Southern Religion

‘Once a rising star in denominational life’ Dwight McKissic

Ouch? Regarding African-American Baptist pastor Dwight McKissic’s April 7 excoriation of the Southern Baptist Convention for failure to live up to its 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery, Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press wrote:

McKissic, once a rising star in denominational life until he disagreed publicly with influential leaders over a decision to stop appointing missionaries that use a “private prayer language,” said most systemic, institutional and individual racism in SBC life is “passive, not intentional.”

Well, he didn’t call McKissic a “has been,” even if the summation was lame. That disagreement was a full-bore, denominational uproar in which McKissic’s stand played an important role. Most spectacularly, in August of 2006, McKissic gave a sermon at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel in which he discussed his use of private prayer languages. Seminary president Paige Patterson did not have the sermon posted on the school website. Debate & turmoil. In June of 2007, McKissic resigned from the seminary board of trustees.

Ok. Was Enid, Oklahoma, pastor Wade Burleson also “once a rising star” until he disagreed publicly with influential leaders over private prayer languages (and other matters)? Specifically associated with his role as a member of the International Mission Board, from which he resigned in 2008 — an experience he documents in “Hardball Religion: Feeling the Fury of Fundamentalism.”

Maybe not the right characterization, but the official SBC reaction to McKissic is still dismissive. Allen writes that “Sing Oldham, vice president for convention relations at the SBC Executive Committee” said that “a motion referred by the convention in 2009 to study ways to more actively involve ethnic churches and ethnic leaders in serving the needs of the SBC.” And McKissic’s blog post “will certainly be a resource.”

We’ll see.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , , | 1 Comment