A Review of “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe”
Author: Voddie T. Baucham Jr.
Publisher: Salem Books
Copyright Date: 2021
Available: On Amazon for around $24
Length: 233 pages (251 with appendices)
The church has long lived in something of a bubble where issues that rage in the secular culture hardly make a ripple within evangelicalism. The same could also be said of wars that have been fought over doctrine and practice that are hardly noticed on the street. Yet currently we are hearing terms like “Social Justice”, “Critical Race Theory” (CRT), and “Intersectionality” from all directions. You are just as likely to hear these terms on the evening news as you are from Sunday’s pulpit. What do these terms mean, who do they represent, and what are the implications of Christ’s church? These are the questions that Pastor Baucham seeks to answer in his timely work Fault Lines.
If you are one of those readers who skips over all content prior to chapter 1, please repent and begin at the beginning. If an author took the time to write it, you should take the time to read it. But in this case, Pastor Baucham’s preface (entitled Thought Line) and his introduction are essential reading to grasp the overall argument of his book. It is here where he defines key terms (like CRT and Intersectionality) and outlines their origins. If you are unfamiliar with these terms or the debate regarding Social Justice in general, these sections will be very valuable to you.
The first two chapters may seem out of place and entirely too personal as they review much of the authors personal history as a young boy and a maturing man entering the ministry. However, these chapters are crucial for this particular work. Voddie Baucham is not an ivory tower theologian, nor does he approach this issue from a perspective based only on theory. He is a black man who has seen the worst and best that the United States has to offer, and he is a pastor who ministers to real, flesh and blood people.
After establishing his credibility, so to speak, Pastor Baucham proceeds to prove that Social Justice is in fact an altogether different religion. By examining statements that the movement’s own leaders have and continue to make, Baucham notes a unique worldview, liturgy, priesthood, martyrdom, and canon that Social Justice has created for itself.
Beginning in chapter 7 and carrying on through the remainder of the book, Pastor Baucham reviews how certain individuals and organizations within American evangelicalism have responded to Social Justice and Critical Race Theory. He uses the metaphor of an earthquake throughout the entire work, but here focuses on the concepts of the initial tremors, resulting damage, and frightening aftershocks to show how and why the church seems so divided on this issue and why it is so damaging to the gospel of Jesus Christ that all claim to love and hold dear.
The book concludes with much needed hope as Pastor Baucham preaches what all need to hear: the solid ground found only in the gospel of repentance and reconciliation found in Jesus Christ alone.
Pastor Baucham’s proposition is a simple one: “I am writing to clearly identify the two sides of the fault line and to urge the reader to choose wisely” (p. 7). This is a polemical work that recognizes that a schism has already occurred within the church with two utterly different ideologies and worldviews being used to argue who is right. Pastor Baucham has zero intention of uniting these two divisions but seeks to unveil them both and reveal what they truly are so that the people of God might see and discern which side is of Christ and which is of antichrist.
As already mentioned, Pastor Baucham makes it clear that Social Justice and all of its trappings (CRT and Intersectionality) is a religion all of its own and is therefore not in the slightest bit compatible with biblical Christianity. His work seeks to unveil this monster as the Galatian type heresy that it truly is.
The ultimate division between “Christians” who uphold CRT and Social Justice and those who reject it in favor of biblical justice comes down to the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. Is the Bible sufficient to save and sanctify? The Social Justice crowd deny this blessed doctrine either by word, deed, or both. If an additional canon is required in order to show that inherent racism exists and inform how reparations are made, then the Bible is insufficient for this task because the Bible makes no mention of either inherent racism or necessary reparations.
The reader may be surprised to find other topics like abortion, the Democratic Party, COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter addressed in this work. These crimes and criminals are part of Critical Social Justice’s framework and are also noxious fruits that inevitably come from a dead tree. Pastor Baucham securely connects these matters to his main thesis and uses them to reveal the depth and breadth of the divide.
While Pastor Baucham is unafraid to name names, he is never sidetracked by erroneous reasoning. Clearly a student of logic, Pastor Baucham never assumes motive and allows the people under examination to use their own words to articulate their positions and reasoning. His humility and graciousness are exemplary and makes his biblical critique sting all the more.
While this is a fine work, it is not a perfect work (a fact that I am sure Pastor Baucham would agree with). It is my desire to remain objective in my evaluation without shredding this valuable and laudable work. Therefore, I will place my single critique first so that it will not be the last taste in the reader’s mouth.
The best works of men are still the works of men – While Pastor Baucham did an outstanding job of proving that American evangelicalism is divided on this issue and that learned and trusted men stand on different sides of the Fault Line, I believe that he failed to answer the question “why?” Early on in this book (page 2!) he asks this question:
“Why are people and groups like Thabiti Anyabwile, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 9Marks, the Gospel Coalition, and Together for the Gospel (T4G) being identified with Critical Social Justice on one side of the fault, and people like John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, Owen Strachan, Douglas Wilson, and the late R.C. Sproul being identified on the other?”
