Book Review: Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham
Christianity and Critical Social Justice: These two things cannot co-exist.
This is the primary message of Voddie Baucham’s latest book Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe. Just as the San Andreas Fault creates a stark dividing line between two moving tectonic plates, so a dividing line is splitting down the middle of Christian Evangelicalism, creating a divide between those who embrace the modern ideas of social justice and those who don’t.
Baucham says “The Critical Social Justice Movement is vast. Its influence is broad and deep within evangelical circles. And as that influence grows, it is causing some among us to make alliances we never would have forged in the past. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are afraid to be called racist or end up ‘on the wrong side of history’ on the race issue. Unfortunately, some have found themselves on the wrong side of the present.”
The book is divided into several sections, including Baucham’s personal story of living as a black Christian in America, a comparison of justice as defined by Scripture vs. the modern culture, numerous examples of Evangelicals embracing Critical Theory, and data-based analysis of systemic racism in America, among other things. Woven throughout the book is the same overall warning, that North American Christians need to reject the modern Critical Social Justice movement as antithetical to Scripture, or else it will have toxic and heretical results.
Importantly, Baucham goes to great lengths to differentiate between justice as outlined in the Bible and the social justice movement of our day that is founded upon the ideas of Critical Theory and Intersectionality. Baucham advocates for justice, to be sure, but only the kind that Scripture advocates for. He states “Beyond confronting falsehoods in general, our pursuit of justice must also be characterized by a pursuit of truth. Much has been said recently about seeking justice, and I could not agree more. However, we must be certain that we pursue justice on God’s terms.”
As outlined in the book, there are many serious problems with Critical Social Justice that make it incompatible with Christianity. For instance, Critical Social Justice:
- Functions as a worldview that threatens to overtake one’s Christian worldview
- Undermines Scripture as the source of truth, and instead sees the voice of marginalized people as sources of truth
- Wrongly characterizes people by their group identity instead of their personal character
- Undermines the power of the gospel as the means to transform lives
Each of these claims, among others, are fleshed out at length in the book. Baucham does a good job of citing primary source material to avoid making straw-man arguments and uses straightforward logic and biblical interpretation to make his points. As someone who is well-researched on these issues myself, I see very few flaws in his efforts.
It should be noted that Fault Lines is written specifically to the Church. Baucham is not interested in correcting the beliefs of unbelievers, but freeing believers from being tainted by worldly ideas. His challenge is specifically to Christians to reject the ideas of Critical Social Justice and instead remain steadfastly anchored to the truth of God’s Word. To demonstrate the importance of this, he cites numerous examples of evangelical Christians adopting a Critical Social Justice mindset and scrutinizes those ideas against the Bible. This analysis demonstrates that the ideas of CSJ are not able to co-exist with a Christian worldview.
Perhaps this paragraph best summarizes the books material: “This book is, among many things, a plea to the Church. I believe we are being duped by an ideology bent on our demise. This ideology has used our guilt and shame over America’s past, our love for the brethren, and our good and godly desire for reconciliation and justice as a means through which to introduce destructive heresies. We cannot embrace, modify, baptize, or Christianize these ideologies. We must identify, resist, and repudiate them. We cannot be held hostage through emotional blackmail and name-calling. Instead, we must ‘see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ’ (Colossians 2:8).”
In Fault Lines, Baucham pulls no punches. He names names and specifically points out the errors that he sees taking over the Christian Church. On the whole, I wholeheartedly agree with him. I think his logic is sound, his biblical exegesis orthodox, and his cultural analysis astute. The book is sure to ruffle some feathers, but it seems a necessary thing to do as Christian evangelicalism is indeed headed for a major schism. I think he’s right about that. A break is coming in the not-too-distant future within the North American Church, and it will be over the issues related to social justice. These beliefs matter significantly, and so we need to understand them and weight them against the Word of God. If you’re interested in a book that will help you consider these things for yourself, Fault Lines is for you.