To say that there is division in the church on the question of critical race theory (aka CRT) is to understate in a way that only the British might appreciate. The division is deep. The division is serious. And the division shows few signs of abatement.
What is at stake is not race relations. Many (historic) evangelicals have been working in this field for centuries. While not all see it as important, and some would denigrate such moves, the point remains that there has been a Biblical evangelical voice in this area for a long time. One might point to the abolitionist Methodists in Kansas who dared go to war against Missouri. One might also point to early fundamentalists who only warned of the necessity of caution in some public situations but nevertheless entertained an otherwise full openness on racial matters.[i] The progress in this area seems generally to be in the northern parts of the U.S. (I’ve lived in the South and it is different.)
In the 1970s and 80s there was a battle against liberalism within the Southern Baptist Convention. Liberals were called out by name for their errors and heresies. In the 1990s a number of persons raised concerns about the heresies of the name it-claim it prosperity movement. This included not just the evangelists of the old latter rain style but the more modern televangelist network personalities.
Naming names is nothing new.
In Fault Lines Dr. Baucham pulls no punches. It is like reading the church fathers on the trinity question. Calling out error requires calling out those who commit these errors and then calling them to repentance. But he neither begins there nor ends there.
He begins with some personal history. You have to respect, even if you disagree, anyone who survived Watts in the late 1960s. I spent a couple years with World Impact (not in L.A.) in the mid 70s and got a snapshot of how things are. (I will just say that they are neither as bad as the pessimism of the progressive nor as open as the optimism of the conservative. But that is another discussion.) He went through tough times, was redeemed by the Lord, and has not forgotten his origins. He has not forgotten human need.
The middle section of the book, the bulk of it, is a thorough analysis of CRT along with those Christians who have made the mistake of adopting this system as a tool. He identifies the error that is this: CRT is not an analytical tool. CRT is a conclusion. CRT makes no proposals which are valuable to church life. The parent of CRT, Critical Theory[ii], presents the philosophical principles on which CRT and its siblings (e.g., Feminism and the LGBTQ+ movements) are based.
Also included in the middle portion is an analysis of BLM, Antifa, and the role of CRT in their operations. If you want to understand how CRT works just look at their materials. (Don’t watch television for thoughtful analysis. It is not there.) Read what these people have to say for themselves and take them at their word. They mean what they say.
In the end, Dr. Baucham shows us his pastoral heart. He loves the church but as a community and as individuals. He fights to protect the church from error. And he pushes the church to advance in its mission.
The suggestion that Dr. Baucham lacks empathy would seem to come from those who want something devoid of criticism. But truth rarely advances and refines apart from threats. This is the toughest love I’ve read in a long, long time.
[i] Wenger, Robert E., “Social Thought in American Fundamentalism 1918-1933,” Wipf and Stock, 2007