When The Gospel Isn’t Enough
When discussions of race come up among evangelicals, you can be sure that two things will happen.
First, the threat of critical race theory will be raised to that of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers.
What is CRT?
It’s an academic framework for understanding how race works in society.
In essence, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race.
While I find this a reasonable conclusion based on history and reality, it has become the one stop shop for all your culture war needs.
The most progressive proponents of CRT will be quoted and it will be made the terror of good white people just trying to get by.
The second thing that will happen is that “the Gospel” will be proclaimed as the only cure for racial injustices.
What damn fool Christian would dare argue against that precept?
That would be me…
Let me introduce you to R.L. Dabney.
Robert Lewis Dabney was one of the foremost Presbyterian scholars of the American South in the 1800’s.
His theological works are still cited today among Reformed and Presbyterian thinkers.
The Banner of Truth has this glowing bio of him today.
R,L. Dabney was also Stonewall Jackson’s chief of staff during the Civil War and wrote astounding “biblical” defenses of slavery .
The hoary old Banner left that part out…
R.L. Dabney was a racist and proud of it…and believed that God affirmed him in it.
He has had a lot of company in American history.
Did R.L. Dabney believe in and preach the Gospel?
You would be hard pressed to deny that he did.
The Gospel itself simply wasn’t enough .
It’s not enough today, either, as corruption, abuse, idolatry, and yes, racism are still part of the church.
Every scoundrel and abuser we’ve chronicled here was supposedly a proponent of the Gospel.
The Gospel is just the beginning…it is the seed from which transformation into the image of Christ comes…without that transformation it is no more than intellectual assent to a precept that has no more power than the precepts of CRT.
There are no easy answers to the cultural ills that have plagued us for centuries and plague us today.
CRT can help define problems, but it has no solutions…or poor ones, if offered.
The Gospel contains the seed of transformation that lead to solutions, but the seeds are too often killed by planting them in the ground of political gain and culture wars.
When the day comes when we desire transformation by the Gospel through the Spirit…then we may change the world.
Until then…rage on.
Well put Michael.
As I have stated to my wife and others, a jerk before conversion may still be a jerk after conversion. Barring transformation of course.
I know a few believers who spouted off racist garbage despite being believers. Or take people like me who, although I rarely spout off racist garbage to others, still harbor hateful feelings and beliefs. That would make me a “passive-agressive racist”. No white hood except one on my head and heart. I don’t like it, and I have to make an effort to not harbor the hate.
As far as CRT goes, I don’t know much about it, and it’s not my hill to die on (some have said that wokeness and CRT will destroy Christianity…I say bulls#$%).
Ok rambling done.
We all have stuff that’s being transformed…it’s part of the sanctification process.
Mental assent to doctrine alone changes little if the heart doesn’t follow.
I have some thoughts on this whole woke nonsense as well, but I’m probably in enough trouble…
Absolutely true about transformation and sanctification. Takes effort on our part to allow the Spirit to change us in areas that need changing. Hey, if I don’t want to change being a jerk on the interstate to other’s, then God’s not going to force me to be nicer unless I allow him.
As far as wokeness and CRT, not my hill to die on, and if someone at work brings up CRT, I don’t bat an eye because I don’t believe it’s gonna destroy us. That’s just me and I won’t criticize others for debating CRT or wokeness if that is where they think they are being used by God.
There are progressives who use conclusions that they draw from the CRT framework to say ridiculous and potentially dangerous things.
These people have ridiculous and potentially dangerous things to say on a lot of topics and they are irritating and offensive.
They have a mirror reflection the far right who do the same things.
For some reason…we give the extremes all the attention and try to use the dumbass things they spout as ammunition in the war.
We end up with dumbasses creating and controlling the narratives and discussions.
It makes good ratings, but a wretched society…
Excellent! As a history teacher I am asked a lot lately if I teach CRT. I always respond by asking what they believe CRT means. I can’t believe the answers I receive! Just this week a parent responded, “It destroys family values.” Another person said, “Things are better now for African Americans, so why remind us of how things used to be.”
The blinders need to come off those who deny they are racist!
I wonder if we need to be more careful about identifying people as racist.
Perhaps the issue is more an incredible ignorance about American history…or any history for that matter.
Still, you have to have thick blinders on not to see we still have racial issues…
My last statement was a blanket statement and I should have been more careful. Speaking for my own experience would have been more accurate.
I was raised by a racist father whose father was a member of the KKK. Those beliefs were hammered into my head on a regular basis growing up. I have mentioned here before, that I have an African American son-in-law and grandchildren. It becomes personal when I hear things that have happened to them.
