The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe
Voddie T. Baucham Jr.
a review by Dwight A Moody
In my column this week, I expressed curiosity as to why people are so worked up over Critical Race Theory (CRT). Now I know, having read this dramatic rebuttal of of CRT by this articulate and accomplished minister.
Unfortunately, the personal success of this poor-black-man-made-good fails to offer either a convincing argument against the social justice movements against racism or a compelling alternative strategy for combating the racism we sense in our own souls and see in our own nation.
Baucham is now the dean of a Christian seminary in Zambia. Before that he studied at schools in Texas, earning master of divinity and doctor of divinity degrees. He then worked at a series of institutions and congregations before feeling the call to move to Africa. His narrative (as he tells it) is inspiring, but gaps in his narrative and questions about why he moved from school to school before finishing his degrees left me wondering about the rest of the story.
Throughout the book, Baucham employs the image of the earthquake complete with fault lines and aftershocks. It is a powerful metaphor; but oddly Baucham never explains or describes the “looming catastrophe” advertised in the subtitle of the book. To what does he refer? He says only this: “This catastrophe is unavoidable…. Relationships are being ruined, reputations are being tarnished, careers are being destroyed, and entire denominations are in danger of being derailed” (138). This hardly justifies the title of the book!
What he does assert is the attention given to racial justice and racial reconciliation by a long list of prominent Evangelical leaders is misguided and even heretical. He names (among others) Timothy Keller, Matt Chandler, Jim Wallis, Barry Creamer, David Platt, Thabiti Anyabwile, John Onwuchekwa, and J. D. Greear.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville (what he calls Southern Baptists’ “flagship seminary”) comes in for sustained criticism; he names professor Jarvis Williams, provost Matthew Hall, doctoral student Curtis Woods, and president Albert Mohler. Especially Mohler.
All of this helps explain what I observed at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville recently: an organized campaign against CRT, a palpable disdain from the floor for the SBC establishment, and the decisive defeat of Mohler for SBC president. It also explains the arguments of a certain west Texas pastor as we stood outside during the food truck lunch hour and discussed his “NO CRT” lapel pen.
Baucham goes to great lengths to discredit the black scholars who write sympathetically about Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, and Social Justice. Their roots are in Marxism, he says. He quotes one graduate of Morehouse College: “I think maybe one of my professors was a Christian.”
Furthermore, he spends considerable space challenging the veracity of the popular narratives of the deaths of such people as Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and George Floyd. He derisively calls them “Saints” of the social justice movement. He exhibits little empathy for any black people who testify to racist or violent treatment. He gives no space whatsoever to the various benchmarks of educational, political, economic, and cultural despair that are visual to the eyes of any person. He has nothing but disdain for Barack Obama.
One curious element of Baucham’s critique of things is the way he describes what he calls the victim mentality of the black community, which (he implies) is the result of government interference in matters of community life (such as integration, housing and food subsidies, and affirmative actions and diversity training). He fails to note that all recent sociological surveys reveal that the one group that feels most aggrieved is none other than white Evangelical Christians! Isn’t this an odd turn of events!
In summary, I will say: if this book is the best the anti-CRT people have to articulate their cause and defend their convictions, they are in a sorry place. I suspect the author is a compelling, even entertaining public speaker (and preacher); but I can tell you he made no convert out of me, and I suspect he will make no convert out of you, either!!