SBC v. Richard Land?

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So what’s up with the Southern Baptist Convention deciding to take a, well, pro-regulatory stance on the oil disaster in the Gulf? Just a week ago, Richard Land, SBC public policy pooh-bah, was out there defending BP and blaming “the environmental movement.” That was a far cry from the SBC’s June 16 resolution calling on the government

to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis;
to fortify our coastal defenses; to ensure full corporate accountability
for damages, clean-up and restoration; to ensure that government and
private industry are not again caught without planning for such
possibilities; and to promote future energy policies based on prudence,
conservation, accountability, and safety.

The SBC’s resolutions committee chair is Southern Seminary dean Richard Moore, who has also been the Convention’s point man for climate change. Heretofore he’s been a vigorous opponent of things like the carbon tax, but he happens to hail from Biloxi, where the effects of BP’s mess are, shall we say, hard to ignore. Back on June 1, Moore wrote a blog post that reads, in part:

For too long, we evangelical Christians have maintained an uneasy
ecological conscience. I include myself in this indictment.

We’ve had an inadequate view of human sin.

Because we believe in free markets, we’ve acted as though this means
we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and
habitats. But a laissez-faire view of government regulation of
corporations is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and
boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he “believes
in young people.”

But is it just that Moore has seen the light of day in the black blobs of oil washing up on his native shore? The SBC, desperate to attract young people to stem its ebbing numbers, may have come to the realization that the Gospel of Richard is not exactly advancing the Great Commission Resurgence. Hewing to inerrancy and the other Baptist fundamentals doesn’t mean you have to sign on to the entire GOP policy agenda. Could we be witnessing the first cracks in the SBC’s Landian edifice? 

h/t Peter Smith

  • I’ve followed Moore’s career for a number of years now and have corresponded with him in recent months about environmental issues (I’m writing my dissertation on Baptists and environmentalism). He’s a nice guy who seems very sincere and honest. Granted, I think he’s sincerely wrong on quite a few issues (I’m one of those progressive Baptists (CBF/Alliance) who cut ties with SBC years ago).
    Moore has long described himself as a “conservationist.” He’s even acknowledged publicly that he’s “to the left” of most Southern Baptists on environmental issues. So, I don’t think this resolution is about numbers.
    I think this resolution shows the influence of Russ Moore with this particular resolutions committee. Moore is a popular guy among younger Southern Baptists and his adoption advocacy has increased his visibility in SBC life. Younger Southern Baptists don’t feel the same way about Richard Land whose influence seems to be slowly diminishing in the SBC. It’s probably time for Land to pass the torch and retire. I suspect Land feels that if he retired now, his replacement might be someone who would steer the ERLC in a slightly different direction. As we know, even slight differences matter greatly to fundamentalists.