A Theological warning: church leadership and critical race theory

While the 2021-year journeys forward and it is abundantly clear whose administration will occupy the White House; it is time to reflect on Christian leadership here in America. True Christianity is deep and honest self-reflection rooted in confessional humility. Let us explore Church leadership and examine if American evangelicalism is capable of leading the saints in these gloomy times. Where are the sound biblical leaders in America and what side of the biblical truth are they eulogizing? I intend to assess this question in light of the critical race controversy that has enmeshed this country for the past years and now will most undoubtedly be the lens through which this current administration will wield its power.

We need to first look at the pastoral crisis in America over the last century. It is no surprise that the pastorate is in decline. One out of every ten pastors will actually retire as a pastor.[1] “The profession of ‘Pastor’ is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above ‘car salesman’”[2] The negative statistics of what most pastors are suffering with and through are astronomical.[3] Mental health, physical health, and even spiritual wellness are in decay for the majority of clergy in America.[4] This naturally creates a void where determined, called, and healthy potential clergy either abandon the vocation or never pursue it in the first place. It then, naturally, is replaced with empty suits, the weak-willed, spiritually depraved and out-right charlatanism. This has been my experience in ministry. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

When I was in seminary, I was amazed at how many students, pastors, ministers, etc. were attending without purpose, call, or goal. Most seemed to be aiming at a moving target. This puzzled me, as I was not a pursuing member of the clergy, but a newly born-again Christian eager to learn what theology can be. It puzzled me as to why so many clueless prospects felt they were truly called to leadership. No one saw themselves as anything other than pastors or ministers, which by vocational logistics alone, told me that most were missing the mark. Not everyone is called to lead, that is patently obvious. Yet this did not deter most students I encountered. This permeated a false sense of confidence that I felt, at the very least, was misplaced and at the very most, was incompetent and dangerous.

It was in seminary that I came across James 3:1 for the first time; “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1 ESV). To be honest, this scared the hell out of me and further lamented my decision not to pursue the vocation of clergymen. Also, it opened my eyes to the sheer ignorance of most members of the clergy who dare to wield the word of God in a leadership capacity with little to no humility as the eternal consequences that might hold. This concept of having no fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and the penalties of misleading the flock is the true problem in the American church circa 1960 and onward.

The current state of American clergy is uneducated, unrespecting of the inerrancy of the text, and unafraid of the wrath of God. This is a catastrophic brew of influence, ignorance, and power. This is what Clergy exerts in the twenty-first century. We are now seeing this pervade in the Churches, social media, and political arenas concerning critical race theory (CRT). It is here that congregants, not church leadership, can help correct this problem and put the body of Christ back on a sound theological track.

First, and foremost, the education decline of the pastorate should be concerning to all. Historically, the vocation of clergy came with a rigorous regimen of academic study, theological research, and years of internships. This was the practice of most religious denominations for centuries. That is no longer the case for the majority of the many denominations that festoon the religious ethos in America today. It used to be a prerequisite for leading a church was a sound grasp of theology. Today, less than forty percent of clergy have a basic education in theological studies.[5] Fast track bible colleges and bias educational honorary degrees are ruining the church leadership leaving unqualified personnel in the pulpit. Most congregants do not even know the educational rigor of their church leadership and the fallout is damning.

This leads to bad theology in sermons and Bible studies that overflow into the communities. This brings us to our current debacle. The majority (not all) of Church leadership in America today is ill-equipped to combat the evils of CRT. Make no mistake, CRT is sinful, evil, and the theological pernicious enemy of the modern church. Churches that adopt this kind of liberation theology will destroy sound doctrine in their sermons, divide their congregants, and bring reproach upon the pastoral office. This has eternal consequences that will be called to answer for on the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36). Right now is the best time to rejuvenate that healthy fear of the Lord that the Bible advocates.

United-Methodist-Church-LGBT

R-Rated Religion has published several articles criticizing and explaining CRT (liberation theology). This is not the purpose of this article. If you are looking for more information on CRT, we strongly recommend  New Discourses and the great work of Dr. James Lindsey. He is not a theologian but he has the best perspective of the ills of this ideology. We also recommend the “By What Standard” documentary that is free on YouTube: By What Standard? A Founders Cinedoc – Founders Ministries. This was produced by founders ministries and shows a scary account of how this doctrine trickled into the SBC in recent years.

