How the Southern Baptist Convention Has Been Unfaithful to God: Slavery, Racism, and Critical Race Theory

If a tree is cut down, without putting an axe to the root, it may begin to grow again because the roots are still feeding the tree and giving it life. In the same way, while the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which has a horrific history of supporting slavery and racism, has made many resolutions disavowing their racist past, and may have thought their repentance was cutting down the tree of racism, I would contend they were only cutting off the branches that bore the fruit of racism. Racism and slavery were only symptoms of a deeper sin. That sin is unfaithfulness to God’s Word.

The problem with not putting the axe to the root of the tree is that the same sin can begin to grow again. When the delegates to the SBC voted to accept Resolution 9: “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality” during their 2019 Annual Convention, a new sprout springing forth from the old roots of unfaithfulness were openly revealed.

While Resolution 9 states that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is only supposed to be used as “a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society,” after a massive controversy, the 2019 Resolutions Committee wrote a statement to further clarify their position. They acknowledged that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality “originates from people who are not Christians and hold views that oppose the Gospel,” and they even admit that all of its cultural applications are not “in line with Scripture,” yet they believe the church can still use CRT “to understand multifaceted social dynamics.”

I will argue that not only is this an extremely dangerous view, but it is also a form of unfaithfulness to God. The Resolutions Committee claims to support the importance of the sufficiency of scripture and says they “sought to provide clear biblical parameters to engage ongoing conversations about race in society,” but by allowing a foreign ideology to come into the church, they are corrupting the truth. Perhaps they are unaware of history and all the damage that has happened in the past when Christianity has been blended with other views that conflicted with the scriptures.

While various pastors, laypersons, theologians, and seminary professors have addressed their concerns over Resolution 9, I come at the issue from the perspective of an apologist who has attempted to defend Jesus in light of the church’s sordid history of burning people at the stake, kidnapping slaves, hindering scientific advancement, abusing indigenous peoples, joining with Nazism, and all other manner of exploitation and horrors. I first got involved in this difficult arena when I read this quote from the infamous atheist Christopher Hitchens:

If I cannot definitively prove that the usefulness of religion is in the past, and that its foundational books are transparent fables, and that it is a man-made imposition, and that it has been an enemy of science and inquiry, and that it has subsisted largely on lies and fears, and been the accomplice of ignorance and guilt as well as of slavery, genocide, racism, and tyranny [emphasis mine], I can most certainly claim that religion is now fully aware of these criticisms.[1]

How could the church have been the source of so much evil?

After studying for years to find answers that could be documented and used apologetically, I have come to one conclusion: Throughout the ages, the main reason Christianity had so often become a scourge to society was because parts of the church were unfaithful to God’s Word.

What does this mean?

Just as the ancient Israelites had periods of unfaithfulness to God, the church has also had periods of intense unfaithfulness to God. In ancient Israel, they never actually stopped worshiping God, they just added idols to their worship. They did their temple rituals, but they also gathered at the oak groves and high places. To God, this was the same thing as a married woman who betrays her husband when she has a lover on the side.

The primary message of all the Old Testament prophets was the message of unfaithfulness. The very first commandment given to the Israelites was: “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me”(Exod. 20:2-3). And yet, the ancient Israelites continually pursued other gods and persecuted or murdered the prophets who warned them about their sin.  

The story of the prophet Hosea was a picture of this unfaithful relationship between God and his people. His marriage to an unfaithful woman was a physical representation of Israel’s spiritual adultery. God’s anger at Israel’s unfaithfulness wasn’t merely because he was jealous and heartbroken, it was also because people become like the thing they love and worship: “. . . but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved” (Hosea 9:10b). God doesn’t want us to worship idols because then our lives will reflect the character of the idol rather than reflecting the character of God. The charge against the Israelites was: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:1-2, NIV). Unbelievably, even though their sin was breaking God’s heart, the people didn’t even realize they had offended him. They defended themselves saying, “My God we know thee” (Hosea 8:2). But God pleaded with them, asking, “How long will my people be incapable of purity? (Hosea 8:5, NIV). He wanted their whole heart, not a divided heart. Even though the Israelites continued their worship of God, the addition of the worship of other gods caused them to live sinful lives. What we worship determines the fruit our lives will produce. The root gives life to the branches.

Jesus explained this relationship between the root and the fruit also when he said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1). The fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control [Gal. 5:22-23]) are produced by letting the words of Jesus “abide” in us (John 15:7), but Jesus also said that corrupt fruit comes from a corrupt tree. “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7: 17-18).

To corrupt something means to add something to it that causes its quality to become rotten or putrid. If the fruit that is coming from the tree is putrid, then the tree is putrid. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “corrupt” (as an adjective) is defined:

  1. characterized by improper conduct (such as bribery or the selling of favors)

  2. putrid, tainted

 3.  adulterated or debased by change from an original or correct condition [2] 

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were also corrupt. They claimed to love God, but Jesus called them adulterers. They may not have worshiped Baal (like their forefathers), but they were unfaithful in two ways:

  1. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:8).

2. “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.”Matthew 12:38-39

Jesus revealed that spiritual adultery can take forms other than the worship of idols carved with hands. Like the Pharisees, we also commit spiritual adultery when we add something to or put something alongside of the Word of God. To the Old Testament prophets—and to Jesus—spiritual adultery (unfaithfulness to God) was the root sin that led to their hard hearts and evil actions.

In the same way, when Christians down through history committed spiritual adultery, by not keeping our doctrines pure from outside contamination, our actions became cruel and hard-hearted. As Christopher Hitchens pointed out, many people who carried the name of God committed horrible crimes against humanity—but I will argue that it wasn’t those who believed in the truth of the Bible who committed these atrocities. Instead, it was Christians who gave precedence to other beliefs over the teachings of the scriptures—while still carrying the name of Jesus—who brought so much shame to the Lord. While calling themselves Christians, parts of the church embraced popular scientific, ideological, or philosophical ideas alongside of, or instead of, the gospel. The effect of this concession to worldly views was horrendous because wars, genocide, slavery, racism, and tyranny were committed in the name of God by “Christians” who had corrupted the truth.

Perhaps there is a reason why the scriptures call us to be faithful stewards (managers) of the Word of God. Maintaining sound doctrine is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. If we play around with doctrine, humanity suffers! Paul told the Corinthians: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2). Paul was at peace because he knew he had proclaimed “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) to the elders at Ephesus. He had been a faithful steward.

He also encouraged Timothy to be faithful saying, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 3:15). A faithful steward of the gospel will consider all the scriptures and rightly divide them, not adding extrabiblical sources of truth or placing too much emphasis on one scripture while neglecting to mention other pertinent scriptures. They will work to develop a faithful narrative of the truth. As we will see, it’s unbelievable how much damage has been done in the course of history by an unfaithful form of stewardship toward the Word. If only Christians would have followed this wisdom from God: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov. 30:6).

It’s my contention that if believers would have managed biblical doctrines faithfully, keeping them pure and unspotted by worldly perspectives, the church would have never fallen into barbarism. It was only when the church acquiesced to the latest trends, cherry-picked scriptures, and refused to submit to biblical truth, that we became such scourges of history. While searching for the cause of our hardheartedness at certain periods in history, I realized that every time when atheists could point to our failures, these were the precise moments when the church blended other views with Christianity.

The Beauty of the Early Church

When the early church began, it remained close to the teachings of the apostles, and its followers were radical in their love for one another. The church fed the poor and cared for widows and orphans. They ministered to the elderly and crippled. They cared for the sick—especially during plagues. They rescued abandoned babies. They redeemed slaves by the thousands. The closer they remained to the truth of the gospel, the more its members had transformed hearts that became a force for love and kindness. This was a new thing—especially in the Gentile world!

While the Greeks and Romans may have contributed much to philosophy, governmental structure, architecture, community planning, military strategy, art, and various other secular pursuits, they didn’t contribute to the heart of Western civilization. The ancients enjoyed blood sport. Over half the population were slaves. They led aggressive wars. They worshiped numerous gods, and even emperor worship was demanded—upon pain of death. There was no religious freedom. They practiced infanticide, exposing unwanted babies, especially girls, to the beasts and elements. They were brutal and used force to control their subjects. Flogging, crucifixion, burning, impaling, and torture were commonplace. The ancient world may have had a form of order, but they were not civilized. 

Piercing through the darkness of this time was the Light of the World—Jesus of Nazareth. He was just a simple carpenter, but he has been the most civilizing influence humanity has ever known. I hope that this little walk through Christian history will reveal how beautiful, influential, and faithful that Jesus—the Word become “flesh”—has been, and that he is all we need as our source of wisdom and truth. As we go along, I hope to reveal a consistent pattern of unfaithfulness in church history which will help to build the case I am presenting to the SBC about Resolution 9 and their current position on CRT.

The Inquisition: Unfaithful Stewardship of the Word

Atheists point to the Inquisition as proof of the failure of Christianity, but it’s imperative that we understand that the Bible never failed! Theologians failed. They failed in two ways.

  1. They added philosophy to the scriptures.  
  2. They didn’t “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) putting more emphasis on some scriptures while downplaying or completely neglecting others. (Taking away.)

False teachers in the early church tried to add Old Testament law (the Judaizers) and pagan philosophy (the Gnostics) to the Christian message. The apostles had to take strong stands against these contaminating influences. While some Christians, such as the apostle John, Paul, or even Justin Martyr argued that Jesus was the Logos and made appeals to the Greeks to be converted to Christ, as time went on, the corruption of the Word grew. And even though the apostle Paul warned believers to not be taken captive “through philosophy and vain deceit” (Col. 2:8), theologians such as Origen and Clement of Alexander began to explore the concept of integrating Greek philosophy and Christianity. (This type of corruption caused the early church father Tertullian to cry out, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?!”)

Because of this, not only did they incorporate Greek philosophy, but because of Constantine’s legalization of Christianity, the 4th century church also incorporated Roman idol worship. Many of the former temples, which were dedicated to the Roman gods, now became “Christianized.” The blend of Christianity and Roman idolatry can be seen in the vestments (religious clothing), the priesthood, the holidays, the burning of candles and incense, chanting, and other religious activities that are not found in the New Testament. And because the Bible wasn’t available to the common man (or even most of the priests) the church relied on rituals to live out the faith. John Foxe, author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, described the deterioration:

The world, forsaking the lively power of God’s spiritual Word, was altogether led and blinded with outward ceremonies and human traditions; in these was all the hope of obtaining salvation fully fixed; insomuch that scarcely any other thing was seen the temples or churches, taught or spoken of in sermons, or finally intended or gone about in their whole life, but only heaping up of certain shadowy ceremonies upon ceremonies; neither was there any end of their heaping.[3]

While the medieval church was a blend of Christianity, Greek philosophy, and Roman ritualism, the justification for the Inquisition (there were several inquisitions, but I will refer to them as one event) came through a faulty interpretation of scripture. In the 4th century, Augustine, one of the most influential of the early church fathers (and whose story of conversion to Christianity and deliverance from sexual sin has inspired centuries of Christians) used the phrase “compel them to come in” in the Parable of the Great Banquet found in Luke 14:15-23, as proof that Jesus approved of physical force to fulfill his will.

In Letter 93 to Vincentius, Augustine argued that it could be used for either good or evil, depending on the purpose. After all, he reasoned, who can dispute that force is used by a good mother to discipline her children? Or that God used force against Pharaoh to help Moses deliver the Hebrews from the bondage of Egypt? And just as Jezebel killed the prophets of God, Elijah killed the false prophets. Augustine contended that the church should “distinguish the intentions of the agents, and let us not, shutting our eyes, deal in groundless reproaches, and accuse those who seek men’s welfare as if they did them wrong.”[4] In other words, Augustine asserted that the use of force by religious authorities can sometimes be justified, if they believed it was being used for good.

In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas would build on Augustine’s flawed analysis when he taught that religious authorities were acting properly if they commanded that heretics who weren’t willing to yield to church dogma to “be not only excommunicated but even put to death.”[5] The Inquisition, he thought, had scriptural authority to torture and kill in the name of God, but the arguments used by Augustine and Aquinas revealed a lack of understanding about the grace of God. The only biblical discipline the church has been authorized to use is excommunication, or separation:

  • “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:15-20)
  • “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned” (Rom. 16:17)
  • “not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
  • “now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thes. 3: 6)
  • “and if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he might be ashamed” (2 Thes. 3:14)
  • “if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 1:10)

In the age of grace there is no provision for temporal, physical punishment. The Inquisitors used torture and murder to punish or “convert” heretics. This obviously went far beyond the biblical teachings about the role of the church. For now, we are to use our powers of truthful persuasion as we stand faithfully on the Word of God and separate from those who flagrantly continue in sin or bring in false doctrines, but the church must not resort to the physical punishment of heretics or sinners.  

Both Augustine and Aquinas also synthesized Greek philosophy with Christian doctrine. Aquinas was a 13th century medieval scholastic (part of a group of scholars who attempted to harmonize faith with reason). His attempt to form a cohesive system of thought in his Summa Theologica would represent the highest in medieval theology. In his writings, though, we see how the Inquisition was empowered, not only through justifying the use of force, but also through his belief that while a monarchy was the best form of government, it should still be subject to the church, making the popes and bishops the highest civil authorities, even higher than kings.[6] (Further on in this writing, I also hope to show how Aquinas’ love for Greek philosophy hindered the growth of science.)

Because medieval religious leaders placed philosophy and papal decrees (bulls) above the scriptures and held a false understanding of the doctrines of grace and judgment, it caused massive suffering, not only in the way they hunted down heretics, but also in the way that the efforts to bring sound doctrine to the Body of Christ led to the Thirty Years War between the Catholics and the Protestants. Over eight million people died in the conflict and it was reported that even the land was so ravaged it could no longer produce a harvest.  Purity and faithfulness to the Word are so important—not only for church theology, but also for the sake of humanity.

And yet, there was still a faithful remnant.

Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation

Because of the union between Christianity and philosophy, the teaching of purgatory (a term that came from the Greeks rather than the Bible) was used by Pope Leo X as a justification to sell indulgences when he needed money to build St. Peter’s Cathedral. He sent out a monk named Tetzel who used the motto, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!” This enraged Martin Luther, a young Augustinian monk who had access to the scriptures. He didn’t believe the pope had the power to grant indulgences, but if he did, Luther asked why didn’t the pope give them instead of having Tetzel get money out of the poor German people?

In response to what he thought was a papal outrage, Luther pounded his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. This act of protest against the greed and false teachings of the pope would lead to Luther being called before the Inquisition. He knew he could be burned at the stake for heresy (a fate John Huss and others had suffered before him), so he was sweating when he deliberately said, “My conscience is held captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant…”[7] This courageous stand on the Word of God would usher in a new move of God called the Protestant Reformation. Its rallying cry was “Sola Scriptura!” (Scripture Alone!) The attempt to purify church doctrine, keeping it untainted by philosophy and papal decrees, along with the invention of the printing press, which would help distribute the Bible, led to great advances in education, political freedom, family life, the growth of science, and so much more.

Galileo Opposes Corrupt Church Dogma

As I mentioned earlier, the compromised teaching of Thomas Aquinas was not only used to justify the use of force during the Inquisition, but it also stunted the growth of science. Because the Muslim scholar Averroes re-introduced Aristotle to the West, there was a renewed interest in his “natural philosophy” (or scientific views). Aquinas subscribed to Aristotle’s “scientific views” and included them in his writings. Some of these views included the geocentric (earth-centered) view of the solar system, spontaneous generation, and that there were only four elements (earth, air, fire, and water).   

It’s important to understand the influence of Aristotle on the medieval church because when Galileo was called before the Inquisition for writing his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, he wasn’t arguing against the Bible or God. (In fact, he often gave glory to God in his Dialogue.) Instead, he was arguing against Aristotle. The “two chief world systems” Galileo was contrasting were Aristotle’s geocentric (earth-centered) view of the solar system and the heliocentric (sun-centered) view held by Copernicus.

