On the Prescription of Secular Analytical Tools

On the Prescription of Secular Analytical Tools

WHEREAS, Southern Baptist resolutions are traditionally and reasonably designed to either 1. give messengers their voice, enabling them to say what they’re already eager to say (e.g., in opposition to the push to normalize transgenderism in the military); or 2. inform them about something important they would want to know and then address (e.g., re the emergence of RU-486 as a “morning after” abortifacient)—or a combination of both; and

WHEREAS, 2019 Resolution 9  (“On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality”) did neither, but rather urged assent in the absence of informed conviction; and

WHEREAS, claims that a secular theory is valuable to the Body of Christ must be accompanied by a studious account of what that theory reflects and entails; of the company it keeps and has kept; and of the compelling virtues of that theory, so gratifying that it should supplement what we have heretofore gleaned from Scripture and from God-given common sense—lest the saints be misled by the advocate’s lack of insight or transparency; and

WHEREAS, suggesting that critical race theory and the conceits of intersectionality are positive deliverances of common grace (as an explainer and provider of insights) is presumptuous, for common grace can also unmask that which is toxic, as in the case with CRT/I; and

WHEREAS, when that which a resolution affirms must be hedged about with multiple warnings and qualifications, the notion affirmed must be of such surpassing merit that it should be embraced despite its troublesome baggage—a standard that Resolution 9 did not meet; and

WHEREAS, it is one thing to say that an idea has something to offer (for this is trivially true since we would be hard pressed to name something that has not the slightest trace of truth, value, or usefulness for some purpose or other, and, indeed, even heresies play off of a grain of truth), it is quite another thing to say that an idea rates the kind attention, and, indeed, the commendation, of Southern Baptist messengers gathered to do the Lord’s work; and

WHEREAS, it would be presumptuous to ask, on short notice, messengers to commend the “analytical” use of disputed theories advanced by secular intellectuals (e.g., behaviorism; psychoanalytic theory; Keynesian economics; game theory; evolution by punctuated equilibrium; humanistic existentialism; anthropogenic global warming), yet such was the case regarding CRT/I; and

WHEREAS, in the intervening year, we have heard thoughtful arguments that CRT/I engenders and nurtures sub-Christian, and, indeed, anti-Christian attitudes, notions, and behavior—racialism (obsession with race) as opposed to the color-blindness of Galatian 3:28; perennial resentment instead of a love that is prone to ignore, forgive, and forget provocations and personal indignities (1 Cor. 13); a class-struggle posture, lacking biblical favor; devotion to racial counts and quotas, not found among the scriptural criteria for church leadership; ascription of “stains that abide” when the Bible teaches the removal of moral stains by repentance; a perennial preoccupation with affront and victimhood rather than a default position of amiability; a hair trigger for the discharge of cruel and dubious ascriptions of “racism”;  devotion to the notion of “social justice,” which, though fine-sounding, is fueled by envy/covetousness and insists on a non-biblical equality of outcomes; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have spoken biblically, repeatedly, and effectively on the sin of racism, with unmistakable lament over its occurrence in our history, and with resolve to repudiate it where it still occurs; therefore, may it be

RESOLVED, that Southern Baptist Resolutions Committees be urged to present, with candor and respect for the convictions and wisdom of the messengers, proposals for which there will be no buyers’ remorse in the days ahead; and be it further

RESOLVED, that Southern Baptists, with due regard for the best sentiments and hard work of Resolution 9’s framers, now distance themselves from that resolution and renounce its affirmation, however well intended it may have been at the time.


Dr. Mark Coppenger, retired professor of philosophy at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former professor at Wheaton has given us an excellent study of how God’s lordship in creation lays the groundwork for aesthetics. Mark is an effective writer and author, an engaging teacher, has served in numerous positions of service among Southern Baptists at the national and state levels and also been pastor of churches. He is the author of a new book entitled If Christianity is So Good, Why are Christians so Bad? Also, he is an author/editor of a book highly pertinent to the topic of this Journal, Apologetical Aesthetics. Since the triune God is Creator and Sustainer and Owner of the earth, it is impossible that every aspect of it not reflect some element of his glory. The existence of everything is dependent on him and his power, intelligence, beauty, purpose, and glory. The study of aesthetics is the investigation of principles underlying our perception of beauty and awe. This could be applied to art, music, poetry, physics, chemistry, or the mere pleasure of standing in awe of natural things. Mark has given a narrative of how aesthetics has its foundation in the realty that “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” He has shown the confluence of nature and art in how the beauty, symmetry, threatening danger, and power of the one inspires the other. His article itself is an engagement with aesthetics of language.
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