The flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention has announced millions of dollars in scholarships to be doled out exclusively to black students, in a move of “Al-firmative” action they hope will stave off further criticism that the seminary and yea, even the whole convention is racist.
SBTS announced in a press release:
Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously voted not to remove the names of the school’s founders from several campus buildings, but embraced steps to lament the institution’s racial history and provide up to $5 million in scholarships for African American students over the next few years.
The school’s founders, James P. Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly Jr. and William Williams, apart from being excellent exegetes of the word, also happened to be slave owners, resulting in a longstanding push by critics to have their names removed from positions of prominence.
The release also notes that the board approved four motions, with three of particular note:
1. SBTS will continue to express lament over the sinful dimensions of its legacy—including slavery and racism—and pledged to be an ever more faithful servant of the body of Christ in the education of faithful Christian ministers.
2. Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, SBTS will set aside $1 million of endowed and restricted funds as an endowment to assist qualified black students at SBTS through the Garland Offutt Scholars Program, honoring the legacy of the seminary’s first African-American full graduate. Additionally, the seminary will set aside $1 million for this fund every three years until a goal of $5 million is reached. “We hope to assist in the development of African American pastors and theologians and scholars and leaders by means of this historic new initiative,” Mohler said. These funds will be in addition to the current scholarship and student aid programs of the Seminary.
3. Leadership pledged to become more faithful in telling the seminary’s story, and the founders’ story with accuracy and biblical witness. The 2018 report on slavery and racism in Southern’s history is a starting point. “There is always more to learn about how to tell our story most faithfully,” Mohler said.
While we understand that Al Mohler and the board would bristle at this monetary offering being called “reparations,” it is hard to understand it as anything but. There are a lot of poor white students and other visible minorities out there who likewise were not slaves, whose parents were not slaves, or even whose grandparents who were not slaves who could really use these scholarships, but because of the color of their skin, SBTS has deemed them not black enough to apply.
Even open proponents of reparations like Ron Burns (aka Thabiti Anyabwile) see this for what it is.
If they don’t want them being called “reparations” the only other description we could think of would be “indulgences.” SBTS is spending $5,000,000 in indulgences to gain themselves entry into the good graces of the wokefolk and to alleviate their temporal suffering caused by the burning criticism of progressives and critical race theorists. They might even update the jingle, if they were so inclined: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a black student from SBTS springs.”
Of course, if the leadership at SBTS thinks that a measly $5,000,000 is enough to silence the critics or satiate their hunger, they have made a terminal miscalculation. Rather than allay and satisfy the beast, they used donations from churches to chum the waters for the next inevitable feeding frenzy.
This will never be enough, and the seminary will have to go back to this well over and over again. Rather than trying to placate the unplacatable, they have further alienated those they cannot afford to lose.