Earlier this month, the Founders Ministries, a ministry within the Southern Baptist Convention, released a cinedoc titled “By What Standard? God’s World…God’s Rules”. This documentary, produced by David Shannon (aka. “Chocolate Knox”) and essentially hosted by Tom Ascol, takes you on a tour of recent politically-driven events plaguing the SBC. At the root of this ordeal is the same egalitarian mindset and intersectionality plaguing our nation – in politics, educational institutions, and grass-roots society. This especially manifests itself in the feminism movement and Critical Race Theory.

It’s About to Get All Woke Up in Here!

The documentary opens with Michael O’Fallon, founder of Sovereign Nations, sitting down with an agnostic and an atheist, both of whom were once highly involved in the new atheist movement. In the course of their conversation, they state that this kind of tactic is exactly what they would do if they wanted to bring down the SBC. As one of them said, “Make ’em woke! It’ll eat itself from the inside.” Yes, these two men who are not Christians, properly recognize the destructive nature of wokeness, both in society and in the Church.

The Issues

What follows is a brief look at the issues being “debated” in the SBC that the documentary covers.

Complementarianism. Complementarianism is the view that men and women are equal in dignity, as both are made in God’s image, but nonetheless have unique roles and responsibilities that complement one another in both the family and the Church. Some are saying there’s a direct connection between the historically orthodox view of complementarianism and misogyny; that is, it’s complementarian theology that has led to sexual abuse. How one can honestly come to this conclusion is beyond me. Complementarianism has been the status quo for how long now? All of a sudden there’s a sexual abuse scandal in the SBC and the first thing people want to point to is complementarianism? Maybe it’s the result of the presence of a watered down gospel and the failure to practice church discipline. Yeah, that sounds like a better starting place to me. Personally, I think this ordeal is being utilized as a tool to attack the biblical doctrine of complementarianism in order to implement egalitarian practices in the Church, such as opening the door for women serving in the pastoral role, a role that is reserved for men (1 Tim. 2-3; Tit. 1).

One of the strongest critiques of egalitarianism making its way into the church came from Summer White who essentially called out Christians who have an egalitarian mindset as implying that God somehow got lazy when it came to making woman as a helpmeet to her husband and carrying out the high responsibility of keeping the home together. In our day, such a woman is looked down upon as “merely a housewife”. This isn’t to say that a woman can’t work outside of the home. The point is that our culture has, by-and-large, pushed the woman out of the home to the neglect of the home. The egalitarian mindset is that women can and should do all that a man can do, which, as Summer said, “that message is: your full potential is to be a man.” On a similar note, Tom Ascol rightly called out a panel discussion on the subject of women in the Church as failing to address the high calling of a woman, as laid out in the Scriptures, to serve alongside her husband in the cause of the kingdom of Christ as a wife and a mother (see Prov. 31; Eph. 5; Tit. 2; 1 Pet. 3).

Critical Race Theory. Critical Theory, which is rooted in Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, essentially approaches the social and political arenas with an emphasis on power structures. In short, the Have’s and Have Not’s or the Oppressors and the Oppressed. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is Critical Theory applied to racial divides and the laws that come out of or influence such racial division.

Disciples of the late black liberation theologian, James H. Cone, have spread his message and taken up leadership roles within the SBC. A large portion of the documentary surrounds Cone, his followers, and the SBC resolutions regarding CRT. In essence, the same things we hear in politics and society, such as “white privilege” and “you’re a racist because you’re white and whiteness is about power,” are being espoused by influential figures in the SBC.

In the documentary, Dr. Glenn Sunshine, author of Why You Think the Way You Do, provides a scholarly explanation of the historical and intellectual roots of Critical Theory. He notes that it was influenced by this idea of creating a counter-hegemony, a new ideology to be brought about by the intellectuals and the proletariat that would essentially turn the tables of power in favor of those who are currently deemed “oppressed”. What began as an ideology of oppression in the context of economics – specifically, workers vs. employers – would eventually take hold in the larger social arena. The idea is to get as many societal groups to think themselves oppressed so as to overthrow the so-called oppressors. One can easily see how Critical Theory essentially amounts to a theory of revolution.

How to Weed It Out

Yes, wokeness is a cancer and it must be weeded out. Otherwise, it will continue to spread and kill the body.

At the root of the problem is a lack of commitment to biblical authority. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that those who consider themselves woke would also consider themselves adherents of biblical authority, but simply saying it doesn’t make it so. This is something that must be observed, not merely heard.

The SBC has been here before. The SBC experienced a liberal, Neo-Orthodox takeover during the 20th century but experienced a conservative resurgence in the late 1970’s. The root problem today is the same root problem back then – a lack of commitment to biblical authority. Cultural acceptance and the spirit of the age is the influential power here, not God’s word. The talking points may be different, but the spirit is the same. The conservative leaders must do what was done in the 70’s: address the issues head-on (the material cause) while at the same time emphasizing a return to uncompromising commitment to biblical authority (the formal cause). This documentary is a much needed start, but there’s a lot of work left to be done.