biblically unqualified to lead. Akin and the elite can’t lose face. They can’t have that.
What it’s about is that Lee Brand is the wrong brand of black man
Why? Because Lee Brand isn’t woke. He is decidedly anti-critical race theory. He’s not playing that game. The SBC cannot tolerate such a man, especially not at the helm of the Convention.
Fred Luter, the black man who nominated Litton for the presidency, does play the game. Luter was the first black man elected to the presidency of the SBC in 2012 and served in that position until 2014 when he was succeeded by Ronnie Floyd. Akin stated that Luter’s election was “the most significant event to happen in our history since our formation,” indicating Akin’s own melanin-based emphasis for determining denominational significance.
So Luter would be the “right” kind of black man. And the “right” kind is distinguished from the “wrong” kind by a willingness to jettison Scripture in pursuit of the Christianized idol of melanin-based cultural relevance. Since culture is currently all about CRT, if you’re not playing the racism game, you’re not a friend, but a foe. Melanin only matters to Akin and the SBC elite if it’s being employed in a way that supports the social Marxist narrative defined by critical theory. Melanin clearly doesn’t matter when a man like Lee Brand refuses to employ it.
Because the SBC is nothing if not political, there’s also another reason Lee Brand isn’t the right kind of man for the job. It’s the political reason. He was the candidate of choice for the job of 1st VP by the pejoratively labeled “ultra-conservative insurgency” represented by the Conservative Baptist Network.
The unwoke Brand is the wrong brand of black man for the woke SBC.
There is one particular message Brand gave that reflects a bit of his view on CRT and on Resolution 9 which the Convention adopted in 2019. In February 2020, “The Gospel Is Enough” conference was held in Memphis. The speakers included Darrell Harrison, Virgil Walker, Michael O’Fallon, and several other notable men. Lee Brand was among them. His message is highly recommended and can be found HERE or viewed below.
Following are some excerpts from what Brand had to say. You’ll quickly discern that the position he holds with regards to critical race theory is not akin to Akin nor to the woke elite of the SBC. Is it likely that his views on CRT are the primary reason the powers-that-be do not wish to see him assume the power of the SBC presidency? Do they view Brand as a traitor to his race as well as to their CRT-driven agenda?
Here are some pertinent excerpts from Brand’s message:
“All it [Resolution 9] was saying was there is the possibility that the gospel we have is not enough.”
“What happened last summer in your convention is somebody stood up and said, It takes Jesus plus. And the Bible would say, Nope. It just takes Jesus only.”
“The great struggle of our day is not any more going to be what happened in the Conservative Resurgence. The argument now is not about, is the Bible inerrant? The argument now is, is it sufficient? Is it enough?”
“What I would encourage every believer in this room to do – as my white brothers and sisters – please hear me. You cannot harbor guilt for things in the past that you cannot change. And please stop allowing people to hold over your head things over which you had no control. You don’t owe me anything. You don’t owe me an apology.”
“There’s a lot of chatter about overhauling and fixing systems. Jesus Christ didn’t come to fix a system. In Jesus’ day, there were slaves. In Jesus’ day there were people who were marginalized. And He declared salvation of the soul.”
“If you fix a system and leave the folks broken, broken people will break a system again.”
“If Christ abides in you, He and His Word are enough.”
“Here is my real problem with the end game of critical race theory as applied by many people today. It totally guts the gospel.”
“So in their system you have a white man who has no hope of redemption, and every oppressed group has no need for it. And both of those are tragically wrong in the face of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Whenever you leave the gospel of Jesus Christ, you leave the Christ of the gospel. He is so tied to His Word, for you to throw His Word away is to throw Him away as well. To say His Word is not enough is to say He is not enough.”
“Adding something to Christ is wrong. I don’t care what your context is.”
“The gospel always has been, and always will be, enough.”
The Woke Brand, Not The Faithful Brand, Is What Matters
There’s a syllogism of hypocrisy being exhibited by the SBC in this entire scandalous matter. Here’s the syllogism: The gospel is about justice; CRT produces justice; therefore the gospel is about CRT. Here’s the hypocrisy: As Akin and many in the SBC elite have shown regarding Litton, even when a leader falls into moral compromise, unless the black man waiting in the wings is woke, his melanin is irrelevant. As it appears to the watching world, the SBC would rather have moral compromise rather than non-woke integrity.
Having jettisoned the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, the SBC elite have been leading the Convention to embrace cultural relevancy in the form of critical race theory and intersectionality. But even when an opportunity arises in which both biblical fidelity and presumed CRT compliance might be manifested, the SBC won’t act. The woke crowd of the SBC signals the tenets of CRT, but they don’t abide even by them. This is called optics. It’s called virtue signaling. And, more importantly, it’s called unfaithfulness.
The biblically obedient thing to do would be to eject Litton from the presidency regardless of who may be waiting in the wings. But the SBC’s disobedience to Scripture is perhaps only exceeded by its vivid display of infidelity to CRT. It’s not remotely willing to “surrender leadership,” as Akin and the ERLC suggest. From this scandal, both blacks and whites should see that the SBC is concerned only about appearances, not content. They are concerned only with profession, not performance. It will sell what it thinks the culture wants to buy, but it won’t practice what it sells. Having disregarded Scripture with lip service, the SBC’s gospel of CRT is likewise a useless profession. Melanin is for messaging only. And the SBC is ever good at that.
May the Lord have mercy and may He rapidly grant repentance to those engaged, or deceived, by such duplicity, hypocrisy, and utter lack of integrity.