The Fault in our Lines
Voddie Baucham’s well-intentioned, misguided response to Critical Race Theory
Within evangelicalism, the debate on Critical Race Theory (CRT) has often been more quarrelsome, irritable, and harsh than kind, patient, and gentle. A disparity in definitions, political positions, and presuppositions has created a rift within the church that is both tangible and alarming. In an effort to address this rift with biblical wisdom, pastor Voddie Baucham wrote a book on the subject, entitled Fault Lines.
Providentially, I began reading Fault Lines at the same time I started a devotional read-through of the book of Galatians. As I worked my way through both books, I noticed some distinct parallels.
Baucham and the Apostle Paul share similar sentiments. Both are concerned about the simplicity of the gospel being compromised by the addition of foreign beliefs—CRT for the former, and circumcision for the latter. Both are emphatic that to add requirements to the gospel is to, in effect, introduce a new gospel. Both sometimes use serious language to communicate the dangers of perverting one’s Christianity even while he thinks he is adhering to it. (Paul is even more explicit in his language, exemplified by Galatians 5:12.)
Such a posture is not the sign of a hateful shepherd, but a loving one. This is an important point to understand, as disagreement with one’s opponents is not the same as trashing them. As Baucham himself writes near the end of Fault Lines,
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. I see Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, Critical Social Justice, and their antecedents—Marxism, Conflict Theory, and Critical Theory—as “cosmic powers over this present darkness.” (210)1
Despite what some of his critics say, Baucham’s concerns are not unfounded. CRT is no mere phantom or bogeyman brought out by conservatives to deceive and mobilize our ranks. It can, in fact, function as a dangerous false religion, as Baucham makes clear in his book.
Another point worth repeating, as Baucham does, is that inequality is not necessarily the same thing as inequity. This is a crucial distinction to recognize, and many who promote CRT refuse to acknowledge it, thus simplifying complex situations to better fit their agenda. This does not mean inequality is never a sign of inequity—simply that racial disparities are not always de facto signs of racism.
Having said all that, I am grieved that Fault Lines suffers from numerous communication problems. In the material that follows, I will explore four aspects of the book that I find particularly problematic:
A false framing of Resolution 9
Inadvertently denying the sufficiency of Scripture
It should also be noted that the extensive length of the analysis below does not reflect some clandestine contempt for Pastor Baucham’s position.2 Rather, as someone who agrees with him on issues of first importance, I wish to take his arguments seriously and do him the honor of a careful and comprehensive critique.
1. Citation Issues
One problem is the book’s numerous citation errors. Sometimes sources aren’t cited at all, such as a Friedrich Hayek quote on page six, a Tim Keller quote on page 135, and a Thomas Sowell quote on page 222.
At other times, Baucham doesn’t cite his sources properly. One quote on page 135 (ostensibly from some ministry leaders at 9Marks, The Gospel Coalition, and the like) does have a footnote, but with supplemental thoughts only and no traceable attribution. Another reference to an op-ed supposedly by Michelle Alexander (but which is actually written by Barry Latzer) appears on page 170.
One especially serious misattribution is a block quote used twice in the book (on pages 10 and 144). This quote, Baucham says, comes from the UCLA School of Public Affairs. The actual source of the quote, however, is a WordPress blog created by a group of students in the Urban Planning Department at UCLA. In sharing this quote, Baucham says, “I am merely taking its [CRT’s] founders and practitioners at their word” (xv). Of course, UCLA students from the 2009/2010 school year are not the founders of CRT.
“Woke Preacher Clips” and private conversations [are] cited in the footnotes of [this] scholarly resource. That simply doesn’t cut it. Woke Preacher Clips is akin to discernment blogs and takes controversial snippets of sermons without the full context.
Furthermore, Baucham has actually misquoted some of his sources—including those who agree with him. For instance, he writes, “John MacArthur calls it [CRT] ‘the greatest threat’ to the Gospel in his lifetime” (3). In the cited source, however, MacArthur actually wrote that social justice—not CRT specifically—is “the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.”4
The most problematic misquotation, however, appears on page xvi, in which Baucham includes what looks like a block quote from the book Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado. Parts of the blocked text are in quotation marks and others are not, and parts are footnoted while others are not, making it unclear which words are actually lifted from Delgado’s book and which (if any) are Baucham’s own commentary.
