When his country came calling, Frank Capra had already won three best directing Oscars in five years—”It Happened One Night” (1934), “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936), and “You Can’t Take It with You” (1938)—and had directed the incomparable “Lost Horizon” (1937) and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939). He could certainly have rested on his laurels, but he was too patriotic an American not to assist in World War II.
Too old to fight on the battlefield, Capra waged his war in the editor’s booth, constructing a series of seven propaganda films known collectively as the Why We Fight series, filmed between 1942 and 1945.
The purpose of the series was to explain to American troops, and later civilians, what the war was about and why we desperately needed to win it. For Capra, the series also functioned as a counterattack against the Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will” (1935), directed by Leni Riefenstahl.
“Triumph of the Will,” explains Capra in Chapter 17 of his autobiography, “The Name Above the Title” (1971), “fired no gun, dropped no bombs. But as a psychological weapon aimed at destroying the will to resist, it was just as lethal.” Capra needed to find a way to warn Americans of, and strengthen their will against, the dangers of Nazism, but how could he do so with the limited time and budget given him?
The answer came to him in a flash. He would organize the series around “one basic, powerful idea”: “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). But how was he to convince his audience that the fascists of Germany, Italy, and Japan were intent on crushing the freedom of the world?
“Why the enemy himself proved it . . . in his acts, his books, his speeches, his films . . . Let the enemy prove to our soldiers the enormity of his cause—and the justness of ours.” The Why We Fight films are arguably the finest propaganda films ever made because, rather than demonize his enemies or reduce them to straw men, Capra allows them to speak for themselves—to present their goals, presuppositions, and worldview through their own books, speeches, and films.
Voddie Baucham also could have rested on his laurels. He holds a BA in christianity and sociology from Houston Baptist University, an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a D.Min. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an honorary DD from Southern California Seminary, and has done post-graduate work at the University of Oxford.
A successful pastor, author, conference speaker, and church planter who, together with his wife of more than 30 years, has homeschooled nine children, Baucham is currently the dean of the School of Divinity at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. It would have been easy and convenient for him to stay out of the culture war brewing in the evangelical church.
Instead, he has gifted that church with his own brave version of the Why We Fight Series, “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe.” Like Capra, Baucham believes firmly the truth will set us free, there is a quickly spreading danger in the world that could tear apart evangelicalism (and America), and the best way to expose that threat and let the truth shine in is to allow the social justice warriors themselves to explain their goals, presuppositions, and worldview.
The ‘Thought Line’ of CRT
The connection I have drawn here between Capra and Baucham is not merely illustrative. The Nazis share a core principle with the advocates of critical race theory (CRT): Both assume that the world is composed, not of individuals made in the image of God and in possession of intrinsic value and worth, but of ethnic-racial groups of strong/weak, master/slave, oppressor/oppressed, victimizer/victimized that exist in perpetual opposition to one another. Notions of good and evil, virtue and vice, morality and sin are to be measured by what group you belong to, not by divine, transcendent and objective standards.
With the clarity of a good expository preacher, Baucham begins by tracing what he calls the “thought line” out of which CRT arose. It all starts with Karl Marx’s conflict theory, which views “society as a group of different social classes all competing for a limited pool of resources such as food, housing, employment, education, and leisure time.” From there, Antonio Gramsci added the notion of hegemony to show how a dominant group or class preserves its control “not only through coercion, but also through the voluntary consent of both the oppressed and their oppressors to maintain the status quo.”
The critical theory that emerged from the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Marcuse, Lukács, etc.) expanded Marx and Gramsci into philosophy and the social sciences in order to uncover structural (or systemic) inequities between groups and then “identify the people and institutions that could make changes and provide practical goals for social transformation.” Critical theory, like Marxism before it and CRT after it, is more than an analytical tool for locating and repairing injustices. It is a worldview that presupposes conflict theory and Gramscian hegemony, treating individuals as members of groups and society as inherently and perpetually broken and in need of constant reengineering.
Lest Baucham’s “thought line” appear to be a straw man argument that puts words in the mouths of CRT advocates, he (like Capra) buttresses his analysis by quoting one of the centers of CRT, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs:
CRT, by its own admission, is not a tool, but an ‘analytical lens’ that takes for granted a whole set of unproven assumptions: that racism is endemic to America; that the sin of racism is corporate rather than individual; that white privilege and white supremacy are rampant and are upheld by marginalizing people of color; that liberalism, meritocracy, and the rule of law are inherently white and racist.
As Baucham spends the rest of his book demonstrating, most of these claims are not only demonstrably false, they contradict a biblical worldview that says we are all creatures made in God’s image but fallen and depraved.
