Last month, Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas announced he was going to get the hell out of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention — and maybe the Southern Baptist Convention entirely.
The tipping point for McKissic was that, as a Black man, he couldn’t handle the SBTC (and the SBC) saying that systemic racism wasn’t a serious problem. They had openly rejected everything about “Critical Race Theory,” and even though McKissic agreed on certain points, to reject the entire thing as if it was some kind of liberal conspiracy was really dismissing the kind of racism Black Americans have experienced for centuries. McKissic also said that, given the SBC’s history of racism, “it is preposterous to ask African American churches to blindly trust [SBC leaders’] interpretations regarding CRT.”
Not long after he publicly announced his departure, though, he received confirmation that he was making the right move.
McKissic received a letter at his church from a man named John V. Rutledge who was infuriated by his decision to walk away from the Baptist group.
Read this thing. And realize it’s dated January 25, 2021… because you might be fooled into thinking it’s at least a century or two old.
— Kyle J. Howard (@KyleJamesHoward) February 2, 2021
In recent years the Southern Baptist Convention has been repenting (foolishly) of the “sin” of whiteness, and has rebaptized itself as an exemplar of diversity. Verily, it has brought fruits meet for repentance: a Negro Convention president; a Negro candidate for the pastorate of a white church (FBC, Naples, Florida); five million dollars in seminary scholarships for — and only for — Negroes; appointive positions reserved for, and elections rigged to install, Negroes.
But it has not been enough. For the Negro, nothing is ever enough. LBJ’s Great Society and War on Poverty gave the Negro the keys to the U. S. Treasury, the response to which has been ingratitude and “Giveusmo!” Legislation leapfrogged the Negro over whites, placing Negroes in residences that they could not otherwise afford, and granting them unmerited entry into classrooms and boardrooms.
Yet, they remain savages; they defile and diminish every arena in which they parade: academic, political, corporate, judicial, military, athletic. Seeking another white bastion to badger and beleaguer, they invaded the church. None more deserving of destruction than the Southern Baptist Convention.
Ordnance wasted on a collapsing fort. That cult has been destroying itself for the past fifteen years, proof of which is in declining membership. If Negroes had come to improve rather than to importune, they would have deployed the alleged-to-exist “collective wisdom of black Baptist pastors” to pick apart the Baptist Faith and Message, to challenge denominational denial of settled science, to extract the Convention from its unsophisticated doctrines and dogmas of yesteryear. All desperately needed.
But those are beyond the Negroes’ intellectual capacities. Like two-year-olds, they know only how to whine and throw tantrums. The SBC should bid them goodbye and good riddance!
John V. Rutledge
Well, at least he wrote it “cordially”…
Rutledge isn’t some random racist, either. He’s self-published two books about how the SBC has “gone to hell” by modernizing itself in any way at all.
As theologian Kyle James Howard notes, anyone who’s surprised by the date of that letter hasn’t been listening to Black Christians within the church because this kind of blatant racism is nothing new. That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise when Black people walk away from the church — and why dismissing the accounts of Black pastors isn’t a wise path forward.
The Southern Baptist Convention as a whole needs to make a simple decision: Would it prefer to accommodate people like McKissic or racists like Rutledge?
Well, let’s be honest. They’ve already made the decision. So, really, they just need to decide whether they want to admit it publicly. Because Black people within the church already hear them loud and clear.