Why Southern Baptists’ Social Justice Spat Is Actually About the Sufficiency of Scripture

The Founders documentary trailer uncovers a larger disagreement over how to approach secular theories around race and gender.

Fallout over a controversial documentary trailer rebuking an alleged social justice agenda within the Southern Baptist Convention marks the latest flashpoint in ongoing clashes over how the denomination should engage ideologies they see as contrary to Scripture.

Founders Ministries, a Calvinist-oriented Southern Baptist group, announced August 1 that three of its six board members had resigned over objections to the trailer for a forthcoming documentary titled By What Standard? Addressing recent debates over racial justice and women’s roles, the documentary alleges “wavering” commitment “to the authority and sufficiency” of the Bible among some Southern Baptists, the ministry said.

Two of the outgoing board members—Tom Hicks and Fred Malone—said in statements that they agree with the issues raised in the documentary but believe the trailer, which featured clips from the SBC annual meeting in June, conflated the problems with the denomination’s efforts to confront sexual abuse. (Initially, the four-minute trailer included an image of sexual abuse survivor and victim advocate Rachael Denhollander. After complaints, her clip was removed.)

The other resigning board member, Jon English Lee, did not release a statement.

Over the past year, two additional Founders board members had resigned, but the ministry’s president Tom Ascol said neither cited theological or philosophical differences among his reasons for departing.

At least three interviewees to be featured in the documentary—seminary president Daniel Akin, pastor Mark Dever, and author Jonathan Leeman—asked to be removed from the film over “concerns about what the tone, tenor, and content of the full documentary …

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