Racism and Critical Race Theory Part 3, Biblical Investigation

Volume 27, Issue 3, March 2021 Part one in this series on racism and Critical Race Theory (CRT) was an introduction to the current conversation, while part two addressed past roots and present areas of social unrest. This part will provide a biblical investigation of CRT, identify three major ways that CRT is having a negative impact on evangelical Christianity, and part four will offer a response drawn from Scripture.  Biblical Investigation of CRT We now turn our attention to investigate the claims of Critical Race Theory, racism, and social justice in light of Scripture, including how unbiblical answers color our understanding of the gospel, the church, and the Scriptures. The question must never be if an ideology is popular or trending, but whether it stands the test of the Word of God.  Looking at the big picture, we can quickly see the contrast between the CRT worldview and...

Reading While Black, African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope by Esau McCaulley

The recipient of Christianity Today’s 2021 Book of the Year award, Reading While Black, enters the Social Justice/woke debates via hermeneutics. Esau McCaulley, a Black priest in the Anglican church and professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, contends that Black Christians often approach and interpret Scripture differently from others due to their lived experience. While the statements of faith found in Black denominations are largely orthodox in theology, nonetheless Black theologians often find themselves “thrust into the middle of a battle between white progressives and white evangelicals” and not fully at home in African American progressive circles (p. 5). McCaulley recognizes and promotes a fourth “thing” he calls, “Black ecclesial interpretation (BEI).” It is this fourth thing the author wants to explain and promote (p. 5). While acknowledging that the Word of God gets the final word, the author writes, “What makes Black interpretations Black, then, are the...

By What Standard, God’s World. . . God Rules by Jared Longshore

Eight authors contribute to this work published by the SBC Founders movement and dedicated to critiquing Critical Race Theory (CRT) in light of biblical understanding on Social Justice. Several authors explain CRT including excellent materials from Voddie Baucham and Tom Ascol.  Ascol lists three problematic principles of critical theory (pp. 22-23). Identity – we are not who we are as individuals but our identity arises from the groups to which we belong. Duty – Under CRT our duty is to work to liberate oppressed groups—which amount to any group except straight white males. Experience – Our lived experience far outweighs objective evidence and reason. Bauchan links CRT directly to Cultural Marxism.  In contrast to Classical Marxism, which is an economic ideology that leads to an uprising of the masses to overthrow capitalism (pp, 32, 88), Cultural Marxism is concerned with cultural injustice. Cultural Marxism can be traced to the...

Diary of a Pastor’s Soul by M. Craig Barnes

M. Craig Barns offers this fictionalized depiction of a pastor nearing retirement looking back over his years of ministry. Barnes, is currently the president of Princeton Theological Seminary and a professor of pastoral ministry. Coupling his 37 years of pastoral experience with stories from an untold number of pastors he has ministered with and taught, gives him plenty of material to compile a realistic look at the life of a pastor. The storyline is of a 68-year-old pastor who has served at the same church for 28 years and plans to retire in 12 months. The book is comprised of weekly entries in his diary. Subjects covered are the typical encounters, experiences and ponderings that pastors face in church ministry: difficult members, sermon preparation, troubled souls, heartaches, joys, disappointments, unrealistic expectations, faulty ambitions, the privilege of preaching and yet, the challenge of trying to present the twins of beauty...

Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers

Alisa Childers was well grounded in orthodox Christian beliefs when she began attending a class at her local church led by a progressive pastor. “Progressive” is the contemporary word for “emergent” as in the Emergent Movement led by Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, Tony Jones and others, earlier in the 21st century, which has been absorbed into much of evangelicalism today. By whatever name, progressive Christian leaders seek to deconstruct long-held and cherished essential doctrines and replace them with liberal views and doubt. Childers’ involvement in the class nearly upended her faith but, rather than become another scalp for progressive teachers, she dug in, did copious research and ultimately found her faith strengthened. She writes this book, not only to tell her story but to offer insight, a way forward, and resources for others being drawn into the progressive camp. The author demonstrates how progressive Christianity attacks...

