Thursday, June 10, 2021

Voddie Baucham's Book, Fault Lines


In recent days Critical Race Theory has caused division in many churches as well as across the entire spectrum of Christendom. The Southern Baptist Convention has not been spared, as it has been embraced by many SBC leaders. Voddie Baucham has provided a wonderful service to the church in writing his book titled, Fault Lines. In this book he carefully explains Critical Race Theory using the very definitions used by those who created it. He then explains the fallacies of their positions. He writes, “I want to unmask the ideology of Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality in hopes that those who have bowed in the face of it can stand up, take courage, and ‘contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints’” (page 230). I want to recommend this book as an excellent resource for helping to understand the issues at hand and as a tool to help work towards unity.

 Baucham begins his book by giving an excellent presentation of the issues. He carefully defines Critical Race Theory and describes it as a worldview, “an analytical lens one uses to examine the world” (page xvi). It rests upon the premise that racism is normal and ingrained in the fabric of American society and that whites are incapable of righteous actions on race.

 Bachaum succinctly states the premise of the book: “I believe the current concept of social justice is incompatible with biblical Christianity. . . Our problem is a lack of clarity and charity in our debate over the place, priority, practice and definition of justice” (page 5). Baucham describes the issue as two competing worldviews. One is the Critical Social Justice view—which assumes that the world is divided between the oppressors and the oppressed (white, heterosexual males are generally viewed as the oppressor).  The other is the biblical justice view.

 The book contains eleven chapters, well-written, and engaging. By the time I finished Chapter one I felt I knew Vodie Baucham, though we have never met. It was a heart-warming account of his childhood, and the excellent parenting of his mother; his point being his mother pressed upon him the importance of character. He was never allowed to use race, or anything else, as an excuse not to excel.

 Chapter two deals with the issue of faith and ethnicity. Should a black Christian identify first as a black person or as a Christian? Baucham recounts his rise and decline in Southern Baptist influence as indication of his acceptance as an individual, not because of the color of his skin. The rejection he faced was due to his Calvinism and his ideological stances, and his skin color provided no protection. He quotes a black NFL coach, “It’s not when they hire one of us, but when they fire one of us that you know we’re being treated as equals.” Baucham shares how he had become convicted of seeing his blackness first and seeking only churches with people who looked like him, but change was not without great difficulty.

 Chapter three speaks on the issue of Biblical justice and how many of the claims of injustice today do not meet the Biblical standard. Too often it is more a matter of advancing a particular narrative. That narrative has gripped the hearts of many Christians that Baucham describes in Chapter four as the “Cult of Antiracism.” This cult has its own body of divinity, its own theology and is being adopted by an increasing number of mainstream evangelicals and being taught in some of our leading seminaries. It is the narrative that whiteness is a social construct of privilege used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of color. Instead of the imputed guilt of Adam upon all men, the antiracial narrative has imputed guilt upon the white person by virtue of their whiteness. The new original sin is racism, and there is no pardon. Racism is connected only to whiteness; thus, the black man is exempt. And according to the narrative, it is America’s sin, which is institutional and systemic.

 The Cult of Antiracism not only has its own theology, it also has its own priesthood (Chapter five). Only those of color or other oppressed people have the necessary knowledge to analyze and instruct about racism. It is an ethnic Gnosticism. White people can only comprehend racial issues through the voice of people of color—by "elevating and heeding black voices.”

 And Baucham adds that the Cult of Antiracism has its own canon (Chapter six). Everything has to be interpreted through the lens of Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, “which shows all the hidden places where racism is to be found and rooted out” (Fault Lines, page 113). “You really don’t get what the Bible is trying to say about social justice until you read social science and history” (ibid., p.119). In other words, the Bible is not sufficient in helping us to understand the issues of race and justice. Only selective sources outside Scripture can help us understand social justice issues—the new canon.

 There is a serious division in the evangelical world. Baucham refers to it as a “fault line” that has created an environment of hostility. “In this environment, dissent is not only unwelcome, but condemned. Consequently, many godly, thoughtful, well-meaning, justice-loving brethren are being silenced. . . Relationships are being ruined, reputations are being tarnished, careers are being destroyed, and entire denominations are in danger of being derailed” (p. 138). In Chapter seven Baucham discusses two documents that have demonstrated the divide—the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, and Resolution 9 voted on and passed during the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention.

 Beginning in Chapter eight, Baucham starts drawing some conclusions. He writes that the claims of Critical Race Theory are inconsistent with the statistics and facts. Still, their argument cannot be debated because speaking against it simply proves your ignorance or displays your racism. And the Evangelical community is increasingly embracing the claims and positions of CRT (Chapter nine), or at least moving along parallel lines. Baucham’s conclusion is there is no solution to America’s social justice problem. He writes, “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” (page 201). While there is no easy solution to America’s social justice problem, we must recognize the fallacies of Critical Race Theory. The Church must counter the fallacies with Biblical truth and the power of the Gospel. Baucham writes, “We must love our God, His Gospel, and our brothers enough to challenge this false narrative” (page 222).

 Baucham ends his book with a solid pronouncement of the power of the Gospel. He states he has learned the grace of forgiveness through the power of the Gospel. He announces, “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” (page 229)!