A Way Forward: An Interview with the Author of the Tennessee Baptist Condemnation of Critical Race Theory

On November 20th of this year Matt Stamper broke the news that Tennesee Southern Baptists, gathered in Knoxville, TN for their annual meeting, passed a resolution condemning Critical Race Theory.[1]


The Tennessee resolution represents a profound development in the controversy created by the passage of Resolution #9 at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham, AL on June 12, 2019.  [Editor’s Note: if you are unfamiliar with the controversy created by the passage of Resolution #9 please see the Founders Ministries’ film By What Standard?]

This action of the Tennessee Baptist Convention is significant evidence that Southern Baptists, when sufficiently informed about Critical Race Theory and the danger it presents to the church, will take action to repudiate Critical Race Theory.

Additionally, the action of Tennessee Baptists offers a way forward to Southern Baptists (nationally) who find themselves frustrated and disenfranchised when it comes to pushing back against the spread of Critical Race Theory. The state-level convention is much more immediate than the national convention and the individual pastor or church member has greater opportunity to have a significant voice not only in the state’s annual meeting but in the yearly ebb and flow of the state convention’s activities. If faithful brothers and sisters who feel themselves alienated from the national denomination will invest their energies in their respective state conventions the result will be a national denomination where toxic ideologies will have little opportunity to take hold.

I reached out to Shawn Allred, the author of the Tennessee Resolution, to learn more about what led him to submit this resolution, what the process was like, and his hopes for Southern Baptists going forward.  He was gracious enough to answer my questions and allow them to be published here.

CR:V – Can you give our readers an idea of who you are and how you were converted – specifically, where you’re from, how you were saved, and where you serve?

Allred – I am a native of Memphis, TN and I currently serve as pastor of FBC Kenton, TN which is located in the NW corner of our state.  I was brought to faith in Christ at my home church, Leawood Baptist Church of Memphis on January 25, 1989, at the age of sixteen. Following our youth group meeting on a Wednesday night I prayed to receive Christ and made Him my Savior and Lord!  My life has never been the same and I am so thankful Christ is now my life.   I was blessed to grow up in a church that stood strong on the Word of God and discipled those won to faith in Christ. I had two pastors during my years at Leawood.  First, the late Dr. Jerry Glisson who pastored Leawood for 35 years and Dr. Tommy Vinson who pastored me in my late teens and twenties.  Both of these men had much to do with my spiritual growth.  But they were not alone.  My Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, and countless others including my parents were instrumental in my walk with Christ.  I have been in the gospel ministry for 28 years. 

CR:V – Where did you first learn about Critical Race Theory?

Allred – I first became aware of CRT during my time as a messenger of the SBC in June of 2019.

CR:V – Was CRT immediately something you saw as unhelpful for the church or did your thinking change over time?

Allred – Resolution 9 came to the floor of the convention and I was immediately troubled in my spirit.  I could not see how an unbiblical worldview could inform those who have a biblical worldview in any matter.  The more I learned and am learning about CRT/I the more dangerous I believe it to be. 

CR:V – Who, if anyone, was a help to you as you thought through CRT and what it meant for Southern Baptist Churches and the Convention?

Allred – Several of my pastor peers were exceptionally helpful as we wrestled together with what CRT/I meant for SBC churches and our convention.  We had several discussions and soul searching sessions to see what we could do to help turn the tide of embracing this dangerous critical theory worldview.  Some of these men included Pastor Joel Pigg, Pastor Bryan Morris, Pastor Dave Powell, Pastor Lane Self, and our DOM Bro. Roger Stacy. Through prayerful consideration, we determined that a resolution from the state level was our best option to send a message that denounced CRT/I and also stood opposed to the resolution 9 that was passed at the SBC.  I also gained some wonderful knowledge from Pastor Stephen Feinstein of California who drafted the original resolution presented to the SBC resolutions committee that denounced strongly our engagement with CRT/I.

CR:V – Were you in Birmingham for the passage of Resolution #9?

Allred – Yes, I voted in opposition.

CR:V – Did you workshop your resolution with any friends or counselors before submitting it to the TN Resolutions Committee?

Allred – Yes.  In addition to working alongside my peers mentioned earlier, I also sought counsel from our Tennessee Baptist Mission Board leadership staff.  They were most helpful in the process of drafting the resolution that I submitted to the committee. 

