UPDATE: Following publication of The Star report, Lipscomb University restored two paragraphs detailing Fleer’s assessment and quote about Kendi to their event page. They also added clarification that Kendi will be presenting his session via a webinar from his home near Boston.
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Lipscomb University, a self-proclaimed Christian institution, chose “How to Be Antiracist” author Ibram Kendi as a featured speaker for its 2021 Christian Scholars Conference (CSC). The Tennessee Star reached out for more details to CSC Chair David Fleer, Lipscomb University spokespersons, Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry, and Lipscomb University Board of Trustees Chair David Solomon. None of them responded by press time.
After The Star reached out to each of those individuals, Lipscomb University completely scrubbed the original contents of its CSC page. An archived version of the website from Tuesday shows that the original CSC page was largely dedicated to Kendi’s appearance as a featured guest speaker. It also included positive remarks from Fleer about Kendi.
In that original version of the press release, Fleer’s exaltation of Kendi closely echoed the Bible’s promises in Jesus Christ: that one man was capable of eradicating injustice and inequality in this world.
“Dr. Kendi defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. He will help us actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world,” stated Fleer.
The day before the webpage was scrubbed, The Star had emailed Fleer these questions:
- Kendi has said in his book “How to Be Antiracist” and multiple subsequent interviews that Christians who bring people into the church with the intent of saving those souls and turning them away from sin falls in line with “racist ideas.” In short, Kendi denounced “Savior Theology” – that an individual’s sin isn’t the focus, but the oppressive systems in our society are. How does Kendi square with Scripture here?
- Does Kendi’s emphasis on holding individuals accountable for the past systems of slavery in this country go against the Biblical principle reflected in passages such as Ezekiel 18:20?
- You were quoted in the press release as saying that Kendi’s guidance will help society replace injustice and inequality with love. What do you mean by love?
One example of Kendi’s rejection of “Savior theology” is displayed here:
The Star looked back at other archived versions of the webpage to see if there had been other significant changes to it in the past. None existed. The page stayed the same since an archive was first made available for the page last September. As of Wednesday or Thursday, Fleer’s remarks and the emphasis of Kendi as a guest speaker were erased.
Originally, Kendi was linked exclusively with the theme for this year’s conference, “Recovery of Hope.” The university also dedicated 6 leading paragraphs to Kendi’s role as a featured guest speaker.
“The June 9-11, 2021, conference, themed ‘Recovery of Hope,’ will feature one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices Ibram X. Kendi,” read the original page.(original emphasis included)
In comparison, the new webpage added detailed descriptions of the other guest speakers at length. It minimized mention of Kendi to one paragraph, and removed his name from association with the overall conference theme.
The CSC is a three-day conference in which over 500 Christian scholars convene for dialogue and collaboration, engaging in topics across a variety of disciplines – including, but not limited to, New Testament studies.
Lipscomb University’s Statement of Faith summarizes core teachings of the Bible: that forgiveness is granted to individuals who repent of their sins and believe the gospel, and that all followers are commissioned to make disciples.
As referenced above in our questions to Fleer, Kendi denounced those ideas as a part of a “Savior theology” that he finds inherently racist.
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