Galileo thought that when the Bible seemed to be clashing with the heliocentric view (for example, when Joshua said the “sun stood still” [Josh. 10:13]) that it was only being told from the perspective of Joshua’s experience. He explained that his argument juxtaposed the two positions “put forth by the partisans of the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic position on one hand, and by the followers of the Copernican system on the other.”[8] Notice again that it wasn’t the Bible that he contrasted with the Copernican system, but the writings of Aristotle. Galileo appeared before the Inquisition, not as an opponent of the Bible, but as an opponent of the Aristotelian philosophy that had become part of church dogma. And yet, Galileo’s experience before the medieval church is often portrayed as a showdown between science and Christianity when it was actually a showdown between science and corrupted Christianity.

The Scientific Revolution Was a Christian Endeavor

Because of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church was no longer able to control what people thought and the pursuit of scientific knowledge exploded. Many Christians were intrigued by the idea that by observing the universe they could kind of reverse engineer God’s brain and know the “mind of God in His creation.” Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists of all time, held this belief. He thought that “this most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent being.”[9] He also had the heart of an apologist when he wrote in his Principia Mathematica that he “had an eye upon such principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity and nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that purpose.”[10] Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for his views, also thought that the universe had an Intelligent Designer, and that “God, like a human architect, approached the founding of the world according to order and rule and measured everything in such manner.”[11]  

The entire Scientific Revolution was, in large part, a rebellion against the Aristotelian philosophy that had become entrenched in the corrupted teachings of the medieval church. For example, Francis Bacon (the founder of the scientific method) wrote his Novum (New) Organum as a direct response to Aristotle’s Organum. Robert Boyle, the father of modern chemistry, and a charter member of the Royal Society of Great Britain (whose motto was Nullius in Verbia, which means “Nothing in Word”— emphasizing the importance of starting with concrete experimentation and physical observation over starting with philosophical ideas) also rejected the Aristotelian method. Not only did he reject Aristotle’s view that there were only four elements, but he also rejected “spontaneous generation” saying,

I ignore that not only Leucippus, Epicurus, and other atomists of old, but of late some persons, for the most part admirers of Aristotle’s writings, have pretended to be able to explicate the first beginning of things [referring to Aristotle’s belief in spontaneous generation] and the world’s phenomena, without taking in or acknowledging any divine Author of it.[12]

The Scientific Revolution wasn’t only an empirical revolution, it was also a doctrinal revolution, fomented by those who were jealous for God’s Word—against those in the medieval church who had corrupted Christianity with Greek philosophy. Spontaneous generation, for example, was the Aristotelian idea that living things could develop from non-living matter, but Francesco Redi’s experiments proved that maggots didn’t spring from rotten, decaying meat, instead they came from eggs that were laid on the rotten, decaying meat. So many more scientific advances (especially in the area of health and medicine) came from specific attempts to disprove spontaneous generation!

Christopher Hitchens, speaking of the beliefs of the American people in an interview with Bill Maher said: “They tell the pollsters they believe in Satan more than they believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, but they don’t know anything about either, and when they go to the hospital, they act as if Darwin is more likely to be right.”[13] The implication of this statement is that the greatest medical advancements resulted from the work of Darwin, but this is revisionist history!

In a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1871, Darwin suggested that “life may have begun in a warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc…”[14] This “primordial soup” theory hasn’t been able to be replicated in any lab (see the Miller-Urey experiment). On the other hand, those scientists who rejected the views of Aristotle and Darwin on the origin of life—and set out to prove it—contributed greatly to advancements in the health, ease, and comfort of humanity.

For example, Louis Pasteur, founder of modern medicine, who developed the process of pasteurization, an anthrax vaccine, and the cure for rabies, was specifically motivated by a desire to discredit spontaneous generation. He discovered a way to heat liquids enough to kill the bacteria and then, through the use of his simple “swan-necked” bottles (which kept a meat broth from being exposed to germs in the air), he showed that life could only produce life. He believed that his experiment (which would lay the foundation for the law of biogenesis) would finally strike the “mortal blow”[15] to Aristotle’s spontaneous generation. Pasteur’s experiment also laid the foundation for bacteriology and the study of infectious diseases. Incidentally, it also led to the process of pasteurization which has saved countless lives.

Joseph Lister (of whom we get the name “Listerine”) was influenced by the discoveries of Pasteur. He made medical advancements in surgical sterilization based on the rejection of the concept of spontaneous generation. His use of carbolic acid (which kills bacteria without being too harsh on the skin), in combination with hand washing and covering wounds with sterile bandages, greatly reduced the surgical death rate. He loved Jesus and was motivated to treat his patients “with a single eye to their good, and therefore to the glory of our Heavenly Father.”[16]

Canned food, germ theory, clean water, and safe birthing (see the hand washing efforts of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis) were all concepts that could be based on the rejection of Aristotle’s concept of spontaneous generation and aligned instead with biblical truth. (Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the most important line of defense is hand washing, another biblical concept which can be found in Leviticus 15:13 where “running” water is emphasized.) Scientists still don’t know how life originated, but the Christian creationist emphasis that only life can produce life has led to many great blessings for humanity.

Unfortunately, not many people know about how Christianity influenced scientific and medical advancements, but skeptics are sure to remind the world of the persecution of Galileo by the medieval Catholic Church. If only Aristotle hadn’t been synthesized with Christian thinking, especially through the efforts of Thomas Aquinas, this clash would have never happened, and the world could not use the Galileo incident as evidence that Christians are, as Hitchens described us, the “enemy of science and inquiry” and the “accomplice of ignorance.” Keeping the scriptures pure has consequences for humanity!

The Enlightenment Era and Scientific Racism

The Enlightenment period is often thought of as a time of scientific growth, but it’s surprising how few people realize that the Scientific Revolution happened right after the Protestant Reformation and before the Enlightenment era. (At least this has been my experience with atheists, many of whom think the growth of science was a fruit of the Enlightenment.) Not long after this Christian-based burst of scientific curiosity, another group of thinkers became excited that people were free from the “dark ages” of religious control. Impressed by the advances made in science, they developed what was called an “enlightened” philosophy, which often gave precedence to empirical evidence and human reason as sources of truth over scriptural revelation.

Many skeptics look to Enlightenment thought as the source for humanity’s highest conception of human government and freedom. In many ways that is true, but Enlightenment thought was most successful when it was rooted in biblical concepts and practiced by Christians who loved the Word. It’s important to know that Enlightenment revolutions were played out in two nations. In France, there was a complete rebellion against the ancien regime of the Catholic Church and the monarchy. Led by Diderot and the encyclopedists, they totally rejected God. They even instituted a 10-day work week as a way to rebel against the 7-day week instituted in the scriptures. It ended in the Reign of Terror, mobs, and the guillotine.

But the American Revolution was guided by the wisdom of the Bible. Fresh off the first Great Awakening, even Thomas Paine, writing in Common Sense, convinced American colonists that it was right to oppose the British monarchy by referring to 1 Samuel 9 where God was upset with Israel for wanting a king. Thomas Jefferson declared that human rights had their source in God, saying, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Montesquieu’s idea of “checks and balances” aligned with the biblical belief that humans are inherently sinful. Locke’s concern for religious toleration came out of the Protestant experience of the Inquisition. The anticlericalism of the Founders was not based on a rejection of Jesus but was based on a rejection of a church/state authority that could control religious thought and action. Locke also said there shouldn’t be “government without the consent of the governed.” This principle of democracy and individual rights was embedded in the idea of the priesthood of the believer. Because there was no longer hierarchy in religion, and all were equal before God, aristocratic forms of government were no longer legitimate either. These Enlightenment ideas, which were based on biblical wisdom, set America apart from France and gave us a stability and foundation where political, civic, and religious freedom could thrive.  

Though many of our greatest ideas were based on biblical concepts, some of the Founders questioned the authority of some of the scriptures. As deists, they created their own version of God. Blending Newtonian physics with Christianity, they fashioned a god (the First Cause) who was like a Grand Watchmaker who wound up the universe and set it in motion but didn’t intervene in the affairs of humanity. Therefore, they rejected the concept of miracles. This is why Jefferson’s Bible had these verses removed. It’s fair to say the Enlightenment philosophers cherry-picked the scriptures which they would receive and believe. They also added, and often gave precedence to, science and reason over faith.

Unfortunately, one of the first consequences of their cherry-picking, and of their emphasis of science and reason over biblical authority, was their support for scientific racism. Enlightenment thinkers went right along with those who declared (by the authority of science) that Africans were a sub-species of humanity, having a different and separate parentage from whites. The term polygenism was used to describe this white supremacist belief.

This is why Jefferson, who used biblical language to write in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” could continue to hold slaves. Notice how he used scientific language in his Notes on the State of Virginia to describe black persons:

Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other distinctions proving a difference. They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites.[17] 

David Hume, another Enlightenment philosopher who relied on science, empirical evidence, and reason (and rejected faith and biblical reason as a source of knowledge) had this to say about people of color:

I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men to be naturally inferior to Whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complection [sic] than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences . . . [18]

The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant agreed with Hume, saying, “The Negroes of Africa have received from nature no intelligence that rises above the foolish. Hume invites anyone to quote a single example of a Negro who has exhibited talents.”[19] Voltaire, who also emphasized reason and science over biblical truth, had this to say about blacks:

Their round eyes, their flat nose, their lips which are always thick, their differently shaped ears, the wool on their head, the measure even of their intelligence establishes between them and other species of men prodigious differences.[20]

In order to give scientific and empirical credence to their white supremacist views, Samuel George Morton, a Harvard professor and president of the American Academy of Natural Sciences, collected and measured the skulls of different racial “species” from around the world. We now consider the “science” that he called “phrenology” to be pseudoscientific—but it was once the cutting-edge science of the day.

It was this willingness to give precedence to science over and above the scriptures which led to the downfall of some in the Southern Baptist Convention. According to the writers of The Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Convention, “the seminary faculty taught white superiority and the inferiority of black capacities for civilization. They did so with full confidence their views were the conclusions of empirical observations undergirded by leading scientific authorities.”[21] John A. Broadus, a professor and president at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, used the same “scientific” language of the Enlightenment philosophers to describe the different types of “negro.”

The typical negro, with thick lips, flat nose, protruding jaws, narrow and retreating forehead, is entirely distinct from the other two races, and vastly inferior in point of intelligence. For my part, I never saw one of these who could be regarded as very intelligent.[22]

Broadus, who claimed to be a Christian, gave precedence to science and reason over the truth of the scriptures. As a result, he was able to justify the enslavement of African Americans. If only he (and others like him) would have been faithful to the truth of the Word (not giving precedence to science that conflicted with the scriptures), perhaps the church would never have had to carry “the stain of racism.”[23]

Just as there was a faulty exegesis of scriptures in the medieval era which led to torture and murder by members of the Christian church, there was a faulty exegesis of the scriptures concerning “the curse of Ham”[24]—a theological position that was supported by Basil Manly, Sr., chairman of Southern Seminary’s board of trustees during the Civil War era.[25] This unfaithful teaching was later denounced by William J. McGlothlin, professor of church history at Southern Seminary from 1896-1919, because, he explained, “Noah had cursed Canaan, not Ham,” and the curse of Genesis 9:25 was fulfilled starting at Genesis 10:15 in the destruction and/or slavery suffered by the Canaanites.[26]

There are some who argue that the Southern slaveholders were biblical “literalists” who were merely obeying the “letter of the law,” while those who wanted to abolish slavery could only refer to vague scriptures that hinted at things like love or freedom. They say that Christian abolitionists had to ignore specific words in the Bible that allowed slavery, in exchange for non-specific commands. On the other hand, they say, the slave holders were just obeying the “plain meaning” of the scriptures (especially Lev. 25:45-46).[27]

Alexander McLeod, in his popular book (eleven editions were printed), Negro Slavery Unjustifiable, directly challenged this view. He says he wrote his argument to counter the “deceptive error” of the slave owners’ biblical claims.[28] He didn’t do this by appealing to love, freedom, or the “Spirit,” but by quoting a specific command of God: “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (Exod. 21:16, ESV). This means, if Southern slaveholders would have obeyed the letter of the law, anyone who kidnapped Africans and tried to sell them should have been arrested as soon as their ship came into port with its illegal cargo of human flesh, and any person who purchased that stolen person should have also been held accountable.

Since Southern slaveholders defended their so-called “biblical” right to hold slaves, shouldn’t they have been consistent and upheld the command against kidnapping and selling people? If they were actually biblical literalists, Southern slavery would have been shut down immediately, but the Christian slaveholders of the South cherry-picked the scriptures, ignoring (or taking away) those they didn’t want to obey—while the abolitionists were holding to the literalist position and pointing to direct commands from God.  

McLeod also pointed out this literal command from God: “If a slave takes refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them” (Deut. 23:15-16).If the Southern slaveholders were actually following the letter of the law, their cities and homes would have had to become places of refuge for the slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act, which was used to round up slaves who escaped from the South, McLeod argued, would never be allowed under Old Testament law. Frederick Douglass described the hypocrisy of these “Christian” slaveholders. They worshiped God, but because they were unfaithful to the Word, they were hardhearted and cruel.  

All this prejudice sinks into significance in my mind, when compared with the enormous iniquity of the system which is its cause—the system that sold my four sisters and my brothers into bondage—and which calls in its priests to defend it even from the Bible! … I used to attend a Methodist church, in which my master was a class leader; he would talk most sanctimoniously about the dear Redeemer, who was sent “to preach deliverance to the captives, and set at liberty them that are bruised”—he could pray at morning, pray at noon, and pray at night; yet he could lash up my poor cousin by his two thumbs, and inflict stripes and blows upon his bare back, till the blood streamed to the ground! All the time quoting scripture for his authority and appealing to that passage of the Holy Bible which says, “He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes!” Such was the amount of this good Methodist’s piety.[29]

And yet, there was still a faithful remnant.

Abolitionists Act According to the Word

Abolitionists loved God enough to sacrifice their own lives in order to obey the Word. The Underground Railroad, whose founders were interested in providing justice for those who were enslaved, was set up by Bible-believing Christians, such as Levi Coffin, John Rankin, and Charles Turner Torrey as a way to be obedient, not only to supposed “non-specific” commands to love our neighbor or set the captive free, but to a specific law from the Old Testament which commanded the Hebrews to protect runaway slaves. They also gave precedence to the truth of the Word over the “truth” of science.

They stood firm on Acts 17:26 which declared that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth.” They believed in the brotherhood of man because all had one father (Adam), therefore, all were equal.

In London, Bible-believing Christians organized the Ethnological Society to battle against slavery and the abuse of indigenous peoples. Their motto, ab uno sanguine (“from one blood”), was a direct affront to polygenism. Their members would become part of the Clapham Sect, whose membership included William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian whose perseverance is credited with finally leading to the abolition of slavery in the entire British Empire. John Newton, the former slave trader and writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” was a spiritual mentor to William Wilberforce.

Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave turned abolitionist, battled against scientific racism in his 1854 speech given at the Western Reserve College entitled, “The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered” by referring to scripture and asking that the truthfulness of polygenism be determined by the fruit it produced:

Which of these answers [yes or no to polygenism] is most in accordance with the facts, with reason, with the welfare of the world, and reflects most glory upon the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Author of all existence, is the question for consideration with us. On which side is the weight of the argument, rather than which side is absolutely proved. It must be admitted . . . that, viewed apart from the authority of the Bible, neither the unity [one blood] nor diversity [polygenism] of origin of the human family, can be demonstrated.[30]

Douglass believed that the Bible was the ultimate authority, and that a belief system must be judged by how it affected the “welfare of the world” (its fruit).

