Pastor Tony Evans has released a statement clarifying his views on critical race theory after Southern Baptist Convention leaders denounced the theoretical framework for conflicting with the denomination’s faith confession—appearing to contradict their own denomination’s prior resolution on the matter.
“As I stated in my sermon, which I encourage everyone reading this to watch, I again affirm that the Bible must be the basis for analyzing any and all social, racial or political theories in order to identify what is legitimate or what is not legitimate. But I did not say, nor imply, that CRT or other ideologies lack beneficial aspects—rather that the Bible sits as the basis for determining that. I have long taught that racism, and it’s ongoing repercussions, are real and should be addressed intentionally, appropriately and based on the authority of God’s inerrant word,” Evans clarified in his December 2 statement.
— Tony Evans (@drtonyevans) December 2, 2020
The beginning of Evans’s statement references a recent sermon of his on race and reconciliation and the 2019 Resolution Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
That committee crafted a resolution on critical race theory that was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention at their annual meeting in 2019. In that resolution, the Southern Baptist Convention affirms as a body the value of using frameworks such as critical race theory as a sociological tool.
“Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences,” the resolution “On Critical Race Theory And Intersectionality” states in part.
The resolution, which “denounce[s] the misuse of critical race theory and intersectionality,” resolved, however: “That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks….”
In his statement, Evans appeared to focus on the more recent statement issued by the Council of Seminary Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention that was published by the Baptist Press on November 30, 2020.
In that statement, each White male president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s six seminaries agree to condemn “racism in any form” and affirm that “Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.”
The Council of Seminary Presidents (Danny Akin, Jason K. Allen, Jamie Dew, Adam W. Greenway, Jeff Iorg, and R. Albert Mohler—whose seminary recently made headlines), along with Summit Church pastor and SBC President J.D. Greear, signed on to the statement dismissing critical race theory in toto as a viable tool—contradicting their denomination’s own 2019 resolution “On Critical Race Theory And Intersectionality.”
Both the statement by the Council of Seminary Presidents and the 2019 resolution cite the Baptist Faith & Message, which states in part that “all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”
The Religion News Service (RNS) reported on the seminary presidents’ anti-critical race theory statement:
In a September executive order, President Donald Trump banned federal contractors, the military, federal agencies and recipients of federal grants from citing critical race theory in government-sponsored race and sex-based training.
But the seminary presidents may not have been following Trump so much as reacting to factions within Southern Baptist circles that have complained the denomination is drifting to the left and abandoning core convictions….
The RNS went on to report:
For Southern Baptists, any statement on race is a delicate matter. That’s because the Southern Baptist Convention was born in the crucible of slavery, founded in 1845 out of a conviction that missionaries could own slaves.
Beginning in 1995, the denomination passed a number of resolutions apologizing for slavery, saying, “we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty.”
That makes the seminary presidents’ statement opposing critical race theory especially troubling, some critics said.
Among those critics are Jemar Tisby, author of The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism. Tisby, also president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, asserted that the Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents only publicly affirmed their commitment to whiteness with their new statement.
Tisby writes: “Whiteness is the illusion that what is deemed ‘white’ is better, central, and superior to the beliefs, cultures, and peoples coming from different racial and ethnic groups. The practice of whiteness can be overt, as in the heinous practice of race-based chattel slavery, or more subtle, as in the subordination of any theological tradition that is non-white or non-European. In this case, a commitment to whiteness shows up by naming a framework developed within legal studies as an imminent threat to the integrity of the Christian witness in the United States.”
He adds: “The seminary presidents could have simply acknowledged the 20th anniversary of the Baptist Faith and Message’s adoption and stated that they remain dedicated to its doctrines. Instead, they focused on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Intersectionality. By highlighting ‘Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and any version of Critical Theory’ as particularly acute threats to Southern Baptist orthodoxy, the seminary presidents take aim at virtually anyone who advocates for racial justice beyond hugs, handshakes, and symbolic statements.”
As for Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, he pointed readers of his statement to a republished, pared down version of his November 15, 2020, sermon titled “Race and Reconciliation.”
In a clip from that sermon that has been making the rounds on social media, Evans preaches:
“We got folks going to sociology books before they go to the Bible. We got folks studying critical race theory before they go to the Bible. We got folks reading White Fragility before they go to the Bible. We got folks reading Black history before they go to the Bible. No, the Bible sits on top of all those other things.
“There may be great legitimacy to looking at this and seeing the history and identifying the problems and seeing how things are unfolding, analyzing microaggressions, and looking into various other implicit biases. And there may be great benefit [to] studying all of those realit[ies], as long as the word of God sits on top of it and is the point of reference for it, with Jesus Christ being the final decision-maker of it.
“But what we’ve got people doing, Christians, is going secular and then have the audacity to judge the sacred, the inerrant, errorless perfect Word of God by their secular university or their secular—the Bible calls it human wisdom, man’s thoughts….
“You know, all this [education] we got and we still haven’t solved the racial problem. You know why? [Because] we starting in the wrong place. [We gotta] start with what God says about race. Black is beautiful when it’s biblical. White is only right when it agrees with holy writ. And until you start there, then you will not be seeing the emulsification of Jesus Christ and the power of the cross to deal with the sin of racism so that there can be bibliocentric reconciliation.”