I am grateful for the $5,000,000 scholarship commitment named in honor of Garland Offfutt, the first African American graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It certainly represents fruit worthy of repentance. It speaks to the past and to the future. Hats off to Dr. Mohler and the trustee board for this historic decision that is a step toward healing. It remains my deep conviction that there is a moral inconsistency with the orthodox Christian Faith that cannot reconcile the celebration and honoring of men stealers and child abusers with the inerrant and infallible Word of God.
Here is a letter I penned to Dr. Mohler this past Friday in anticipation of today’s decision that summarizes my full response.
October 14, 2020
Dr. R. Albert Mohler
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
2825 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40206
Dear Dr. Mohler,
Thank you for the candor and transparency you expressed in our 35-minute cordial conversation on Thursday evening, October 8, primarily regarding my request to remove the names of the slaveholding founders of SBTS.
You honored me by asking, what message would I want you to deliver to the trustees at Southern Seminary. I hope that you will convey to them this entire email, or whatever sentiments that I have expressed here, that you would want to pass on.
It remains my deep conviction that, there is a moral inconsistency with the orthodox Christian Faith, that cannot reconcile the celebration and honoring of men stealers and child abusers, with the inerrant and infallible Word of God (I Timothy 1:10; Matthew 18:6). There is an orthodoxy within me that will not permit the advocacy of an idea that is not biblically grounded. Honoring those who dishonored the Imago-Dei in others for profit, is simply not an honorable thing to do, or continue to do.
I am also persuaded that the next generation will not accept this moral inconsistency and will change the names of these unrepentant abusers of mankind, in their lifetime. They will be driven by biblical and ethical values, that will weigh heavier to them than the legitimate historic, emotional, and administrative challenges and ties, that makes this decision a heavy one on all involved. I pray the Lord will let me live long enough to see it.
It was, and is, my desire to obey God by bringing this matter to your attention and the SBTS/SBC’s attention.
For the sake of unity and peace in the Southern Baptist Zion, I too, accept your recommendation regarding the disposition of this matter and appreciate the serious deliberations you and the trustees are giving to this matter.
Furthermore, I honor you, Dr. Mohler, and the SBTS trustees for your preliminary proposed initiative to honor Garland Offutt, the first Black graduate of SBTS, with the generous funding of generous scholarships to be awarded to African American students. In a practical sense, the funding of these scholarships will be more meaningful to the recipients, than removing the slaveholder’s names.
Additionally, I am really elated by any consideration and recommendation that you may give to honoring the 51+ slaves, who actually contributed greatly to the initial funding of SBTS by virtue of the wealth they provided to Boyce, Broadus, Manly, and Williams, with their involuntary free labor.
Honestly, if the unnamed slaves are given a significant memorial, tribute prominently displayed on campus, it would go a long way toward reckoning and righting the wrong (the moral wrong) of the founder’s names being prominently displayed. I will be glad to contribute to a noteworthy, highly visible memorial in honor of the slaves who have never been recognized for their mammoth financial contribution to the school. I am grateful for your heart to consider giving honor to whom honor is due. This may be a “Solomonic” solution to addressing needs and concerns of all who care about this situation.
Finally, thanks again for your phone call. I sincerely enjoyed and was edified by the conversation. Much appreciation and respect for you! May God continue to smile upon your ministry at SBTS.
For His Kingdom,
Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church