Reverend John Rankin, the great abolitionist, upon discovering that his brother had just purchased slaves, wrote a series of letters using appeals to compassion, and arguments from the scriptures, to successfully convince him that slavery was wrong. When those letters were gathered and put into book form, they became one of the most influential tools of the antislavery movement. Rankin also used the Bible to argue against scientific racism, saying that “it must be admitted that the Africans and the rest of mankind have all sprung from one common father; and consequently all, originally were alike free. The right to freedom belongs to the Africans.”[31]

The battle over scriptural authority in contrast to scientific authority raged in newspapers, periodicals, pulpits, legislatures, and classrooms throughout the United States. And yet the conflict ultimately resulted in the Civil War, where hundreds of thousands of soldiers died because the Southern evangelical Christian had corrupted the truth with science and, as Al Mohler aptly described it, used “a putrid exegesis.”[32] Children were orphaned, wives were widowed, and parents were grieved because, not only was there unfaithful stewardship of the Word, but the false scientific roots of the justification for white supremacy could only produce the fruits produced from that tree: cruelty, bondage, injustice, and war.  

Social Darwinism and the Scourge of White Supremacy

Unfortunately, the scourge of racism didn’t end after the Civil War. In the last half of the 19th century, polygenism would be replaced with “social Darwinism” as a justification for white supremacy. So now instead of racism being based on the belief that blacks were a sub-species of humanity, the darker races were considered inferior because they were less evolved.

One example of the prevalence of this Victorian ideology could be found at the Columbian Exposition, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Along the Midway, a type of human zoo was set up, which allowed those who attended to walk through the evolutionary history of man. Beginning with the Africans and moving through the red and yellow races, villages were set up and people of color were put on display. The exhibit ended with European villages and culminated with the glorious “White City” of marble buildings which was the final goal toward which mankind was moving. This endeavor is recorded in the Encyclopedia of Chicago, published by the Chicago Historical Society:

To lend anthropological legitimacy to their enterprise, Chicago’s exposition directors placed the Midway under the nominal direction of Harvard’s Frederic Ward Putnam who had already been chosen to organize an Anthropology Building at the fair. Putnam envisioned the Midway as a living outdoor museum of primitive human beings that would afford visitors the opportunity to measure the progress of humanity toward the ideal of civilization presented in the White City.[33]

This wasn’t a sideshow. It was a scientific endeavor! The best minds were put to the task since the goal of the Columbian Exposition was to showcase humanity’s progress.

The impact of social Darwinism is rarely even heard about today, but its supporters could read like a “Who’s Who” of money, power, and intellect. Virtually every major influencer of the late 19th and early 20th century was a social Darwinist. Politicians, industrialists, sociologists, educators, philosophers, theologians, and lawyers were all under the influence of its founder, Herbert Spencer (who coined the term “survival of the fittest”) and who, according to the Atlantic Monthly, represented “the scientific spirit of the age.”[34]

Christians would also adopt this anti-biblical perspective. William Graham Sumner, the Episcopal clergyman and professor at Yale University, was a proponent of social Darwinism. Josiah Strong, a Congregationalist minister and author of the very popular book, Our Country, argued that the “Anglo-Saxon” was commissioned by God to be his brother’s keeper and to civilize the weaker races. But to Strong, this involved the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) carrying the “white man’s burden,” which included colonial expansion in the name of God:

Then will the world enter upon a new stage of its history—the final competition of races for which the Anglo-Saxon is being schooled . . . Then this race of unequaled energy, with all the wealth of numbers and the might of wealth behind it—the representative, let us hope, of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, the highest civilization . . . will spread itself over the earth. . . And does anyone doubt the result of this competition of races will be the “survival of the fittest?”[35]

Notice how the name of Christ is being blended with Darwinist ideology! This social Darwinist belief was held by Charles Gardner, professor of sociology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who believed that the only way blacks would advance was through mixing the blood of whites and blacks, causing the black race to evolve.

It is the simple truth to say that the negro race has never risen appreciable except by mixture with a superior race. Whether this mulatto product of race fusion can become a stable, permanent race is an open question; by a process of natural selection, there will ultimately appear a definite and relatively fixed race-type of mulattoes.[36]

Of course, this “scientific” view also led to the belief that “race fusion” could cause the devolution of the white race. This is one reason (as we will discover later) why intermarriage was frowned upon, and it was also one of the main justifications, along with a faulty exegesis of Acts 17:26b (“and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation”) for racial segregation.[37]

If only Gardner would have been faithful to Jesus. If only he wouldn’t have held to worldly sociological, philosophical, and scientific beliefs over, or alongside of, Christian doctrine, perhaps the Southern Baptist Convention would not be carrying the “stain of racism” to this day. The apostle James warned us about embracing worldly views: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” — James 4:4

And yet, there was still a faithful remnant.

Missionaries Oppose Social Darwinism

In response to this rush of scientific “intellect” concerning race, the Bible-believing church stood alone. Holding on to the Word of God as the truth, even when every reason appeared to exist to doubt it, many evangelical missionaries went out into the world to serve and bless the darker races, rather than to take from them, dominate them, use them, and abuse them. Benjamin Harrison, the former president of the United States, was the Honorary Chairman of a missionary conference held at Carnegie Hall in 1901. In his opening statement he expressed the missionary mindset:

The highest conception that has ever entered the mind of man is that of God as the father of all men—the one blood—the universal brotherhood. It was not evolved but revealed [meaning it came from God’s Word]. The natural man lives to be ministered unto—he lays his imposts on others. He buys slaves that they may fan him to sleep, bring him the jeweled cup, dance before him, and die in the arena for his sport. Into such a world there came a King, not to be ministered unto, but to minister.[38]

This was a direct counter to the prevailing scientific racial ideologies of the day. While the scientifically leaning “Christians” who went the way of Enlightenment rationalism, scientific racism, and/or social Darwinism believed it was necessary to impose civilization on native populations, Bible-believing Christians thought it was best to serve and love indigenous peoples in an attempt to win their hearts and minds for Jesus.

For example, men such as William Knibb, missionary to Jamaica, begged for the equality of African slaves saying, “All I ask, is that my African brother may stand in the same family of man; that my African sister shall, while she clasps her tender infant to her breast, be allowed to call it her own, that they both shall be allowed to bow their knee in prayer to that God who has made of one blood all nations as one flesh.”[39] When he saw the brutal beatings suffered by the Jamaican slaves, he appealed to “the sympathies of Jesus” for it to be stopped.[40]

Cecil Rhodes (whose estate provides scholarships at Oxford University for “Rhodes Scholars”) was a social Darwinist who believed it was the destiny of the British Empire, led by the Anglo-Saxon race, to spread around the world. In his will he wrote about the British: “I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more we inhabit the better it is for the human race.”[41] But did you know that Rhodes had an opponent? According to the web site of the University of Botswana history department:

On the one hand there was the Reverend John Mackenzie, one of the most articulate spokesmen among Christian missionaries of the later 19th century and prime exponent of ideas of protection of “native” interests. On the other hand, there was Cecil John Rhodes, the diamond magnate whose name has become synonymous with monopoly capitalism and territorial expansion in the later 19th century Africa, who stood for colonization, development, and exploitation of African lands by European settlers.[42]

Mackenzie went back to London in 1882 to campaign for British protection of the Tswana territory. He became the leading voice in the appeal to Parliament to protect Africans from the abuses of Cecil Rhodes. Today, there is a highly regarded school in Francistown, Botswana which is named after Mackenzie.

There are countless stories of missionaries who opposed social Darwinism and believed that civilization would proceed from knowing Christ, not that knowing Christ would proceed from civilization. All around the world there are monuments to heroic Christians who opposed racial science and its faulty theology. In America, we have streets and schools named after the likes of Christians such as Frederick Douglass and John Rankin. In England, they honor William Wilberforce, who was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey with these words inscribed on a nearby statue:

His name will ever be specially identified with those exertions which, by the blessing of God, removed from England the guilt of the African slave trade, and prepared the way for the abolition of slavery in every colony of the Empire: in the prosecution of these objects he relied, not in vain, on God; but in the progress he was called to endure great obloquy and great opposition.[43]

David Trumbull, a missionary to Chile whose efforts helped to pass an 1894 law (at the height of the Victorian era which was characterized by social Darwinism) guaranteeing the right to wed bi-racial couples, has a still-thriving school named after him. He saw how the prohibition against mixed marriages had led to “untold measures of shame, sorrow, and pain.” When he died in 1889, the newspapers reported:

It was a complete revolution that which he forged in our country; he himself was a proper revolutionary, and even before his life ended, he couldn’t walk through our streets without being greeted by everyone with shows of respect, love, and appreciation by all for being a good man, in all sense of the word.[44]

In 1988, on the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, missionary William Knibb was granted Jamaica’s highest civil honor: The Order of Merit. Only one other non-Jamaican, and no white man, shared this honor at the time. His award reads:

For Knibb’s work as Liberator of the slaves;

For his work in laying the foundation of Nationhood;

For his support of black people and things indigenous;

For his display of great courage against tremendous odds;

For being an inspiration then and now.[45]  

All over the world, colonialists, traders, and Catholic conquistadors[46] have left behind an abusive trail of self-interest, abuse, and cruelty, but these other groups should not be confused with evangelical missionaries who, while standing on the Word of God alone, were ministering to, defending, and loving the darker races. The SBC may have failed, but Christianity didn’t fail. There was a faithful remnant.

Hitler and American Racial Science

Unfortunately, in America and Europe, racial science remained a stronghold through the first half of the 20th century. Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the term “eugenics,” and developed the scientific concept (based on Mendelian genetics) that intentional breeding could create a better world. The strong, intelligent, and beautiful were encouraged to procreate, while the “feeble-minded, alcoholic, immoral, or criminal persons”[47] were discouraged from having children.

There was even a silent film entitled The Black Stork (or Are You Fit to Marry?) which attempted to explain the importance of marrying only healthy, normal people who come from good moral and genetic stock by showing a couple who give birth to a baby who was a crippled hunchback. One doctor tells her to let it die and other doctors offer to save it. She doesn’t know what to do, so she prays, and God gives her a vision of how her crippled son would suffer through life, so she decides to let him die, and the film shows a ghost of Jesus receiving the baby into his arms. The husband, it turned out, was the culprit, because he was hiding the fact that he came from bad lineage since he was the offspring of an embarrassing grandfather who had a drunken romp in the hay with an immoral woman![48] The eugenicists believed immorality could be inherited, not in the sense that we are all descendants of Adam, but in the sense that there were some blood lines that produced good offspring and some that produced evil.

A common argument used in American eugenics teaching (found in nearly all high school biology texts from the early 1900s through to the 1960s)[49] was to contrast the family of the Puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards,[50] whose descendants included presidents, generals, inventors and many other prestigious persons, with the descendants of the “Kallikak” family (the name was changed), but instead of being made up of upstanding citizens, this family line included “feeble-minded, immoral, drunkards, and epileptics.”[51] (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood mentioned the Kallikak family in her booklet, The Case for Birth Control.[52]) Biology texts, just like the film The Black Stork, explained that students should be careful about those whom they married and had children with, or their children could become burdens to society. A common textbook entitled Civic Biology, explained how “modern charity” shielded “defectives” from being culled out by the law of survival of the fittest. They didn’t believe it was a good thing to let these “heavy burdens” on society to continue to drain society.

Avoided by the normal, defectives generally marry defectives. Since they are allowed to multiply at will and are shielded by modern charity from operation of the law of survival of the fit[test], this process has gone on until we now have nearly 3,000,000 dependents and defectives—one in thirty of our population. By far the larger part . . . of the heavy burdens imposed upon society by the idiotic, imbecile and insane, the paupers, alcoholics, and criminals, is caused by inherited mental and moral defects.[53]

Hitler revealed this same attitude in Mein Kampf, except he went so far as to try to euthanize “defectives,’ thinking it was an expression of mankind’s humanity.

The demand that defective people be prevented from propagating equally defective offspring is a demand of clearest reason and, if systematically executed, represents the most humane act of mankind. It will spare millions of unfortunates undeserved sufferings, and consequently will lead to a rising improvement of health as a whole.[54]

Hitler’s views on race and genetics didn’t just bubble up from his own wicked mind. They came from the most advanced sources of knowledge available at the time. Eugenics easily merged with social Darwinism. This is what happened in New York City, where a human zoo was set up and Ota Benga was put on display. The Bronx Zoo where he was housed was set up by Madison Grant, the founder of the American Eugenics Society, who was also the author of The Passing of the Great Race, a book thatAdolph Hitler would refer to as his “Bible.”[55]

Madison Grant was a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School and was friends with several U.S. presidents. An avid conservationist and believer in the “survival of the fittest,” he argued that it was necessary to preserve the environment so that the “Nordic” races would have the natural resources necessary to survive. (Perhaps this view had an influence on Hitler’s concern for lebensraum [living space].) Grant was on the board of the American Museum of Natural History and he also helped to set up Glacier National Park and contributed to saving the bison and the California redwoods. As a eugenicist, he believed miscegenation (interracial marriage) was dangerous, that sterilization could be a solution for getting rid of the weak, and that ghettos could be used to keep races separate from one another so that the gene pool would not be corrupted. Grant’s solution sounds eerily like Hitler’s “final solution:”

A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit—in other words social failures—would solve the whole question in one hundred years, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated, and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him, or else future generations will be cursed with an ever-increasing load of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem, and can be applied to an ever-widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types.[56]

In America, forced sterilization was used as a solution to the problem of “inferior” genes, but any suggestion towards euthanasia was shut down due to the protests of charitable organizations. Still, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that America, rather than Germany, was the state that was using the principles upon which he wished to build his ideal society.

At present there exists one State which manifests at least some modest attempts that show a better appreciation of how things ought to be done in this matter. It is not, however, in our model German Republic but in the U.S.A. that efforts are made to conform at least partly to the counsels of commonsense. By refusing immigrants to enter there if they are in a bad state of health, and by excluding certain races from the right to become naturalized as citizens, they have begun to introduce principles similar to those on which we wish to ground the People’s State.

Many states, such as California and Indiana, had active sterilization laws.[57] Indiana was the first to pass a law for forced sterilization. Thirty-three states eventually followed. They also passed laws which made interracial marriage a felony.[58] In other words, “science” was used as a justification to develop laws that didn’t allow people of color to marry whites.

In Nazi Germany, though, people with mental and physical disabilities were euthanized by gas or lethal injection, and its usefulness was extended, just as Grant suggested, to include “worthless race types”—the Jews. Eugenics was also used as a justification for the genetic experiments that were done on twins by Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Madison Grant was influenced by the writings of Joseph-Arthur Gobineau, who claimed that his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853) was a “science of history.” In it, Gobineau, who was influenced by the polygenist/phrenologist skull collector Samuel George Morton, claimed that there was a hierarchy of the races, with the most highly developed races being the white races, and the most highly developed white race being the Aryan master race.[59]

The writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who fell in love with Germany because of the music of Wagner (composer of “Ride of the Valkyries”), were influenced by Gobineau, except Chamberlain’s book, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, was anti-Semitic. Chamberlain was also steeped in the writings of Herder and Kant. The book was immensely popular and became required reading in German high schools. The second volume of Foundations is entitled “The Struggle.” Because of the influence of Chamberlain, Hitler (whose book was entitled My Struggle) was convinced the German people were the Indo-European Aryans, and that they were the most advanced race on the planet. Chamberlain pointed out that the Teutonic/German race had produced great philosophy, literature, and music, and he even pointed to the Protestant Reformation as evidence of German racial/cultural superiority.[60] This racial ideology flourished throughout America and Europe in the early part of the 20th century.

And yet, there was still a faithful remnant.

Eugenics Opposed by Christians

Any person who has simply read the Parable of the Great Banquet would know eugenics was wrong!

