Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe by Dr. Voddie T. Baucham, Jr., is the number one bestseller in its category in Amazon as of this writing in early August, 2021. The book was released in April, and yet it already has five thousand customer reviews, 94% of which award the book five-stars. Given that Fault Lines is not receiving the kind of major-media, saturation coverage that a bestseller might expect, many of those thousands of reviews are fueled by enthusiastic word-of-mouth.
Fault Lines deserves its phenomenal success. Don’t let its “Evangelical” subtitle fool you. I’m no Evangelical, but I will happily join my five-star review to the thousands of others. Baucham’s presentation of the history and current profile of critical theory is accessible to all readers. Even non-Christians can benefit from understanding how the majority faith of Americans is being corrupted. Finally, as a Christian, Baucham offers hope for the future. Even non-Christians can apply some of Baucham’s recommendations.
Fault Lines is one of many recent books struggling to take readers by the hand and guide them through our current cultural moment, of pupils suddenly being asked to inform their teachers of their “preferred pronouns,” of toppling statues, burning cities, and careers ruined by one suspect utterance. Fault Lines belongs on the same bookshelf as James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose’s Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – And Why This Harms Everybody, as well as Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity. Cynical Theories goes into greater detail on the roots of today’s hysteria, and its authors are Christophobic atheists who hold up a vague and unhistorical notion of “The Enlightenment” as our salvation. Douglas Murray, a former Christian and current atheist, appears to despair of any hope; rather, he’s given to dire prognostications: “The US is on the brink of Civil War;” Murray has said; the Western world is “standing on the precipice” of cultural annihilation.
Voddie T. Baucham has one up on Lindsey, Pluckrose, and Murray. Yes, Baucham recognizes how bad things are. “The United States is on the verge of a race war, if not a complete cultural meltdown,” Baucham predicts. But Baucham offers hope, and he offers healing. He finds both in Christian faith. Again, though, you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from reading Fault Lines.
Fault Lines is very reader-friendly. Lindsey and Pluckrose offer much more detailed and academic surveys of how Marxism’s twisted evolution lead to the concept of “microaggressions” and social media videos in which obese women insist that if you aren’t sexually attracted to them you are a bigot. Like those authors, Baucham also introduces his reader to influential progenitors of Woke like Antonio Gramsci, Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Peggy McIntosh, but more briefly. Clearly, Baucham exhibits the Evangelical’s zeal to reach the maximum audience with the deepest truths, while never allowing academic jargon to get in the way. This is a book you could understand even if you were reading it in a noisy and crowded subway car. Its ease of reading in no way diminishes its profundity.
Helen Pluckrose, a plump woman, has the courage and integrity to take on the excesses of extremist feminists and fat activists. Murray is a gay man who critiques extreme LGBT activists. Baucham is a black man, and a descendant of slaves. He grew up in the hood and he currently serves as dean of theology at the African Christian University in Zambia. He tackles Black Lives Matter and critical race theory.
Yes, Baucham has a Ph.D. and is a preacher and professor. But our Woke overlords judge qualifications not on training or intelligence but on identity, and on the grounds of identity, Baucham is qualified to stand head-to-head with Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. Baucham devotes 31 pages of his 251-page book to his own biography. Baucham has traced his maternal ancestry back to slaves in Alabama, Virginia, and Texas. He traced his paternal ancestry to a slave in North Carolina. He was born to a teenaged mother who married his teenaged father in a “shotgun wedding.” The marriage didn’t last and Baucham has no memories of being in an intact family. For decades, that lack of a father and a family life “haunted” him. His cousin Jamal was shot to death by a fellow drug dealer while he was selling crack. His absent father freebased cocaine in Baucham’s presence, was shot five times in a crack-related incident, and eventually succumbed to the damage cocaine did to his heart.
“I grew up poor, without a father, and surrounded by drugs, gangs, violence, and disfunction in one of the toughest urban environments imaginable … I didn’t just survive, I thrived! Not because of government programs or white people ‘doing the work of anti-racism'” but because of his mother. Baucham credits his single mother with keeping him on the straight and narrow. She did this by impressing upon him a sense of agency and accountability. He was always certain of two things: “My mother loved me, and if I got out of line, she’d kill me.” To conform to peer pressure from his black “homeboys,” Baucham purposely underperformed in school. Baucham’s mother visited his school and got him back on track. Young Voddie once wore a t-shirt featuring images of Malcolm X and Elijah Mohammad. At the time, “I was more black than Christian.” In fact, his mother was a Buddhist and he was raised as a Buddhist. He converted to Christianity after contact with a Campus Crusade for Christ staffer.