This lack of clarity is exacerbated by a recorded talk at Flat Creek Baptist Church, in which Baucham reads from the aforementioned block quote (including a phrase that says “whites are incapable of righteous actions”) and explicitly states that those are Delgado’s words, not his.
But the reality, as it has come to light since, is that Baucham had written notes and explanations of Delgado’s work, mixed them with actual quotes from Delgado’s work, and then forgotten which was which. The “incapable of righteous actions” sentence is actually Baucham’s own verbiage. He acknowledged this on a podcast in August of 2021, four months after the book’s release.
Baucham’s misquotation of Delgado, in both oral and written form, represents what we might call unintentional tort. Falsely attributing a quote (which you yourself have written) to someone else and then condemning that person for saying it is a serious scholarly and ethical violation, regardless of intent. It is both sloppy and egregious. That Baucham has, to date, only addressed this issue on a colleague’s podcast (and not on his own website, or through a press release, or on Salem Books’ website) belies the serious nature of the offense.5
We can see the importance of this matter more clearly by quoting Baucham himself later in his book: “Falsehood and lies are reprehensible because they not only harm those to and/or about whom they are told, but they also blaspheme the very character and nature of the God Who is truth” (41).6
Baucham severely damages his credibility through the above citation errors, which have led many of his critics to interpret his book as having a maligning spirit. While this interpretation is, I believe, entirely wrong, it is not without reason. One cannot be so careless with one’s opponents and expect them to still supply a willing and listening ear.
2. A False Framing of Resolution 9
In Chapter Seven, Baucham details what he calls the “clearest evidence of the coming collapse we have seen in recent years” (139)—the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2019 annual meeting, during which the infamous Resolution 9 was adopted. For those unfamiliar with what happened, the original author of Resolution 9, Pastor Stephen Feinstein, sought to explicitly and unequivocally condemn the Marxist ideology behind CRT and Intersectionality (CRT/I). The Committee on Resolutions decided to revise Feinstein’s proposal to focus more narrowly on the utilization of CRT/I as analytical tools.
Baucham describes these revisions as “strategic” (139), designed to “[force] the hand of Convention leaders” (140). The Committee on Resolutions, he says, “gutted and rewrote” the resolution (140), turning it into a “grotesque misrepresentation of what [Feinstein] submitted originally” (141). Baucham continues: “What happened to Feinstein’s resolution was nothing short of scandalous,” and adds that “this was a deliberate act of duplicity” (141).
Those are serious charges. And since Baucham considers these events as one of the clearest evidences of the looming catastrophe in evangelicalism, it is worth addressing his concerns. One way to do that is to hear from Stephen Feinstein himself.
Pastor Feinstein posted a 12-minute YouTube video after his resolution was revised. Here is just one statement Feinstein makes in regards to how the Committee on Resolutions altered his original wording: “I think they actually did a good job. . . . I think this [resolution] actually puts us in a better position to go after the people who are trying to smuggle Communist Marxism into the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Whereas Baucham says Feinstein was a victim of the Resolution Committee’s “duplicity,” Feinstein says something completely different.
Furthermore, in late 2019, Feinstein published a blog post in which he explicitly stated, “As the original author of [the] resolution that was radically altered, I would have been irate had Resolution 9 actually stated what its critics accuse it of.” His blog post further addressed accusations made against the Resolutions Committee. These critics, he wrote, demonstrate
…a mindset that presently assumes the worst about the motives of [the] resolutions committee. It is simply not true that the SBC messengers voted that we should include God-hating theories and ideologies to help us interpret the Bible. There was nothing in the resolution about hermeneutics. To argue such either demonstrates a careless reading, or it demonstrates it wasn’t read at all, and instead is based on the uncritical acceptance of rumors and accusations.
He even went so far as to say, “those who denounce [Resolution 9] as smuggling Marxism into the SBC repeatedly demonstrate they likely do not even know what CT/CRT/I is.”
Then, in early 2020, Feinstein published another blog post on the matter, with further clarifications on Resolution 9, including the following statements:
“I have repeatedly insisted the Resolutions Committee did nothing nefarious.”
“The members of the 2019 Resolutions Committee are very godly people who hold a conservative Christian worldview.”
“I have spent much effort since June 2019 trying to convince people to stop slandering the leaders of our institutions over this issue.”