When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. – Luke 14:12-14

Pastor Von Bodelschwing, head of the charitable community at Bethel-Bielefeld was an evangelical who must have read these words of Jesus because he “barred with his body the efforts of the Nazis to remove deformed children from his institution in order to exterminate them.”[61]  Karl Stern, a Jewish convert to Christianity, writing in his memoir, The Pillar of Fire described the situation:

There was a famous Lutheran pastor, Bodelschwingh, who built up a huge colony of feeble-minded, idiots and epileptics in Bethel in Western Germany. During the war, when the Nazis carried out the slaughter of all mental patients, Pastor Bodelschwingh insisted that he would be killed together with his inmates. It was only on the basis of his international fame that the politicians let him get away with it and let him and the inmates of his colony live. This was a kind of last-ditch stand of Christianity.[62]

Bodelschwingh and a friend had begun to talk about mysterious disappearances of feebleminded girls and became suspicious of the Nazis. After seeing the girls’ obituaries appear in the press, Bodelschwingh decided he wouldn’t let the Nazis take any of his patients. They were unsuccessful at getting past the pastor, but soon after he refused, the “Britains” bombed his hospital.[63]

G. K. Chesterton, a prolific British author of books such as the classic, The Everlasting Man, may not have put his life on the line, but he warned the world that eugenics was evil far before the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed. In his 1922 book, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized Society, Chesterton said that eugenics “ought to be destroyed” and although it seemed to be idealistically motivated, and was promoted by “disciples whose intentions are entirely innocent and humane,” this was deceptive because, he explained . . .

. . .evil always wins through the strength of its splendid dupes; and there has in all ages been a disastrous alliance between abnormal innocence and abnormal sin. Of these who are deceived I shall speak of course as we all do of such instruments; judging them by the good they think they are doing, and not by the evil which they really do.[64]

Chesterton also opposed socialism and often debated members of the Fabian socialists such as George Bernard Shaw. 

Another person who spoke out against eugenics was Edgar Young Mullins, the fourth president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the sixteenth president of the SBC. In his last book, Christianity at the Crossroads (1924), he took on many issues that were challenging the church on his watch. He specifically called out a prominent Princeton evolutionist name Professor E. G. Conklin for claiming that evolution and Christian ethics were compatible, but Mullins believed that faith was concerned primarily with an eternal relationship with God, not just living a good life on earth. He argued:

The future life of immortality beyond death has no recognition in Professor Conklin’s system. The only future he foresees is a better society on earth. The key words of human destiny are eugenics, euthenics, hereditary, sanitation, social improvement.[65]   

Mullins continually argued for a God who was active in the lives of men and women and cared about their needs, contrasting it with Conklin’s dead system which had no afterlife. And even though Conklin had a set of ethical rules to live by, these rules offered no spiritual LIFE, no connection to the love of God—something that was only achieved, said Mullins, when a person is born again. Because Mullins held a proper view of God, and was being nourished by the True Vine, he was able to see the sin promoted by eugenics, while the “ethical” Conklin who focused primarily on bettering this world was unable to see it.

Hegel’s Philosophy: The Strong Root of a Poisonous Tree

While Gobineau and Chamberlain provided the anthropological/historical aspect of Hitler’s ideology, and Madison Grant and Herbert Spencer provided the scientific portion of Hitler’s beliefs, Georg. W. F. Hegel would provide the philosophical foundation for Hitler’s worldview.

Hitler may have used the name of God in his writings and speeches, but the god he created was not the God of the Bible. Instead, Hitler’s god was the god of Georg W. F. Hegel. Perhaps the following explanation of Hegel’s philosophy of history will explain why it wasn’t a biblical view and how it was used by both Hitler and Marx when developing their political ideologies.

As a result of the Terror brought about by the French Revolution, European thinkers began to consider what could replace Enlightenment philosophy as the foundation for political thought. Who would have the idea that could lead to a happy society? How could the world be ordered to bring peace and prosperity? One popular response was to unify, or blend, great thought. For Friedrich Schlegel, for example, the unity was between Goethe’s poetry and Fichte’s philosophy. Some tried to unite the best of the ancient and modern worlds. Hegel decided to blend the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (the scientific racist of the Enlightenment era) with Johann Gottfried Herder’s “expressive theory.”

Herder’s work was a protest against the mechanical Enlightenment view of God as the Grand Watchmaker in the sky. Instead, Herder’s god didn’t remain aloof and uninvolved in the affairs of men—his spirit was actively involved in “expressing” itself through communities of people. To Herder, a culture was a direct expression of God in the physical realm, therefore, each community was sacred and unable to be replaced. For example, the Athenians produced the Parthenon, democracy, and the great philosophers (such as Socrates and Plato). The Egyptians produced the pyramids, hieroglyphics, and mummification. Each community, according to Herder, had a Volksgeist (or national spirit) which inspired their creativity.

To Hegel, Herder’s vision of the ideal state didn’t go far enough, though, because it didn’t include a method to ensure morality. He decided to used Kant’s “categorical imperative” as the ethical foundation for his ordered society. Kant believed it was possible to make purely rational decisions to obey moral laws without being influenced by emotions or other outer influences, and it was only when a person was unmoved by these other forces that he/she was truly free.

Hegel’s ideal state was, therefore, a society who could contribute their unique cultural expression and be based upon a foundation of rational morality. In this vision, children are born, and by osmosis they become saturated with their culture, learning its language, heritage, values, and customs. If this organic community were to be structured around agreed upon moral absolutes that could rationally be obeyed, then there would be perfect freedom and harmony. This was the ultimate goal toward which humanity was moving, and, according to Hegel, when it was attained, it would be, what he called, the “end of history.”[66]  

To explain his theory, Hegel developed a philosophy in which he envisioned Herder’s Geist marching through time with the purpose of moving the world towards “the progress of the consciousness of freedom.”[67] He set out to prove that there was a spirit at work behind history whose purpose was to cause an ever-increasing expansion of freedom. Hegel’s philosophy of history can be summed up as: “In past Oriental civilizations one was free; in classical antiquity, Greece and Rome, some were free; and in modern Germany and Anglo-Saxon civilization, all are free.”[68] 

To flesh out his argument, he began with the Oriental world of China and India, but said they reached a certain point and got “stuck,”[69] so he didn’t include their contributions other than to make them a starting point, and explained that in the Oriental world one man, the emperor, was free, and all others had to submit to this absolute ruler. Even so, the first appearance of Weltgeist (world spirit) in history was in Persia, according to Hegel, since they had laws that governed not only the subjects, but also the ruler, and even though it was a theocratic monarchy, the ruler was also subject to the principles of the religion of Zoroaster.

The next great leap forward in human history occurred at the Battle at Salamis. The clash occurred between the ruler of the Persian empire and the separate Greek city-states who recognized a level of individual freedom. When the Greeks won—the world moved forward, or progressed, to a new type of governance. But the Weltgeist would continue to march on, because even though the world had moved from absolute despotism to a type of democracy, there was still slavery in the Greco-Roman world.

According to Hegel, Christianity was the next move of the Weltgeist because it gave people an inner spiritual freedom that could transform the world. He recognized that its followers would get rid of slavery. It also established a morality based on love. But then the Catholic Church corrupted Christianity in the medieval era by making it materialistic through ritualism and ceremonies. This was what brought about the sale of indulgences. Consequently, Hegel admired the Protestant Reformation and believed that it was the next step the Weltgeist was using to bring about humanity’s progress. Since it set people free from the controlling influence of the Inquisition and contributed to many advances in Western civilization, it was, he said, an achievement of Germany “arising from the honest truth and simplicity of its heart.”[70]

But the next big event in history didn’t fit in with Hegel’s theory that history was “the progress of the consciousness of freedom.” The French Revolution brought about mob rule, guillotines, and terror. This was an obvious decline in the advance of freedom and civilization. Doesn’t this disprove Hegel’s philosophy of history?

To accommodate the French Revolution, Hegel developed the “spiral view of history.” He explained that history is moving toward the goal of ever-expanding freedom, but it’s also always in constant conflict. This clash (or conflict) is the “dialectic.” One idea (the “thesis”) is contradicted by another idea (the “antithesis”). Of this conflict, neither side has complete victory, so instead a “synthesis” is formed. From there the synthesis becomes the new thesis and it clashes with a new idea (the antithesis) to form another synthesis and the pattern repeats itself.

In this viewpoint, the conflict on the world stage is necessary for the next increase in freedom to occur. So even though the French Revolution led to chaos and violence, it also led to many positive changes, such as civil service jobs, property rights, and so on. (The idea “never let a crisis go to waste” comes from this idea of the dialectic.) 

Hegel had an evolutionary or progressive view of history. He believed that the world was going to get better and better over time. This is the opposite of the Christian view that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13), and that the world will continue to deteriorate until Christ comes and sets up his kingdom.

Hegel’s views were never adopted completely by any certain group, but elements of his thought have contributed to the ideologies of both Nazism and communism and have led to millions of deaths around the world in the 20th century. He’s also having an impact on the 21st century since, as we’ll see, his thought had a profound impact on those whose philosophies formed Critical Theory.

Hegel’s Influence on the German Church

One of the main contributing factors to the success of Nazism was the weakness of the German church. The churches of Germany—the birthplace of Luther’s Reformation—had become so corrupted that their people were no longer able to discern truth. One of the worst sources of corruption came from the followers of Hegel. They set themselves to the task of applying Hegel’s dialectic to their theological perspectives. F. C. Baur, founder of the Tubingen school of theology, applied Hegel’s dialectic to his theological writings (arguing that second century Christianity represented a blend of Jewish [represented by Peter] and Gentile [represented by Paul] Christianity). While influential for a time in the 19th century, his teachings were eventually abandoned, but it was because of the writings of Baur that Julius Wellhausen lost his faith and began looking at the Bible merely through the eyes of the historical critic. That is, instead of trusting that the content of the Bible was truthful, Wellhausen looked at the wording and phrases used in selected biblical texts and declared that they weren’t written by the same author. Instead, there were four authors (J, D, E, and P), therefore the Torah was not written by Moses. This perspective remained the dominant scholarly view from the end of the 19th century through the 20th century. Recently, there has been a breakdown in this consensus, but while it was the prevailing view, it caused harm to the faith of many believers. (And I might add, because I know from experience, it has also been used by modern skeptics as an argument to disprove the veracity of the Word.)

Before the historical-critical method was established, Francis Bacon’s scientific method was only applied to the study of the physical world. The empirical pursuit of knowledge in areas such as biology, chemistry, and geology had long been an established practice, but the German intelligentsia thought they could apply the same standards and methods of research to more subjective fields of study such as psychology, history, anthropology, or sociology. This was how the term “social sciences” came into being. If scientific methods could be applied to the study of history, for example, the truth of the past would be more likely to be found. (Gobineau was probably influenced by this new methodology when he wrote his “scientific history” of the races.) Thus, historian Leopold von Ranke claimed, they were more likely to uncover “how things actually were,”[71] in a scientific sense. Archaeology grew in importance, records were combed, artifacts were gathered, and museums were created to house their discoveries.

This method of discovering historical truth would even be applied to theology. Scholars would now begin to employ “scientific” methods to try to determine the truthfulness of the Bible. The concept of discovering history “as it really was” would now be applied to the biblical text, each verse being tested in a way that only that which could be proven would be accepted as the truth. No longer was the Bible to be trusted simply because of its sacred nature, instead, empirical evidence was now the plumb line that the Bible was to be measured against, so if portions of the biblical text couldn’t be proven through archaeology, or confirmed by other ancient texts, for example, then the authenticity of that portion of the Bible would come into question.

Because of the historical-critical method, some theologians argued that a new Christianity was essential in order for it to remain intellectually serious. Traditional interpretations and beliefs should be set aside to bring theology in line with the latest knowledge or science. Because of the influence of Darwinian evolution, many Christians felt doctrines such as the six days of creation were now outmoded, and Christianity could no longer be looked at as a religion of truth. Therefore, it had to be reinterpreted to become a religion of experience whose ethical teachings could be used to propel humanity forward and upward towards progress and prosperity.

This liberal theology dovetailed perfectly with Hegel’s vision of the Weltgeist as a force that was driving history forward and upward toward the Utopian goal of the “end of history.” The progressive “trifecta” of Hegelian progressive philosophy, progressive evolutionary science, and progressive/liberal Christianity was appealing to the German intellectual! Although we shudder and scorn at Hitler’s beliefs now, at the time he was in power, he actually represented the most advanced philosophy, theology, and science of his day!   

Hegel’s Influence on Hitler

To Hitler, the German culture was an expression of the Herder/Hegel Volksgeist. It was the “image of God” on the earth. Perhaps we can now understand Hitler’s writings about God in Mein Kampf.  This is his explanation of why he feared racial and cultural corruption:

In this part of the world, human culture and civilization are inextricably bound up with the presence of the Aryan element. If it died out or went under, the black veil of a cultureless period would once again descend upon this globe. To anyone who views the world through nationalist [Volkish] eyes, any breach in the existence of human civilization effected by the race which maintains it, would appear in the light of the most accursed of crimes. Whoever dares lay his hand on the most noble image of God is sinning against the kindly Creator of this marvel and lending a hand in his own expulsion from paradise.[72]

Hitler used the lens of Volksgeist ideology to determine his theological perspective. In his view, it was necessary to rid Germany of the corruption of other races, especially the Jewish race, whose diaspora in AD 70 was a judgment from God for rejecting and killing Jesus.[73] To Hitler, any group or person who “destroyed the image of God” as it was expressed in each culture was sinning and deserved “expulsion from paradise.” The Jews had obviously “breached” the civilizational purity which produced the expression of God through the German culture, and if they weren’t dealt with, they would irreparably destroy German’s future contribution to humanity’s progress. Because Hitler had a faulty theological interpretation of the scriptures, he truly believed the Holocaust was a service to God.

Another way that Hegel influenced Hitler was in his perspective on the “four persons of history.” Because Hegel once saw Napoleon riding on a horse in his hometown, he was enthralled by the concept of the “hero of history.” Like Nietzsche’s “superman” (ubermensch), he could enter the world scene and be above the law because God was using him to bring about progress.

Hitler’s viewpoint on voting was also adopted from Hegel. Although Hegel believed the ultimate goal of history was freedom, he didn’t believe in popular elections. He thought people were too easily manipulated and that the mass of people was unable to make rational decisions, therefore, to “make the entire direction of the State dependent on such arbitrary choices would amount to handing over the destiny of the community to chance.”[74] For Hitler, this was especially applicable as long as the Jews had the right to vote. He thought the outcome of free elections would be perverted as long as the Jews, whose “destructive workings” in “the bodies of other nations can at bottom only be ascribed to the perpetual effort to undermine the importance of personality [God’s personality as expressed through the Volksgeist] throughout the nations who are their hosts, and to substitute the will of the multitude.”[75] He also believed the Jews were in an international communist—and capitalist—conspiracy against Germany, therefore, his first priority was to get rid of the corrupting influence of the Jews.

Hitler also adopted Hegel’s version of freedom. According to Kant, rational morality was a necessary element of true freedom, but then it must be asked: Who determines what is rational? If an Entity (such as the state, corporations, or leader) is armed with the doctrine that only rational choices are free, the Entity can justify suppressing anybody who opposes their rational plans. For if the plans truly are rational (as determined by the Entity), those who oppose them must be irrational, and since their choices aren’t based on reason, they aren’t truly free (in the Kantian sense) unless they submit to the Entity.

Therefore, to suppress newspapers and leaflets isn’t interfering with the freedom of the press, and closing down churches that disagree with the views of the state (as the Nazis did to the Confessing Churches), isn’t interfering with their religious freedom. After all, in order to be truly free, they just have to fit in with the Entity’s rational plans! This is the type of Orwellian double-speak that Hegel provided through his definition of freedom and his tangled use of language.

Because so much of the church had been dissuaded of the trustworthiness of the Bible through the historical-critical movement, there was no Rock to stand upon to oppose Hitler and his advanced ideology. They acquiesced. After all, how could Christians dispute the irrefutable facts of “science?” And Hitler didn’t deny the existence of God, did he? Because so much of the German church believed in a god that was not the God of the Bible, they became compromised, weak, and useless against evil. In fact, they became evil.  

And yet, there was still a faithful remnant.

