Southern Baptists have often been faulted for being on the wrong side of the issue of slavery and, later, on the issue of civil rights. While it cannot be denied that the Civil War came about as a result of Southerners demanding the right at the state level to determine the issue of slavery, it should also be remembered that many Southerners worshiped together in congregations with slaves before the War split them apart (See Greg Wills’s great book, Democratic Religion, published by Oxford).
It is true that Southern Baptists were on the wrong side of the slavery issue. So, it is fitting that Southern Baptists openly and publicly repent of their sins against black Americans.
Baptists in history have not always acted in perfect accord with the Christ who bought them. Though we have always readily
accepted our Lord’s salvation, we have not always heeded His instruction. It is very encouraging to remember, however, that the Seminary in which I teach theology from time to time was on the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.
Many do not realize that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Southern Seminary and spoke in a chapel address and in lectures to students in the classroom in 1961 (three years before civil rights legislation passed through Congress). And, according to King, he had visited that chapel two or three times prior to this address.
I am proud of Southern Seminary’s history on this issue and its future on nearly every other. It is a great beacon of light for America and beyond.
You can actually listen to Dr. King’s chapel address here:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Opens in Washington, D.C.: Photos (history.com)
- Southern Baptists elect black president (tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com)