Moving to Africa affected Baucham deeply. “Most Africans would give all they had to get to America.” He realized he didn’t have to, because he was American. He also realized that his ancestors were enslaved by fellow Africans. Those sold west were relatively lucky. “Thank God they were not sold to the Arabs! The Arab slave trade lasted more than thirteen centuries and … few Africans sold to the Arabs even survived.” Life in Africa taught Baucham that “culture does matter … not all cultures are equal … Christian culture has produced the highest levels of freedom and prosperity … in the world … transforming culture is a laudable and worthwhile goal.”
These are remarkable statements that defy Woke at every turn. Baucham rejects cultural relativism that says that, say, a culture where girls undergo FGM is no worse than cultures that do not practice such mutilation. He refuses to join in Woke demonization of the West. And he says that “transforming culture is a laudable and worthwhile goal.” Many on the left condemn calls for conforming to Western civilization, capitalism, or middle-class values as “imperialism.” Rather, the larger culture must change to accommodate minority culture. If black kids are not doing well in school, that is because of racism, and the racist culture must be dismantled. Objective truth and the scientific method are denounced as white supremacist. Black children are presumed to possess superiority at music, sports, and storytelling about their own life experience. These “Afrocentric” skills must become the new standard, in place of “white” excellence at math, science, or literature.
“Our pursuit of justice must be characterized by a pursuit of truth,” Baucham says, citing Leviticus 19:15. With that and other Bible verses in mind, Baucham interrogates the many lies of Black Lives Matter, a movement founded on lies. Baucham is fearless; his sentences advance like a warrior marching into battle. His weaponry consists of facts. Never does he quiver or hesitate or apologize, as some white critics might do, for fear of appearing “racist.” Baucham recognizes that there is in fact nothing racist about truth. Baucham cites the research on police shootings published by Roland G. Fryer, Jr, the National Academy of Sciences, David J. Johnson, and the Washington Post. There is no epidemic of racist white police officers killing unarmed black men. In fact “it is white people who are actually shot at disproportionately high rates when the number of interactions with police is tallied up.”
BLM counters that numbers alone do not tell the full story, because, they say, white cops murder black people under circumstances that would never result in the killing of a white suspect. On June 11, 2020, John McWhorter published “Racist Police Violence Reconsidered” in Quillette. Quillette is a fine publication, but this important piece should have appeared in McWhorter’s home publication, The Atlantic, which has a larger circulation. Perhaps it was too controversial – that is, too truthful – for The Atlantic. McWhorter cites case after case in which whites died in police custody in circumstances that parallel the death of blacks in police custody, starting with a comparison between the deaths of George Floyd and Tony Timpa. Baucham makes the same sort of comparisons. Baucham cites numerous whites, adults and children, who died after brandishing fake guns, as did the African American child, Tamir Rice. Baucham similarly walks through misperceptions around the police shootings of Philando Castile, Michael Brown, and Breonna Taylor.
Baucham says that antiracism is a new cult, in competition with, and infecting, Christianity. Like Christianity, antiracism has its own versions of sin, law, gospel, martyrs, priests, means of atonement, new birth, liturgy, canon, theologians, and catechism. Baucham offers examples of each of these. Antiracism is unlike Christianity in that “antiracism offers no salvation;” only “perpetual penance” and “incurable disease.” One thing antiracism does not have, does not value, and indeed condemns, is objective fact arrived at through traditional scholarly routes like the scientific method. “The quest for objectivity is tantamount to a quest for white supremacy.” Baucham mentions one influential Woke classic, Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 essay on “white privilege.” Baucham points out that McIntosh’s exercise “is a classic example of grievance studies in that it was based entirely on assumptions, anecdotes, and personal observations, and completely devoid of scholarly research.”
