The flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention is responding to pressure from outside groups to rid itself of its ties to slavery and racism of the past.
Social justice groups were demanding that The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, purge its campus of the names of the school's founders who were slave holders prior to emancipation. Several campus buildings and even one entire college are named after men like James P. Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams.
OneNewsNow spoke with Dr. Al Mohler, president of the seminary. He says the school's board of trustees unanimously decided not to comply with the demands.
"The board acted not to take down those names for the same reason I don't believe it would be right to take down the names of Washington and Jefferson and others," Mohler explains. "Frankly, we don't know who we are as an institution without our founders."
The Trustees did, however, establish a $5-million scholarship for black students. Mohler shares the "why" behind that decision.
"We want to make it possible for more African-American pastors to come [to our seminary]," he offers, "and frankly, I want fewer going to liberal theological institutions and more coming to a conservative school like Southern Seminary."
According to Mohler, this is the first time SBTS has ever addressed its past.
But critics of the Southern Baptist Convention's recent nod to unbiblical, progressive language and tools remain concerned. Christian apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says the seminary's calling is not to pander and appease a culture, but to stand against sin and spiritual darkness – and if that's the objective behind the scholarship, he's all for it.
"If this $5-million scholarship will equip students for the ministry, wonderful," McFarland tells OneNewsNow. "If it will equip students to proclaim the whole counsel of God, defend the faith, stand against political correctness and for a biblical worldview, wonderful."
Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, the seminary will set aside $1 million of endowed and restricted funds as an endowment to assist qualified black students at SBTS – and then will set aside $1 million for the fund every three years until the goal of $5 million is reached. The scholarship will be administered through the Garland Offutt Scholars Program, honoring the legacy of the seminary's first African-American full graduate.