“Kingdom diversity is a Gospel issue,” said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosted a casual conversation entitled “The Truth in Black and White: A discussion on race brought under the Lordship of Christ” on Jan. 30 in Binkley Chapel.
SEBTS students had the opportunity to submit questions on the topic. The panel consisted of Akin, William “Duce” Branch, a Christian hip-hop artist and a founding member of The Cross Movement, Mark Liederbach, dean of students at SEBTS, and Walter Strickland, special advisor to the president for diversity at SEBTS.
Liederbach highlighted the biblical foundations of creation, fall, redemption and restoration as a starting point of unity for the discussion. “We don’t want to come with just opinions, but take all of our thoughts and put them under the lordship of Christ,” he said.
Akin is a strong leader in the kingdom diversity initiative at SEBTS. “Racism is not something we can negotiate, but it is something we have to face head on,” Akin said. “Our oneness with Christ is at stake.”
Strickland added, “If we actually believe the Gospel is capable of racial reconciliation, we must trust in the Gospel and its power.”
Liederbach raised the question, how can one be racist and be a Christian? Branch highlighted the example of Peter in Acts and the way that God worked with Peter progressively to understand that “everyone comes under one blood, under the Gospel stream.”
Akin expressed the desire to extend grace to those who struggled with the issue but would not compromise on his conviction. “If they are moving in the right direction we can work with that,” he noted.
As African-Americans, Strickland and Branch focused on the heart behind someone’s words. If something is said incorrectly “as long as it is said with respect” they are more likely show someone grace. “In essence if we understand you are talking out of love, I see what your intention is,” Strickland said.
“I am very secure in my ethnicity, if a person says black, I sense a form of comfort with them,” Branch explained.
Currently, the President of the United States and the President of the Southern Baptist Convention are African-Americans. “I hope that this is an opportunity for the African-American voice to be mainstreamed into the dialogue and heard more often from executive level leadership,” Strickland said.
“My hope is that having an African-American in a leadership position is something that we don’t even think about,” Akin added. “In the NBA we don’t even think about if the coach is black or white. It is shame that they got there before we did.”
“We can be excited about the fact that there is progress,” Strickland said. “This institution is proactively taking steps to be more like what the Gospel has given us the ability to be, redeemed people from all cultures and backgrounds.”
Branch spoke about the need to have a continually renewed mind to remove faith blind spots. Branch explained that the Gospel is the only way to “really free us up to forgive.”
Students were challenged to apply the Gospel to every area of life to glorify and honor God. “We can’t change our past, but we can do something with our present and future,” Akin said. “We need the help of others to allow us to be what God has called us to be.” He wants all students to feel like Southeastern is their home and family.
“If we don’t see this rightly then we run the risk of missing and understanding the Gospel,” Akin emphasized. “Our Lord came to redeem people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 7:9). Always strive for it and I believe God will honor and bless it. It will be pleasing in His sight.”
To view this conversation online, please click here.
To view additional photos from the service, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.