Salem Books, 2021.
This new book by Voddie Baucham is essential reading:
Voddie Baucham is a leading Black American Christian and conservative thinker. He was a former pastor in Texas but now serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. His latest volume is a must read. The book’s subtitle tells us what to expect: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe.
The thesis is straightforward enough: there is a family of dangerous and diabolical ideologies going back at least as far as Karl Marx – now including things like cultural Marxism, critical theory, grievance studies, political correctness, social justice, identity politics, critical race theory, intersectionality – which far too many evangelical Christians have latched on to, to their own peril, and to the detriment of the gospel.
So many Christians have simply abandoned the gospel of Mark for the gospel of Marx. This frightening trend really will determine the future of the church in America and the West. Baucham says this about why he penned this volume:
This book is, among many things, a plea to the Church. I believe we are being duped by an ideology bent on our demise. This ideology has used our guilt and shame over America’s past, our love for the brethren, and our good and godly desire for reconciliation and justice as a means through which to introduce destructive heresies. We cannot embrace, modify, baptize, or Christianize these ideologies. We must identify, resist, and repudiate them. We cannot be held hostage through emotional blackmail and name-calling.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a major focus of this book. As I said about this elsewhere, it assumes that racism is systemic in our culture, that all whites are always guilty of racism, that all non-whites are victims of this racism, and that the entire system must be smashed and overthrown for any progress to be made.
Baucham says what we now have is a “cult of antiracism”. Obviously as a Black American and a biblical Christian he is fully opposed to racism. That goes without saying, but he knows that CRT will never solve the problems of racism, but only make them worse.
Indeed, only a thoroughly biblical worldview can properly deal with things like racism, and all other social problems. The cultural Marxist worldview, out of which CRT flows, is fully incompatible with it. CRT – following Marx and Lenin – assumes that the world is divided between the oppressed and the oppressor.
The biblical worldview says we are all sinners and all equally guilty of oppressing others. The solution is not to demonise whites and engage in a new form of racism. Nor is it to smash the system. The solution is love, forgiveness and reconciliation as offered in Christ.
Baucham looks at the traditional, historic definitions of racism and notes that the social justice warriors and adherents of CRT are radically changing them to suit their political agenda. And he quotes not just from plenty of secular left activists, but sadly, far too many evangelical Christians who have jumped onto the bandwagon.
He is not afraid to name names here. Thus he discusses individuals and groups such as David Platt, Tim Keller, Jim Wallis, the Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel, and the Southern Baptist Convention among others who have all – to greater or lesser degrees – bought into the Critical Social Justice (CSJ) mindset. While he is shocked by their capitulation to this alien ideology, he still considers many of them to be brothers in Christ whom he prays for.
As he says: “I am not at war with the men, women, and ministries I have named in this book. I love them. Some of them are actually long-time personal friends. But I am at war with the ideology with which they have identified to one degree or another.”
He of course also spends a lot of time looking at a number of problems that America is now going through, including BLM and rioting in the cities, the cases of people like George Floyd and Trayvon Martin, defunding the police, and what is being taught in most schools and universities today.
He presents plenty of statistical evidence along the way. For example, he highlights how the CSJ movement refuses to actually deal with any evidence that runs counter to their narrative. The stats tell us a completely different story from what they are telling us. For example:
“[W]hen it comes to interracial violence, black people are overwhelmingly more likely to victimize white people than the other way around. This is also true when it comes to crimes against the police… A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black assailant than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a cop.”
But he is not just some Uncle Tom or lackey of whites. He reiterates: “I believe there is racism. I believe there are racists. However, I reject the idea that America is ‘characterized by racism,’ or that racism is an unavoidable byproduct of our national DNA. In fact, I believe America is one of the least racist countries in the world.”
The way forward
If the CSJ/CRT crowd offer us the wrong way to proceed because they have the wrong analysis of the problem, just what is the way ahead? It is the gospel message that we must run with. It is because Baucham is a biblical Christian that he must call out all the false narratives and their false hopes. For him, the biblical gospel alone can deal with the problems that plague us, including racism. As he writes:
Racism is real, and it is alive and well in America. I have said as much from many pulpits on many occasions. Remember, my target here is the notion that “inequity must equal injustice.” It is this notion that undermines efforts to bring law and the Gospel to bear in the lives of those categorized as oppressed, as well as those categorized as oppressors. I can and do look injustice in the eye and call it what it is. It is my duty as a herald of God’s Word. In this case, however, the injustice I see is the false witness-bearing, Marxist ideology-promoting, Gospel-perverting ideology of Critical Race Theory and its offshoots.
Because those running with CRT and CSJ are following the world’s thinking and using the world’s methods, they cannot provide the proper answers to our problems. Indeed, they provide the wrong starting point as to our problems. Because of that, “Christianity and antiracism [have a] different understanding of the nature of the war.” He says, “The weapons employed by antiracists in an effort to undo ‘systemic racism’ are woefully inadequate.” He continues:
“As followers of Christ, we reject the idea that the sin of racism is entirely structural. We believe it is a problem of the human heart—and therefore, its only solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are most assuredly issues in the culture that are broken, and we should strive to repair them. However, the mission of the church begins with and works through the hearts of men.”
And again: “One of the biggest problems with antiracism is the fact that it is law-based. It condemns based on melanin, and although it constantly uses the words, it holds out no hope of salvation, restoration, or reconciliation.” Furthermore, “Because antiracism is law-based, its ultimate end is changing and establishing laws, then enforcing those laws authoritatively.”
Instead of succumbing to more hatred and even more racism, our weapons of warfare as Christians must be much different:
In the end, it is forgiveness that will heal our wounds. My hope is not that white Christians can feel sorry enough for their past or that ministries and organizations can dig up and grovel over enough historical dirt. That is not the powerful, life-changing, world-confounding message of the Gospel. That is the message of the world….
Consequently, the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is not calling for reparations: it is forgiveness. Antiracism knows nothing of forgiveness because it knows nothing of the Gospel. Instead, antiracism offers endless penance, judgment, and fear. What an opportunity we have to shine the light of Christ in the midst of darkness!
One of his powerful closing paragraphs is well worth citing as I close this review:
I wrote this book because I love God more than life, the truth more than others’ opinion of me, and the Bride of Christ more than my platform. My heart is broken as I watch movements and ideologies against which I have fought and warned for decades become entrenched at the highest and most respected levels of evangelicalism. I want this book to be a clarion call. I want to unmask the ideology of Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality in hopes that those who have imbibed it can have the blinders removed from their eyes, and those who have bowed in the face of it can stand up, take courage, and “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
(Australians will find this book at Koorong)