The religion of antiracism directly contradicts Christianity in multiple ways, and yet Evangelicals are abandoning Christianity and embracing Woke. Except for passing mentions, Fault Lines does not mention Catholicism, but Catholics, too, are abandoning central Christian teachings in favor of critical race theory. America, the Jesuit magazine, is leading the way, for example here. Sojourners is a prominent Christian magazine. It was founded by Jim Wallis, a self-described Evangelical Christian. Unless they confess to “the sin of white privilege,” Wallis wrote, “white Christians will never be free.” Baucham contrasts Wallis’ fiat with Christian scripture, which declares that Jesus Christ frees those who believe in him and repent of their sins.
Baucham points out that antiracism concocts a Kafka trap, that is a rhetorical prison where no matter what any white person says or does, his speech and action will be interpreted to “prove” that he is a white supremacist. Concepts like “white fragility” and “white equilibrium” are tools in this trap. Anyone who disagrees with any aspect of antiracism is met with “That’s your white fragility speaking” if they are white, or “That is your internalized racism,” if they are not white.
Black people’s “lived experience,” recounted in anecdotes, is sacrosanct and must be honored, and never examined. Baucham calls this “Ethnic Gnosticism,” that is, the belief that being a member of a certain ethnic group endows that group member with knowledge that no one outside the group can ever lay claim to. Ethnic Gnosticism insists that there is a “black perspective” that all black people share. If a black person disagrees with Woke, he is “broken.” Baucham, because he criticizes antiracism, is “broken.” He is not an authentic black person. The people declaring that he is not an authentic black person are themselves often white. The Woke similarly condemn, Baucham reports, black conservatives like John McWhorter and Thomas Sowell.
Be the Bridge is a self-described “non-profit organization.” Non-profit or not, its founder Latasha Morrison has done quite well. She is represented by the same talent agency that represents Olympian Simone Biles, singer Alanis Morissette, and award-winning journalist Bob Woodward. Be the Bridge hosts an online store where one can purchase a $299, eight-course “Whiteness Intensive” indoctrination “taught by a diverse group of Be the Bridge educators;” a $40 “anti-racist hoodie;” and a free webinar entitled “A Discussion on [sic] Self-Care, Lament, & Trauma for People of Color.” On its Facebook page, Be the Bridge offers a self-description. “We inspire and equip ambassadors of racial reconciliation to build a community of people who share a common goal of creating healthy dialogue about race.”
According to one Amazon review of her bestselling book, Morrison, in a directly un-Biblical manner (see Ezekiel 18:1-4), holds all whites guilty for sins committed by other, long dead white people. Conversely, she does not hold blacks guilty even for contemporary crimes against non-black people, or against their own kin. “She holds Whites’ skin color against them and calls them privileged … plenty of white people have not been born into privileged homes and have been labeled derogatory terms such as ‘white trash.’ Where is her call for Blacks to grieve black gang violence, violent crimes done against non-black people, or the cost of the abandonment of black children by their fathers that leads to societal evil affecting all people? Did I miss where she called for the Blacks whose ancestors were slave owners to lament over their part in slavery? Or for all the African-Americans whose ancestors played a part in selling/trading their countrymen?”
Baucham says that Be the Bridge it is a “go-to resource” for Evangelicals. Baucham, like the above-quoted Amazon reviewer, faults Be the Bridge for an unbiblical view of guilt. “Morrison’s work … is replete with references to generational guilt.” Baucham quotes the “rules” for white Be the Bridge members. Whites must never speak to non-whites as if they, the white people, are equal. They must always speak and act as inferior, submissive, guilty, and tainted. They must not share their understanding, they must assume themselves guilty no matter what their intentions are, they must never refer to objective facts, and they must remain silent and passive when being publicly cursed, insulted and accused of racism. Truth in advertising demands that Latasha Morrison retitle her work, “Be the Punching Bag.” Indeed, Be the Bridge commandments for how white people are allowed to behave are reminiscent of requirements for the accused at Maoist struggle sessions.