The Confessing Church Opposed Hitler

The Confessing Church, led by Martin Niemoeller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Karl Barth, initially supported Nazism, but they began to see, in the early 1930s, that Hitler’s vision was in opposition to the scriptures, so they came together to write The Barmen Declaration, whose main point was that there could be no allegiance to anything alongside, or instead of, the Scriptural revelation. They encouraged Bible-believing Christians and said that since the church was taking their “stand upon scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God.”[76]  

The signers of the Barmen Declaration opposed the “German Christians of the present Reich government.” There would be no swastikas on THEIR altars. They declared that “Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life,” and they rejected “the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.”[77]

But the numbers were against them. Niemoeller lamented “that forty-three out of the forty-six professors of theology on our university faculties are German Christians, teaching that Christ was an Aryan.”[78] He challenged the pastors of the Confessing Church with these words: “Either we are followers of Christ, or we are to take the road which surrenders bit by bit the truth revealed in the Bible and ends in a substitute faith in Germany.”[79]

In one of Niemoeller’s last sermons entitled “The Salt of the Earth,” he prefaced his message by reading a long list of the names of pastors who had already been arrested. His final communion service was attended by three Hitler youth who came to spy. He knew they had once been baptized in the name of Jesus and had vowed loyalty to their Savior at the confirmation altar, so he was grieved because he saw their actions as a form of betrayal to the Lord.

The writers of The Barmen Declaration would all suffer persecution, and even death, under the Nazi regime. The world hated them, yet their allegiance to the Word of God alone, untainted by any kind of philosophy or science, makes them heroes who were able to discern truth.

As an apologist, I was amused at Christopher Hitchens’ attempt to downplay the faith of the members of the Confessing Church. He was confused because their heroic stand didn’t fit in with his claim that “religion poisons everything,” so he attempted to argue that Niemoeller and Bonhoeffer were simply motivated by “conscience” when they opposed the Nazis:

Many Christians gave their lives to protect their fellow creatures in this midnight of the century, but the chance that they did so on any orders from any priesthood is statistically almost negligible. This is why we revere the memory of the very few believers, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoeller, who acted in accordance only with the dictates of conscience.[80]

But in one of his last writings, Bonhoeffer reflected on what caused a person to be able to stand against evil, and he said it wasn’t merely his conscience, his personal principles, his reason, the preservation of his virtuous image, or his commitment to freedom that motivated him. The man who “stands fast” is the “one who his ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and exclusive allegiance to god.”[81] Notice that the key to standing fast for Bonhoeffer was exclusive allegiance to God. There was no other source he would love. All of his heart was devoted exclusively to God and God alone. He was determined to be faithful to God.

Christopher Hitchens could not understand that this kind of faithful and pure love for Christ has produced the greatest heroes of history. Because his atheistic lens only allowed him to cynically perceive the evil side of church history, the Confessing Church didn’t fit in with the historical plumb line he used to develop his views.

The Holocaust came about because much of the German church had compromised. Because they refused to keep the scriptures pure, knowledge from another root source was allowed to spring up, and it produced the fruit of that tree: hatred, censorship, tyranny, bloodshed, racism, death, destruction, war, and cruelty. Unfortunately, two world wars had to be fought to overcome this false ideology. Millions of Jews died in horrifying ways and many soldiers gave their lives to fight against the scientific/philosophical regime of Adolph Hitler. How many lives were lost because those in the land of the Reformation gave precedence to extra-biblical sources of “truth?”

The Black Church Battles Over “Modernism”

In America, a parallel situation was happening, only the racial target wasn’t Jews, it was African Americans. The American church was not immersed in Hegelian philosophy, and they also held the historical-critical movement at bay for a time, but eventually the battle found its way to our shores. Incidentally, according to Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews, writing in Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism Between the Wars, the clash over the historical critical movement (or “modernism,” as they called it) raged in the black churches also.

While some black leaders tried to map out a middle way of compromise, there were many others who remained faithful. The editor of the National Baptist Union-Review, Jonathan H. Frank, argued for “the divine inspiration of the Bible and its use as the sole source of knowledge and understanding of the divine.”[82] He reminded his readers that “Jesus said heaven and earth will pass before his word shall fail” and there was a “warning to any man who dares to add to the things written in the book.”[83] Frank “would not stand for biblical criticism of the German or liberal variety.”[84]  

Not surprisingly, blacks added their voice to the battle over evolution also, and according to Mathews, to “writers and editors of black denominational papers . . . evolution was linked to modernism and modernism could not be tolerated.”[85] This commitment to the scriptures left them exposed to the charge of being “an obstacle to black racial progress,”[86] because if they opposed evolution, they would be aligning themselves with those who “rejected much of scientific discovery of the previous seventy-five years.”[87] Black leaders were painfully aware that if they rejected Darwinism “it could potentially confirm white stereotypes of African Americans as intellectually deficient.”[88]

Even so, Reverend F. C. Van Buren of Belmont Street AME Zion Church, declared that “the doctrine of evolution is simply another definition of infidelity, for its adherents have said in their heart, “there is no God.”[89] And Frank (editor of the Union-Review) recognized that “under the guise of evolution” intellectuals were negating “the fundamentals of true religion, the religious essential to our substantial advance.”[90]  In other words, Frank believed Darwinism was against the advancement of African Americans, while the true religion, found in the Bible, supported black uplift. Like so many Christians before them they remained faithful to the Word ALONE—even if their rejection of evolution (and social Darwinism) meant that they looked anti-scientific and anti-intellectual.  

The American Cleansing of Racial Science from Society

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the first to recognize that social Darwinism had led to the horrors of the Holocaust. She argued that if America continued to honor Jim Crow, then “America would have defeated fascism abroad only to defend racism at home. America’s great sacrifice would have produced a shallow victory.”[91] After WWII she served as the chairperson to the United Nation’s drafting committee, who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Article 1 it states the biblical view that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They were endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”[92] The reference to “brotherhood” was inferred from the belief that all humanity had common parents in Adam and Eve.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. also acknowledged the battle against the false science of white supremacy in his 1963 sermon “Love in Action.” He explained that the motivation for slavery was rooted in three sins. The first was greed. The second was false doctrine. The third was science.

Men convinced themselves that a system which was so economically profitable must be morally justifiable. They formulated elaborate theories of racial superiority. Their rationalizations clothed obvious wrongs in the beautiful garments of righteousness. This tragic attempt to give moral sanction to an economically profitable system gave birth to the doctrine of white supremacy. Religion and the Bible were cited to crystallize the status quo. Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro.[93]

But then King found hope in changing attitudes. He pointed to the work of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Melville J. Herskovits who were proving that there were no innate biological differences between the races. He called the old science of white supremacy “pseudo-scientific” and belittled racists for not knowing that it had been discredited.

Pressed for a justification of their belief in the inferiority of the Negro, they turn to some pseudo-scientific writing and argue that the Negro’s brain is smaller than the white man’s brain. They do not know, or they refuse to know, that the idea of an inferior or superior race has been refuted by the best evidence of the science of anthropology. Great anthropologists, like Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Melville J. Herskovits, agree that, although there may be inferior and superior individuals within all races, there is no superior or inferior race. And segregationists refuse to acknowledge that science has demonstrated that there are four types of blood and these four types are found within every racial group. They blindly believe in the eternal validity of an evil called segregation and the timeless truth of a myth called white supremacy.[94]

The attempt to discredit white supremacist racial science had already begun in the 1930s through the work of Frans Boaz, whose books were burned in Nazi Germany.[95] He had helped Frederick Ward Putnam to develop the display of evolving races at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, but regretted it, and went on to become an opponent of scientific racism. He also held several debates with Madison Grant (author of “Hitler’s Bible”). One of his students (mentioned by King) was Ruth Benedict.

Benedict was an anthropologist who, along with Gene Weltfish, wrote a 1943 booklet (“Public Affairs Pamphlet No. 85”) entitled The Races of Mankind, which explained why the science of white supremacy was false. It sold 750,000 copies and was passed out to the military, Sunday schools, classrooms, and other places where it could be influential in society. (The booklet was even made into a short film as a way to encourage black and white autoworkers to get along.)[96] Writing at the height of World War II, she described how people of all races were fighting in a 34-nation alliance “against one enemy.”[97] Her pamphlet then went on to explain that “the Bible story of Adam and Eve, father and mother of the whole human race, told centuries ago the same truth that science has shown today: that all the peoples of the earth are a single family and have a common origin.”[98] If only the world would have remained true to this biblical teaching right from the beginning….

Derek Bell, one of the founders of CRT, argued that the reason America went through this cleansing process was simply because it benefited America’s foreign policy. He argued that “it helped to provide immediate credibility to America’s struggle with Communist countries to win the hearts and minds of emerging third world peoples.”[99] Our enemies were using American racism as a club against us, encouraging nations whose populations had darker skin colors to align with them. Therefore, because “it would ill serve the U.S. interest if the world press continued to carry stories of lynchings, racist sheriffs, or murders like that of Emmett Till. It was time for the United States to soften its stance toward domestic minorities. The interests of whites and blacks, for a brief moment, converged.”[100] While there is truth to this theory of “interest convergence” (as upheld by the research of Mary Dudziak)[101] even though in one way it presents a cynical view of the motivations of Americans, in another way it proves that the cleansing took place!

Since public school textbooks were awash with eugenics ideology, they had to be updated. On his web site, Textbook History, Ronald Ladouceur documents this process of ridding the false science of eugenics from American biology texts.[102] Eugenics first made an appearance in the 1914 textbook, A Civic Biology.[103] The reason it was entitled a civic biology was because in the early 20th century, biologists considered it their role to help create a better society. They thought they could apply their knowledge of Mendel’s genetics to that of perfecting humanity.

American students continued to learn about eugenics until after WWII, when biology texts, such as Adventures with Animals and Plants (1950), began the process of discrediting the claim that the Nordic races were superior and that the Jews or “Negroes” were inferior. It explained that there were four blood types and these types appeared in all races, so any person could receive blood from a person of any skin color.[104] In 1956, the Kallikak study was finally dropped completely from being mentioned in new texts. The last high school biology text to even mention eugenics at all was the 1963 Modern Biology text.  

According to Ladouceur, the cleansing of biological racism/eugenics from American society was so complete, that after WWII, biologists, who were accustomed to their civic role in advising on how to create a better society, were lost for a while and had to get their bearings. Biologists were also in a quandary over the role they could now play in order to remain relevant. (The new cause became the “population explosion.”)

For some, like anthropologist Ashley Montagu, a student of Franz Boas and author in 1942 of Mankind’s Most Dangerous Myth, the sudden delegitimization of racist discourse at the end of World War II represented a great triumph. But for others—their careers, reputations, and sense of self, dependent on the idea that their science’s social purpose was at least in part to understand and manage “racial development” – this shift was extremely unsettling as it undermined arguments upon which they based their claims to cultural authority.[105]

After World War II, just as the attempt to cleanse away racial science was happening, Martin Luther King, Jr. began leading the Civil Rights Movement, after which there was a heartfelt attempt to weed out systemic racism from our legal system (1964 Civil Rights Act), housing laws (1968 Fair Housing Act), voting laws (1965 Voting Rights Act), and employment laws (1972 Equal Employment Opportunity Act).

The last vestige of scientific racism/eugenics still exists in one place in America, though, and that is in the pro-abortion ideology of Planned Parenthood. The founder of Planned Parenthood was Margaret Sanger, an unashamed eugenicist. Recently, the Greater Planned Parenthood of New York disavowed Sanger, saying:

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” Karen Seltzer, the chair of the New York affiliate’s board, said in a statement.[106]

They reject Sanger now because they view the world through the lens of CRT, and anti-racism is in vogue, but, grievously, since they don’t view the world through the biblical lens, they aren’t able to see the immorality of shedding the innocent blood of babies.

America continues to move on from the science of white supremacy, but many people don’t even realize that racist views were rooted in science! Why? Because it involves criticism of Darwin. The attempt to bring out this truth has been consistently hindered by the scientific community. For example, Sharon Weston Broome, a legislator who was serving in the Louisiana House in 2001, submitted Resolution 74 which pointed out Darwin’s role in the scientific justification for Darwinism:

WHEREAS, the writings of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, promoted the justification of racism, and his books On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and The Descent of Man postulate a hierarchy of superior and inferior races; and,

WHEREAS, Adolf Hitler and others have exploited the racist views of Darwin and those he influenced, such as German zoologist Ernst Haekel, to justify the annihilation of millions of purportedly racially inferior individuals,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby deplore all instances and ideologies of racism, does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others, and does hereby condemn the extent to which these philosophies have been used to justify and approve racist practices.[107]

Her proposal caused an uproar and one of her opponents said that her resolution was a “product of creationists and Christian supremacists” and that “Christian supremacism was a hate-based ideology.”[108] The resolution passed, but only after all references to Darwin were removed.   

The Kansas Board of Education standards originally called for teaching that revealed ways that science had been abusive in the past (i.e., eugenics, scientific racism, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment), but in 2007 the standards changed so that only the benefits of science could be mentioned.[109]

The scientific community would like to hide or cover up its contribution to white supremacy. They would rather the faith community take the blame for slavery and racism. And while there were some Christians who embraced scientific racism and/or social Darwinism, as I hope I revealed in this writing, it was the compromised church, who went along with the scientific perspective, who failed people of color. On the other hand, those who held to the scriptures were proven right again. Christians are not opposed to scientific discovery, but history has shown us that we must not compromise or give precedence to any science that conflicts with the truth of the Word. Humanity suffers when we do.

Hegel’s Influence on Marx

Hegel’s influence on theology also had a profound effect on Karl Marx. David F. Strauss was a follower of Hegel and, like F.C. Baur, was associated with the Tubingen school of theology. Strauss argued in his Life of Jesus Critically Examined that the supernatural elements of the gospel were myths, and that Jesus was only a good teacher. Ludwig Feuerbach, who also studied under Hegel, taught in The Essence of Christianity that God is merely an expression of the mind of man. In other words, we created God out of our own desires, wants, dreams, and wishes of what we want him to be. Marx was influenced by these “theologians” (especially Feuerbach) and rejected Christianity.

After Hegel died, his followers would divide into two camps. The Right Hegelians would continue to hold to the view that there was a spirit behind history who was promoting the progress of freedom. They would remain prominent in Germany during the decades before the Nazis came to power, but the Left Hegelians, of whom Marx was a member, would reject the concept of a Geist. His “ideal state” would be godless, whose future would be determined by humanity, not an unseen spirit. He also believed in the “hero of history,” but in his mind, a great leader would be able to wield a blueprint and design an ordered society. One of the most important Hegelian concepts to Marx was that of “alienated labor.” (This was the idea that a person in a factory was separated from the final product of his work.) He also accepted Hegel’s concept of the “dialectic,” but instead of applying it to the progress of history, he applied it to economic forces—the conflict between the bourgeoisie (who controlled the means of production) and the proletariat (the laborers). This was called “dialectical materialism.” Unfortunately, Marx’s “blueprint” would lead to the destruction of millions of people in the 20th century.

The Social Gospel Aligns with Eugenics

Because the church had gone the way of liberalism, which made accommodations for Darwinian evolution, parts of the church questioned scriptural authority, but they weren’t willing to go toward Marxism because his views were completely godless. But then Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist, suggested that “the principal reason why the human species had survived and prospered was because of its capacity for ‘mutual aid.”[110] Explaining that most species live in societies, and those that don’t are “doomed to decay,”[111] liberal Christians now had a justification for embracing Marxism—not in the form of dialectical materialism, which entailed an earthly version of Hegel’s dialectic and promoted revolutionary tactics, but as a kinder, gentler evolutionary process called progressivism.

Harry F. Ward, professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of the 1908 Social Creed of the Churches, became an outspoken supporter of the concept of mutual aid and “socialism” by means of an evolutionary rather than revolutionary process. He was joined by Walter Rauschenbusch (the “Father of the Social Gospel”) in establishing the Federal Council of Churches (later known as the National Council of Churches).

