Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality in the Southern Baptist Convention: Doubling Down (Part 1 of 4)

Todd Benkert’s recent piece on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality (CRT|I) at SBCVoices.com is helpfully clarifying in at least three ways. First, Benkert straightforwardly admits that both he and others within the Southern Baptist Convention are using Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Benkert indicates they are not merely using the language of CRT|I, but its concepts, and intentionally so. Second, Benkert admits that these individuals are using CRT|I despite the fact that CRT|I is “dangerous.” Third, Benkert mounts a defense of CRT|I and the infamous Resolution 9, which he believes speaks of CRT|I in positive fashion. He would not change anything about Resolution 9, and does not believe it should be rescinded. Indeed, he believes doing so will actually set the SBC back in terms of “reconciliation work.”

Although Benkert attempts to take a middle way in his post, positing CRT|I as both an analytical tool and a dangerous ideology, his examples of using CRT|I as an analytical tool exemplify why CRT|I is such a dangerous ideology. This observation is not meant to impugn Benkert‘s motives. Nevertheless, some (not saying this is true of Benkert), seem unaware of how far down the ideological rabbit hole they have gone. This post series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) will attempt to highlight some of the difficulties with doubling down on CRT|I in response to recent posts and podcasts pointing out its problems.

For all the talk of listening, a good number of those who continue to promote CRT|I are not hearing the help that others are trying to provide. In the weeks and months leading up to now, we have heard stern warnings about CRT|I, not just from Founders Ministries and its writers, but from others like R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Owen Strachan. Those interested in the defense of the Christian faith, like Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer, have approached the issue through apologetics, bolstering the work already done by Ratio Christi, Stand to Reason, and famed apologist, William Lane Craig. And yet, otherwise fine individuals persist in pushing CRT|I. Why?

The appeal of this method is to be found in its overlap with advocacy for anti-racism work. As a deliverance of common grace, CRT|I is said to provide insight into the plight of man regarding racism. And, since supposed analogue to the adoption of elements of CRT|I exists with respect to other disciplines, such as medicine and science, the argument for using CRT|I seems to be sealed. Yet, this approach leaves something to be desired. The disanalogous elements between science and CRT|I, for example, abound. Science is not devoid of worldview considerations, for one thing. And in medicine, we generally are not making moral judgments as to justice and injustice, and even if we are, those judgments must be measured by the Bible, and not merely by a vague notion like, ‘all truth is God’s truth.’ So the idea that Christian critics of CRT|I are fundamentalists (in the worst sense of that word) with no regard for the doctrinal category of common grace is, quite simply, a straw man. The category of common grace need not entail a free-for-all.

One of the difficulties of using CRT|I is that its diagnosis of the sin of racism results in adopting unbiblical solutions for that sin. The reason for this is simple. CRT|I is grounded in views of anthropology and hamartiology that are antithetical to the Bible. They stem from sociology, not Scripture. Thus, the problems CRT|I points out are problems because CRT|I reveals them to be such, and the solutions CRT|I offers are the solutions that fit those problems. The two go together. So far as Scriptural answers, and not sociological ones, are offered in response to the supposed difficulties highlighted by CRT|I, CRT|I will find more problems. The CRT|I perspective precludes Biblical answers to sociological problems. Thus we see one reason why the supposed “tools” of CRT|I lead so seamlessly to the adoption of an entire worldview. One never knows where the true problems with racism begin or end, because CRT|I is always looking to meet those problems with its own solutions, or else the ‘theory’ as a whole has failed. This is why rejecting CRT|I is, for advocates of that method, a problem in and of itself. That problem is to be remedied, once again, through the application of CRT|I. What does it mean to say that the rejection of CRT|I is to be remedied through the application of CRT|I? It means the tools of CRT|I are used to defend the tools of CRT|I. It means accusing those who reject CRT|I of racist motives, or at any rate raising suspicions.

Christians should see through this weaponized use of the racist label in light of their biblical convictions. We must, without apology, oppose even the appearance of racist motives. But we would do well to remember that false accusations, suspicions, and slander are also sinful. Those opposed to CRT|I (like those mentioned at the beginning of this post), are not necessarily opposed because they do not want to see image bearers treated as such, or because they do not believe in social causes like the fight to end abortion and racism. Rather, they are opposed to CRT|I because they believe it a hindrance to this discussion, and not a help. The argument is that CRT|I does not help with regard to opposing racism, but can actually hurt, causing even more division, because CRT|I starts from the wrong place. We should evaluate our problems in accord with Scripture, and address those problems with more Scripture. That is, those who truly care about issues of Christian unity and anti-racism would do much better to reject the “tools” of CRT|I than to unquestioningly accept them.

This matter is obfuscated by the aforementioned use of CRT|I to defend CRT|I. Once again, a defense mechanism employed by advocates of CRT|I is to apply the method to its critics through retortion. Those with questions or concerns about the method are presumed to be racist. This response not only begs the question, it seems little more than a clever attempt to shut down conversation through name calling. Because Christians are particularly susceptible to the conviction of sin and the experience of guilt (as they should be), some CRT|I advocates have, through the aforementioned response, been able to deceive them into partaking of an anti-Christ method as a whole, elevating racial concerns well above the conviction of sin that is in accord with Scripture, and using social solutions to those concerns to replace the core of the gospel found only in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ for our sins as taught in God’s sufficient word.

 

Published by Chris Bolt

Wretched sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Husband, father, pastor, seminary professor, and author.

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