The Confederate Flag: The SBC and Dr. James Merritt Got it Right

I was blessed to be witness to and part of what many would call a small change, but one that I think will go down as a pivotal moment for American evangelicalism.  What I saw yesterday was a denomination, started because slave holders desired to continue to be missionaries while being party to one of the most deplorable acts inflicted on human beings in known history, condemn the use of the Confederate Flag.  Make no mistake, when the SBC resolutely passed this motion, they said in a single voice that Christians are citizens first of the Kingdom of God and that we place no flag over the cross.  In short, the hatred represented by the Confederate Flag is incompatible with Christianity.  Almost as soon as the proverbial ink was dry, the cultural Christians who have infected the American church came out with hateful comments against the men and women who championed this proposition.  This morning as I read the comments on various social media outlets and even on the very video that I shared, I decided I would answer the issues that those Christians who have with this proposition and would call them all to repent.

Argument #1 – The SBC is bowing down to political correctness.   

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. – 1 Corinthians 8:9

Let’s get something straight.  There are only two things that we should fall on our swords for and that is the Gospel and the Word of God.  A Christian is not first a citizen of any nation.  A Christian is first and foremost a citizen of the Kingdom of God. As Dr. James Merritt so eloquently said, the Confederate Flag is a stumbling block for African American souls.  This isn’t saying that we don’t want to stand up for the gospel which is inherently offensive, but this is removing a stumbling block that degrades our witness.  We are to stand up for the faith and for the Gospel.  Not for a flag that connotes American slavery.

Argument #2 – This is a political issue and not a church issue

This is not a political issue; this is a Gospel issue.  The Confederate Flag is a piece of cloth that hearkens back to the bad old days. We must realize that just like every believer goes through a process of sanctification, the church does too.  As we repent and try to right the wrongs of the past (this includes the deplorable beginnings of the SBC), we must accept culpability and do what it takes to make our churches look like heaven; made up of people of every tribe and tongue.

That sort of symbolism is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ. The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. – Russell Moore

Argument #3 – The Confederate Flag Represents “Our History”

Believers have no history and no allegiance to anything outside the Kingdom of God.  When we look at the history of the Confederacy, we see the type of slavery that was condemned by Paul and by the Old Testament.  The history of the Confederacy is one of brutality that the world has rarely seen.  It is a history of kidnapping, rape, torture, and oppression that lasted well after the end of that institution.  If you want to revere our history, open up your Bible and start in Genesis 1:1 and read it all the way through.

It is time for the American Church to divorce itself from the political right and from anything that would cause our witness to be degraded.  The battle over the Confederate Flag is symptomatic of the populism that has infected our country.  The American Christian has more in common with a Nigerian believer than a right-wing white conservative who believes in nothing outside of party lines. While our nation is devolving further and further apart, the Church must be a shining beacon of light.  We are not Republicans and we are not Democrats.  We are not Conservatives and we are not Liberals.  We are Christians whose allegiance lay in the cross and in the blood of Christ and those alone.  That is the essence of Christianity.

Michael Davis
Senior Editor of Veterans to Christ. Served as a Cavalry Scout from 2005-2009. Iraq Veteran.

  • daparundel

    What a refreshing and inspiring moment in the history of the church. Hopefully it will begin the process of disentangling evangelicals from secular politics, and restrain the impulse of cultural conservatives to use government in order to impose their religious and moral beliefs on others. People are brought to faith by the example of others, not by the coercion of government. Evangelical leaders have appointed themselves judges of others, and promoted anger and resentment against political leaders who dare to disagree. One result of the anger and resentment that has been sown in this country is the nomination of an amoral Republican candidate who is exploiting bigotry and hate in order to become President. This resolution will cost the SBC in the offering plate, but it is the right thing to do. If members wish to make a political and personal statement about their heritage and their beliefs, do it outside of the church and face the reality that their actions are contrary to the tenets of their religion.

  • Steve Merritt

    That is an awesome article. I stumbled across it because of the last name, sure glad I did. We need every member of Congress, everyone inside the Beltway, and lots of people from coast to coast to read that last paragraph.