Harry F. Ward met with and had the same goals as the Fabian Socialists. Like Ward, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Sinclair Lewis, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Potter Webb all believed in a form of Utopian collectivism in the form of evolutionary socialism, but they also all believed in eugenics. In 2016, the United Methodist Church (UMC) passed resolution #3184 entitled “Repentance for Support of Eugenics.” In it they explained that Ward was a eugenicist:

 . . . Rev. Harry F. Ward, professor of Christian ethics and a founder of the Methodist Federation for Social Service, writing in Eugenics, the magazine of the American Eugenic Society, said that Christianity and eugenics were compatible because both pursued the “challenge of removing the causes that produce the weak.”[112]

The UMC continued its confession, admitting that its leaders were immersed in the eugenics mindset and that it was contrary to the scriptures, saying . . .

We lament the ways eugenics was used to justify the sterilization of persons deemed less worthy. We lament that Methodist support of eugenics policies was used to keep persons of different races from marrying and forming legally recognized families. We are especially grieved that the politics of eugenics led to the extermination of millions of people by the Nazi government and continues today as “ethnic cleansing” around the world.[113] 

The UMC succumbed to the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the age). If only they would have remained faithful to the Word, they could have been the heroes, rather than the scourges of society. Because they emphasized paradise on earth, without a concern for obedience to the Word, they not only endorsed and encouraged Hitler, but unwittingly they gave their support to those who caused hunger, tyranny, torture, and death.

According to Richard Wurmbrand, founder of the Voice of the Martyrs, after World War II, progressive Christians of the ecumenical World Council of Churches attended a meeting where the communists brought together 4000 leaders of all Christian denominations in the Romanian Parliament Building and these pastors, priests, and ministers chose Joseph Stalin, then the current president of the “World Movement of the Godless” as the honorary president of that congress. Wurmbrand said that “one after another, bishops and pastors arose and declared that communism and Christianity are fundamentally the same.”[114] The speeches at the meeting were broadcast across the Soviet Union and had a demoralizing effect on the Underground Church.

And yet, there was still a faithful remnant.

The Underground Church in Communist Nations

Atheistic communism was ravaging nation after nation, yet there were heroes who refused to give up on Jesus. They continued the Underground Church, even though if they were caught, they could be sent to a gulag or put into a mental institution. Watchmen Nee, the famous Chinese pastor, was sentenced to 15 years in prison where he died in his cell. Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor, spent 14 years in communist prisons. He began the Voice of the Martyrs because he felt betrayed by the liberal World Council of Churches. He described how they, and other religious leaders, were easily deceived:

Once the communists came to power, they skillfully used the means of seduction toward the church. The language of love and the language of seduction are the same. The one who wishes a girl for a wife and the one who wishes her for only a night both say the words, “I love you.” Jesus told us to discern between the language of seduction and the language of love, and to know the wolves clad in sheepskin from the real sheep. Unfortunately, when the communists came to power, thousands of priests, pastors, and ministers did not know how to discern between the two voices.[115]

Aida Skripnikova, Shenia Komarov, Nickolai Khamara (who was in prison for being a thief, yet his life was so changed by Jesus that after he was released his Soviet torturers threatened Nickolai’s pastor by threatening to gouge out Nickolai’s eyes and cut off his tongue if the pastor didn’t turn in other believers in their Underground Church—neither gave in), Dr. Margareta Pescaru (who smuggled medicine to patients who had been through “re-education efforts”), Louise Klassen Matson, Georgi Vins, Ivan Moiseyev, and so many more were all part of the courageous resistance to the Soviet regime.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was also sentenced to eight years in Stalin’s “corrective labor camps.”[116] It was in these times of persecution and struggle that he received Christ. His writing about the time spent there (The Gulag Archipelago) earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. One of his most famous quotes was about the cause of the revolution that had produced so much death and destruction in Russia.  

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Hegel may not have approved of Marx’s society without Geist, but he still contributed to the worldview of Marx and his followers. Soon, these destructive Marxist ideologies would find expression through a new group of thinkers. In Nazi Germany, a different group of Left Hegelian philosophers came together and formed the Frankfurt School, but since their nation was at war with Russian communists, they were forced to flee, and they found refuge in America.

The Hegelian Roots of Critical Theory

In the years after World War II, when the failures of both Nazism and Marxist communism were clearly revealed to the world, most people might have given up on their affection for Hegel and Marx, but the members of the Frankfurt School didn’t admit defeat. Instead, they developed what they called Critical Theory. Although they could see that capitalism hadn’t failed (as Marx had predicted it would), there were other problems in society to criticize, so instead of promoting revolution based only upon economic divisions, they took a new approach and shifted to a form of Marxism based on the clash of identities.

Herbert Marcuse (who did his thesis on Hegel) was one of the members of the Frankfurt School. He thought that the new Marxist cause should become that of the “substratum,”[117] those who resided underneath the conservative middle class, and was made up of “the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and colors, the unemployed and the unemployable.”[118] Marcuse admitted he didn’t have any ideas about how to construct a better society, but he thought oppressed persons could find their satisfaction merely in the act of opposing injustice. He called this opposition the “Great Refusal.”[119] It has been represented in many movements as the raised fist.

During the 1960s and early 70s, the ideas of Marcuse influenced the New Left, and he became the “guru of the student movement.” In his book Eros and Civilization, he also pushed for “personal and sexual liberation.”[120] (He coined the term “Make love, not war!”) Realizing that revolutionary support would not come from the American working class (he thought they were content with their comforts and entertainment), he instead appealed to “students, ethnic minorities, women, and workers in the Third World.”[121] These movements became known as the anti-war movement, the black power movement (as opposed to the Civil Rights movement headed by Martin Luther King, Jr., which had its roots in the church), the feminist movement, and liberation theology. One of Marcuse’s students was Angela Davis, who was active in the black liberation movement, is a Marxist communist, and is active in CRT and Black Lives Matter.[122]  

Another aspect of CRT is the idea of “cultural hegemony.” Antonio Gramsci, who was imprisoned by the fascist dictator Mussolini because he was a leader of the Italian communist party, was also disappointed that the lower classes (which he called the “subaltern”), were greater in number, yet never revolted against the less numerous ruling class. In his Prison Notebooks he explained that “cultural hegemony”—the atmosphere in a society created by the ruling class or majority and spread by the media, churches, schools, advertising, and entertainment—allowed those with power and influence to exploit the lower classes, causing them to willfully participate in their own consensual oppression. He said that most people just accept the status quo even if it isn’t beneficial to them. It’s just the way things are—the commonsense notions of society. This idea was used to help explain why more people didn’t join the Marxist revolutions.

The “postmodernists” have also played an important role in the development of CRT. After learning of the horrors of the Holocaust and the Stalinist purges, the postmodernists (a group of mostly French, or “Continental,” philosophers) argued that the Enlightenment project, which was based on human reason and empirical evidence, had failed. Jacques Derrida (who, not surprisingly, studied Hegel) developed a theory called “deconstructionism” which said words, which are merely symbolic representations of objects or thoughts, can easily be interpreted in numerous ways. (What I think when I read a word might be entirely different from what another person would think if they read the same word.) Therefore, any text is open to many interpretations—meaning that language cannot be relied on to convey truth. It also doesn’t matter what the author’s intent was, since each reader will perceive it individually. Therefore, since truth is no longer attainable through the use of language, debate is discouraged, and the only thing that matters is the pursuit of pure power to bring about change.

Derrida also developed the concept of “de-centering.” In the past, modern “structuralist” views of society (which would be the Newtonian-based Enlightenment/deist view) held on to a center. This could be God, laws, man, ideology, etc., but the center, which was like an anchor for the structure, changed at different times, and history was merely “a series of substitutions of center for center” competing for the center position. Post-modernists deny that society should be organized around a center, since, they believe, every center has failed in the past to provide a just society. Instead, just like language, our societal centers have no true meaning. This leaves the construction of morals and truth to be determined by each individual.

Not surprisingly, any attack on the legitimacy of language had an impact on biblical interpretation since the concept of doctrinal purity or scholarly analysis “is regarded with intense suspicion by the postmodernists.” Michel Foucault (who also studied Hegel) did an analysis of the power relationship between the interpreter (such as a pastor, pope, or professor) and the community, and raised “questions concerning the potentially repressive function of ‘authorized’ biblical interpreters.” (This attempt to discredit biblical authority should not be surprising since Foucault, a homosexual who died of AIDS in 1984, was searching for a way to normalize behavior that was outside the realm of societal acceptance.)

Jean-Francois Lyotard, another of the French philosophers, said that a simplified definition of postmodernism was “an incredulity towards meta-narratives.” Universal truth isn’t found in an overarching story or narrative of history. Truth can only be known through the experience and perspectives of individuals who lived it.

If you understand CRT, you’ll notice the discernable connections between the thinking of the philosophers and the terms and ideas used by today’s critical theorist. CRT is based on power relationships between different identity groups and is described in terms of the oppressor vs. the oppressed. This is an idea that came from Marcuse and his replacement of the economic dialectic with the identity dialectic.

The idea of white hegemony, or white privilege, is an idea that is rooted in Gramsci’s idea of cultural hegemony. The idea of meritocracy (the belief that if a person works hard, they will be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps) is said to be a “common sense” misconception (notice the reference to Gramsci’s idea).

The idea that each identity group needs to tell their own stories (since each group has had “different histories and experiences with oppression,”)[123] in their “unique voice” from the perspective of their “lived experience” is rooted in Lyotard’s insistence that truth can only be known through the experiences and perspectives of individuals who lived it. This “standpoint epistemology” has produced the popular phrase “that’s your truth.” De-centering, focusing on the “other,” and telling history from the margins, is also rooted in the philosophy of Derrida.

The criticism of American exceptionalism and the Judeo-Christian worldview is also rooted in Lyotard’s rejection of any meta-narrative. There are no great stories anymore, say the critical race theorists, no purpose in history. These were just delusions that we believed for a while, but now we know the truth: America was founded on racist beliefs and these oppressive beliefs were (and are being) lived out by Christians.

That doesn’t mean the critical race theorists aren’t trying to re-center and create their own meta-narrative, though. The 1619 Project is a perfect example of an attempt “to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States national narrative.”[124] (Since we live in a secular nation that has rooted out nearly all mention of Christian contributions and motives from our history classes, I think there needs to be a renewed effort to teach Christian history!)

Many other ideas are included in CRT, such as the concept that whites must do “antiracist work,” that “white silence” is racist, that solutions to the problem of racism must recognize “inequity” and possibly include reparations. Another term that is found in modern Critical Theory is the idea of “intersectionality” (that the intersection of identities will reveal that since “we are all caught in multiple systems, we can learn to see our connection to others”). “White fragility,” a term popularized by Robin DiAngelo,[125] has been particularly offensive to many because she makes it impossible for a person to deny they are a racist.

One of the most frightening aspects of Critical Theory is that since power is the primary goal, reasoned debate isn’t necessary. Because it is post-modern, and the modern (or Enlightenment) era emphasized rationality, traditional ways of determining truth (through empirical evidence, reasoned dialogue, or even the scriptures) are forms of investigation that they say comes from “white, male-centered forms of thinking that have characterized much of Western thought.”[126] This statement has all the earmarks of the philosophers—de-centering, oppressor vs. oppressed, anti-meta-narrative, deconstruction of thought, etc.

One of the worst consequences of Critical Theory is “cancel culture.” If a person says something that appears to harm a member of an oppressed group (categorized as “hate speech”), they are often persecuted: mocked, taken off social media, de-platformed, or even fired from their job—merely by the accusation of the mob—without due process or even an explanation in some cases. After all, all that matters is pure power, and that power must be used to repress any tolerance of those who disagree with CRT. Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School explained the justification of censorship in his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance.”

In past and different circumstances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the massacre. The distance between the propaganda and the action, between the organization and its release on the people had become too short. But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War.[127]

Marcuse thought that people were mesmerized by Hitler into believing propaganda, and that evil was merely the result of frenzied speech. This seems to be the popular way to view Hitler’s power—that he was simply able to work people up into a state of madness. But the evil of Nazism was carried out in the daily lives of people who, like Hitler, had already been immersed in Hegelian philosophy, the pseudoscience of eugenics, social Darwinism, and liberal theology. It was in their schools—and almost all of their churches had swastikas on the altars—except for the altars of those who understood that allegiance to Jesus, through allegiance to the Word, was the primary calling of the church. They were the only German Christians who were “found faithful.” Hitler was fed by the same corrupt roots as the German people and it produced horrible fruit.

Does Critical Race Theory Conflict with the Word?

Time after time in history the church failed when it aligned itself with ideologies, science, philosophies, and false theologies that conflicted with the Word. Unfortunately, the times when atheists can point to our greatest failures are the precise times when the church compromised and corrupted the truth. This leads to this urgent question: How has CRT conflicted with the Word?

Since CRT is rooted in postmodern philosophy and the postmodernists didn’t believe in meta-narratives or absolute truth, “woke” social justice differs from the Christian definition of justice. Christians are concerned with truth, especially as found in the Word. But we also look for truth in our justice systems. For example, the ninth commandment forbids us to “bear false witness,” but CRT has no problem with “storytelling” in legal cases. Richard Delgado admits:

Finally, CRT’s adversaries are perhaps most concerned with what they perceive to be critical race theorists’ nonchalance about objective truth. For the critical race theorist, objective truth, like merit, does not exist, at least in social science and politics. In these realms, truth is a social construct created to suit the purposes of the dominant group.[128]

CRT was founded by lawyers who were frustrated with the legal system and believed that, just as Derrida claimed that language was unable to be a source of truth because every person could interpret it differently, there was also a “legal indeterminacy—the idea that not every legal case has one correct outcome. Instead, one can decide most cases either way, by emphasizing one line of authority over another, or interpreting one fact differently from the way one adversary does.”[129] If this is the case, they reason, then why should a lawyer not attempt to manipulate the outcome of the case using any means possible? Under a section entitled “Storytelling in Court,” Delgado explains how this can be done by lawyers through the use of narrative:

Attorneys and teachers of clinical law have been applying storytelling and narrative analysis to understand how the dynamics of persuasion operate in the courtroom. They also use them to understand the interplay of power and interpretive authority between lawyer and client. Suppose, for example, the lawyer favors strategy A because it is 60 percent likely to win. The client, however, favors strategy B because it is “truer to his experience” or world. Writers such as Lucy White and Anthony Alfieri show that attention to the narrative side of lawyering can enable lawyers representing the poor and disenfranchised to achieve a better brand of justice.[130]

Since truth is unachievable, the goal of the justice system isn’t that of discovering the reality of what actually happened, instead the goal is to win the case at all cost. Therefore “storytelling” can be justified simply because a client is a member of an oppressed class.[131] This is contrary to the scriptures which teach that justice should be blind. Courts should merely be interested in the facts and evidence of the case. “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour” (Lev. 19:15).  

Because concern for truth has now been replaced by concern for the power relationship between the group identities of the persons involved in the case, this explains why, over the last few years, there has been no concern over the rush to judgment when whites and blacks were involved in a criminal conflict. The critical race theorists automatically took the side of the person in the oppressed class, even before all the facts surrounding the case came out. This is not biblical justice. Individual justice based on the facts and the circumstances surrounding a particular case cannot be set aside in exchange for social (or collective) justice.

Not only is CRT not concerned with truth and justice, more importantly, its representative of a spirit that is the EXACT OPPOSITE of Christianity. Just like those in past generations, it may be difficult for us to see the forest for the trees concerning the challenge of our time, but if we step back and take the wide view, it’s obvious that the gospel message of grace and forgiveness are against the very essence and nature of CRT. Its principles lead its adherents to continually find fault, make false accusations, and divide people into identity groups who are bitterly suspicious of one another. Its goal is to break down old institutions—especially the church, because our beliefs create a large part of the cultural “hegemony” in America.

