STATEMENT: Calls for racial unity ring empty when Baptists exclude only African American elected by 2021 SBC messengers

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Feb. 21, 2022

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has announced it will hold an online event, “Pursuing Unity: A Discussion of Racial Reconciliation Efforts and the SBC,” Feb. 23. Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ed Litton is listed as a speaker along with Fred Luter of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, Missie Branch of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jon Kelly of Chicago West Bible Church, and Brent Leatherwood of the ERLC.

Missing is Lee Brand, Jr., the only African American elected as an officer of the Convention by Southern Baptist messengers in 2021. Brand confirmed that he was not extended an invitation to participate in the Feb. 23 panel or included in any substantive leadership of the Convention thus far.

Southern Baptists are asking how they can take seriously claims that current SBC leadership genuinely seeks racial unity when they decline to include in “racial unity” discussions the current first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Conservative Baptist Network favors unity in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As far as races are concerned, we maintain that each of us belongs to the human race. We are all of Adam, and we are all of Noah, and more importantly, if we have been born again (John 3:3), we are united in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29). Distinctions made based on the level of melanin in one’s skin amount to the sin of partiality (James 2:1-9). In a fallen, sin-ridden world, humans have wronged and will continue to wrong one another. We must continually seek and give forgiveness as the bible teaches (Mt. 18:21, 22) and make every effort to live in harmony (Rom. 12:18).  

May Southern Baptists not make reconciliation appear more difficult or convoluted than it is. Division is caused exclusively by sin, and Jesus Christ crucified and raised to life offers the only solution to sin. We do not need any worldly ideologies or frameworks to recognize sin as the problem and Christ as the solution. We pray Southern Baptists will lead the way in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world that clearly is looking for the answers in all the wrong places and coming up hopelessly without a sufficient solution.

“If the sacrifice of Jesus Christ provides the only means of reconciliation between the Creator and the created, surely Christ’s sacrifice is the only real means of reconciliation among any two created people. All attempts at unity that do not begin with Christ start on faulty ground and will produce nothing of eternal significance.” – Dr. Lee Brand, Jr.