In The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis Schaeffer issued a clarion call warning evangelicals about the coming crisis over truth and Scripture. Schaeffer saw the necessity of truth rooted in Scripture to a faithful Christian testimony in a relativistic world. It was a watershed moment, meaning that whichever side a person chose would set them on a trajectory. One trajectory would affirm the full truthfulness of Scripture setting a faithful course of life and ministry. The other trajectory would start with compromising on the inerrancy of Scripture and ends up in full heresy.
The image of a watershed is helpful because where the river splits the two streams remain close, but their final destinations are worlds apart. In the same way, the two sides in a theological dispute often appear close, but the danger is the direction the two camps are heading in. History proved Schaeffer right, as those denominations which compromised on the inerrancy of Scripture are now unrecognizable and not Christian in any meaningful way. He was no prophet, just a student of history as he wrote, “It is interesting to note that there was a span of approximately eighty years from the time when the higher critical methods originated and became widely accepted in Germany to the disintegration of German culture and the rise of totalitarianism under Hitler.” He rightly noted these types of watershed moments have happened before. The pattern is clear, some seek to compromise with the world in apparently insignificant ways, but this sets the individuals and their followers on a course which leads to utter ruin.
Fastfoward to today, and it clear evangelicals are facing a similar watershed moment. Last week the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) passed a statement, Resolution 9, which endorsed the use of critical race theory and intersectionality as intellectual tools. To be fair, the resolution does not fully embrace these tools, as it affirms Scripture as the sole chief authority. Yet the resolution does take a step toward affirming the ideologies as positive tools Christians should use. Why is this troubling? Because both critical race theory and intersectionality were born out of modern Marxism, often called cultural Marxism. These two instruments cannot really be separated from their origin as they are tools used to justify and advance the progressive agenda of our day. Marxism is openly anti-Christian, and it brings sin and chaos everywhere it goes. It is the tool of Satan to both enslave and deceive the world. What business can the church really have with such ideologies?
To put it plainly, critical race theory and intersectionality cannot be divorced from the worldview they belong to and support. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, warned:
Ideas, as we know, do have consequences, and one of the most lamentable consequences, but the main consequence of critical race theory and intersectionality is identity politics, and identity politics can only rightly be described, as antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have to see identity politics as disastrous for the culture and nothing less than devastating for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a watershed moment for the SBC. If this resolution is just a flash in the pan, then it will not impact the denomination much at all. But if this is the first step toward a greater embrace of these ideologies, then the SBC has started a sure descent toward unfaithfulness. The SBC must chose between the two paths. None of us can serve two masters.
Some may wonder why a pastor who is not a part of the SBC cares about this resolution? This is a good question. I did belong to this denomination not long ago, and I have a positive view of it. I desire the best for the SBC, for it to remain faithful. I went to the flagship seminary of the SBC and earned my Masters of Divinity. Moreover, I have a lot of friends in the SBC. I care deeply for it and its faithfulness. This is why I write today, not to bash the SBC, but to as a friend offering a warning. Church history is clear on these types of moments, and the SBC of all denominations should know this.
To my SBC friends, this is a pivotal moment in your history. I recognize that many of those people who are cautiously employing these ideologies are still faithful brothers in Christ. One can affirm Resolution 9 and be a good SBCer. But ideas have consequences. They aren’t neutral. As pastors we know this, we live in the realm of ideas and arguments. A choice sits before all Christians today, to embrace a biblical understanding of social issues, or to embrace the Marxist vision. You cannot embrace both. If you take one step to the left, it invariably leads to another. It is a watershed type decision. You cannot serve both God and Karl Marx.
We must also remember, individuals do not renounce the faith overnight. Institutions do not become apostate in a year. It happens little by little as the consequences of our ideas are lived out. It happens as people walk the trajectory of their affiliations and refuse to repent. The SBC of all denominations should know this. It was only by the spectacular success of the Conservative Resurgence that SBC turned back from theological liberalism a generation ago, only to find itself flirting with a new form of liberalism today.
I know to some within the SBC, I will never be more than a Yankee outsider, but the warning signs are clear for all to see. Theological liberalism manifests itself in new forms every generation. It finds success by infiltrating the faithful because it appeals to the perceived needs of our age. In the last hundred years, we have seen theological liberalism manifest itself and bring death in the forms of higher criticism, the seeker-sensitive movement, the emergent church, and now the social justice movement. All of these were watershed decisions, and the fallout is there for all who are paying attention. The core issue remains the same, is the Bible true and sufficient? Ideas have consequences, and the SBC stands at a fork in the road. I pray the pastors and messengers of the SBC will carefully consider this moment before the Word of God. As Schaeffer noted, embracing higher criticism eventually led to the destruction of the German people. It is my prayer that critical race theory and intersectionality do not lead to a similar destruction of the SBC.
Levi J. Secord