The word “critical” in Critical Theory has no hidden meaning. It simply means “critical” which is defined as “inclined to criticize, find fault.” This is the exact opposite (the antithesis) of the word “grace.” Some synonyms for “critical” are judgmental, disapproving, unfavorable, fault-finding, and disparaging. On the other hand, some synonyms for “grace” are favor, charity, kindness, mercy, blessing, leniency, benevolence, and clemency. How can these two diametrically opposed attitudes coexist in the church? As the apostle James asked: “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter water?” (James 3:11)

The very purpose of all Critical Theory is to criticize existing structures and tear them down. The Southern Baptist Convention is a target for this destruction. Not only because of our past racial sins, but also because of our present views on Critical Gender Theory, Critical Feminist Theory, and Critical LGBT Theory. There will no appeasing adherents of Critical Theory merely by accommodating Critical Race Theory. It won’t stop there. There will be constant skirmishes over biblical authority. So instead of forming a strong bulwark of opposition, we will see a continual erosion of the faith under a steady flood of corruption. The critical theorists will bring about this warring status through false accusations, self-righteous anger, bitterness, and fault-finding. Not by the attempt to get the SBC to adhere to the Word, but by bringing in faulty exegesis and extrabiblical ideologies—exactly what they did successfully during the slave era.

Hebrews 12:14-15 warns us about this danger: Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Because CRT is a form of unfaithfulness to God, based upon beliefs that are foreign to biblical teachings, it produces bitter fruit, just as the scripture predicted:

Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit. – Deut. 29:18, ESV

Christopher Hitchens pointed out in his book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, that religion is a poisonous force, but Hitchens only pointed out the failures of Christianity—those times when the church was producing “poisonous and bitter fruit” because they were practicing a corrupted and false religion under the cover of Christianity.  

Because we are in a time of grace, we are commanded to let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31-32). A beautiful example of grace and forgiveness can be found in the example of Liuba Ganevskaya who was being held in a Russian prison because of her faith:

Liuba Ganevskaya had been beaten repeatedly in the Russian prison. But when she looked up at her torturer, holding the whip above her back, she smiled.

“Why do you smile?” he asked, stunned.

“I don’t see you as a mirror would reveal you right now,” Liuba said. “I see you as you surely have been—a beautiful, innocent child. We are the same age. We might have been playmates.”

God opened Liuba’s eyes to see the man differently. She saw his exhaustion; he was as tired of beating her as she was of being beaten. He was frustrated that he was unable to make her reveal the activities of other believers.

He is so much like you,” God said into Liuba’s heart. “You are both caught in the same drama of life. You and your torturers pass through the same veil of tears.”

Seeing the man through God’s eyes, Liuba’s attitude changed. She continued talking to him. “I see you too, as I hope you will be. A persecutor worse than you once lived—Saul of Tarsus—and he became an apostle and a saint.” She asked the calmed man what burden weighed on him so much that it drove him to the madness of beating a person who had not harmed him.

Through her loving concern, Liuba ushered her torturer into Christ’s kingdom.”

Corrie ten Boom, who spent time in a Nazi concentration camp, tells a similar story about being set free from bitterness and resentment towards the guard who beat her sister Betsy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said the sign of a true Christian was the ability to forgive our enemies. And yet, CRT focuses on attacking enemies. Exposing them. Cancelling them. Calling them out. Falsely accusing them and finding the sin of racism in every action. Their focus isn’t on bringing people into reconciliation with God or others, instead the focus is on pharisaical targeting and making unjust judgments.

I don’t bring up the need for forgiveness as a way to say to blacks that they must forgive whites for the heinous sins of the past; I bring it up because we must not forget that grace and forgiveness make up the precious foundation of Christianity. It was the purpose of Christ’s coming. It is the beautiful root that produces the beautiful fruit. If we submit to, or try to synthesize with, any other system of thought that is based on an opposite ethos, we will lose the true essence of Christianity!

Jesus served as our great example when he cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) while he was on the cross. The same grace that Jesus extended to his tormentors we are now commanded to extend to others. How many times should we forgive? 70×7 times. If our enemy commands us to carry his burden for a mile, offer to carry it two miles. If our enemy hits us on the cheek, we are commanded to turn the other cheek. If our enemy is hungry, feed him, care for him, love him. We are to be characterized by an attitude of grace and thankfulness, not criticism and murmuring or complaints.

Christians need to turn to the Word for our wisdom—and its wisdom is the opposite of the wisdom of Critical Theory. The Word produces the beautiful fruit of peace and gentleness. It’s impartial and open to reason. It tries to make peace.

 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:17-18, ESV

This is the wisdom that comes from Jesus—not from the world. It’s the sweet fruit of the True Vine, and Jesus said, “You’ll know them by their fruit” (Matt. 7:16a). But look at the poisonous and bitter fruit that was produced in the past when the church accommodated the wisdom of the world. It produced the fruit of Nazism, slavery, inquisitions, racism, and segregation…and they “stained” the name of Jesus in the process!

In fact, the heroes of Christian history have been those who refused to drink from the impure cup (the “broken cisterns” – Jer. 2:13). They simply preached biblical truth and it produced the fruit of righteousness. The abolitionists didn’t need CRT to love their neighbor and help them find safe passage on the Underground Railroad. Christians didn’t need CRT to redeem slaves, hide Jews, oppose the injustice of the Inquisition, or join their churches together to oppose Hitler. And even without CRT they expanded scientific knowledge and contributed greatly to medicine and health. The Bible was also enough to cause missionaries to fight against tyrants who abused indigenous peoples. The Bible has been sufficient for all of these battles. If you want to be on the right side of history—remain faithful to God and his Word, but if you want to fail, muddy the living water like those Christians of the past who couldn’t keep the Word pure.

Are we so arrogant to believe that our generation will be able to blend in other beliefs with the Christian faith and not produce poisonous fruit? Notice that James said, “the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure…” The wisdom of Christ cannot be blended with any other source of wisdom! The Word of God cannot be subjected to the Hegelian dialectic. Christianity cannot be synthesized with CRT to form a new religion. Biblical wisdom must prevail in the church. “Every word of God is pure…add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6). Paul warned the Galatians: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). Leaven (yeast) grows. It spreads. It gets blended into everything. It’s impossible to separate the yeast from the dough once it has been added.

CRT is rooted in worldly philosophy and false exegesis. Many Southern Baptists realize this, so they assure us that “Southern Baptist churches and institutions repudiate the misuse of insights gained from critical race theory” and tell us it isn’t necessary to adopt all of the ideas that form CRT (they simply cherry-pick the portions they want to believe) but they still believe there are “insights that can be gleaned from some of its principles.”[132] Unfortunately, Resolution 9 doesn’t demarcate what portions of the theory will be embraced or rejected by the denomination, leaving the SBC open to future accusations that they were complicit in all of the evil which will result from CRT.

We can already see the fruit of CRT in the battles taking place across America. We saw the fruit of anger, hatred, and bitterness through the mobs at Evergreen College.[133] We see the cancel culture of the Twitter mobs. Sports have even been tainted by the conflict. Censorship has now become a part of the American experience. America is being divided by those who make false allegations against anyone who uses the wrong word or thinks in a way that isn’t approved by the ever-shifting morality of CRT.

Which side of the culture war does the SBC want to align itself with: the never-changing rock of the Word of God, that has always stood the test of time, or the shifting sand of an ideology rooted in the philosophies of this world, which have a history of failure and destruction? Didn’t our Lord warn us about the danger of being aligned with the ungodly?

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?

and what communion hath light with darkness?

And what concord hath Christ with Belial?

or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. – 2 Cor. 6:14-17

The word “philosophy” is made up of two Greek words: “philo” (love) and “sophia” (wisdom). There are two sources of wisdom: one is named Jesus, in whom the scriptures tell us “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), and the other source is the world, of whom the scriptures warn us to “beware lest any man spoil you” [take you captive] “through philosophy and vain deceit…after the rudiments [principles] of this world and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). CRT is rooted firmly in the philosophies of this world. It has its foundation in the dialectics of Hegel, Marx, and Marcuse. It borrows from the ideas of the French postmodernists who tell us there are no absolutes (no commands of God) and no meta-narratives of history (no Judeo-Christian understanding of God’s working in history). It points us to Marcuse’s raised fist of rebellion rather than to the raised hand in worship and submission to God. We only need to have the smallest understanding of history to see how much damage philosophy has done. It is knowledge that isn’t founded upon the unchanging Word. Instead, it causes us to question the Word. It’s the original sin—eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The assertion that whites are racist, and nothing can be done about it (as Robin Diangelo claims in her argument for “white fragility”)[134] is also a non-negotiable doctrine of CRT. But if we accept her line of reasoning, aren’t we admitting there is a sin that is beyond the reach of Christ’s cleansing and liberating power? If, while we are in our fleshly bodies, we are unable to be set free from the racist attitudes of the dominant culture, then aren’t we admitting that these forces are more powerful than the sanctifying influence of the Word in a believer’s life? And if the power of Christ and the truth of his Word cannot set us free from sinful racist attitudes, how can Jesus possibly judge us? How could he judge the Southern slaveholders for that matter? Racism was even more culturally dominant at that time! And what are Christians supposed to believe when we see evidence that it is possible to repent of racism? (I once had a racist read one of my books and repent of his sin!) We also see this repentance from racism in one of the most beloved stories in church history.

The song “Amazing Grace” was written by John Newton, a slave trader who was saved during a raging storm in the north Atlantic. He started slowly in his walk with the Lord, but as he learned more of the Word, and was exposed to Christians who persuaded him that slavery was wrong, he openly confessed his sin and repented. He became a mentor to William Wilberforce and joined with him in the struggle to rid the British Empire of the slave trade. His song reminds us that the Holy Spirit can convict any “wretch” of sin—leading to a complete change in their heart, mind, and life. It also reveals to us that the “stain of racism” can be removed. Newton’s friend, William Cowper, wrote these words that have been used at revival meetings around the world:

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.

As leaders in the SBC grapple with “removing the stain of racism from the Southern Baptist Convention,”[135] I wonder how they think Christians lose their “guilty stains?” Don’t they lose their guilty stains when they confess their sins, ask forgiveness, and repent? Aren’t we supposed to believe the stain is then gone? Isn’t it under the blood of Jesus? 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Over a quarter of a century ago the SBC cried out in public, corporate, confession and repentance, saying, “We lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery . . . and we ask forgiveness from our African American brothers and sisters . . .” According to the Word, this is sufficient to remove the stain and purify us from all our sin: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7). _

And yet, there are leaders in the SBC who say that the “stain of racism” remains in the SBC. They point to the actions of members who have acted in wicked, hurtful, and racist ways. But should the SBC be found guilty of the sins committed by individuals who don’t align themselves with the teachings of the church? Do any teachings that are rooted in false racial doctrines still remain in the church? We no longer believe slavery is a “positive good” (as the Confederate leader John C. Calhoun argued in the U.S. Senate). We no longer forbid interracial marriage. We no longer preach the “curse of Ham.” We don’t believe in polygenism. We don’t believe in social Darwinism or eugenics. We have purged these false beliefs that propped up racism from our doctrines. And rightly so! As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, they had their roots in greed, false teaching, and pseudoscience.  

Isn’t placing the blame on the SBC for something they no longer teach or believe the same as placing the blame on Jesus for the sins of church history? He never endorsed the actions of the Nazis or Inquisitors, yet the skeptics are quick to place the blame on him. There needs to be a delineation between the sinful actions of people who claim to be members of the SBC—yet disobey SBC teaching—in the same way I’ve tried to separate out those in history who claimed to be Christians—yet disobeyed the scriptures.

Some Christians are also confused because those who hold to CRT are orthodox in their views on salvation. “We agree wholeheartedly with the Baptist Faith and Message!” they say. Well, the slaveholders were evangelicals too, and I’m sure their doctrinal beliefs on salvation, sanctification, and glorification were in perfect order, but when they knowingly added, or gave precedence to, even one anti-biblical view, they became unfaithful. They also reveal their lack of orthodoxy on these issues when they lift up the black liberation theology of James Cone.

Cone’s book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, is undeniably beautiful and heart-wrenching, but Cone misses the mark when he says that “God’s liberation of the poor is the primary theme of Jesus’ gospel.”[136] John the Baptist revealed the true primary goal of the gospel when he pointed his followers to the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Then John showed the fruit of following the Lamb: A renewed heart that acted with kindness. If you see an individual in need, he said, and you can help them, do it. In Cone’s case, the primary goal is temporal, earthly salvation. Cone says, “heaven and earth must be held together in critical, dialectical tension,”[137] meaning the Christian must focus on getting people to heaven and caring for them on the earth, but the primary theme of the gospel must be reconciliation with God through Jesus—because it is from this Vine that the fruit of true liberation and love is produced. The first commandment is to love God. The second is to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40). Cone inverts these commands and places the second love (neighbor love) before our first love—God.

What is the role of the church in society? Is it to become “co-creators” with God to bring about shalom or a restoration of Eden? Is it to pursue social justice? Or is it to be a witness who upholds the truth of the scriptures in every society in every age? I would argue that in every era, true justice was accomplished simply by standing fast on the truth of the Word and never wandering off this narrow way.

The Church at the Crossroads: Will We Be Found Faithful?

he previous president of the SBC, Edgar Y. Mullins experienced a time when the church was at a crossroads and he was able to faithfully steer his little flock in the proper direction. Adrian Rogers was also able to faithfully guide his little flock when he was facing a crossroads. The SBC is at the crossroads again. What direction will we take? Will we be found faithful?

W.A. Taylor, pastor of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. wrote in a 1935 article entitled “Is There a Need for a Restatement of Baptist Doctrine and Polity,” about the decision facing Christians of his era. They were standing at a crossroads and there was no easy answer. No matter what answer they gave, they would be in trouble.

‘If we answer yes,’ he explained, ‘we fly into the faces of those orthodox fundamentalists, who stand guard over the traditions of the church and dare to jealously defend the ‘doctrines once for all delivered to the saints’ and to see that no one word used by the pioneers of the church in that original document shall be changed.’ But, if the answer were no, he continued, the response would ‘bring upon us the condemnation and censure of modern scholarship, reactionaries, and progressives, and be styled as back numbers, behind the times and out of line with the march and progress of modern religious thoughts and recent Biblical interpretation.’

The Southern Baptist Convention is in a similar valley of decision. If we vote to overturn Resolution 9, we will be hated. We will be misunderstood. We will be called racists who are returning to our old ways. But if we leave Resolution 9 in place, it will “fly in the face” of those who believe CRT is in conflict with biblical Christianity. It seems that division is inevitable.

But what if, instead of division, we all humbled ourselves and gathered around the pure Word in submission to one another and in submission to Christ? Walking together as brothers and sisters, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3).

The church has stood at the crossroads before, and every time they chose to accommodate the world, in later centuries the world would look back on them and point to them with a judgmental and accusatory finger. Because they associated the name of God with views that were popular, “intellectually advanced,” and “scientific”—even though they conflicted with the teachings of the scriptures—the blame for the evil fruit that was produced by the rotten roots was placed on God—as Hitchens did when he titled his book God is Not Great.

This is our moment in history. What will our legacy be? Will we be unfaithful again—as we were during the slave era when we succumbed to worldly wisdom and knowledge? Or will we form a bulwark of opposition to CRT—no matter what it costs us? Will we follow the examples of our African American brothers, Jonathan H. Frank and F. C. Van Buren, who cared more for their faithfulness to God and his Word than for their image in the world? Or will we betray the Lord?

Have you ever been betrayed? I have, and I wanted to know why. What did that other woman have that I didn’t have? How did I fail in the relationship? This was the exact response God had when he was betrayed by Israel. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, conveyed God’s heart:

What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? – Jer. 2:5, ESV

God asked what he had done that caused Israel to have other lovers on the side.[138] Hadn’t he been faithful and true to them? Hadn’t he delivered them from Egypt and provided them with many victories and blessings? Hadn’t he tenderly cared for them like a faithful husband? Why did they need to have other lovers?

Just like ancient Israel, the SBC has been unfaithful in the past. Instead of having a faithful relationship with Christ alone, they invited polygenism, social Darwinism, love of mammon, and unfaithful interpretations of the “curse of Ham” into their relationship with Christ—and it contributed to much human suffering and tragedy. We’ve had to confess our sins and lament over the pain we caused to others. Perhaps this time we can confess and lament before we contribute even more to the death and destruction that has (and will) come from CRT. Perhaps this time we will act heroically for the cause of Christ and his Word—even unto death—as so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the ages have had to endure at the hands of those who held to extrabiblical beliefs that have now passed on—yet “the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God shall stand forever” (Isa. 40:8).

