A Resolution Proposal for SBC 2021: “On the Uyghur Genocide”

Southern Baptist Resolutions are non-binding. Sometimes they make waves, but many times they are ignored. At worst, they are nitpicky or divisive. At best, our resolutions speak up for those in need. While other resolutions may receive more attention heading into the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention, I believe there is one issue that Southern Baptists can make a real, meaningful difference if we raise our voice together.

That issue is the genocide against the Uyghur people.

The Uyghur genocide, perpetrated by the Chinese communist government, is one of the most horrifying human rights violations of our day. I have written more about it for you to read by going here.

While governments around the world have begun to classify this horrific persecution as genocide, many religious groups have hardly begun to speak out. Southern Baptists have an opportunity to lead. By passing this resolution, or a version of it, we can draw attention to the concentration camps and ethnic cleansing of our time. We can educate onlookers. We can call companies and our government to action. Much of the language of this resolution is adopted from previous resolutions and intended to show a consistent moral witness on pro-life issues related to human dignity, genocide, and biblical justice.

Much will be said in Nashville about justice. What is it? How do we know it? When are we obligated to act on it? That conversation is worth having. If we want to show the world what biblical justice is, we have an opportunity to show them by denouncing genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Normally I am against publishing resolutions in advance. In this case, because there is so little awareness, I want people to have a chance to be educated and know what they’re voting for (if my resolution makes it to the floor for a vote, which is outside of my control).

We can make a difference. I pray the Resolutions Committee will choose to put this resolution forward for the messengers to adopt. If you plan to attend SBC 2021 as a messenger, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Uyghurs.

You can read the full text of my submitted resolution on Uyghur genocide below. I hope you will find it education, helpful, and practical.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

On the Uyghur Genocide

WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that God holds human life to be sacred and created human beings in His own image; and

WHEREAS, Christ died to redeem men and women from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation who will one day worship together around his throne (Matthew 28:19-20, Revelation 5:9-10)

WHEREAS,  Southern Baptists stated in 1999 (“Resolution on Halting Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing”) that “ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity in which one ethnic group expels members of other ethnic groups from towns and villages it conquers in order to create an enclave for members of their ethnic group; and genocide is a crime against humanity in which one group dehumanizes and murders members of another people group—whether national, ethnic, or religious—with the intent to destroy that group completely”; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists in 1972 (“Resolution On Anti-Semitism”) decried the flagrant and cruel expressions of spiritual malignancy of the Nazi Holocaust, notorious for its concentration camps; and 

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists in 2000 (“On Religious Persecution In Sudan And The People’s Republic Of China”) urged the administration and Congress to use every appropriate means to compel the governments in Sudan and the People’s Republic of China to stop the various atrocities and ongoing violations of religious freedoms; and

WHEREAS, God’s people should be committed to break the chains of wickedness, untie the ropes of the yoke, set the oppressed free, tear off every yoke, and care for the prisoner and the mistreated (Isaiah 58:6; Matthew 25:36; Hebrews 13:3); and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists resolved in 2019 (“On Biblical Justice”) that “we commit to address injustices through gospel proclamation, by advocating for people who are oppressed and face wrongs against them”; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists resolved in 2018 (“On Reaffirming The Full Dignity Of Every Human Being”) that persecution of religious minorities constitutes a significant challenge which threatens the dignity and worthiness of human beings and likewise resolved that “we affirm the full dignity of every human being of whatever political or legal status or party and denounce rhetoric that diminishes the humanity of anyone”; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. State Department, Canadian Parliament, UK Parliament, Dutch Parliament, and Lithuanian Parliament have declared the actions of the Chinese Communist Party government against the Uyghur people to be a genocide; and 

WHEREAS, credible reporting concludes that more than a million Uyghurs have been detained in a network of concentration camps in Xinjiang; and

WHEREAS, the Chinese Communist Party has employed advanced surveillance against the Uyghur people as part of an increasingly totalitarian regime that responds to dissent with persecution and torment; and

WHEREAS, atrocities reported by major media outlets against the Uyghur people by the Chinese government include forced abortions, sterilization, internment in concentration camps, organ harvesting, human trafficking, scientific experimentation, the sale of human hair forcibly taken from those in concentration camps, family separation and forced reeducation of children, and forced labor; and 

