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Speaking Truth not Tolerated at SWBTS
By Anne Reed
Professor Speaking Truth About Sexual Sin Forced Out of SBC Seminary
Robert Oscar Lopez is an outspoken witness to the power of God to transform a life. He was raised by “two moms” and identified as bisexual for years before surrendering his life to Christ.
He has spent his life fighting. First, it was for his own life – for freedom from the clutches of homosexuality. Then it was (and is) against the attacks from the homosexual activist community. Read AFA Journal story “Breaking Free from a Culture of Shame” here.
This man’s resiliency is astounding.
And now he’s fighting one of the most powerful religious organizations in existence – the Southern Baptist Convention.
Prior to being hired in 2016 by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), Lopez was a tenured professor at California State University. In today’s culture, it is no surprise that a former homosexual now speaking from a biblical perspective would be persecuted.
After repeated subjection to senselessly demeaning investigations at the public university, the sense of relief Lopez experienced when “rescued” into a Christian seminary must have been palpable. The pressure to shut up about his testimony and matters of biblical sexual morality was a thing of the past. Or so he thought.
Last week, the morning after Thanksgiving Day, Lopez received an email notifying him that his position at SWBTS had been eliminated. He told AFA this wasn’t really a surprise to him. He had been asked to resign two months earlier by the provost, Randy Stinson.
“I was called into seven secret meetings,” he explained. “They would never put anything in writing. I was called in alone all the time. I didn’t know who was going to be in the meetings. And I had no forewarning about what was going to be brought up. It was very much like mental intimidation. … They told me people were watching me.”
As part of the series of meetings, Lopez was told he was held in low esteem by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Initially, he was subjected to an onerous process, requiring him to submit requests before writing or speaking on sexual matters. But eventually, Dean Michael Wilkinson made clear that Lopez was to stop talking about all matters of sexuality, including his testimony, homosexuality, and sex abuse.
Lopez had been active in writing and speaking about the dangers of the Equality Act and abuse in the gay community. And he had drafted and submitted a resolution to the SBC supporting counseling to help lead people out of homosexuality. These were all apparently giant no-nos for the SBC, which according to Lopez has embraced the “Revoice” ideology. Revoice is a radical movement to promote normalization and acceptance of LGBTQ terms within the church – creating a slippery slope which many believe will lead to full-blown acceptance of homosexuality.
One of the SBC’s six theological seminaries has pushed out Lopez, a man who stands for biblical morality in sexuality and communicates the church’s role in helping individuals find their identity in their Creator. Meanwhile, SBC’s Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has hired Karen Swallow Prior, an avid supporter and promoter of Revoice. She is slated to begin her work at the seminary next fall.
Prior’s book Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues included a chapter by Matthew Vines supporting acceptance of same-sex relationships claiming the text from the first chapter of Romans was based on antiquated “patriarchal logic.” Details are available here.
“They are going to take that seminary and make it pro-gay,” said Lopez. “I’m shocked, but they are going to be able to do it.”
Because of the secretive methods employed to silence the voices of truth, it has become clear to Lopez that the SBC’s intentions in the area of sexuality are not from God.
“They don’t want to hear stories of people who have changed – especially if they wanted to change,” he explained. “The preferable model is for people to remain in that mindset [of identifying as homosexual] without acting on it.”
But Lopez believes the freedom he has received has come with a divine obligation. He has been forced into a corner requiring him to choose between obeying man or God. He has chosen God – and lost his livelihood as a result.
When leaders in the church secretly demand that a man who has been set free from the power of sin shut up about it, we have a dark and shameful problem that, according to Ephesians 5:11-12, must be exposed for what it is.