A rift is forming in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), as some of its senior leadership is being accused of drifting to the left on several social issues, which is setting off many alarm bells with the rank and file.
The Southern Baptist Convention's current shift started several years ago, according to Alan Atchison of the Capstone Report – particularly with SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and its president, Russell Moore.
“[The leftward swing became evident] particularly in the conduct of Dr. Moore in the last election,” Atchison explained. “His really hateful rhetoric directed at Trump voters and supporters, I thought, was inappropriate.”
Disagreement with the Trump administration is not the only sign that the SBC is leaning more to the left.
“Also, the general tenor and character of the ERLC's thinking is drifting further and further away from where your typical average Southern Baptist would feel comfortable,” Atchison added.
He also maintained that Moore and the ERLC have strayed into questionable theological territory on environmental issues, racial reconciliation and lately immigration. At a pro-life conference last week, Moore tried to shoehorn a liberal United States immigration policy into the pro-life tent.
Atchison contends that what is needed is a responsible theology of politics that highlights different functions of the individual Christian and the government.
“I'm supposed to forgive someone many, many times – that's not necessarily there for the state,” he asserted. “We're told the state has the power of the sword – it's there to punish evil … to be an avenger.”
He also stressed that the government is there to enforce the law before indicating that it is time for the SBC to set some major changes into motion.
“I think the convention needs systemic reform,” Atchison offered. “There's not really a mechanism for your rank and file typical Southern Baptist to hold the machinery of the SBC accountable.”
Atchison pointed out that the SBC annual meetings in Dallas taking place in June will be a seminal moment for the denomination, noting that they may correct the drift … or slide the SBC further away from orthodox theology.