Fault Lines fails to interact with these public statements at all. This represents an example of Proverbs 18:17: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”7
That’s not to say there are no grounds for disagreement over the final draft of Resolution 9. There certainly are.8 Rather, the point is that things are not as Baucham would have us believe.9 Thus, the reader of Fault Lines might well ask, “Where else in this book has Baucham misrepresented the facts?”
3. Faulty Rhetoric
Especially in our hyper-partisan age, people often resort to false dichotomies, labeling and categorizing others according to bizarre extremes. To a degree, Baucham seems aware of this logical fallacy in the debate on racial prejudice. For example, on page 29 he writes the following:
[A]t the heart of the current debate over racism lies a false dichotomy that says, “Either you are on the side of the oppressed” (read: an SJW10), or you are 1) shutting down the conversation about racial injustice, 2) ignoring minority voices, and 3) upholding (or internalizing) white supremacy.
To be sure, this is a false dichotomy evident in the beliefs of many proponents of CRT. As such, it is right to denounce those in the social justice crowd who “present themselves as the only ones pursuing justice, to the exclusion of all who disagree with their assessments—who, by that definition, are pursuing injustice” (5).
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current struggle is that it mischaracterizes Christians that way too. On one side are “compassionate” Christians who are “concerned about justice.” On the other are “insensitive” Christians who are “not concerned about justice.” This is wrong. (5)
However, Baucham fails to adequately address the false dichotomies perpetuated by opponents of CRT. He eventually and ever-so-briefly acknowledges the existence of such an issue over 100 pages later: “To the anti-Critical Social Justice camp, those on the side of CSJ are all Cultural Marxists” (133). However, he does not expand on this danger. There is no caution against labeling others as “Cultural Marxists” without sufficient cause; there is no warning against that which “mischaracterizes Christians” whose response to CRT doesn’t match the approach taken in Fault Lines.
What’s more, Baucham seems to contradict himself, in that much of his book gives the appearance, if not the reality, of framing any adherence to or similarity with CRT as being automatically Marxist and inherently heretical. As it is written, Fault Lines leaves the door open to the possibility that, while pro-CRTers should be condemned for their false dichotomies, anti-CRTers are exempt. The reader is left confused on where Baucham actually stands.
This confusion is compounded by other instances of faulty rhetoric elsewhere in the book. For example, one of Baucham’s most frequent arguments is that statistics incontrovertibly prove that police violence against unarmed black men is a myth. He asserts this position several times throughout the book.
And yet his defense against those inclined to believe otherwise is far from convincing. For example, he writes, “The best research on the topic of fatal officer-involved shootings (FOIS) has been clear” (48), without attempting to back up that claim at all. A couple pages later, after citing more of this research, he says, “It must be noted that these findings and others have been attacked as biased, inaccurate, and downright racist. However, they remain the best work on the topic” (50). If you want your opponents to believe that your research is not biased, you’ll have to actually explain how and why that is the case—not just simply reassert your confidence in said research.
Elsewhere, Baucham examines several high-profile police shootings, which both the media and even Christians claim are evidence of institutional discrimination. Baucham responds by sharing a similar situation to each case, all of which involve a non-minority victim instead. And he declares, with equal certainty to those he corrects, to know the reason why we haven’t heard about these low-profile cases: “Because he was white, and his case did not advance the right narrative” (56); “Because Guilford was white, so his story doesn’t fit the narrative” (60); “Because she was white, and her story does not advance the right narrative” (61).
What this boils down to is that Baucham condemns using single incidents to prove a trend even while using single incidents to prove his own trend. In fact, he even goes so far as to cite a single example of police violence against a white man (in this case, Daniel Shaver) that he says “dispels two myths: first, that police shootings of black suspects are unique, and second, that when police kill white people, they don’t get away with it” (60).
It is hard to accept Baucham’s condemnation of using isolated incidents to paint with a broad brush when he himself uses an isolated incident to paint with a broad brush.11
Furthermore, Baucham considers it “real progress” when people attempt to “argue the merits of each of these cases” on an individual basis (62). There is a problem with this stance, however—and it actually has nothing to do with whether he is right or wrong. By taking this position—i.e., by insisting that cases of police brutality be examined on an individual basis only—he is refusing to effectively engage with those concerned with a perceived presence of culturally-embedded problems. It is an indirect dismissal of one of his opponents’ greatest concerns. This approach is akin to looking at a pile of puzzle pieces and saying, “I’m only going to inspect one piece at a time, so obviously there’s no possibility of a complete puzzle here.”
