Southeastern Seminary’s Slide into Progressivism
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) is one of the premier vehicles for aspiring pastors and theologians to join the endless ranks of social justice warriors in Evangelicalism today. Through its Office of Kingdom Diversity, the seminary has held events showcasing such anti-Christian icons as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. to advance their political cause of economic equality. Southeastern Seminary is leading the way in the cause of leftist political advancement.
Bruce Ashford is a professor at SEBTS and an elder at Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president, J.D. Greear’s Summit Church in Raleigh, NC. SEBTS now offers a degree in “Social and Justice Ethics,” which includes such courses as Ethics of Wealth and Poverty and Social Justice and Race Relations. The school describes these courses respectively as,
A biblical and theological examination of ethical issues that arise in the creation and use of wealth, in the exercise and management of work, and in the experience or alleviation of material needs.
A study of the ethics of social justice and race relations in light of biblical principles, theological doctrines
andhistorical expressions, with special attention given to the church’s tasks in promoting social justice and confronting discrimination.
Bruce Ashford a Leading Proponent of Liberal Tolerance
Bruce Ashford, one of the leading professors in the program announced and is leading a seminar on a Ph.D. program offered by the school in Public Theology. Ashford, who is neck-deep in the social justice program at SEBTS, says in a recent article he published titled The Eight Deadly Sins of Political Conservatism, that while he tends to fall on the political right, it’s dangerous to not be tentative. He writes,
Given that my primary allegiance is to Christ and his church, my commitments to political parties, platforms, and leaders should always be tentative. Thus, since I land on the right side of the American political spectrum, it is especially helpful to beware the dangers found on the right.
While I agree that blind allegiance to the Republican party or its leaders should be avoided, the implication here is that leftist politics should be viewed in a Christian context as a viable alternative to conservative politics. In a recent article I wrote, If You’re a Democrat, You’re Probably Not Saved, I made the case that conservative values are a fruit of the Christian life. I also made the case that leftist politics oppose biblical moral values. This is where Ashford fails to distinguish the political right from the left.
In Ashfords first point, he writes,
Some conservatives think America is God’s chosen nation and thus envision God as the underwriter of American aspirations, even when those aspirations are more nationalistic and less Christian. Even Americans who have little interest in Christianity sometimes exhibit a missionary-like zeal to spread secular conservative ideology. They confuse America with God’s coming kingdom.
Here, he artificially separates secular conservative ideology with Christian conservative ideology. When we define conservatism, we must be clear that we mean we derive our values from the Scriptures, even in secular society, as a means to preserve the morality in our society according to God’s standards. This is why the Ten Commandments can be found in court-houses around the country — because the founders knew that, even though the nation is secular, there is but one standard upon which morals can be objectively based.
Further, his equating nationalism with conservative ideology is simply a straw-man. Of course, certain forms of what some consider “nationalist” ideology but are actually forms of racism and racial superiority, should certainly be condemned. However, if we place these remarks in the context of the social justice agenda in the broader Evangelical Church today, issues as common sense as securing our national borders from illegal invaders is seen as “racist” and “white supremacy.”
He also makes the following point in his article, he writes,
Some conservatives think we should keep doing what we have always done traditionally. But this causes problems. Should we continue to own slaves? Should we continue to allow abortion-on-demand? Every evil, once installed, lays claim to being a tradition.
Now, this is simply nonsense. Nobody — like, literally no one — at least nobody credible argues that we should continue to do things simply because we’ve always done it that way. Again, if you place this in the context of today’s social justice push, Ashford is trying to open the door for Christians to accept leftist ideology — redistribution of wealth (theft), open borders (lawlessness), etc. — are viable Christian alternatives to traditional conservatism.
Another point he attempts to make is,
Many conservatives believe the purpose of the commonwealth should be to increase wealth continually, often while ignoring social issues. Even if Adam Smith’s theory is basically right, the “invisible hand” of the market doesn’t work without a moral populace. Budziszewski writes, “Capitalism depends on a moral spirit which it cannot supply and may even weaken; it is, in the most exact of senses, a parasite on the faith.”
This is where Ashford’s argument really starts to take a sinister turn. Essentially, he argues that the capitalist system we have in America is, well, evil because there are evil people who participate in it. What’s the alternative? Marxism. There are two main strands of economic systems in the world — Capitalism and Communism. Of course, there are variances under each strand, but Marxism, Socialism, etc. fall under the Communism umbrella. We need not argue the Godless foundation upon which these economic systems were built, suffice it to say that they were designed, at their core, to oppose the moral standards of God. Morality, in these systems, becomes relative.
The purpose of Christianity is not, as Ashford argues and is taught in seminary courses at Southeastern, to fix economic insufficiencies of certain people groups — groups segregated not by biblical standards, but by secular intersectionality. Christ died to set men free from the spiritual bondage to corruption so that they could freely choose Him and live in obedience to Him in a world that opposes Him.
Lastly, Ashford argues,
Conservatives often think that they should do unto others as they deserve. This is the opposite of liberal propitiationism, in which we do unto others as they want. Conservatives have a preference for justice, while liberals have a preference for mercy. But Christ has a preference for both. Liberal propitiationists want to pay women cash prizes for having children out of wedlock, but conservatives want to end it. Budziszewski’s problem with the conservatives is that after they’ve cut off the cash prizes, they tend to walk away and do nothing to help.
He pits conservatives up against liberals, claiming that liberals prefer mercy while conservatives prefer justice, and that Christ prefers both. He is right, Christ does prefer both, and any Christian who doesn’t would be wrong. However, the argument he is making is in context of the civil government. There is not one place in the New Testament that a case for government redistribution of wealth is equivalent to mercy. In fact, it is theft.
One cannot make a valid biblical case that we should mitigate the conservatives’ desire to end government redistribution and balance it with the liberal idea of what Ashford argues is “mercy.” Mercy is not taking from the rich to give to the poor. Liberals do not desire mercy, liberals desire theft. Mercy is giving of yourself, not of others. And, in fact, the vast majority of the liberals who are pushing for this so-called “mercy” push for it because of their own selfish desires of entitlement for it. The rest do it for political votes. Let’s just be clear — there is absolutely nothing Christian about the left’s redistribution system. Nothing!
Yet, Southeastern Seminary and Bruce Ashford are continuing to propagate this ideology as it creeps into our churches. The implications for societal politics are huge as political leftists such as George Soros fund major Evangelical outlets