It is no secret how divided the Southern Baptist Convention is, especially over the issue of Critical Race Theory. The campaign for the next president of the convention in 2021 appears to be highly contentious over this issue. It has been announced that Pastor Mike Stone will throw his hat in the ring. The Christian Index appears to have broke the story and they have this to say about Pastor Mike Stone:
Williams noted that Stone is the immediate past chairman of the Executive Committee of the SBC, serving on the search committee that called Ronnie Floyd to be its president. He has served Georgia Baptists in numerous capacities. Stone was elected to serve as president of the state convention from 2017-2018. He was also elected as chairman of Georgia’s executive committee, helping lead one of the largest state conventions in the SBC family.
Stone has served at Emmanuel since 1996. After being on staff for over five years, he was unanimously called as pastor in 2002. In a rural South Georgia town of less than 4,000 people, God has used Stone’s ministry to grow a church that averaged (pre-COVID) more than 1,000 in attendance. Under his evangelistic leadership, the church has averaged 63 baptisms per year through an emphasis on personal soul-winning.
By all appearances, it appears that Mike Sone is a well qualified candidate for helming the Southern Baptist President. Mike Stone is also one of the myriad of members on the Conservative Baptist Networks’ Steering Council. He is also a member of leadership of the at the state level, as Georgia has a state chapter of the Conservative Baptist Network. This indicates that his candidacy is more corresponded to the issue of Critical Race Theory than the 2020 candidacy of Randy Adams.
In 2020, Randy Adams of the Northwest Baptist Convention announced his candidacy speaking to various issues plaguing the Southern Baptist Convention, specifically lack of small church involvement and ineffective missions boards. Whereas, his candidacy was not seen as a proxy for this larger issue, the candidacy of Mike Stone will most certainly come across as the Conservative Resurgence 2.0 to all those who would not want to see this happen.
In 2020, the North American Missions Boards declared war on Randy Adams in what appears to have been a retaliatory response to Adams challenging Al Mohler. It will be interesting to see if there is a petty response to Stone’s looming nomination.
The theology angle is a fascinating one as well. Tom Ascol of Founder’s Ministry has this to say about Mike Stone running.
As I have long contended, the Southern Baptist Convention and its entities belong to the churches. We need to be led by a pastor who has a commitment to see our convention be responsive to the concerns and convictions of its churches. Pastor Mike and I do not agree on every point of theology, but the challenges facing our convention call for Reformed and non-Reformed alike to stand together on our common love for the Savior and His gospel for the sake of our collective mission.Quoted in the Christianity Index article
The quote would seem to indicate that Mike Stone is not a Calvinist, as Founders Ministry is a well known hub of reformed Baptist theology. This is an exceedingly smart play on Tom Ascol’s behalf to support the Conservative Baptist Network candidate despite soteriological differences.
Presuming that Al Mohler is the Big Eva candidate as he was in 2020, there is already a base who would oppose Al Mohler based on his reformed theology. As the Southern Baptist Convention is a big tent on soteriology, securing this base would allow Founders Ministry to win over the reformed Baptist to tear away at those who would support Al Mohler on these grounds. It’s a shrewd political move. The Conservative Baptist Network was founded to bridge this divide in the Southern Baptist Convention to fight for the 2nd Conservative Resurgence. And by all means, ridding the convention of the Social Justice Gospel is certainly a more fundamental battle than soteriology.
By all appearances, presuming that the Conservative Baptist Network can keep its base unsplit on candidates, they have presented a suitable candidate who appears to take the issue of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality very seriously. Al Mohler, or whoever Big Eva nominates, is beatable with shrewd navigating, base mobilization, and resonating with the general sentiment of uncompromised Baptists.