To be sure, there are wise and smart and godly people on both ends of the debate on institutional discrimination: some believe it exists, others do not. The point isn’t that a godly Christian can only have one view here; the point is that debate is cut off at the knees if one party refuses to engage with his opponents’ claims.
Baucham hurts his case even further when he addresses a major objection he has received: “[Y]ou have to consider the history of racism in this country” (62). According to Baucham, this objection means that “the only way to judge whether or not police killings of black people are acts of racism is to look at them through the lens of…racism” (62).
This is a misrepresentation of the objection. The lens isn’t racism, the lens is history. The lens is best expressed by the adage, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” If we look at modern expressions of possible discrimination in America without examining examples from history (such as those of antebellum slavery, Black Code laws, and Jim Crow), and arguments from history (such as those of Frederick Douglass, John Howard Griffin, and Martin Luther King, Jr.), we will fail to discern any possible patterns that may be repeating themselves.
Baucham is right that we cannot look at racism through the faulty CRT lens of “everything is racism.” He is wrong to insinuate that an appeal to historical context is the same thing as an appeal to a CRT lens.
Near the end of Fault Lines, Baucham states he has written the book “in hopes that those who have imbibed it [CRT, etc.] can have the blinders removed from their eyes” (230). This laudable intention is hamstrung by Baucham’s blindness to his own rhetorical shortcomings, as he fails to adequately engage with those prone to disagree with him. As such, his faulty arguments often serve only to preach to the choir rather than reach across the aisle.12
4. Inadvertently Denying the Sufficiency of Scripture
Baucham’s stance is that his opponents deny the sufficiency of Scripture when they argue thus: “[Y]ou really don’t get what the Bible is trying to say about social justice until you read social science and history…written from, informed by, or in service to the perspective of CT [Critical Theory], CRT, and Intersectionality” (119).
It is ironic, then, that Baucham’s position, as developed throughout the book, could be paraphrased by borrowing the wording of the argument he condemns above: “You really don’t get what the Bible is trying to say about justice until you sniff out and completely distance yourself from any belief, thought, or statement that is written from, informed by, or even tangentially related to the perspective of CT, CRT, and Intersectionality.” When Baucham writes, “I am about as ‘anti-social justice’ as they come” (5), he evidently means that quite literally.
It would be helpful to quote from Neil Shenvi here, as he is someone whose work Baucham recommends.13 In an article about the incompatibility of CT with Christianity, Shenvi (along with coauthor Pat Sawyer) starts out by making two important points:
First, not everything that critical theory affirms is false. Like almost any discipline, there are areas in which Christians should agree with critical theory. For example, critical race theorists affirm that race—as it has been defined historically and legally—is a social construct and not a concept legitimately rooted in human nature or human biology.
Second, the notion of hegemonic power is also legitimate. Christians have long recognized how various institutions can—intentionally or unintentionally—perpetuate ideas like secularism, naturalism, and relativism that create resistance to the gospel. Similarly, Christian parents have to fight against false standards of beauty and sexuality promulgated by the entertainment and advertising industries. These examples show hegemonic power in action, as the culture imbibes norms and values promoted by dominant institutions.
Many Christians, Baucham included, have rightly pointed out that CRT functions as a worldview. And while it is fundamentally opposed to Christianity, CRT still incorporates some observations that are true to reality. Even sinful humans in their opposition to God will inevitably “image” God in some of their words and actions because they can’t exist in this world without relying on the system of absolute morals God has established. Thus, as Shenvi and Sawyer point out above, there are times and places in which Christians should agree with critical theory—and, by extension, CRT.
Fault Lines ignores this reality by painting any belief shared with proponents of CRT—or even just sounding remotely similar to CRT—as inherently suspect, if not an outright capitulation to an anti-Christian worldview. But that is a false premise. In fact, as Shenvi states elsewhere, it is possible to “separate CRT and intersectionality as analytic tools from ‘critical theory’ as a worldview.” Furthermore, as conservative pastor Danny Slavich has noted, “pointing to some of the work of CRT in diagnosis of [an] issue…is not the same as affirming the solutions or prognoses that CRT may provide.”14
Baucham’s stringent and extreme anti-CRT policy is, no doubt, designed to avoid even a hint of theological contamination. The desire is a noble one. Nevertheless, this noble desire, when poorly executed, creates a standard for orthodoxy that goes beyond what even Scripture requires. Such a standard leads to labeling Christians as heterodox simply if they profess a belief in concepts like white privilege or systemic racism—beliefs which are not prohibited by Scripture.