Broken-Down House, Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp

Paul Tripp uses the metaphor of a house, desperately in need of repair, and about to collapse, to describe our sinful, fallen world.  Christians are dwelling in this broken-down house; how is it that we should live?  The author states his thesis clearly: So, that’s what this book is about.  What does it look like on a practical level to live well in a broken-down world that is being restored?  What does it look like to live a restoration lifestyle—to live productively in a broken place?  What does it look like to function as one of God’s tools of restoration? Tripp gets lots of things right in this book, covering numerous subjects such as God’s sovereignty, anger, the need for activism, community, and grace.  The reader will resonate with different themes based on their particular needs or place in life.  My favorite discussion wrapped around hope and waiting.  “Hope...

Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice, An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis by Scott David Allen

Scott Allen is president of the Disciple Nations Alliance which exists “to equip the church to rise to her full potential as God’s principal agent in restoring, healing and blessing broken nations” (p. 250).  Allen’s goal is to demonstrate that social justice, or what he terms “ideological social justice,” (pp. 3-4, 38, 43-44) is not the same thing that Scripture describes as justice.  It is important, the author maintains, that we use the same dictionary if we are going to be able to communicate (p. 1) and, unfortunately when it comes to social justice, that is often not the case.  The author describes biblical justice as living out the Ten Commandments in our everyday relationships (pp. 23-24), while ideological social justice “is based on the belief of dominant groups who create systems and structures which marginalize others and promote their own interests” (p. 38).  (A helpful chart outlining numerous...

Racism and Critical Race Theory Part 2, Social Unrest

Volume 27, Issue 2, February 2021 In Part One of this series on racism and Critical Race Theory (CRT), we examined the current conversation, including many of the terms now in vogue, to try to get a handle on the worldview of critical theory.  As stated at the close of that article, once a person accepts CRT, it becomes the lens through which he or she views and understands all social justice issues, and in many ways all of life in Western culture.  According to critical theory, only the woke will be able to grasp the meaning of racism, intersectionality, whiteness, and all related concerns, and only by becoming woke is there hope for our society and churches.  We need to shine the light of Scripture on these theories in order to discern whether they are congruent with the Word of God. But before doing so, it would be...

The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray

Nineteenth Century English pastor Charles Spurgeon is well-known to Christians today, especially those of the Reformed persuasion, who see him as a champion for Calvinism.  Others point to his passion for “soul-winning,” still others love his sermons and highly quotable comments.  Murray endeavors to move beyond what is commonly known about the influential pastor (this is not a biography, the author tells us, p. 5) to discuss the man revealed in his sermons—the forgotten Spurgeon (p. 4).  This work actually centers around three major controversies in Spurgeon’s ministry. The first, early in his pastorate (1855-1856), involved Calvinism, as Spurgeon preached it, and Arminianism which he strongly opposed.  He desired to reintroduce and strengthen the theology of Augustine, Calvin, and the Puritans, and in his early years met with considerable success—and powerful opposition.  It was during these years that Spurgeon’s reputation as a warrior for biblical truth, as well as...

Racism and Critical Race Theory Part 1 The Current Conversation

Volume 27, Issue 1, January 2021 Among the most pressing issues of our times are those surrounding systemic racism. I write this even in light of an extremely important Presidential election and being engulfed in the Covid-19 pandemic because, as important as these other two issues are, racism has become so divisive and explosive that it has the potential of shaping our world for years to come. Volumes have been written and spoken on this subject from every persuasion, and my comments will likely add little.  However, as issues concerning racism are not only cultural but also spiritual, it is important that we examine how racial debates and disagreements are affecting Christians and the church.  In trying to get a handle on the recent social unrest and the factors behind it, we will approach the subject in four steps: Examine the current conversation, including an understanding of terms being...