CR:V – How did working with the TN Resolutions Committee go?  Was there communication, feedback, or modification of the resolution you submitted?

Allred – I was beyond impressed with Dani Bryson (chair of the resolutions committee) and her committee in drafting a resolution that remained true to the original intent of my submitted resolution.   They consulted with me and gave me the time I needed to express my concerns with resolution 9 and to advocate for my resolution that decried any engagement with unbiblical worldviews.  They took the time to know my heart and were gracious and kind throughout the process. God had the right people in the right places and for that I am thankful. 

CR:V – Would you give our readers a statement about why you felt it was important for your state convention to pass the resolution you submitted?

Allred – My passion for my submitted resolution is born out of my passion for God’s people to rest and rely on the supreme authority and truth of God’s Word.  Here is what I said before the messengers at the TBC/Summit following the presentation of the resolution that was presented by the committee.  “Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  The resolution that is before this body champions the primacy of Scripture and as followers of Christ, we are to stand on scripture for it is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, theories, and ideologies should be tried.  This resolution champions scripture as our supreme authority and it also stands against the ungodly and worldly theories of critical race and intersectionality.  I am thankful God’s word defines all humanity as made in the image of God, makes us aware of our fallenness because of sin, and proclaims to us that we can be redeemed by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  While CRT/I seek to divide us the Word of God unites us all in the identity of Christ.” 

CR:V – What have you heard since the resolution passed: have you heard from other pastors and/or laymen and what has the general tone of that feedback?  Has any comment stuck out in particular?

Allred – I have received a multitude of comments from pastors and laypersons thanking me for taking up the banner of truth regarding this subject.  Their tone has been thankful and I believe relieved as they are reminded that truth still wins the day when it is proclaimed.  To me, and I believe many other believers as well, the truth is like a breath of fresh air in the midst of a polluted landscape of Satan’s lies and deception.

CR:V – What would you say to other Southern Baptists wanting to take a stand against CRT in their own state conventions or at the national level?

Allred – I would tell others to proclaim the truth of God’s word unashamedly.  We are Christ’s ambassadors who are not beholding to any man or ideology of man but responsible to bear His truth.  Truth must be proclaimed and lies must be uncovered wherever they may exist.  If ravenous wolves of false ideologies and worldviews are in the sheepfold then we must expose them as such by shining the glorious light of the Gospel.

——————————————————————

Resolution Denouncing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality[2]

“Whereas, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a secular worldview used by some in social sciences to analyze marginalized populations by categorizing differences among peoples, especially race and gender, and

“Whereas, intersectionality arises from dialog regarding CRT and focuses on the overlapping categorizations within CRT, and

“Whereas, CRT and intersectionality emphasize the priority of social and scientific analyses of humanity while failing to recognize the validity of Biblical truth in understanding the sinful nature of humanity, and

“Whereas, we acknowledge the presence of structural and systemic racism, pride, greed, and lust existing in societies of a fallen world, and

“Whereas, the Messengers of the Tennessee Baptist Convention are deeply troubled that some are injecting CRT and Intersectionality into theological context, and

“Whereas, Scripture is true and trustworthy and must be the foundation of a Christian’s worldview, therefore be it

“Resolved, that ethnic, gender, cultural and racial distinctions do exist and are a gift from God that will give Him absolute glory when the entirety of sanctified humanity worships Him in perfect unity founded upon our unity in Jesus Christ, and be it further

“Resolved, that Tennessee Baptist Churches and institutions are encouraged to take a stand against all forms of biblically defined injustice and are encouraged to do so in a manner consistent with the biblical worldview rather than unbilical worldviews, and be it further

“Resolved, that the messengers of the Tennessee Baptist Convention strongly denounce CRT and intersectionality as inconsistent with the Biblical worldview and theology, and be it further

“Resolved, that we affirm Scripture as the first and only framework for evaluating the world around us including academia and social sciences.”


[1] You can read the text of that resolution at the bottom of this post.

[2] This text is taken from The Baptist and Reflector, the official newjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The accompanying article is well worth reading. You can find it here:
https://baptistandreflector.org/tennessee-baptists-oppose-critical-race-theory-intersectionality/

Published by Jeff Wright

Jeff Wright lives in Middle Tennessee where he pastors Midway Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter at @wrightjeff and hear him on The Pop Culture Coram Deo Podcast.

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