WHEREAS, the BBC has reported extensively that Uyghur and other women in reeducation camps have been systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured; and 

WHEREAS, companies such as Apple Amazon, Nike, Disney, Samsung, Microsoft, H&M, and more have benefited from the forced labor of Uyghur people in concentration camps (according to a study from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute) or collaborated with local government to produce film movies in areas where Uyghur people live under oppression and forced labor; and 

WHEREAS, Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that we are not able to simply turn a blind eye when another human is abused and tormented; and

WHEREAS, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has advocated for the religious liberty and freedom of the Uyghur People; and

WHEREAS, similar actions have been taken by the government of the People’s Republic of China, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party against ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and members of other Turkic groups as well as similar acts of persecution against our brothers and sisters in Christ,

THEREFORE, be it RESOLVED that this Convention condemn the actions of the government of the People’s Republic of China and of the ruling Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people and other ethnic groups, and we stand together with these people against the atrocities committed against them,

RESOLVED, That we commend the Trump Administration for its designation of these actions against the Uyghur people as meeting the standard of “genocide,” and we likewise commend the Biden Administration for maintaining that designation,

RESOLVED, That we strongly urge the Biden Administration, the U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to continue to speak on behalf of the Uyghur People, and insist upon their human treatment, immediate release from reeducation camps, and religious freedom,

RESOLVED, That we implore the Biden Administration to admit Uyghurs to this country as refugees, and provide resources for their support and resettlement,

Be it further RESOLVED, That this convention implores companies who have benefitted from forced labor and the systematic torture and deprivation of the Uyghur people to cease all operations in Chinese areas where forced labor is employed, and likewise ask them to use their full influence and economic power to put an end to this genocide,

Be it further RESOLVED, That we implore Southern Baptists and all other Christians to educate themselves on the plight of the Uyghur people and advocate on their behalf,

RESOLVED, That we commend the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for their ongoing advocacy for the Uyghur people, and for being among the first major organizations to advocate for their cause,

RESOLVED, That we ask for earnest prayer for the Uyghur people as they suffer under such persecution, as well as for missionaries and relief workers who bring them aid, and the message of hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we call upon the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China government to immediately cease all genocidal actions against the Uyghurs and restore to them their full religious liberty, as well as put an end to their captivity and systematic persecution and abuse.

Thank You, Beth Moore.

Today, RNS reported that Beth Moore would be leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. Her convictions have not changed recently. She still holds to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, the fundamental Baptist beliefs, salvation in Christ alone, and still believes her calling, by all indications, is to teach women to love God and his Word. Her most recent Bible Study, on Galatians, seems to represent those convictions. I will leave the details of this decision, in terms of “why?” and “why now?”, to the RNS article. There will be many opinions, no doubt, about this move.

As a lifelong Baptist, I feel that something needs to be said at this moment. I learned the Bible from my mother, who regularly participated in Beth Moore Bible studies. I married into a family where no Beth Moore stone went unturned, and my wife learned Scripture sitting on her living room floor as her mom watched Beth Moore’s bible study materials. I am not an impartial viewer here: over the last few years, my wife and I have become friends with Mrs. Beth, and been the beneficiary of her prayers, encouragement, and kindness. We have disagreements over pizza and over direct messages. We’ve found common ground more often than not. I have disagreed with her, and I have learned from her. But before Beth Moore was ever a friend, she had a tremendous impact on my life, just like so many others, because she did what God created and equipped her to do: she taught women the Bible with an unwavering commitment to show them what it means to have an audacious love for Jesus.

Because of that, I feel there’s something I need to say in this moment, and I think I can speak for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of others.

Thank you, Beth Moore.

We haven’t always agreed, but Beth Moore has given me and countless others something which we cannot repay. When it is all said and done, Beth Moore will leave a legacy of having lead millions of women to love the Bible and study it for themselves. Many women will move beyond her to “deeper“ teachers. Some have moved into other theological traditions. Some have come to the conclusion that they must move on from Beth, as they have come to different conclusions and convictions about theology or the Bible. But her legacy will remain. It seems incredibly unlikely that the vast majority of people who take potshots at her over secondary or tertiary disagreements will have 1/100th of the impact for the kingdom that Beth Moore has had. Meanwhile, their churches will be filled with women who either came to know Christ and study his word for the first time through a Beth Moore study. Instead, even in our disagreements, what Beth Moore has more than earned is our gratefulness.

