(RNS) — If he had the chance to turn back time, Pastor Stephen Feinstein says, he might not have proposed Resolution 9.
The innocuous-sounding and nonbinding statement adopted by Southern Baptists who attended their 2019 annual meeting has contributed to a fierce battle over critical race theory, an academic approach to understanding systemic racism. The resolution allowed for CRT to be used as an analytical tool but also stated that it should be subordinate to Scripture.
The debate around CRT has only grown more contentious in the years following, even as the nation’s largest Protestant denomination was unable to meet in person for two years due to pandemic restrictions.
“Oh my gosh, I had no idea, and if I could do it all over again, I would have just shut my fingers up and not typed anything,” said the California pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain who admits he might have naively thought it would be adopted and harmony would reign.
“That is not what happened.”
As the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting grapples with a number of serious challenges — at least a four-way presidential election, declining membership, charges and countercharges about how it has handled sex abuse claims — some will be focused particularly on resolutions related to CRT and to Resolution 9.
The two-day gathering is set to begin on Tuesday (June 15) in Nashville, Tennessee, with attendance expected to be more than 16,000 people, the highest in 25 years.
The CRT debate reached a higher dimension when the SBC’s Council of Seminary Presidents issued a statement late last year declaring CRT and intersectionality, another academic theory that addresses exploitation when gender and race intersect, are incompatible with the latest version of the denomination’s faith statement, adopted in 2000.
But according to Southern Baptist polity, each meeting’s resolutions represent the thinking of the messengers, or delegates, attending that particular gathering. A new resolution could be adopted, but historically, old ones aren’t removed.