He does an excellent job at describing what the problem is not. He does a thorough job of proving that these names are certainly on opposing sides of the issue. But he never actually answers the question of why.
Once he came close, almost scratching the surface of the major underlying issue:
“Gone are the days of Luther and Erasmus slugging it out over the question of original sin. Today both men would be accused of being petty (for daring to split hairs over such a theological minutia), mean-spirited (for daring to speak so forcefully in favor of their own position and against the other’s), and downright un-Christian (for throwing around the word “heresy”). I have often said, “The Eleventh Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt be nice’…and we don’t believe the other ten”” (p. 132).
Critical Social Justice was not born in the nursery of the church. It was fathered by pagans and nurtured by atheists. The reason it has been allowed into the church and why so many men of renown are on opposing sides of the issue is because the church (as a whole) no longer holds convictions. If the theme of our age is always to agree to disagree, then why can’t we apply the same to CRT and Intersectionality? After all, there’s nothing in Social Justice that denies the divinity of Jesus, the reality of the Trinity, or the promise of salvation from damnation through repentance and faith in Christ. The willingness to readily apply the erroneous principle of doctrinal triage in all matters (in particular CRT and Critical Social Justice) set these fault lines in motion long before CRT ever raised its satanic head.
It comes down to a line between those who desire unity for the sake of unity, which demands unity with the world, and those who desire unity in Christ alone. The sticky part of this unity in Christ is that we must love our brothers and sisters enough to point out when they are flat out wrong in everything.
To be fair, Pastor Baucham understands the need for Christians to lovingly call their erring brothers and sisters to repentance:
“In all these instances, we must listen to our sisters and brothers and show compassion. However, we must also remember our first commitment and tell them the truth” (p. 223).
But we must apply this same counsel to all aspects of our faith and practice. If we (the Church) loved our brothers enough to call them to repent of errant thinking (women elders, a current spiritual kingdom, freedom to choose salvation, God’s replacement of Israel, pedobaptism, word-faith mysticism, etc.) and trained them in the actual teaching of the Scriptures, then CRT would never have been given a foothold. But we (the Church) have failed in this most basic of Christ’s commandments and so it looks as if CRT is here to stay. May the reader be warned.
God has gifted His church with men who are still men – With that said, I would still most certainly recommend and encourage Christians to read this book and be edified by the labors of Pastor Voddie Baucham. I’ll give you three reasons why.
1) To inform the ignorant. Rare are the men who keep tabs on what is going on in the academy and rarer still are those who care. That is one of the things that has made Critical Social Justice so pervasive in such a short amount of time is that regular people were caught completely off guard. They don’t know what these things are much less whether they are poisonous or not. This work takes great care to make sure that any layman can understand the basic elements of these ideas so that their bankruptcy becomes obvious.
2) To exhort the strong. Because Pastor Baucham’s reasoning is biblical, gracious, and logical, this work is an exhortation to the church not only in content but also in manner. It is laudable and necessary to call out an erring brother. Truth must reign. But it is unnecessary and despicable to assume his motives and slander him. Truth must reign. This is a wonderful example of what loving rebuke and loving exhortation looks like.
3) To bind up the broken. This work can be a gut wrenching read as you lament over brothers and sisters who have taken in this satanic bait. But there is hope. The gospel of Jesus Christ reconciles ALL sinners who repent to Christ Himself. And if we are bound to Christ, we are then bound to each other. If you are weary of the fighting, this work will encourage you to press on and see the fight through. Victory is certain, but only in Christ.
“I have heard a mantra lately that rings hollow in my ears: “There can be no reconciliation without justice.” When I hear that, I want to scream, “YES! AND THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS THAT JUSTICE!”” (p. 229).
This is a timely and necessary book that I cannot recommend highly enough. Are there portions I would have written differently? Of course. But I also recognize that I am not capable of writing anything on the subject of Critical Social Justice that would be as comprehensive and accessible as Pastor Baucham’s work. I therefore give thanks to Christ for Voddie and thank him for writing this book. I also encourage all Christians everywhere to read this book now.
“I hope this book helps better equip you to be “a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). I also hope to embolden you to pull back the curtain and expose the wizard, call out the boy who cried wolf, proclaim that the emperor has no clothes, and any other metaphor you can think of for shedding light on these fault lines. Not so you can defeat your brethren in an argument, but so that you can engage them with the hopes of winning them. Love your brothers and sisters enough to contend with them and for them” (p. 231).
Soli Deo Gloria!