Southern Baptists have a new president, but division remains

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Jody Brown, Steve Jordahl (

SBC 2021 - Stop CRTIt's settled. The Southern Baptist Convention has a new president: Alabama Pastor Ed Litton will lead the denomination for the next two years. But the debate over critical race theory? That remains unsettled.

Four candidates were vying for the leadership position. After the first round of votes on Tuesday afternoon, Northwest Baptist Convention chair Randy Adams and Southern Seminary president Dr. Al Mohler – who was thought to be a frontrunner – were out. Outgoing SBC president JD Greear made this announcement after the second vote later that evening:

Greear: "The final results were Mike Stone with 47.81% of the voting and Ed Litton receives 52.04% - and thus Ed Litton is the next president of the Great Commission Baptists."

"Great Commission Baptists?" That's the unofficial name for Southern Baptists – but it could become official after a vote by the messengers on Wednesday.

Many saw the election of a new president as the key to a second "conservative resurgence" within the denomination. But Rob Chambers – one of the messengers attending the two-day meeting – argues that Litton's election doesn't mean that resurgence is over.


"… There were many messengers who passed several resolutions that pushed back on critical race theory," Chambers tells One News Now. "[And] there's still a resolution pending [Wednesday] for a vote to rescind or nullify critical race theory as a – quote – 'useful tool.'"

That was the other big issue on the table for the gathering in Nashville: Would the SBC cling to CRT as an aid in dealing with racial issues. The messengers on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for Resolution 2, which affirmed the sufficiency of scripture alone to deal with racial reconciliation.

Regarding the CRT debate at the gathering, The Associated Press quotes former SBC president Dr. James Merritt saying:

"If some people in this room were as passionate about the gospel as they are about critical race theory, we would win this world for Christ."

In direct response to that comment, Darrell B. Harrison with Just Thinking Ministries tweeted:

"I have to say that anyone who would say something like this doesn't really understand what Critical Race Theory is, for if they did, they would realize that it poisons people's hearts and minds in such a way that only the gospel can remedy."

Chambers says even though Litton, the incoming SBC president, favored the use of CRT, he's likely to be constrained by Southern Baptists in the pew.

"They've already voted and said anything that adheres to the tenets of critical race theory is not acceptable," he points out. "So, that means Litton can't go down the CRT trail and affirm it."

The meeting ends today with votes on several less contentious resolutions.


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