Having just listened to part of Russell Moore’s sermon on rebranding, linked on SBC Voices, for which comments were closed, I am compelled to respond.
Once again, the issue of our name change is being framed by Baptist leaders as a response to the despicable slavery and racism of our past, for which we have already publicly repented as a denomination. Problems exist with the use of this line of reasoning to promote a name change. I beg my fellow Southern Baptists not to take us down this road, for I believe in my heart that it will result in our greater embarrassment and serve no lofty purpose.
Essentially, my belief is that if this philosophy drives the discussion, one of two things will happen. Either (1) SBC Messengers will be “guilt manipulated” into a name change they have repeatedly said they do not want, or (2) SBC Messengers will reject such “guilt manipulation” and will be portrayed in the media (and possibly by those favoring the name change) as a denomination stubbornly clinging to its racist past and unwilling to sever a name some claim associates us with that terribly sinful institution of slavery.
As I understand the direction of our denomination, we are planning to elect Fred Luter as the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is my trilemma: I support his candidacy, I detest racism AND I prefer to keep the name Southern Baptist Convention. Respecting my position means not insinuating that racism drives my opposition to the name change.
Unless the rhetoric changes — and fast — my position will be painted in colors that both insult my intelligence and dishonor the integrity of my principled opposition. To put it simply, if there is no room in the rhetoric used by name change proponents for the existence of a non-racist opponent of the name change, then we are in for much more than a controversial annual meeting.
Name change proponents, feel free to use whatever legitimate arguments you wish: (1) to promote missions in areas other than the south, (2) to more accurately describe our modern identity, or (3) to indicate where we are going rather than where we have been. But I beg you, do not try to make the name change a referendum on racism. That’s a punch that falls far below the belt. If such a strategy is used, the end result is irrelevant, for it is a LOSE-LOSE proposition.
Nothing good can come of making the name change a referendum on racism. Nothing. Please don’t go there.