She isn’t always right, but neither am I. Beth has said there are things she has said and done that she would take back, and Lord knows I have those things, too. But the one thing Beth Moore cannot take back is the impact she has had on my life, my mom’s life, my mother-in-laws life, my wife’s life, and the hundreds of thousands of women and men in Southern Baptist churches either directly or indirectly.

In an era marked by the “battle for the Bible,” Beth Moore taught millions not just to fight for it, but to study, love it, and stake their life on it. She taught them how to see Jesus in the Bible and to how to love him.

And frankly, that’s more important than our disagreements. Thank you, Mrs. Beth. You are welcome at my church, or my kitchen table, any time.

In an era marked by the “battle for the Bible,” Beth Moore taught millions not just to fight for it, but to study, love it, and stake their life on it. She taught them how to see Jesus in it and how to love him. Thank you, Beth Moore.

“You Are Wrong, Brother”: On Disagreeing Better as Christians

The Spanish Inquisition has nothing on the current Evangelical online world when it comes to heresy trials. Though, unlike the Spanish Inquisition, you expect it. There was a time where theologians emphasized that the Christian life was lived coram Deo. Now, however, the work of theology possesses the gravity of a work done coram Mob. Theologians, pastors, and laypeople alike must guard themselves ever so closely, lest any small statement they make about God be the evidence against them in the next twitter tribunal. Facebook knows no mercy.

The church, it seems, is nothing but heretics. The Calvinists are heretics for their views on predestination. The Arminians are heretics for their man-centeredness. The revivalists are heretics for creating false converts. The Baptists are heretics for being Baptist. Some Reformed teachers are heretics for their Federal Vision theology, while others have become heretics for their sacramentalism. Whatever followers of N.T. Wright are called, they are heretics for reasons so multitudinous they can not be recounted here. The Anglicans are heretics for their sacerdotalism and the Methodists are heretics for refusing to separate from the liberals. The Charismatics are heretics for speaking in tongues, and the churches with an American flag in their sanctuary have abandoned the faith for Christian Nationalism. If you are concerned about matters of social justice–your heretical capitulation to the social gospel is easily documented. If you’re concerned about the excesses of social justice, then your’e probably a racist or a bigot. The egalitarians are heretics for compromising the Bible, and the complementarians are oppressors.

The one true church, thankfully, is still healthy and very much alive. It is composed of you, and me, and those who agree with us. God must be relieved to have us.

Obviously, the last two paragraphs were written fully tongue in cheek. With very little time, however, I believe I could identify accusations of heresy, compromise of doctrine or the gospel itself, or some other extreme allegation against dissenters from whatever preferred view in no time at all. I have managed social media accounts for two major Christian organizations and something stands out: the comment sections are a total, unmitigated disaster. No matter how many people I block or ban, toxicity oozes from the comment sections like stink from a sewer. Christian blog and YouTube comments make the TMZ comment section look tame. We hate each other, and ask you to subscribe to our Patreon if you hate the same people that we do. Entire networks are formed solely to oppose people we otherwise agree with 98% of the time. The comments would make more sense often if the reader imagine they were full of curse words. At least then the vocabulary would match the tone.

An Inheritance of Insults

It is past time that we began to do better. It is past time that we stop disgracing ourselves online. It is past time that we learned how to disagree while maintaining fellowship. If we are going to learn to disagree better, we have to acknowledge that the history of the Christian church has deeded us an inheritance of insults. We should refuse to carry forward that legacy.

If we are going to learn to disagree better, we have to acknowledge that the history of the Christian church has deeded us an inheritance of insults. We should refuse to carry forward that legacy.

This problem is not unique to us. Examples are easy to find. Jerome became so angry with Rufinus in a theological spat that the refused to refer to him by any name other than Grunnius Corocotta Porcellius. For those who don’t speak Latin, that translates roughly to “Porky the Grunter.” Research has not yet yielded answers as to whether he insulted his mother, too. St. Nicholas is rumored to have punched Arius (though the tale is widely disputed, it is also widely regaled). Martin Luther’s insults were so legendary, there is now an entire website devoted to them. We hear these stories, and we laugh. They’re common jokes around seminaries and churches.