Baucham does not plunge immediately into his analysis of CRT. As one of the tenets of CRT is that the narratives of people of color trump objective, unbiased statistical evidence, Baucham first shares his personal story of growing up black in America as well as his post-conversion experiences ministering in both black and predominately white churches. By doing so, he makes it clear that he is not a “sellout” who wants “to curry favor with white people” or that he does not understand “the black perspective.”
He knows from the inside the problems of race in America. Nevertheless, rather than accept the common but false “perception that police are killing unarmed black men,” he marshals statistical evidence to prove that the “idea that America has a race-based police brutality problem is simply not true.”
Throughout his book, Baucham provides hard evidence to explode claims of systemic racism and white supremacy in America. But his book does far more than that. Like Capra, he carefully unpacks the full structure of CRT that has allowed such false narratives to thrive, even and especially in evangelical churches and institutions that should know better.
Over the course of three incisive chapters, provocatively but accurately titled “A New Religion,” “A New Priesthood,” and “A New Canon,” Baucham exposes CRT’s “cult of antiracism,” a new religion with its own theology, lexicon, and gospel that “offers no salvation—only perpetual penance in an effort to battle an incurable disease.” To make his point more clearly, he breaks down CRT’s new religion into six steps modeled on the days of creation. Here are Baucham’s capsule summaries:
- W hiteness: a set of normative privileges granted to white-skinned individuals and groups which is “invisible” to those privileged by it.
- White Privilege: a series of unearned advantages that accrue to white people by virtue of their whiteness.
- White Supremacy: any belief, behavior, or system that supports, promotes, or enhances white privilege.
- White Complicity: White people, through the practices of whiteness and by benefiting from white privilege, contribute to the maintenance of systemic racial injustice.
- White Equilibrium: The belief system that allows white people to remain comfortably ignorant.
- White Fragility: the inability and unwillingness of white people to talk about race due to the grip [the other five] exert on them (knowingly or unknowingly).
None of Baucham’s definitions are exaggerations. All, in fact, are based directly on standard CRT books and textbooks by such writers as Peggy McIntosh, Robin DiAngelo, Latasha Morrison, and Ibram Kendi.
More importantly, none has been proven by actual evidence. They are assertions grounded in a worldview that is antithetical to a biblical understanding of creation and fall, sin and repentance, grace and salvation.
Saving the Church
Yet, as Baucham shows through copious quotes from key evangelical leaders, many of these assertions have slipped their way into churches and institutions that claim the Bible as their final authority. Here, for example, is a quote from Jim Wallis: “Without confession to the sin of white racism, white supremacy, white privilege . . . people who call themselves white Christians will never be free . . . from the bondage of a lie, a myth, an ideology, and an idol.” Or consider David Platt, who, at the “2018 Together for the Gospel Conference . . . delivered a message from Amos 5, then repented in tears for his white privilege, silence, and inaction.”
Perhaps most disturbing of all is a panel discussion where Tim Keller declared “If you have white skin, it’s worth $1 million over a lifetime. . . . [White people] have to say, ‘We don’t deserve this!’” Keller, Baucham explains, then “goes on to clarify that white Christians must conclude, ‘I am the product of and standing on the shoulders of other people who got that through injustice . . . the Bible says you are involved in injustice . . . even if you didn’t actually do it.’”
To be clear, Baucham does not indulge in name-calling or character assassination in his book. He treats his fellow evangelicals with respect and love and never suggests that they are Marxists in disguise.
On the contrary, his very purpose for writing “Fault Lines” was to help his fellow evangelicals understand the necessary presuppositions upon which CRT rests and how those presuppositions are antithetical to scripture. By so doing, he hopes that evangelicals like Wallis, Platt, and Keller who sincerely desire to see racial harmony in our country will not be taken captive by the deceptive lies of the CRT worldview.
I hope all evangelicals who care passionately about truth and justice will read this book with an open mind and heart. Baucham has done his research. “Fault Lines” not only presents objective evidence to refute charges of systemic racism and targeted police brutality against blacks, it uncovers the logical flaws in the claims of CRT.
The church must free itself from CRT’s consciously anti-biblical theology, anthropology, and sociology before it is too late. If we don’t, we will find ourselves trapped in the kind of circular reasoning Baucham exposes again and again: “Systemic racism is the cause of disparities. If you doubt that, it is because you are a racist who wants to protect your power and keep those disparities in place. This has to be true because, if you were not racist, you would know that the cause of disparities is . . . racism” (155).
Thankfully, Capra and Baucham (and Jesus!) are right: The truth will set us free.