James Merritt took to Twitter and praised a sermon from his openly gay son, Jonathan. He dismissed the seriousness of his son’s unrepentant sin as a mere disagreement. He incorrectly called his son’s message on Mark 13, “both brilliant and faithful to the gospel and the coming of Jesus.” Then, he doubled down on all of the above, as all the usual figures in the SBC circled the wagons to defend their old friend. Despite complaints from others, nothing happened, as usual. Along came revelations of racist jokes in the elder Merritt’s past. That did the trick. Merritt won’t be at SEBTS. Here’s a summary.
Conservatives won’t be pleased with the headlines. The article above? “Former Southern Baptist head Merritt quits seminary role after report of racist joke: Televangelist also ripped for supporting gay son’s sermon via Twitter, report says.” The oh, by the way treatment of praising homosexual preaching when that problem was the most prominent of the two (no digging needed; the dude doubled down) signifies a slide toward homosexual affirmation…in the convention. What Merritt did was beyond the pale, and everybody who’s anybody in the SBC knows it, but they’ll never say it publicly, insofar as their salaries depend upon not saying it.
Conservatives (as opposed to the pragmatic progressives in the seminaries) are supposed to be the bad guys for pointing all of this out. Oh, and racists too (see the emphasis above). Except that James Merritt is the racist this time, and although he’s trying to dismiss everything as a “distraction,” conservatives have now seen this accusation get him kicked out of school.
A prediction? This won’t be the last time we see SBC leaders of supposed “integrity, character & love for the gospel” (read: racist jokes, pyramid schemes, and pro-gay preaching) be brought to account for past racial hypocrisy or pro-homosexual positions. As the people in the pews become more aware of what’s happening with their pastors, in their churches, seminaries, missions organizations, and denominations, it won’t be as easy to make them go away as it was to silence the SBC with a rowdy resolutions committee chair. The writing is on the wall.