While I should be careful who I label a racist, I have come to the conclusion that my days of remaining silent have ended.
Totally understood…and well said.
Glad you’ve been here for these years with us…
Bob – You da man!
The Gospel as the kingdom action of God in and upon his creation enacted by the eternal and incarnate Son is definitely enough.
The Gospel as the way to get to heaven is definitely not enough and it is not the Gospel. So — I’d probably argue that Dabney’s rendition fell short of the THE GOSPEL. He had a version of Christian religion, many of which have plagued humanity.
The Gospel is an announcement of the thing DONE — that thing being new creation.
But I don’t want to sidetrack a fine discussion especially since I’ve been screaming about that demonic false gospel since June 2020 and before when I didn’t know it had a name.
“The Gospel is an announcement of the thing DONE — that thing being new creation.”
I love that and on that we agree.
However, that is sure not what is taught (along with all the ramifications of it) in 95 % of American evangelicalism.
I’ll just say this…excluding present company.
The creation of CRT as the enemy of everything holy and “the Gospel” as the real cure…is basically a way to keep the status quo and silence those who believe in biblical justice.
Its a dog whistle. A way of showing gang affiliation. Its a politicians quick and efficient way of saying “Hey white people, I’m for you!”
As far as the Gospel being the proclamation of DONE!…
I wish. Often in word, never in deed.
What we can’t do, however, is ignore the warnings of men like Dread whom we know and trust as a reliable witness of the gospel.
There is mercenary foolishness on both sides…
Dread is a wonderful man of God. A true brother in Christ. Right-wing politics have created a blind-spot for him though. I still listen and engage because I do value what he has to say, but he may have embibed too deeply from that well.
I would say that the Gospel correctly applied is enough. Becoming a Christian means change…if a person isn’t changing (be it racism, adultery, a bad temper), then I begin to wonder if they really have understood the life-transforming message of the Gospel, I do wonder about their salvation. I know it doesn’t all happen in an instant, but significant change should come through embracing Christ. The American church makes it very easy to “receive” Christ, but we often leave out the part about being changed by Christ. You just can’t stay the same!
CRT contends that race is central to every human exchange.
Make no mistake — CRT intends to dismantle western civilization.
It is a faith system founded on the belief that society is organized by white people and for white people and it must be destroyed.
It is a neo-Marxist critique.
It is not a mere tool of analysis it is an instrument of liberation from the liberal system.
It is a full activation of the black race as the instrument of revolution. There is nothing neutral about it.
It seeks a dictatorship of the anti-racist.
There is much more —
Average isn’t looking good, but I’ll give you partial credit for the early influence of Marxism.
Saying “no” is hardly a response from someone who constantly claims he doesn’t read about these things.
“Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” CRT an Introduction p3
The liberal order
Neutral principles of constitutional law
All of which are considered to be foundational to the American system OR systemic racism — incrementalism is what has been evolving in America as chattel slavery and Jim crow were dismantled.
I agree with your “no’s”.
There are times when I wish face-to-face conversation where possible. I too believe Dread is a godly bother in Christ, but I couldn’t disagree more with his definition of CT.
So…let me unpack this from what I see.
There are people who have used CRT to develop bizarre and extreme applications of what they believe it reveals.
I see them on social media…follow some of them to try to understand them.
I see them as a small but loud minority who have neither the ability or grit to do anything but muck up Twitter and vandalize places where they won’t be held accountable.
Of all that I fear, I fear these sissies the least.
There have been fringe elements who wanted to overthrow the present order since order came…it takes a lot more than these people have to pull it off.
Why did you write about it if there’s nothing to see here?
How many stories of those who have fallen prey to race activism through no real fault of their own do you want me to post… because I can keep you busy on that point.
Here’s one look at the legal system
I write about it because the extremes on both sides are taking away from dealing with actual issues.
Should we confront these extreme views?
Perhaps there is a balance to be found here as I’m far more worried about totalitarians on the right…who are gaining elective offices and have big media reach.
I will look at that case…
Do it… I shall expect you to define your term … as carefully as I did…
Both left and right totalitarians were tried in the 20th century as you know…
Lessons learned are oft forgotten.
I would definitely prefer to talk about the Gospel itself
The beauty and power of the act of God in Christ reconciling the world is far more interesting than arguing over our varied victim statuses.
But numerically the lefties are winning the dead body parade but no one in America knows it…
For Michael I will leave a prophetic utterance that turned out true.