It is worth emphasizing that a belief in white privilege is not an automatic capitulation to CRT. In fact, the concept of white privilege predates CRT by over half a century. Similarly, systemic racism is not an inherently CRT construct. Even Shenvi points out that there are at least four ways in which “systemic” racial issues are both legitimate and real. (He then asserts, “When someone asks ‘Does systemic racism exist?’ our answer should not be ‘yes, of course!’ or ‘no, of course not!’ but ‘What do you mean by “systemic racism”?’.”)
In contrast to Shenvi’s approach, Baucham advocates for what reader Jeremy Mueller15 calls “taking an issue that isn’t explicitly addressed by Scripture and making it a Scripturally binding issue. It binds the conscience of the believer to fall in line with one person’s conclusion from Scripture, though there’s no explicit biblical warrant for doing so.” This is doctrinal overreach.
Baucham addresses the topic of Black Lives Matter in a similar vein. On the positive side, he rightly points out the plethora of problems with the BLM organization (officially recognized as the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation). He rightly points out that Christians shouldn’t partner with, identify with, or promote the Global Network Foundation. He is also right in asserting that no one should be “bullied or pressured into using the phrase ‘black lives matter’” (223). One can oppose racism, prejudice, and discrimination without adding the BLM hashtag to his public statements.
Where Baucham errs, however, is in lumping the Global Network Foundation with the larger BLM movement: “To be clear, I oppose BLM and have refused to even say the phrase. Moreover, I think the movement (and by extension, the phrase) is a Trojan horse that poses a clear threat to the witness of the Church” (216, 217).16
This statement represents a failure to recognize that the Black Lives Matter movement itself is highly decentralized, similar to the pro-life movement. One cannot visit the website for National Right to Life and claim that all pro-lifers adhere to the beliefs and practices of that one organization. Similarly, one cannot visit the Global Network Foundation’s website and claim that all those involved in the BLM movement adhere to its beliefs and practices. (I have previously explained the differences between the BLM movement, the organization, and the slogan at The Christian Post.)
In reality, it is possible for faithful Christians to believe in ideas like hegemonic power, white privilege, and institutional discrimination17 without being unscriptural.18 Furthermore, followers of Christ can use the phrase “Black lives matter,” and consider themselves a part of the BLM movement, all while condemning the Global Network Foundation specifically—and do all of that without a drop of Marxist blood or a sliver of heresy in their bodies.
To say otherwise is to force extrabiblical prohibitions on others—requirements that give an appearance of wisdom in their asceticism (“Do not speak, do not write, do not invoke”), but only constitute a self-imposed morality based on human precepts and teachings. Such an approach, while giving lip-service to the sufficiency of Scripture, actually undermines the sufficiency of Scripture in practice.
Not Together for the Gospel
Perhaps the best way to summarize my thoughts is to provide a brief comparison. I would like to draw attention to how both Voddie Baucham and Neil Shenvi have responded to one individual in particular: church planter and hip-hop artist Shai Linne.
Baucham quotes Linne once on page 54, and three times on page 166. All four quotes are taken from an article Linne wrote in 2020 for The Gospel Coalition. Baucham’s disagreement with Linne leads him to unequivocally label Linne as an “evangelical SJW” and part of the “CSJ movement” (166). Since the premise of Fault Lines is that CSJ is a “worldview” (xii) which must be “[opposed] in the most forceful terms” (132), it is clear that Baucham believes Linne’s theology has been compromised.
In contrast, consider Neil Shenvi’s perspective. In his review of Linne’s book on ethnic unity, The New Reformation (which includes the aforementioned Gospel Coalition article as an appendix), Shenvi says the following:
Though I strongly appreciate The New Reformation, I suspect that Linne and I do indeed differ on several issues. . . . [But] I emphatically do not want the church’s unity to be grounded on political consensus rather than on shared doctrinal commitments.
The language Shenvi uses in that last sentence is important: he has similar (if not the exact same) differences with Linne that Baucham does, but he clearly states that those differences are political—not doctrinal.19
The reason why Baucham ultimately fails in his categorization of Linne (and, perhaps, others he critiques in Fault Lines20) is that he has equated political differences with theological differences. He has conflated secondary issues with primary issues. In his (right) desire to expose the dangers of CRT, he has spread his net too wide, condemning beliefs, statements, and positions that are neither prohibited by Scripture nor inherently Marxist.