I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:2. He says, “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” Of course, Paul’s context and the issue at hand was far different. But shouldn’t we? To state the obvious, Martin Luther was sinning when he spoke in such ways. Why do we talk about his foul language as if its a badge of honor, or wish we could talk like that if people weren’t so sensitive these days? Needless to say, naming a rival theologian Porky the Grunter in public debate hardly meets the standard of loving your enemies.

Are we not called to something better?

Why do we talk about Martin Luther’s foul language towards his opponents as if its a badge of honor, or wish we could talk like that if people weren’t so sensitive these days?

Learning to Disagree Better

It is time that Christians of all stripes learned to disagree better. There are countless ways to do this, but for the sake of this post I want to suggest we learn just one phrase. If we can internalize this phrase, what it means and what it doesn’t mean, it will make a radical difference for how we engage other Christians with who we disagree. The phrase is this:

“You are wrong, brother.”

Alternatively, “brother” can be exchanged for “sister”.

The threat of heresy is genuine and it does occur in the church. There are men and women who subvert the gospel itself: denying the bodily resurrection, teaching that we can save ourselves, proclaiming the gospel secures worldly riches instead of eternal salvation, or teaching against the Trinity, among other things. There are those who revive old heresies. Some false teachers are easy to identify and should be warned against. But others are simply wrong.

We must learn to differentiate between a malicious false teacher and someone with whom we have a serious disagreement.

Solely because you feel strongly about a particular second or third tier doctrine does not elevate its status of importance. I get it: I have strong opinions, and therefore some strong disagreements. I think John MacArthur’s dispensationalism is novel, lacking evidence, and leads to bad biblical interpretation. That does not make him a false teacher. I am grateful for countless charismatic men and women, and I also have countless disagreements with them on spiritual gifts. I love Presbyterians, I just hate that so few of them are actually baptized. Apologetics folks who love Van Til, just….no. I think the Purpose-Driven model drives you into a ditch. Pastors in my denomination talk about revival like it’s a lawnmower engine that just needs more gas and it drives me nuts. But, each of them in turn can be dead wrong without me either a) being a jerk about it or b) believing that my passion on a subject can make it a first tier issue worthy of separation. These brothers, and these sisters, are wrong. But I am not compelled to destroy them or call them heretics on the basis of our secondary disagreements.

When we learn to say, “You are wrong, brother,” we acknowledge our disagreement for what they are while affirming our love for our opponents that is grounded in the brotherhood and sisterhood we have in Christ. Because they are a brother, or a sister, we owe them a measure of respect and love in our engagements. By recognizing them as a brother or sister, we have a common ground: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all (Eph 4:5). Our union with Christ is greater than our theological opinions or missiological convictions. At the same time, we do recognize our conviction that they are wrong on the matter at hand. Or, at least I think they are—sometimes with great conviction. There is no reason for us to pretend we do not have differences, or pretend that those differences don’t matter! But our certitude about our union in Christ should outweigh and surpass our certitude that we have the final say in the debate.

Our differences matter. But affection does not require agreement.

Christians so often decry cancel culture, but it’s hard to understand why sometimes. When it comes to theological disagreement, Christians have perfected the art of the cancel. We speak it fluently. It has become our mother tongue. Internet trolls could learn a thing or two about online mobs by reading the comments of popular Christian blog ministries. The KGB could take notes on sowing division by monitoring Evangelical internet behavior. The church debated for centuries to establish orthodoxies in the ecumenical councils. Now, we label pastors, preachers, and people we don’t like as heretics after reading a single blog post.

Our differences matter. But affection does not require agreement.

Brothers and sister, things cannot continue this way. Our love for one another must surpass our disagreement with one another. Our desire for truth must be matched by our commitment to the foundational truth that we are united together in Christ. Our zeal for the gospel cannot create a standard of fellowship that is “the gospel + all of my secondary theological, political, and cultural beliefs.”

Jesus said we would be know for our love. Frankly, we ain’t.

If we are going to, we must learn to love one another: online, in disagreements, and in different denominations. Otherwise, what right do we have to talk about a gospel of grace that breaks down the wall of hostility between us?

You may be wrong, brother, but I still should love you. I’m going to try to do better.