The star of Christian pastor and apologist Voddie Baucham has risen substantially over the last year, an elevation tied directly to a cultural fascination with critical race theory and some Christians’ affinity for the politicized social justice movement.
At the start of his new book, “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe,” Baucham focuses on defining the terms so many are wont to throw around these days, in both pessimistic and praiseworthy ways.
Baucham, a Los Angeles native who serves as the dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia, relies on the writings of CRT co-creator Richard Delgado, who argues racism “is ordinary, normal, and embedded in society” and that it “advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class people (psychically), [therefore] large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.”
He also references the following definition of CRT from the UCLA School of Public Affairs:
CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color. CRT also rejects the traditions of liberalism and meritocracy. Legal discourse says that the law is neutral and colorblind, however, CRT challenges this legal “truth” by examining liberalism and meritocracy as a vehicle for self-interest, power, and privilege. CRT also recognizes that liberalism and meritocracy are often stories heard from those with wealth, power, and privilege.
During a recent interview with Faithwire, the 52-year-old preacher also addressed the religious philosophies of prominent critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi, who espouses “liberation theology,” which says Christians are tasked with “liberat[ing] society from the powers on earth that are oppressing humanity” and rejects “savior theology,” which says it is the job of believers “to go out and save these individuals who are behaviorally deficient … and heal them.”
While Baucham takes great issue with these characterizations — beliefs he argues in his book suggest white people are, by dint of the color of their skin, “incapable of righteous actions on race and only undo racism when it benefits them” — he is particularly concerned with the ways CRT is finding safe haven in churches around the country.
“This is a religious movement,” Baucham said. “It has all the trappings of a religion. It has its own cosmology, it has its own saints, it has its own liturgy, its own law. It has all of those elements. And a lot of those things are very subtle, which makes them rather attractive to religious people.”
He explained that, because Christians are rightly concerned with fighting injustice, condemning racism, and promoting equality of opportunities, philosophies like CRT are appealing, even when their underpinnings are “absolutely” in contradiction to Scripture.
Baucham warned against the pull some may feel to embrace certain elements of CRT while setting aside others, taking an à la carte approach to the issue.
“Critical race theory is a worldview,” he said. “It has central tenets and everything that it does is seen through the lens of this worldview and these central tenets.”
At the core of Baucham’s concern, though, is what accepting CRT as the pathway to moral betterment says of the sufficiency of Scripture.
“We don’t need critical race theory to teach us on race, on partiality, on the sin of partiality,” he said. “I can understand if people want to say that we want to use scientific text, for example, that speaks to an issue that the Bible doesn’t speak to. The Bible is not a mathematics textbook. There’s a whole lot of things that the Bible is not, but, when it comes to the relationships between people, when it comes to sins based on partiality, the Bible is absolutely a textbook on that.”
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