Conclusion: Motives and Methods
In order to successfully hit his target, Baucham needed a carefully calibrated rifle. What he chose instead was a pump action shotgun, the unfortunate result being a lot of collateral damage. In attempting to preserve the body of Christ, he has inadvertently injured it with friendly fire. In spite of Baucham’s good intentions, Fault Lines exacerbates the church’s disunity on matters of racial justice.
This is especially tragic, considering what many proponents of Fault Lines assert—i.e., that Baucham’s intentions weren’t to create division but rather to diagnose it and call for doctrinal and ecclesiastical unity. I can agree with that assertion: I believe Baucham’s intentions were, by and large, genuine and pastoral. How sobering, then, that his motives were overrun by his methods:
Dubious citation practices.
Perpetuating a false narrative about Resolution 9, based on rumors and uncharitable speculations. This narrative involves 1) turning Stephen Feinstein into a liar (since Feinstein himself says he is not the victim of any nefarious activity on part of the 2019 Resolutions Committee), and 2) committing libel against the members of the Resolutions Committee by insisting that they perpetrated a “deliberate act of duplicity” (141)—which contradicts the testimony of key players in the process.
Poor rhetoric that fails to reach across the political fault line.
Binding the conscience of others with extrabiblical prohibitions.
Baucham is right when he says, “Our problem is a lack of clarity and charity in our debate over the place, priority, practice, and definition of justice” (5). Indeed, the body of Christ could benefit from more books that offer greater clarity and charity in this debate. Alas, Fault Lines fails to offer either in any meaningful or lasting way.
ADDENDUM #1: as an alternative to Fault Lines, I recommend Engaging Critical Theory and the Social Justice Movement, a booklet co-authored by Neil Shenvi. This short volume (under 30 pages of actual text) is a great primer for those unfamiliar with the topic, and a helpful recalibration for those lost in the weeds. You can download a free PDF of this booklet here. Additionally, Neil Shenvi’s website provides a wealth of material on books and topics related to the dangers of CRT and CSJ.
ADDENDUM #2: this review was heavily vetted prior to its publication. Nevertheless, should any inaccuracies be henceforth discovered by my readers, I am willing to make additional edits as needed, and post the nature of any significant changes here for reference.
Baucham’s intentions are further explained in an interview with The Christian Post: “My goal in writing the book is my love for the bride of Christ and my belief that there is a threat to her. . . . This is a wolf. And my job as a shepherd is to fight off wolves.”
There is much that is praiseworthy about Pastor Baucham’s position. To quote from a review of Fault Lines by Danny Slavich, “Baucham tells a powerful personal story of grace, redemption, and excellence. He movingly honors his mom and her sacrifice for his success in the middle of his heart-cracking remembrances of the crack epidemic. He shares the power of the gospel to convert him and call him into ministry. Baucham emphasizes the critical aspects of any thriving community. Rightly, he explains that no community will thrive without intact, healthy families headed by fathers at the helm of the home. Rightly, he explains that community excellence will shrivel insofar as it de-emphasizes the relentless pursuit of education. Rightly, he explains any community or society that applauds and protects those who kill its children (born or unborn) will find itself applauding and protecting a culture of death that leavens like poison into its very heart.”
Pastor Jones’ review of Fault Lines is far from a hit piece, as evidenced by the following additional quotes: “I am thankful for an exhortation for Christians to consider the worldview and dangers that occur with CRT and its advancement in popular culture”; “Dr. Baucham’s ministry has greatly blessed my soul and the souls of many of my friends”; “I continue to reference his writings and sermons because he is biblically and theologically sound in his teaching and writing”; “[R]eading and listening to Dr. Baucham is always insightful, even if I disagree with his trajectory or conclusions at times”; “I appreciated the depth of his knowledge on the topic and found myself resonating with a lot of his concerns.”
Not only is this is a misquotation of MacArthur, it also represents Baucham’s tendency to use terms like “Critical Social Justice,” “Critical Race Theory,” “Intersectionality,” and “Antiracism” interchangeably, further confusing the issue.
To date, I have found no promises from Baucham or Salem Books to reprint the book with the necessary corrections. (Neither Baucham nor his publisher were available for comment in preparation for the publication of my review.) If anything, Salem Books has further exacerbated the situation by completely denying that Baucham “misquoted sources and fabricated quotes,” even though Baucham himself has confessed otherwise.
There are additional problems with the blocked text on page xvi. For a more detailed analysis, see two articles (here and here) by Garrett O’Hara. These articles are particularly helpful, not only for their thoroughness, but also for coming from someone who was a part of the initial launch team for Fault Lines, and who originally wrote a positive review of the book. O’Hara’s critiques are the “faithful…wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6), not the bitter gripes of an opponent.
I have limited myself to quotes from Stephen Feinstein, but there are other testimonies to consider as well. For example, Trevin Wax has commented on the inner workings of the 2019 Resolutions Committee (of which he was a member). Even Tom Ascol, who has shared serious criticisms regarding the details of Resolution 9’s passage, still asserts, “I am confident that the Resolutions Committee did not intend to deceive Southern Baptists.”
Nevertheless, those prone to view the final draft of Resolution 9 as a gateway for CRT contamination of the SBC would do well to read Christian apologist Neil Shenvi’s post “Thoughts on SBC19 Resolution #9 on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” and especially his comments under the section heading “So what’s the benefit of Resolution #9? Why did you recommend it?”
Pastor Feinstein was gracious enough to preview this section of my review before I published it. In our email conversation, he concurred that my representation of the matter was fair. If anything, he wanted to reiterate that a common denominator among those suspicious of the Resolutions Committee is that “not one of them is willing to talk to any of these individuals [Walter Strickland, Trevin Wax, Curtis Woods, or Keith Whitfield],” choosing instead to “create a false narrative…[which] is not the Christian way.”
For those unfamiliar with the acronym, SJW stands for “Social Justice Warrior.” This term, when used by conservatives, typically carries a pejorative tone.
I could see this line of argument being more effective if Baucham was attempting to show how easy it is to argue a trend from one incident—an example of sarcasm, showing that “his side” could do it too if they wanted. However, that’s not what he’s doing here.
This is evidenced in part by the partisan public response to Fault Lines: those who praise its scholarship and rhetoric are typically those already on Baucham’s political side, and those who critique the book’s scholarship and rhetoric are typically those already opposed to Baucham’s political position. If anything, his book has served to further ostracize—rather than convince—those who disagree with him.
On page xviii of Fault Lines, Baucham says, “I have benefited greatly from the work of people like Neil Shenvi…[whose writing] is thorough, insightful, and much-needed in these times.”
Lest one might think Pastor Slavich is soft on CRT, he is explicitly clear in the article quoted above about the numerous fallacies of CRT. For example, he says, “CRT reduces all discourse to the politics of power and identity,” and that it “renounces the existence of universals.” Further, CRT literature appears at times “to have no end game other than a total eclipse of Christian morality.” Similarly, “the LGTBQ+ rights movement has become wrongly conflated with the Civil Rights movement in much of the CRT literature.” Slavich also rejects the CRT notion that “voices on the margins…have an authority that amounts to a veto of other perspectives.” He adds, “While in the frame of CRT it might be sensical to speak of ‘truth’ with personal possessive pronouns (‘my,’ ‘your,’ ‘their’), it is logically and biblically nonsensical to speak of truth in this way.”
Mueller makes it clear that he doesn’t necessarily “disagree with brother Voddie's critiques of critical theory and ‘critical social justice.’ In fact, I think some of his diagnoses are accurate and fair. Namely, his claim that the secular world and the academy are trying to systematically dismantle Christianity and Christ’s church through critical theory tactics (208) is a fair judgment.”
I actually follow a practice similar to Baucham’s, in that I don’t append my public statements with the BLM hashtag (as it is so easily misunderstood among my fellow conservatives).
“Institutional discrimination” is, I think, a better term, as it avoids the CRT baggage associated with the phrase “systemic racism.”
In fact, Scripture itself provides commentary on the systemic practice of privileged people (such as the rich) oppressing underprivileged people (such as the poor): “The rich rules over the poor” (Proverbs 22:7a); “Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?” (James 2:6); “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. . . . Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:1, 4).
It should be noted that Shenvi’s review of Linne’s book is a decidedly positive one. He goes so far as to say books like The New Reformation are “crucial” in helping the church determine “which issues are non-negotiable and which issues should be held with an open hand.” He also says that few books on racism are “as solidly biblical, gracious, and unifying as Shai Linne’s.” (For the record, I agree with him.)