The point of this article to warn theologians, pastors, ministers, elders, etc… of the dangers of allowing this damaging ideology into your doors. Here is a current list of prominent church leaders who are either promoting this tripe or entertaining its potential:

Pastor Paul Tripp
Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and 9Marks. 
Russell Moore the President of ERLC. 
Jonathan Leeman of 9Marks.  
Thabiti Anywabili, Pastor of Anacostia River Church. 
David Platt, Pastor of McLean Bible Church. 
Matthew Hall, Dean of Boyce College. 
John Onwuchekwa, Pastor of Cornerstone Church
Curtis Wood of SBTS
Jarvis Williams of SBTS
Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church. 
Danny Aikin, President of SEBTS.  
J.D. Greear, Pastor of The Summit Church and SBC President.[6]

Let me share an anecdote that sets a good picture of the kind of genuine compassion that leadership might have that is so dangerous. When I was in seminary, I took a number of great theological courses that taught sound God-centered doctrine. One class was small, and I had a couple of older female black pastors in the class whom I had great affection and admiration for. In one class we drifted into racism and the Bible. This turned into racism and the culture which rabbit trailed into slavery, segregation, white privilege, etc.…Needless to say, I pushed back and one of them commented on the issue that I found profound. This particular person was an educator and senior pastor of a fair-sized, metropolitan, established back church. She ended with this sentiment about her role as a pastor in the modern age, in a racist society; “That is why my job is to encourage and support my congregation to overcome these obstacles and let them know their worth.” (not exact words but close). Do you see the theological flaw? Do you agree with this statement?

I was stunned by this admittance of a well-known, seasoned leader, who has been given the authority to lead a flock. The job of the clergy not self-esteem, nor is it to excuse bad behavior to bring about change; it is the duty of the church leadership to extoll, teach, and admonish biblical truth, despite the affections, misgivings, or racial inequalities of his/her congregates. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV). Truth, in spite of circumstances, is the basic tenant of Church leadership. Without biblical truth, the pulpit is a dangerous weapon of disinformation, heresy, and blasphemy. Everyone, more so Church leadership, will be asked to give an account for themselves (Romans 14:12), and this should be a sobering message to all.

This bait-and-switch method of using racism to combat racism is baked into CRT. One key component of CRT is the absurd concept that people of color (primarily black Americans) are incapable of racism, due to position and history. This is not only patently unbiblical, but it is logically inconsistent. That has not stopped hundreds of black, and white, leadership in the church allowing such drivel to seep into the Church. We have seen this before; in the fifties and sixties liberal theology attached itself to certain denominations (mostly charismatic) throughout the United States. These doctrines included, but are not limited to, the inerrancy debate (2 Timothy 3:16), women’s ordination (1 Corinthians 14:34), homosexual leadership (Leviticus 18:22), no-fault divorce (Matthew 5:31) and many more. These coordinated efforts to diminish these sins in the eyes of the faith-based community and the Church had a catastrophic effect on society that permeates to this day. The result of this metastasized into the secular world and is now within decades of completely destroying the biblical family in America.

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When you say that a certain group of people, in this case black Americans, are incapable of a certain sin (racism) you can guarantee, with certainty, that this particular sin will grow, like a virus, within that community. We are already seeing that in our communities over the past year with BLM protestations and the inexcusable violence of Antifa toward the white populace. How Church leadership can go along with such sinfulness is inexcusable and should be fought, by their congregations at every turn.  

Moreover, a theological position where certain racial groups or sexes are more victimized than others misses “the fall” incident (Genesis three) that catapulted sin into our atmosphere. We are all victims of our own sinful nature and allowing excuses for one racial group over another was sinful when Egyptians did it to the Hebrews several thousand years ago; it was sinful when the Romans did it to Christians two thousand years ago; it was sinful when the colonists did it to slaves several hundred years ago; it was sinful when the Nazi’s did it during WWII to the Jews several decades ago, and it is sinful today when critical race theorist say that white people are intrinsically racist because of the pigment of their skin.

In conclusion, the thesis of this article is to warn Church leadership of its implicit evil and destruction of the Church by allowing CRT and its ilk to percolate within their congregations. This cannot be overstated. Remember Paul’s exhortation: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV). This is just as important today as it was when Paul wrote it. It is the war of ideas that we find ourselves embroiled in. The proponents of victimization, segregation, racism, and power play do not find themselves in a sound biblical doctrine that is God-centered. Clergy that espouses these imaginations should head the call of James and recuse themselves of the theological sphere.

Lastly, I want to leave with this scripture that should be an indictment to all who serve in church leadership and use the biblical text for instruction, reprove, rebuke, and exhort: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42 ESV).

 

Bibliography

Barna, George. Statistics for Pastors. Pastoral Care Inc., 2020. https://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/.

Data USA, ed. “Clergy.” Data USA, 2018. https://datausa.io/profile/soc/clergy#education.

Hurd, Tim, Frank Mullis, and Steven Langella. “Avoid These 13 Christian ‘Leaders.’” Bible Thumping Wingnut Network, January 25, 2020. https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2019/06/16/social-justice/.

Occupational Employment Statistics, ed. “21-2011 Clergy.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 6, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes212011.htm.

Footnotes:

[1] George Barna, “Statistics for Pastors,” Statistics for Pastors (Pastoral Care Inc. , 2020), https://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] For a further study of these statistics and so much more go to www.pastoralcareinc.com and search the statistics section of that website. The numbers are staggering.

[4] Ibid.

[5]Data USA, ed., “Clergy,” Data USA, 2018, https://datausa.io/profile/soc/clergy#education.

[6] Tim Hurd, Frank Mullis, and Steven Langella , “Avoid These 13 Christian ‘Leaders,’” Bible Thumping Wingnut Network, January 25, 2020, https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2019/06/16/social-justice/.

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