Southern Baptists, Race, and the Election of Fred Luter

My friend Lawrence Smith has produced a fantastic report for our local Fox affiliate about the upcoming election of Fred Luter as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Albert Mohler, Paul Chitwood, T. Vaughn Walker, and Paul Simmons are all interviewed in this piece.

I cannot overstate how significant this election will be in the life of our denomination. I expect as the convention approaches, we’ll be seeing lots of news stories like this one. This will be an historic vote, and I can’t wait to see it.


  • Don Johnson

    There is no question about this being a historic vote. It is a form of total repudiation on the main reason the SBC formed. Now we have no problem reconizing that slavery was less than God’s best due to the well known theologians Grant and Sherman.

    As I meditated on this, I think there was a larger problem, of which this one is a component. It is in the false idea of one adult human being a “benign overlord” of another adult human as being God’s best. Of course, a benign overload is better than an abusive overlord; but that is not the point. A adult should repudiate any and all claims to being an overlord over another adult, per Jesus; and the SBC still does not see this.

  • Don Johnson

    The SBC teaches that God’s best in a marriage is that a wife defer to her husband, that he is to act as a benign overlord (my words) of the family and that marriage therefore is not a partnership, rather it is a gendered hierarchy, with the male on top in all cases whenever he decides to play his trump card and make the so-called final decision. I see this teaching a boundary violation due to a misreading of Scripture and what it means to be a follower of Jesus and is therefore a form of santified sin, one which should be repented from.

    I have had many human bosses in a job, some male and some female. But they were only my boss when I was at work, not all the time. And I could quit the job and the worker/boss relationship would end. I do read the Eph 6 text on slavery as applying to me as an employee, but there is no question that the SBC employed these same texts to justify slavery, via what they saw was a literal reading. The founders of the SBC would literally be rolling in their graves if they could with the election of a black man to be their leader, so it does show how far the SBC has come, however, they still have farther to go as I see it. Will it take them 150 years to repent of their gender hierarchy teachings?

    • Daryl Little

      I suspect it will take as long as is needed to demonstrate that Christ and the church do not have different roles.

      Until then, however, a man must lead his wife as gently and wisely as Christ leads us, and a wife must submit as willingly and lovingly as we are to submit to Christ.

      The slavery issue is, of course, a red herring.

    • Joe Blackmon

      Well considering they have nothing to repent of, since it is clearly taught in the word of God, I would say they’ve done the right thing. And I’m glad they have.

    • Don Johnson

      A husband is called to be the metaphorical “head” of his wife, as Christ is the metaphorical “head” of the church, his body. And everywhere in Scripture where what Christ as “head” is defined, it always always always involves serving functions, never ever leading functions. So stop teleporting a 21st century meaning of “head” into some 1st centiury text that never ever implies such a thing. Repent!

  • Mark Tucker

    Dr. Burk,
    While a student at NOBTS we would go to Wednesday night service at Franklin Ave. Pastor Luter treated us like friends and was always so kind. He has always seemed like super guy, and obviously has skill at leading people and the local church. I am, however, a bit troubled by McKissic, Redmond and (seems like) T. Vaughn Walker who want to make a big deal about race. Wouldn’t we be better off not talking about race? That is, not making much of a person’s race? I believe an accurate definition of racism is that someone makes much of his/her race. Redmond and McKissic have said that they will not vote for Obama UNLESS he takes back his stance on Gay Marriage. Really?! Is that the only thing holding them back? I don’t think I am reading into the fact that they voted for Obama for his race. If I am way out of line I apologize and feel free to delete the post Dr. Burk. I just wanted to get your thoughts about this, it’s been troubling me since those guys have been saying that African American Christians won’t vote for Obama (merely) because he is supporting gay marriage. So they are saying otherwise he is a guy that any Christian should support?

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