Guest Commentary / January 25, 2022

Shifting Ground: A Review of Voddie Baucham Jr.’s ‘Fault Lines’

“The current concept of social justice is incompatible with biblical Christianity.”

By Zachary D. Rogers

The Christian church in America, and the evangelical world within it, is struggling to deal with a critical and controversial issue, Critical Race Theory (CRT). This theory has shaped the ongoing debate over justice, race, and racism that is sweeping the nation and the church. It has influenced legislation, politics, the “fiery but mostly peaceful protests” of 2020, and the teaching of American history in the education system. If, as Voddie Baucham Jr. contends, Christians are not careful, Critical Race Theory will damage and divide the church like an earthquake and the shockwaves that follow it.

Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham Jr. clearly traces the history of CRT, analyses the differing understandings of justice prevalent in America, critiques the false dichotomies offered by social justice warriors, examines the problem of false narratives when it comes to policing, and shows the many ways in which anti-racism is a new religion subverting and consuming historic Christianity. It is a timely and much-needed book every minister, elder, deacon, and layman should read.

CRT is often in the news but rarely clearly defined. Jonathan Butcher and Mike Gonzalez of The Heritage Foundation provide a clear definition: “Critical Race Theory makes race the prism through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life.” Further, it is foundational to identity politics and ongoing efforts to balkanize the nation. As Joshua Mitchell points out in American Awakening, identity politics perverts the Christian understanding of grace, mercy, and sacrifice. This subversion of Christian language and concepts camouflages its destructive nature while appealing to people’s sense of justice and need for purpose.

CRT’s understanding of justice and reality is incompatible with Scripture and historic Christianity. The Critical Social Justice view divides mankind into two camps, the oppressed and the oppressors, while questioning objectivity itself. Furthermore, it operates under a false dichotomy of protecting the oppressed. Typically, four options are presented: 1) you protect the oppressed or you are 2) unwilling to discuss the issue, 3) ignoring the voices of the oppressed, or 4) “upholding (or internalizing) white supremacy.” Typically ignored is a fifth possibility, hating racism while seeing the problems with claiming America is structurally racist.

The false narrative propagated by social justice warriors and proponents of CRT violates Scripture’s strong condemnation of “falsehood and lies.” Examples Voddie provides include: Mario Woods, who was armed and threatened police (2015); ignoring the death of individuals whose race does not further the narrative, such as Tony Tampa, a white man (2016); and “simplistic univariate analysis as a basis for sweeping accusations of bias.” The statistic regularly quoted is that police are two and a half times more likely to shoot a black man than a white man. When the statistics are carefully examined, however, they show: A) white individuals are actually shot at by officers at disproportionate numbers; B) this type of simplistic thinking would show disparities based on “sex, age, geographic region, population,” etc.; and C) they do not address interracial violence. These falsehoods have severe material consequences because “people are rioting and demanding justice before knowing the facts.” Justice requires condemning falsehood and pursuing truth. Christians must be careful not to fall prey to powerful media narratives before the facts are known. Otherwise, it is unlikely that justice will be served.

Many Americans have found a new religion in recent years: antiracism. Antiracism, as noted by Joshua Mitchell, has religious underpinnings. It takes the familiar and twists it for its own ends. It has a canon, priests, law, gospel, martyrs, and theologians. However, “Antiracism offers no salvation-only perpetual penance.” Voddie covers the cosmology of anti-racism succinctly and is well worth quoting verbatim:

  • Whiteness: a set of normative privileges granted to white-skinned individuals and groups which is “invisible” to those privileged by it.

  • White privilege: a series of unearned advantages that accrue to white people by virtue of their whiteness.

  • White supremacy: any belief, behavior, or system that supports, promotes, or enhances white privilege.

  • White complicity: White people, through the practices of whiteness and benefitting from white privilege, contribute to the maintenance of systemic racial injustice.

  • White equilibrium: The belief system that allows white people to remain comfortably ignorant.

  • White Fragility: the inability and unwillingness of white people to talk about race due to the grip that whiteness, white supremacy, white privilege, white complicity, and white equilibrium exert on them (knowingly or unknowingly).

Antiracism replaces original sin with racism while also redefining the term. Traditionally understood as the belief that race determines human abilities, the new definition of racism is focused on institutions and structures instead of individuals. This sleight of hand enables proponents of CRT to claim, “America has sinned, and certain Americans have inherited that sin, whether they know it or not.” The antiracist desires equitable outcomes that are “neither biblical, reasonable, nor achievable.”

This cult comes with a new law (woke activism) and a new priesthood (oppressed minorities). One must not merely be against racism but actively anti-racist, examining one’s heart and critiquing one’s ancestors. The new priesthood is one that has a special knowledge unavailable through reason to all men. It assumes:

  • There is a unique black perspective shared by all members of this race,

  • Other races can only access this viewpoint by listening to black voices,

  • “Narrative is an alternative, and ultimately superior, truth.”

This philosophy is not compatible with the traditional understanding of reason and objective reality and ignores that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The new canon of literature (the woke books of the Bible) undermines the supreme place of Scripture for life and godliness by presuming Holy Writ is insufficient to address racism. Instead, men are forced to turn to critical race theorists to understand the sin of racism.

This is just an overview of the problems with CRT and what Voddie covers in this book. Additional problems include: circular, question-begging logic; repudiating research on “alternative causes of racial inequalities”; pushing against a black preaching tradition of addressing personal responsibility; and creating a “victimology mindest.” Reading just this list of issues should convince readers that Critical Race Theory is problematic for many reasons and should be approached carefully, calmly, and rationally.

Fault Lines is an excellent resource for Christians who desire justice but who do not understand CRT and the threat it poses to orthodoxy. Voddie cogently, coherently, and concisely explains Critical Race Theory, the threat it poses, and what divides the critical social justice understanding of reality from that of biblical justice. This is what the layman and the minister should both be reading.

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