SEBTS President Daniel Akin defends video where he appears to endorse Standpoint Epistemology
On the Steve Noble Radio Show, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) President Danny Akin said he got “tarred and feathered” by critics over a video posted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). The video was widely reported among conservative Southern Baptists, discernment blogs and even mainstream evangelical outlets like the Babylon Bee’s Not the Bee.
Akin said conservative critics approached what he said without the proper context. He said people apply a “hermeneutic of suspicion” too often. (Akin deserves credit for this term. Clever.)
So, does the context absolve Akin of that video? No. However, the context tells us significantly about what is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Akin said the ERLC asked him, “How do we integrate in the coming decades, People of Color into our Convention and into our leadership because we are growing in only one particular area—that is among People of Color. Our white congregations are not growing. They are declining. But we are growing among Hispanics, Latinos. We are growing among Asians. And we are growing among African Americans. So, that is the future. What do we do then to integrate in terms of our agencies, our entities and leadership people of color? So, I was responding, here are some ideas about what we can do to make that a reality.”
This prompts a few observations.
First, why are white congregations declining in the Southern Baptist Convention? Some of this is demographic reality. As Charles Murray showed in Coming Apart—religion is in decline among the poor and the working class. This rural, white poor and working class always composed a significant portion of the SBC.
With a decline in emphasis on evangelism and outreach among these groups, the SBC abandoned these demographics. Instead, SBC Elites decided the future was elsewhere.
Second, why is the SBC growing among People of Color? The answer to this question comes straight out of how the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is prioritizing planting churches in minority communities. This approach began about 2010 based on the assumption that white churches are in terminal decline in the US and the only area of growth is among immigrants and minority communities in big cities.
In other words, the SBC Elites assumed the Obama-era Coalition of the Ascendant was the future of America and then devoted millions of dollars to build churches to appeal to these demographics. In other words, the SBC and Big Eva wanted to replace conservative whites with a different demographic.
The result is an unmitigated disaster. Baptisms in decline. Church attendance in decline. Even CP giving is in decline. Randy Adams explored these facts in blog posts last year.
So, the SBC created a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding increases among People of Color by pursuing a failed strategy to expend precious resources on questionable big cities.
But, back to Akin. Does that “context” help his remarks? No. While informative about the SBC Elite priorities (save the CP at any cost), it does not excuse his endorsement of what appears to be Standpoint Epistemology and calls to give up leadership to People of Color for no other reason than a belief that this is the future of the SBC (and by future of the SBC, the SBC Elites mean to say the future of the Cooperative Program cash flow.)