Baucham mentions Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor and author Jarvis J. Williams. In a shocking YouTube video, Williams claims or insinuates that white people have never been lynched, that white people invented slavery, that white people were never enslaved, and that the Confederate flag can mean only one thing to those who brandish it: white terror against black and brown people. Williams said he was so afraid when he saw a Confederate flag in Tennessee that he had to leave the area. In fact if Williams were open to actual facts, I could show him archival photographs of lynched whites, I could show him numbers proving that these lynchings of white Italian and other immigrants, including German immigrant Robert Prager were no one-offs, that white people have in fact been enslaved, in their millions, by Muslims, that there were white slaves in the US, see, for example, here, that the indenture system of whites was slightly better than, but in many respects comparable to, slavery, and that there are abundant images of African Americans wearing, flying, or otherwise embracing the Confederate flag, which suggests that not all black people interpret it as he does. One response to Williams’ comments on YouTube reads, “I’m Hispanic and brown when I see a confederate flag I think Dixie, a war that was won for freedom, the dukes of hazard and gone with the wind! Im not offended never have never will ! I recognize history and learn from it! I don’t dwell in it !” Finally, it is very disturbing to hear a Christian preacher insist that no whites were ever lynched, given the notorious history of the lynching of the Jewish man Leo Frank.
Baucham details behind-the-scenes politicking around critical theory and the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention. Concerned Baptists put forward a resolution on critical race theory and intersectionality. The original document boldly asserted that “critical race theory and intersectionality are founded upon unbiblical presuppositions descended from Marxist theories and categories, and therefore are inherently opposed to the Scriptures as the true center of Christian union.” The rest of the document was equally forceful and clear. Politicking watered the document down and that watered down document was all the public saw. Baucham fearlessly names the names of those who promoted Woke at the expense of the Bible, and engaged in what he calls a “deliberate act of duplicity.” It is never more clear than in this account why Baucham titled his book Fault Lines. Clearly, his own life will be quite challenging because of this book’s forthrightness. As in the wider society, congregants at Christian churches are being separated by an ideological divide as difficult to mend as the fault line ripped into the earth after a large quake.
Baucham speaks to black people as his own mother spoke to him. Baucham’s mother emphasized personal responsibility. Baucham, too, emphasizes personal responsibility. Like so many other conservatives, he cites the importance of fathers. He also emphasizes the importance of education and he is not afraid to talk about the statistics that indicate that African Americans commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes, and that most of those crimes are committed against fellow African Americans. Baucham points out the folly of many voices, like that of Lebron James, who insist that African Americans are afraid to leave their homes because white people might hunt and kill them. Rather, African Americans are much more likely to commit a violent crime against a white or Asian person than vice versa. “Black people are overwhelmingly more likely to victimize white people than the other way around … a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black assailant than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a cop.” Black people themselves support the presence of police in their communities, and black voters and black politicians participated in tough-on-crime measures during the crack epidemic that devastated black communities.
Baucham believes that the deadliest destroyer of black lives in the US is abortion. “Though black women make up less than 13 percent of the population, they account for 35 percent of all abortions. In major cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, more black babies are aborted than born … nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics are in minority neighborhoods.”
Again, Baucham does offer hope. His hope is distinctively Christian, and it entails features that used to be part of everyday life in the West: repentance, forgiveness, starting anew, a belief in progress, a belief that all of us were created by one loving, creator God, and that we are all connected by that shared creation. Tom Holland, author of Dominion, and Douglas Murray are both atheists, and they are both astute observers who recognize that society needs routes out of resentment, recrimination, and the lust for revenge, and Christianity provided those routes. Baucham, a Calvinist, does not expect his every reader to become Christian. We must, therefore, find some way to respect these Christians traditions in a post-Christian society. Otherwise, the Pagan tribalism that Baucham labels “ethnic Gnosticism” and the no-exit, permanent struggle session mandated by critical race theory will destroy the bonds that hold Americans together.
“There can be no reconciliation without justice,” Black Lives Matter claims. Baucham replies, and the all caps are in his original reply, “YES! AND THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS THAT JUSTICE! … Antiracism offers endless penance, judgment, and fear … I am not an African. I am not an African American. I am an American, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else. America doesn’t owe me anything. America has blessed me beyond measure. If anything I owe America. More importantly, I owe my Savior, and, by extension, I owe my brothers and sisters in Christ.” What can one say except “Amen”?
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery