Walter Strickland

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Walter Strickland


Walter Strickland was born in Chicago and raised in Southern California. Walter’s "passion is to equip people to flourish in their context from a deep commitment to God’s design".

Dr. Strickland’s interests include contextual and systematic theology, African American religious history, multicultural studies, education theory, and theology of work.

Along with being a diversity consultant, frequent conference speaker, and itinerant preacher, Walter contributes to Canon & Culture as an associate Research Fellow of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Gospel Project, and the Biblical Recorder (the North Carolina Baptist state newspaper). Walter’s work has also appeared in Christianity Today, Baptist Press, World Magazine and his first book entitled Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians was released in March of 2016.

Walter Strickland, associate vice president for diversity, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; member of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C.

Walter and his wife Stephanie Strickland live in Wake Forest, NC.

Education

Committee on Resolutions

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear named members of the Committee on Resolutions for the June 11-12 2019 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.

"These committee members hail from state conventions, national entities, seminaries, local churches and local associations," said Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area. "Each was chosen because they demonstrate great commitment to the Southern Baptist Convention, and because they reflect both who we are and who we are becoming. They are men and women who desire to see our convention keep the Gospel above all."

Curtis Woods of Kentucky was named as the committee's chairman by Greear.

Woods is co-interim executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and a member of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

"Southern Baptists should be enthused about the brothers and sisters selected to serve as your 2019 Resolutions Committee," Woods said, "since 'the many faces of the SBC' are well represented. Each person will prayerfully bring their academic expertise and experience to bare on each resolution.

"As chair, my heart is fixed on praying for each committee member to inhale the Word of God daily so that we approach this noble task with compassion, conviction and courage," Woods said. "We must honor each brother or sister who takes time to pen and present a resolution even if the committee rejects the content."

Greear appointed the committee in keeping with the provision in SBC Bylaw 20 that its members be named 75 days prior to the start of the annual meeting.

The other committee members, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Tremayne Manson, associate pastor for community development and outreach, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  • Adron Robinson, pastor, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Country Club Hills, Ill.
  • Walter Strickland, associate vice president for diversity, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; member of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Angela Suh Um, founder and chief consultant, Boston Academic Consulting Group, Cambridge, Mass.; member of Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge.
  • Trevin Wax, Bible and reference publisher, B&H Academic Group, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville; teaching pastor, Third Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • Jared Wellman, pastor Tate Springs Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas.
  • Rick Wheeler, lead missional strategist, Jacksonville Baptist Association, Jacksonville, Fla.; member of Mandarin Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Keith Whitfield, vice chair; vice president for academic administration, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; member of Faith Baptist Church, Youngsville, N.C.
  • Alicia Wong, director of women's program, Gateway Seminary, Ontario, Calif.; member of Rosena Church, San Bernardino, Calif.

The committee's composition, according to Bylaw 20, must include at least two members who served the previous year, with Robinson, Wong and Woods meeting this requirement. Bylaw 20 also stipulates that the committee include at least three SBC Executive Committee members. This year they are Robinson, Wellman and Wheeler.[1]

On James Cone

Walter Strickland in Intersect on James Cone:

James Cone is known as the “Father of Black Theology.” I learned about him when I was a seminary student, and was helped by his work specifically regarding systemic sin and championing unity amid cultural diversity. I found the questions he raised to be important for consideration, but I found my answers in the pages of Christian Scripture. In my teachings and writings my desire is to provide another starting point to engage African American concerns with the orthodox convictions and commitments that Cone lacked.
On November 15, 2018, I was interviewed by Molly Worthen for an op-ed that was published by the New York Times on April 20, 2019. The article included quotes from a nearly 75-minute conversation regarding my experience in the Southern Baptist Convention against the backdrop of the racial turmoil in our country. In our conversation, she asked questions about my engagement with theologian James Cone in light of my stated commitment to Southeastern Seminary’s confessional and affirmed statements. Since the article was published, I’ve had several conversations about the quotes that were used as well as my interaction with Cone’s work. I understand Worthen’s role as a journalist and academic, and I am always appreciative of those who engage these issues. Given some resulting confusion, I think it is important to add some context to my statements that was not able to be included in the piece.
I want there to be no question about my affirmation that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and the foundational text for all I do.
I first encountered James Cone midway through my Master of Divinity program, and quickly realized that he was a paradigm-shifting figure in African American theology. Because of this, I thought it was important to be familiar with his ideas. I read several of Cone’s books to better understand his work.
In the final semester of my MDiv, I took a church history course where Cone was mentioned as one of the most influential theological figures in the 20th century. My professor agreed to meet with me outside of class, and in our interaction, he made a statement akin to, “it is impossible to understand African American theology without engaging James Cone.” I had considered pursuing a second Master’s degree at another institution whose faculty included experts on Cone’s theology, but their doctrinal commitments significantly contrasted my own. After the conversation with my church history professor, I applied to the Master of Theology program at Southeastern to study with him. This decision allowed me to remain in an environment where my foundational biblically-rooted theological convictions were shared. Now, as a teacher, I desire to offer my students the same opportunity to engage voices outside our theological tradition in an environment that has a strong commitment to biblical authority.
As I prepared to write my ThM thesis, I was introduced to J. Deotis Roberts, a leading Black Theologian in his own right. The juxtaposition between Cone’s and Roberts’ theology is stark. Roberts stands in the historic African American theological tradition (as do I) that values the authority of Scripture, salvation, conversion, and the resurrection of Christ. Cone, however, represents a theological shift away from that longstanding tradition despite being dubbed the “Father of Black Theology.” Because of Cone’s countless books and articles, he is assumed to be the normative voice of Black Theology, but I was convinced that was not true. My PhD dissertation was a historical analysis of theological method in Black Theology, to demonstrate that James Cone does not have a monopoly on Black Theology, and with the secondary goal of elevating the status of J. Deotis Roberts.
I believe that James Cone raised some significant critiques of Western Christianity for which Scripture has the answers. In recent years I have shared that Cone is helpful for me in two primary ways: 1) he was the first theologian I read to engage systemic sin, and 2) he impressed upon me the value of having theological dialogue partners from different cultural, economic, and geographic contexts.
Although I’m indebted to Cone for raising these important questions, I have significant concerns about his theological solutions and their ethical implications, such as his low view of the atonement, his “by any means necessary” approach to social change, or his understanding of sexual ethics. Despite my substantive theological differences, being introduced to systemic sin in his work was an important theological insight to understand the expansive impact of the Fall on humanity and society. However, unlike Cone, I engage systemic sin in light of humanity’s Genesis 2:15 call to be vice-regents and the Fall’s effect on that command. In light of these ideas, Worthen asked me in her interview how my dissertation informs my ministry today and I noted Cone’s influence in this area. Specifically, I referenced using Cone’s ideas without mentioning him in order to walk around linguistic landmines. My point was not that I hide unorthodox ideas in my teaching, rather, that I don’t mention his name in order to eliminate stumbling blocks as I show how Scripture answers certain observations about the world that evangelicals sometimes overlook. In my ongoing writing and teaching on Black Theology, it is clear that Cone’s theology is not my theology. He espouses profoundly different answers to the questions that he raises than I do. While his questions and critiques are at times helpful, Scripture is a sufficient guide to answering Cone’s concerns.
I understand that when participating in media interviews, the full context of one’s statements are not included in the story. But I want there to be no question about my affirmation that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and the foundational text for all I do. When I bring questions about structural sin and unity amid diversity to Scripture, I have found the Bible to speak clearly on these issues. After years of study, I’m convinced that I do not need to protect Scripture from inquiries that emerge from any context. I’m now more committed to my theological foundations, represented in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, than I was before I studied James Cone. These foundational convictions are able to withstand the fears, sorrows, and hopes of all God’s children. To that end, I’m committed to proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to people from “every nation, tribe, people, and language” with our convention family and I pray that, with God’s help, I will faithfully do my part.[2]

Promoting Illegal Immigration & Refugee Resettlement

Walter Strickland signed a letter to President Trump written by World Relief.[3] titled "Top evangelical leaders and pastors from all 50 states urge action to help vulnerable immigrants" which lamented a decrease in refugees entering the United States, and requested amnesty for DACA recipients.

Letter

"Dear President Trump and Members of Congress,
"As Christian leaders, we have a commitment to caring for the vulnerable in our churches while also supporting just, compassionate and welcoming policies toward refugees and other immigrants. The Bible speaks clearly and repeatedly to God’s love and concern for the vulnerable, and also challenges us to think beyond our nationality, ethnicity or religion when loving our neighbor.
"We are committed to praying for you, our elected leaders, just as Scripture mandates (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In particular, we pray that you will not forget the following people as you craft our nation’s laws and policies:
"Dreamers. Roughly 700,000 young people are poised to lose their right to work lawfully in the U.S., not to mention their dreams of a future in this country—the country they were brought to as children, without choice. Our prayer is that these young people would be allowed to continue contributing to our society without fear of deportation.
"Refugees. We are troubled by the dramatic reduction in arrivals of refugees to the United States, which declined from 96,874 in 2016 to just 33,368 in 2017. Based on arrivals so far in this fiscal year, the United States is on track to admit the lowest number of refugees since the formalization of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program in 1980. This, at a time when there are more refugees in the world than ever before in recorded history. Our prayer is that the U.S. would continue to be a beacon of hope for those fleeing persecution.
"Persecuted Christians. Refugees of all faiths and nationalities deserve our welcome, for they (like all human beings) are made in the image of God. We are particularly aware, though, of the Christian refugees and other minorities facing persecution in countries like Iraq, Iran and Syria. Admission of Christian refugees to the U.S. from these three countries has declined by 60%. We pray that those facing religious persecution would be protected overseas as well as in the U.S.
"Families Waiting for Reunification. God ordained the family as the cornerstone of society, and we believe that our country is stronger when our citizens can be quickly reunited with their close family members. For some U.S. citizens, the waiting period can be years or even decades. We pray you will respect the unity of the family.
"We are mindful of the difficulty of serving in public office and are grateful for your service. We ask that God would grant you wisdom and courage as you confront these and various other complex policy issues in the days and months ahead.

Signatories

External links

References

  1. [http://www.bpnews.net/52308/committee-on-resolutions-named-for-2019-sbc bAPTIST pRESS, Committee on Resolutions named for 2019 SBC by BP Staff, posted Monday, January 28, 2019]
  2. http://intersectproject.org/faith-and-culture/the-real-ideas-in-play-foundational-convictions-black-theology-and-my-journey-with-james-cone/ Intersect Apr 30 2019The Real Ideas in Play: Foundational Convictions, Black Theology, and My Journey with James Cone]
  3. Top evangelical leaders and pastors from all 50 states urge action to help vulnerable immigrants., accessed March 2 2018