Hindenburg received telegraph from General Ludendorff on the morn of his appointment of Hitler,
“By appointing Hitler chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time, I prophesy to you that this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe upon our nation future generations will curse you in your grave for this action.”
A true prophet
I close with this… America like Babylon has fallen… I shan’t live to see it but it is sure in the chaos of our utterly inept leadership of the last 30 years… into the abyss we go.
The kingdom of God will permit nothing less
I read that piece and it is troubling indeed.
I’m not unfamiliar with the issue as I live in Oregon…
The solutions are beyond me…I do believe that the impulses driving these matters are self destructive and self defeating.
You have reason to be concerned…we all do.
Acknowledging that is the start toward productive discussions among Gospel centered people.
Let me sign off for the weekend… I get too nutty about this stuff and can only really get people riled here so….
The GOSPEL it is … Jesus the one who took our flesh to teach us to live and to die and the one who rescued us from our Adamic fall by his glorious life… to him be honor and glory. He destroyed principalities and powers and made an open display of them. He sits in the heavens with the Father and laughs while the nations become his inheritance and the ends of the earth his possession. How? It is as hidden from us as his glory was veiled in human flesh from the mob that rent him. I cheered… I am sure I did… or would have… and yet he found me.
Well done Dread…appreciate you…
My maternal grandmother’s parents were on opposite sides of the CRT issue. Her mother maintained that the black race just needed educating, while her father maintained that the blacks were low IQ and not educatable. History has proven her father wrong! ! !
All races have folks who can not or will not submit to being educated/informed ! ! !
Dread, thanks for that.
CRT is a college level course. It is not a catch all phrase for people of all ages learning about race in American.
People using the phrase incorrectly and then getting all up in arms about it is ridiculous.
One of my regular readers pointed me toward this index of posts on Dabney that other readers might find helpful. I only got through some of it but I was already aware of Dabney’s virulently white supremacist views earlier.
WTH, I just browsed through the article you linked to. My God, what a cauldron of kookiness and fanaticism. Dabney’s racism intertwined with “theology” is shocking. Lots of 21st century adherent s. Truly, nothing new under the American sun!
London – Bingo!
What about just every day regular folks who agree with points from both side of the aisle and who don’t go whole hog either way?
BTW, Dread did not post “his definition of CRT” on his 2:11 pm post. He quoted from CRT theorists Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Do your homework, and read primary sources. If I may:
“The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”
– Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (3rd Edition)
We are all products of our time. We tend to critique the past based on the values of today. From our vantage point, it would appear that these are universals, apparent to us, but missed by them. We would hope that these things would be self-evident, but we’ve heard that line before.
We tend to think—or hope—that we are more enlightened, and have progressed to a higher level of understanding. How many times have I heard people today criticize the doctrines of the Early Fathers while never reading their works for themselves. If you ask enough good questions, you can paint any systematic theology into a corner. Perhaps that is what Aquinas came to understand when he put down his pen and never completed The Summa.
That doesn’t mean we don’t stop trying.
Back to WHT’s link…
Back in the 1980s I knew a guy who went to a Reformed college/university.
This is a place where they dissected Reformed theology.
Even back then, his professors considered Rousas Rushdoony to be a major crank. You know, the old “stoning gays” thing, to cite just one example.
Sad that there are apparently new converts to this type of crackpot thinking in this day and age.
Crawford Gribben’s book on survivalists and Christian reconstructionism in the Pacific Northwest has been a readable primer on how Rushdoony and North and Bahnsen’s ideas have evolved in the era of Rawles and Doug Wilson in the last forty years that was published by Oxford University Press recently.
Gribben’s books on the evolution of millennarian ideas in trans-Atlantic thought and in the legacy of the Puritans have made for fascinating reading and his book Writing the Rapture surveys just how far back bad End Times novels have been written and how the pivot from postmillennialist utopian entitlement to premillennial dispensationalist angst among white guy church leaders was catalyzed in the American South by the end of the Civil War and in the New England North by World War I.
Wholesale changing eschatological outlooks in response to social engineering projects foundering is part of church history in the US, too, might be one way to put it. I’ve met a few guys who are postmil and seem to be for no better reason than that it’s not dispensationalist futurism as though the only alternative were postmillennialist dominionism.
Gribbens is an interesting analyst and author.
A former classmate at Knox T. S. wrote a review of the book you mentioned. We took a few classical philosophy and literature classes together. I remember him as a careful thinker, although, based on his review, we have gone in different directions. Although, one could make the case that we are both seeking different forms and variations of monasticism and have found that expression, at least to some degree, in what has been dubbed , “The American Redoubt.”