Akin: ‘We begin to play what I call the Theological Gestapo. We go looking and hunting for differences and then take small differences and magnify them far beyond their significance.’
The fight over Identity Politics in the Southern Baptist Convention hit a new low Sunday when Dr. Daniel Akin accused conservative critics as forming a Theological Gestapo. The attack came as Dr. Akin, president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered the Sunday sermon at First Baptist Church of Durham. Akin hoped to use the sermon to call for unity to advance the Gospel.
However, Akin increased tension within the Southern Baptist Convention by his use of Gestapo rhetoric. The Gestapo was the Nazi-era German secret police run by anti-Semites. Akin was not specific in calling any names as members of the Theological Gestapo. Yet, he did point to examples of strife.
Akin said the current division among Reformed Christians, among Southern Baptists and among Evangelical Christians arises out of minor disagreements—and not major theological issues. However, the facts suggest otherwise. These groups identified are the scene of a serious fight against the infiltration of Identity Politics and other godless ideologies. There is even a documentary planned by conservatives about the rise of Critical Race Theory in the SBC.
In the last year, conservative Reformed Christians issued a Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. The statement warned Social Justice and its Identity Politics would undermine the Gospel. Akin’s seminary and employees have come under fire for promotion of Identity Politics. In the New York Times, one of Akin’s professors admitted to deceptively promoting the teachings of the father of Liberation Theology Dr. James Cone.
Since the June 2019 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC has been roiled by controversy over the adoption of Resolution 9. The resolution approved the use of the analytical tools of Identity Politics. It specifically promoted Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Both Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are considered dangerous—even secular scholars warn destroys and builds division.
Conservative Southern Baptists, conservative Reformed and Evangelical Christians would say these are significant issues. They have issued statements and explanations on how Identity Politics is dangerous to the church and has no place in it.
The context of the Theological Gestapo comment
Akin’s sermon was on Colossians 3:12-17. It was titled, “The Well Dressed Christian.” At about the 28:30 mark, Akin related a talk with the late Adrian Rogers. Rogers was instrumental as one of the key leaders of the Conservative Resurgence. The Resurgence reclaimed the Southern Baptist Convention for orthodox Christianity. The point of the story was that the problem with Southern Baptists is our fighting spirit often picks the wrong fights. During the Conservative Resurgence, we were standing in ranks on the battlefield engaged with the real enemy, but “today we are in the barracks.”
“We are now face-to-face and if you are used to fighting and you don’t fight the enemy out there, then you will fight your brother and sister in here,” Akin said. “I would submit to you this morning there is a lot fighting going on within the Reformed camp, and the SBC camp, and the evangelical camp and the reason is that we are not on the battlefield fighting the real enemy. We are in the barracks fighting one another.
“Folks we are not talking about people who deny the inerrancy of the Bible, or people who deny penal substitution, or that deny a complementarian understanding of the Bible. We are talking about people who are all in agreement on those things. And yet, we look for things. We begin to play what I call the Theological Gestapo. We go looking and hunting for differences and then take small differences and magnify them far beyond their significance. And as a result of that in too many instances we don’t have peace; we have strife. We don’t have harmony; we have disharmony and disruption. And because of that our witness to the world is harmed. And our focus and passion on the Great Commission gets lost.”
If unity were the goal, one wonders how calling your critics a Theological Gestapo will build relationships.