Southern Baptist Convention Passes Resolution on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality

An objective look at the strengths and weaknesses of the SBC’s new Resolution on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.

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The Southern Baptist Convention, of which my own church is associated, held its annual meeting this last week. One of the resolutions on the docket this year at the Convention was Resolution 9, titled, On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Reading this resolution, although it could have been conveyed more strongly and does contain a few problematic points, it does to a point take a biblical stance (to a point, that is). Yet, it has not ended the issue by any means.

For those who may be unclear about what is Critical Race Theory (CRT), it first emerged in the 1980s in several law schools as an offshoot of Critical Theory, a neo-Marxist philosophy grounded in the Frankfurt School and its methods are drawn from Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. CRT is a postmodern theory that teaches that institutional racism exists within every structure of society and that these structures are intrinsically designed in such a manner so as to protect and preserve “white supremacy” and “heteronormative” behavior in western culture. Therefore, every structure in society—including the family and the church—must be deconstructed. Further, CRT does not rely on factual statistics or objective evidence to support the theory, rather it relies on anecdotal evidence and personal experience. Intersectionality is the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, religion, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group which creates overlapping  and interdependent systems of discrimination and disadvantage. In intersectional thought, white Christian males are always at the top while the more interconnected social categories one has, the more they have apparently been oppressed and therefore, the more valuable their opinion. For example, a gay middle-eastern Moslem woman has a weightier opinion than a straight Moslem man and both have a weightier opinion than a white Christian man.

The strongest denunciation of CRT in this resolution is the Sixth Resolve which says:

RESOLVED, That we deny any philosophy or theology that fundamentally defines individuals using categories identified as sinful in Scripture rather than the transcendent reality shared by every image bearer and divinely affirmed distinctions.

That is, the Sixth Resolve is a categorical rejection of tools that put people into skin color groups, using information categories to make things better. It would have been good if the resolution had led with this and if there had been a clearer denunciation of CRT and intersectionality. There are a few cracks, however, that could lead to major fissures in the future. For example, the Second Resolve is rather weak, saying:

RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks.

This is the worst section of the resolution because the Convention has officially endorsed the use in churches of “critical race theory and intersectionality… as analytical tools.” Yes, it says that such should be “subordinate to Scripture,” but the fact is, CRT and intersectionality are opposed to Scripture. The apostle Paul says, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Cor. 10:21). A system that is in direct opposition to the teachings of Scripture cannot be used at all—even in a subordinate manner. No one would suggest taking the Hajj to Mecca in a manner that is subordinate to Scripture or adopting the teachings of yoga in a manner that is subordinate to Scripture. One cannot hold onto a broken tool that is no longer sufficient for the purpose for which it was designed. There may be an off-chance that such a tool could help in another situation other than that for which it was designed, but why would anyone try something that is broken that could make things worse when we have tried and true incorruptible tools in Scripture? A broken system like CRT and intersectionality cannot be used to analyze anything, let alone come up with a solution to the problem.

This is brought out in the Third Resolve which, although the Sixth Resolve is the strongest denunciation of CRT, this is the strongest affirmation of Scripture alone:

RESOLVED, That the gospel of Jesus Christ alone grants the power to change people and society because ‘he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6).

This resolution certainly tips in the right direction but there are some problematic points that could lead to problems down the road. This may be a resolution but that does not mean the discussion is over by any means. Southern Baptists must be more vigilant now than ever in order to avoid the integration of CRT and intersectionality into church practice. The full resolution, On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, may be read on the SBC website (Read the Resolution).

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