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Prominent SBC Seminary Teaches that Biblical Interpretation is Subjective, Dependent on Ethnicity

by | Jul 16, 2020 | News, Social Justice, Social-Issues, The Church, Theology | 0 comments

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Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the most prestigious seminaries in the nation and is operated by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Second only to Al Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Danny Akin’s Southeastern Seminary’s influence is far and wide, producing pastors, teachers, and missionaries by the thousands.

But Southeastern, like every other SBC seminary and entity, has been corrupted by the whims of cultural influence and mission drift. Like Southern Seminary, Southeastern has abandoned its strong adherence to biblical fidelity and objective truth and exchanged it for social justice activism and woke theology.

Danny Akin, the seminary’s president, has already openly admitted that his school teaches a feminist version of Standpoint Epistemology. While the school has been engulfed in secular philosophies such as Critical Race Theory for a number of years, standpoint epistemology is relatively new to the scene and has taken a stronghold in the school’s curriculum–despite the fact that they will not use the terminology.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a heretical worldview that is incompatible with biblical Christianity. It emerged as an offshoot of Critical Theory, a neo-Marxist philosophy that has its roots in the Frankfurt School and its methods are drawn from Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. CRT teaches that institutional racism exists within every structure of society and that these structures are intrinsically designed in such a manner as to protect and preserve “white supremacy” in our culture. Further, CRT does not rely on factual statistics or objective evidence to support the theory, rather it relies on anecdotal evidence and personal experience.

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Closely related to Critical Theory is another Marxist worldview that emerged out of a feminist movement called Standpoint Theory. Standpoint Theory, also known as Standpoint Epistemology, teaches that knowledge and insight, at least in part, emerges from one’s social status or cultural background. In other words, people from different cultures, upbringings, hardships, and personal experiences have a special ability to glean truth from various sources.

Again, Akin has openly stated that he teaches these concepts and basic tenets.

Recently, the videos of Southeastern Seminary’s Southeastern Symposium online conference were released whereby one of the keynote speakers, Elizabeth Mburu, openly taught these concepts. According to Mburu’s bio, she pursued her doctoral studies at Southeaster and currently teaches Greek, New Testament Studies, Hermeneutics and Worldview Studies. She is the Langham Literature regional coordinator for Africa and also serves as an adjunct associate professor of New Testament and Greek at International Leadership UniversityAfrica International University and Pan Africa Christian University. She is well-educated and highly influential.

During her speech at Southeastern, some of the ideas she pushed were that people of non-white ethnic backgrounds are beholden to “Western interpretations” of Scripture because “Western hermeneutics,” as she describes it — also known as the grammatical historical method — has dominated the biblical interpretation scene. After posing the question as to why, after so many centuries of Christianity in Africa, Africans still practice idolatry, paganism, and witchcraft, she says,

Interpreting the Bible is always a challenging task. And more precies, interpreting the Bible accurately is a challenging task. And yet, the Bible is meant to be understood and applied in the daily lives of believers.

African readers of the bible face the challenge that most of the models and methods of Bible interpretation or hermeneutics are rooted in Western context. This is not suprising given that Christianity came to Africa from the West, churches and theological institutions that were founded were missionary-led, and most of the theological resources we have are produced by Western writers. It seems we, as Africans, are still trying to imitate foreign ways when it comes to reading, interpreting, and applying the Bible in our every day lives. Perhaps if we understood that the interpretation of the Bible was already being done by Africans almost two-thousand ago we might change our perspective. So the solution I propose is a contextualized African intercultural approach to the study of the Bible.

While Danny Akin does at least acknowledge that the Scriptures only reveal one truth, that he’s platforming people like this who are pushing people to interpret the Scriptures through the lens of personal experience as though there is any special power in understanding truth that is gained that way is troubling. This is antithetical to how the Scriptures actually teach us to understand the truth — the truth is universal and is to be rightly understood in its original authorial intent. Mburu essentially proposes exchanging the well-established grammatical historical approach with a “contextualized African intercultural approach.”

The reason the “Westerners” were able to do this has nothing to do with racial superiority or white supremacy, as the Cultural Marxists would have you believe. It is that Western civilization were among the most educated during that time period and God, in his sovereign purpose, chose to use Western civilization to bring about the Protestant Reformation and the revival of proper Biblical interpretation. Preceding this, Christianity was dominated by Roman Catholic paganism, not much different from the paganism of Africa.

Further, that “Western interpretation” (as defined by Mburu) is somehow inferior in other cultural contexts suggests that she believes biblical truth to be subjective, rather than objective. It suggests that she believes that instead of the Holy Spirit revealing the truth as is meant in its original context, that the Holy Spirit instead intends for the Scriptures to mean different things to different people groups. Of course, this, in and of itself, is a concept found nowhere in Scripture.

Further, Akin should know that our epistemology — or our understanding of our source of knowledge — does not stem from any personal standpoint. As Christians, we understand that our knowledge comes from God Himself. Bringing people together from different backgrounds to interpret Scripture does not help us unlock any unrevealed truths in Scripture. This is classic Cultural Marxism and should be rejected.

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