Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham

I was aboard a ship that was among the first to arrive in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January 2010. In a disaster that took several hundred thousand people to the grave, I observed the desolation firsthand. The scene was reminiscent of a tragic medieval battle, or perhaps would pass for a city in the path of nuclear war. What astounded me most was that the cause of this disaster was not manmade. It was not the product of war. Two subterranean pieces of our planet were at odds. They didn't line up with each other, and the effects were hellish.

Borrowing from the concept of an earthquake, Fault Lines is a book about a growing disparity in the Western world broadly and the Western church specifically. This disparity centers on the rise of Critical Theory and Intersectonality, two tragic philosophies that have recently taken the form of Critical Social Justice (CSJ). Baucham begins by exposing the roots and history of Critical Theory, sourcing them in The Frankfurt School, which espoused that structural issues in a society create disparities that need to be addressed (p. xiii). This may sound too academic, but exposing the beginnings of this worldview is of the utmost importance for Baucham, who continues to make the case that this worldview is antithetical to biblical truth and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Baucham provides helpful definitions for all the terms both he and his opponents use. Critical Race Theory, for example, asserts that racism is built into the systems of the United States, and that this structural inequity must be addressed by dismantling existing power structures to better serve oppressed classes of people.

Baucham then gives time to telling his own story of childhood and conversion, touching on the contemporary attitude toward black/white relations both inside and outside the church during his upbringing. Eventually, he dives headlong into addressing the major tenants of CSJ - from the very mouths of its adherents. This book uses heavy quotations, as Baucham strives to represent the proponants of CSJ accurately. His major assertion is that this new worldview is entirely consequential to the American mind because it functions as "A New Religion" (ch. 4). The religion, he says, is called antiracism and it bears all the necessary trademarks of religous structure and functionality.
In the same manner, this new body comes complete with its own cosmology (CT/CRT/I); original sin (racism); law (antiracism); gospel (racial reconciliation); martyrs (Saints Trayvon, Mike, George, Breonna, etc.); priests (oppressed minorities); means of atonement (reparations); new birth (wokeness); liturgy (lament); canon (CSJ social science); theologians (DiAngelo, Kendi, Brown, Crenshaw, MacIntosh, etc.); and catechism ("say their names"). - Fault Lines, p. 67
The next several chapters are given to unpacking this "new religion," and Baucham does an excellent job of deomonstrating how CSJ is not intended to be an add-on to anyone's worldview; rather, it seeks to reshape one's mind entirely. If CSJ is so dangerous, why would any Christian buy into it? Baucham shows, from recent history, surprising examples of well-known leaders in Evangelicalism who have caved under the pressure of endorsing (either subtly or overtly) this new ideology. He cautions against beginning down the dangerous road of giving credence to what he is convinced is an endless, death-bent spiral.

Dr. Baucham moves toward the end of his book by articulating the far-reaching effects of siding with CSJ. He shows that the issues of ethnicity/race relations/inequality are unbreakably tied to other downstream issues in the culture, namely modern feminism, the LGBTQIA+ agenda and the genocide of American infants via abortion. Linking arms with the CSJ movement, he says, makes one dangerously associated with these demonic movements.

He ends with a note of hope and a call to Christians (especially pastors) to think clearly and stand firmly against all forms of CSJ thought. Christians must acknowledge that we are at war, and that only submission to Scripture and the fearless promotion of the gospel and biblical justive will counter this infectious ideaology.

My Thoughts
I won't try to hide it - I love Voddie Baucham. He was on my radar before I read this book, and now I appreciate him even more. One aspect of this book that impressed me from the start was that Mr. Baucham does not rely on his personal narrative. True, he shares his own story, but he then places his story in the framework of biblical truth. This is helpful because so many voices in this broader discussion tend to rely on personal experience for their dogma. Voddie doesn't do that. He submits all human experience to God's revealed truth in the Bible.

Voddie is no academic or theological slouch. He is well-read, well-researched, and accurate in his portrayal of what the CSJ movement is all about. That's one of my favorite aspects of this book - he doesn't speculate. He takes his information right from the source. In doing this, he stands on credible ground from which to criticize; and criticize he must!
At the heart of his concern for the CSJ movement and what it represents is the conviction that "the current concept of social justice is incompatible with biblical Christianity" (p. 5). The reasons (I gathered) for this incompatibility are that...

  • CSJ abandons biblical standards for justice by adopting concepts like inherited guilt, systemic racism, and the rejection of personal responsibility for minority classes. The Bible, on the other had, commands people to not show any partiality in matters of justice due to social standing or ethnicity (Acts 10:34-35; Ex. 23:6). Rather than inherited guilt, Scripture teaches that each is responsible for his own sin, and not that of his ancestors (Ez. 18:14-20). Following the Bible's teaching also ensures the right to a fair trial, the right to cross-examination, and the necessity of credible witnesses. CSJ bypasses these timeless standards of justice to demand a verdict based on emotionalism. 
  • CSJ promotes lies. Baucham goes to great lengths to proves that the statistics, mantras, and narratives promoted by CSJ leaders are total misrepresenations of the truth in America.
  • CSJ offers no redemption. In the schemes of CSJ, all light-skinned (white) people bear sin for which they can never atone, and all dark-skinned (black) people are an oppressed class, incapable of reconciliation with whites. This is a hopeless system of perpetual guilt and shame, and according to CSJ, there is no path of true forgiveness or reconciliation. The gospel of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, offers true and full reconciliation by the merits of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:1).

Many of the thoughts and sentiments in this book were already familiar to me (though Voddie articulated them in a deep and helpful way). What was the most new to me, as I mentioned above, was the list of dangerous bedfellows Christians take on when they embrace CSJ. The issue is bigger than people of different ethnic backgrounds getting along. CSJ is part of a larger family tree of destructive ideas that have historically been opposed to Christianity. Once someone buys into the paradigm of oppressed/oppressor, there is no limit to how far away from righteousness and sanity they may go. Here is just one example: Currently, transsexuals claim the status of an oppressed class. If a professing Christian is really serious about equity according to critical theory definitions and thought, shouldn't he go beyond pursuing ethnic equity and start standing for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ movement, as well? This theorhetical Christian could reply, "Sexuality issues are not the same thing as ethnic issues. The Bible speaks clearly regarding human sexuality." True, it does. But the Bible also speaks clearly about justice and partiality as it pertains to social standing and ethnicity (see above), but those passages have been ignored or minimalized by compromising Christians. The same principle applies to modern feminism and pro-choice ideaology. The Christian who links arms with CSJ may think they are being humble, understanding, and even focused on the gospel, but they have started down a path with no dawn.

One area where I would have loved to see more attention given is his call to action at the end. Certainly, he did a fine job by recentering his readers on the gospel as the only true fount of forgiveness and life. He charged us to boldly confront these issues and to not give ground. The book ended with me wondering, "How do I best implement what I've learned in my home and church?" Perhaps that was Voddie's design and intention.
Recommendation - 5/5
I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who needs firm footing regarding the ongoing issue of race relations in America. This book is instructive, not just for issues connected to ethnicity, but to overall concepts of biblical justice and the power of the true gospel to redeem and reconcile sinners. To date, I am unaware of a more thorough and concise resource on this topic for biblical Christians.