The prophet Jeremiah sent young King Josiah (who pleased God by cleansing the land of idols) to a prophetess name Huldah, and she gave him these words from the Lord:

Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. — 2 Chron. 34:27

When Josiah cleansed the temples of idols (which, according to the prophets, were the equivalent of Israel’s spiritual lovers on the side), God considered his act a display of tenderhearted love. I believe CRT is another lover on the side. Its proponents say they want God, but they actually want God AND an ideology that comes from a tree with corrupt roots.

Where do you stand?

Do you have a desire to cleanse our temple of idols?

Is your heart tender toward God?

Will there be a faithful remnant in the Southern Baptist Convention?

Will we repent and put the axe to the old root of unfaithfulness—or will we allow a new sprout to begin to grow up again?

 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. – Matt. 3:10

[1] Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007), 229.

[2] Dictionary, s.v. “corrupt,”

[3] John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Pittsburgh, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 50-51.

[4] Augustine, “Letter 93 to Vincentius.” Early Church Texts.

[5] Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica. Vol II. (Chicago: William Benton, 1952), 440.

[6] Thomas Aquinas and Augustine both asserted that “all truth is God’s truth,” but after spending a lifetime trying to merge Greek philosophy with Christianity, according to the church historian Alister E. McGrath, before Aquinas died, he looked back on his life’s work and called it “straw.” Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1998), 114.

[7] Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1978), 141.

[8] Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, trans. Stillman Drake, ed. and cond. by S.E. Sciortino, Famous Trials

[9] Isaac Newton, Newton’s Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, trans. Andrew Motte (London: Benjamin Notte, 1729), 504.

[10] Isaac Newton, “Original Letter from Isaac Newton to Richard Bentley, Dated 10 September 1692.” The Newton Project, Trinity College Library, Cambridge.

[11] J. H. Tiner, Johannes Kepler: Giant of Faith and Science (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1977), 178.

[12] Robert Boyle, Selected Philosophical Papers of Robert Boyle, ed. M. A. Stewart (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1991), 155.

[13] “Bill Maher Interviews Christopher Hitchens,” Jan. 5, 2010. YouTube.

[14] Charles Darwin, “Letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 February 1871,” Darwin Correspondence Project.;query=warm%20little%20pond;brand=default.

[15] René Vallery-Radot, trans. R. L. Devonshire, The Life of Pasteur, 2 Vols. (London: Archibald Constable, 1901-1902), 142.

[16] Laurence Farmer, Master Surgeon: A Biography of Joseph Lister (New York: Harper, 1962), 29.

[17] Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Richmond, VA: J. W. Randolph, 1853), 149-150.

[18] David Hume, The Philosophical Works of David Hume, cont. Henry Maudsley (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1854), 228.

[19] Immanuel Kant, “Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime,” as quoted by David Brion in the book Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2006), 75.

[20] Voltaire, “Essai sur les mouers,” as quoted by David Brion in the book Inhuman Bondage, Ibid.

[21] John A. Broadus, “As to the Colored People,” Standard (Chicago), 1 Feb. 1883, 1.  As quoted by Gregory A. Wills, et al. in “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Dec. 12, 2018,

[22] Ibid.

[23] A phrase used in the book Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention: Diverse African American and White Perspectives by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2017).

[24] Josiah Priest, in his book Bible Defence [sic] of Slavery (Louisville, KY: J. F. Brennan, 1851), p. 91, claimed that the authority to expand the curse from Canaan to Ham came from the Arabic translation of the Bible. He explained: “But lest the reader should become perplexed, respecting the application of this anathema, on account of the text above referred to being, in the English, ‘cursed Canaan’ instead of ‘cursed Ham,’ as it should have been translated; we state that the Arabic copy of the book of Genesis, which is a language of equal authority with the Hebrew, and originally the very same, reads ‘cursed Ham,’ the father of Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” This is just another example of false teaching coming from a source other than the Bible.

[25] Basil Manly, Sr., “Duties of Masters and Servants,” no. 8 of Manly’s “Sermons on Duty,” in Basil Manly Manuscript Sermons and Notes, SBTS. As explained in “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” p. 13.

[26] William J. McGlothlin, “Sparks from the Anvil,” Seminary Magazine 8 (1894): 124-25. As explained in “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,”p. 39.

[27] For more information on how to understand Lev. 25:44-46 (which is the Old Testament law that seems to allow slavery) please see my post “The Faithful Church Abolished Southern Slavery.” Aug. 24, 2018.

[28] Alexander McLeod, Negro Slavery Unjustifiable, A Discourse (New York: T. & J. Swords, 1802), 8.

[29] Frederick Douglass, “The Church and Prejudice,” Plymouth County Anti-slavery Society, Nov. 4, 1841.

[30] Frederick Douglass, “’The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered,’ an Address Before the Literary Societies of Western Reserve College, At Commencement, July 12, 1854.” The Frederick Douglass Papers, 10, The Library of Congress. Accessed 22 July 2019.

[31] Rev. John Rankin, Letters on American Slavery, Addressed to Mr. Thomas Rankin (Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1838), 70-71.

[32] Albert Mohler, “The Heresy of Racial Superiority—Confronting the Past, and Confronting the Truth,” Albert Mohler, June, 23, 2015.

[33] Robert W. Rydell, “World’s Columbian Exposition,” Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society, 2006.

[34] “Reviews and Literary Notices,” The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 13, No. 80, June, 1864. Project Gutenberg.

[35] Josiah Strong, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis (New York: The American Home Missionary Society, 1885), 174-175.

[36] Charles Spurgeon Gardner, “The Negro and the White Man,” typescript, pp. 4-6, Charles S. Gardner Papers, SBTS. As quoted in “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” p. 57.

[37] Bob Jones, Sr. used this scripture as a proof text for the support of segregation. (Justin Taylor, “Is Segregation Scriptural? A Radio Address from Bob Jones on Easter 1960.” July 26, 2016, The Gospel Coalition The argument being that at the Tower of Babel each nation was scattered and given a boundary and that people were to remain within those bounds, even for the purposes of marriage and procreation. And yet we know that Moses—the man God used to give the law—married a Midianite woman. We also know that the disciples were commanded to go out into the world and preach the gospel to all nations. Languages were used as a form of separation at Babel, but at Pentecost all languages were able to be understood by those who listened to the preaching of the gospel. The church never limited missionaries from learning other languages, translating the Word, and preaching the gospel. It seems that Acts 17:26b was used inappropriately as a prohibition against interracial marriage. The Bible never prohibits marriage between races, but it does prohibit marriage between different faiths (2 Cor. 6:14). It was science that forbade intermarriage. Especially eugenics.

[38] Benjamin Harrison, “Speech Given at the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions Held in Carnegie Hall and Neighboring Churches, April 21-May 1, 1900” (New York: American Tract Society, 1900).

[39] John Howard Hinton, William Knibb: Missionary to Jamaica (London: Houlston and Stoneman, 1847), 148.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Alan Jackson, “William Knibb, 1803-1845, Jamaican Missionary and Slaves’ Friend.” Victorian Web.

[42] Neil Parsons, “Colonial Administration Page 2: Charles Rey and Previous Commissioners of the Bechuanaland Protectorate.” University of Botswana History Department.

[43]“William Wilberforce and Family: Priest/Minister, Statesman, and Abolitionist” Westminster Abbey.

[44] Annie Bacher, “David Trumbull: A Yankee Reformer in Chile.” May 27, 2015, The Argentina Independent.

[45] Alan Jackson, “William Knibb.”

[46] For more information on the ways the faithful church opposed colonial abuses, see Diana Lesperance, “The Faithful Church Opposed Colonial Abuses,” Nov. 29, 2017, The Faithful Church.

[47] George William Hunter, A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (New York: American Book Co., 1914), 262. Accessed through Ronald Ladoucuer, “Database: Eugenics in High School Biology Textbooks,” Textbook History, If you want to see the monstrous suggestions and attitudes that were being taught to teenagers in America in the early 20th century, and why the U.S. government had to change the texts, several original biology texts are available to peruse at the above link. 

[48] “black stork ]silent film,euge nics,” Neil Marcus, May 30, 2016, YouTube.

[49] Ronald Ladouceur, “Eugenics in 20th Century Biology Textbooks,” Feb. 10, 2010, Textbook History

[50] Henry Linville, The Biology of Man and Other Organisms (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1923), 176-177.

[51] Clifton Fremont and Jean Dawson, Civic Biology: Textbook of Problems, Local and National, That Can be Solved Only by Civic Cooperation (Boston: Ginn, 1918), 342. (Study by Henry H. Goddard).

[52] Sanger, Margaret. The Case for Birth Control (United States: Modern Art Printing Co., 1917), 207.

[53] Clifton Fremont, Civic Biology, 344.

[54] Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. James Murphy, (London: Hurst and Blackett, Ltd., 1939).

 Project Gutenberg, Australia.

[55] Stefan Kuhl, Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 85.

[56] Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race; or, The Racial Bias of European History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918), 50-51.

[57] “Human Sterilization Today,” 1938, pamphlet of the Human Betterment Foundation, included in the article by Rebecca Onion, “How Proponents of Forced Sterilization Convinced Everyday Californians to Support Their Cause, May 6, 2015, Slate.

[58] W.A. Plecker, “The New Virginia Law to Preserve Racial Integrity,” Virginia Health Bulletin, Vol. 16:2, 1924.

[59] Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (New York: Worth Publishers, 1998), 230.

[60] Houston Stewart Chamberlain, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, Vol. II, trans. John Lees (New York: John Lane Co., 1911).

[61] Stewart Winfield Herman, Report from Christian Europe (New York: Friendship Press, 1953), 54.

[62] Karl Stern, Pillar of Fire (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951), 119.

[63] William Shirer,  Berlin Diary (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1941), 512.

[64] G.K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized Society (London: Cassell and Co., Ltd., 1922), 4. It may be important to note that some have accused Chesterton of being an anti-Semite. A discussion about this accusation can be found here: “Was G.K. Chesterton Anti-Semitic?” May 11, 2012, The Apostolate of Common Sense.

[65] E.Y. Mullins, Christianity at the Crossroads (New York: George H. Doran, 1924), 94.

[66] When the Berlin Wall came down after the Soviet Union was dissolved, Francis Fukuyama, the political scientist, gleefully declared that the world had finally experienced Hegel’s “end of history,” the final triumph of liberal democracy and freedom over totalitarianism.

[67] Robert S. Hartman, Hegel: Reason in History: A General Introduction to the Philosophy of History (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1953), xviii.

[68] Ibid., xvii.

[69] Peter Singer, Hegel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 11.

[70] Ibid.

[71] John Tosh, The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods, and New Directions in the Study of Modern History, rev. 3rd ed. (London: Pearson Education Limited, 2002), 7.

[72] Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. James Murphy.

[73] Note that Martin Luther’s writing, On the Jews and Their Lies, was put on display during Hitler’s Nuremberg assemblies to give support to his Nazi ideology. Martin Luther, who was so faithful in many of his other writings on theology, was not a faithful steward in his views on the Jews. In his whole anti-Semitic polemic, Luther never mentioned Romans 11 which explained that God has not rejected the Jews. Luther took certain parts of the Word away and didn’t “rightly divide the Word of truth.” As a result, I don’t think it’s unfair to say he contributed to the suffering and death of millions. We need to be faithful stewards! 

[74] Singer, Hegel, 41.

[75] Adolph Hitler, My Battle (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, Co., 1998), 184.

[76] Arthur C. Cochrane, “The Theological Declaration of Barmen,” The Church’s Confession Under Hitler (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), 237-242.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Basil Miller, Martin Niemoeller: Hero of the Concentration Camp, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1943), 127.

[79] Ibid., 122.

[80] Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great, 241.

[81] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (New York: Touchstone, 1977), 4-5.

[82] Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews, Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism between the Wars (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2018), 72.

[83] Ibid., 72-73.

[84] Ibid., 73.

[85] Ibid., 71.

[86] Ibid., 87.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Ibid.

[89] Ibid., 93.

[90] Ibid.

[91] Allida M. Black, “Eleanor Roosevelt and the Wartime Campaign Against Jim Crow.” National Council for the Social Studies.

[92] “Declaration of Human Rights by Eleanor Roosevelt.” Dec. 9, 1948 (Article 1 starts at 2:40 mark.)

[93] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Love in Action” 1963 sermon found in Strength to Love (Boston: Beacon Press, 2019), 37.

[94] Ibid., 38.

[95] R. A. Pathe, “Gene Weltfish: 1902-1980,” as found in Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies, eds. Aisha Khan, Jerrie McIntyre, Ruth Weinberg, Ute Gacs  (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), 375.

[96] “The Brotherhood of Man – Post-WWII Animated Cartoon Against Prejudice and Racism (1946),” YouTube, Nov. 12, 2012.

[97] Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish, The Races of Mankind (Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books, 2020), 1. (Later, this booklet would be suppressed for being a source of communist propaganda. It would be subjected to the inspection of Joseph McCarthy and his Un-American Activities committee. Gene Weltfish would be blacklisted and even lose her teaching position at Columbia University. From: A. Campbell,Influence and Controversy. The Races of Mankind and The Brotherhood of Man.” Social Welfare History Project.

[98] Benedict, The Races of Mankind, 3.

[99] Derek A. Bell, Jr. “Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest Convergence Dilemma.” Harvard Law Review, Jan. 11, 1980, Vol. 93:518.

[100] Richard Delgado and Jean Stefanic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 18-20.

[101] Mary L. Dudziak, “Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative,” Stanford Law Review, Vol. 41, Nov. 1988, 61-120.

[102] Ronald Ladouceur, “Database: Eugenics in High School and College Biology Textbooks,” Link found in Ronald Ladouceur, “Eugenics in High School and College Texts Graphed,” June 26, 2014, Textbook History,

[103] George William Hunter, A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (New York: American Book Co., 1914),

[104] Elsbeth Kroeber and Walter H. Wolff, Adventures with Animals and Plants: A General Biology (Boston: D. C. Heath and Co., 1950), 573-577.

[105] Ronald Ladouceur, “All with Theories to Sell: Carleton S. Coon, Bentley Glass, Marston Bates, and the Struggle by Life Scientists in the United States to Construct a Social Mission after World War II.” Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Empire State College State University of New York, March 8, 2008. Incidentally, Ladouceur says the new cause of displaced biologists became the “population explosion” (p. 10). 

[106] Nikita Stewart, “Planned Parenthood in N.Y. Disavows Margaret Sanger Over Eugenics,” July 21, 2020, The New York Times.

[107] Representative Sharon Weston Broome, “Louisiana House Concurrent Resolution 74,” Regular Session, 2001.

[108] “Human Zoos: America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism,” Feb. 17, 2019, Discovery Science. (At the 46-minute mark.)

[109] Ibid.

[110] Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies, 108.

[111] Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (Boston: Extending Horizons Books, 1955), 293.

[112] Harry F. Ward, “Is Christian Morality Harmful, Over Charitable to the Un-fit?” Eugenics, December 1928, 20.

[113] Ibid.

[114] Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ (Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Book Co., 1998), 16.

[115] Ibid., 16.

[116] In a New York City speech on July 9, 1975, Solzhenitsyn said that Angela Davis, who opposed the U.S. prison system, refused to give support to a group of Czechs (who were in communist prisons) after they asked Davis for help. Solzhenitsyn said that Davis responded, “They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison.” He also said that when she got out of prison in America (she was in prison because her guns were used by the person who took over a courtroom and she was implicated in the four murders that resulted) she went to resorts in the Soviet Union to recover. Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, Solzhenitsyn: The Voice of Freedom, two pamphlets of his speeches, 1975, 32.

[117] Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), 256.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Ibid., 257.

[120] Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies, 139.

[121] Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man, 256.

[122] “What Angela Davis Has to Say About Today’s Black Lives Matter Movement: The Controversial Activist and Scholar Spoke to the New York Times, Anagha Srikanth, The Hill, Oct. 20, 2020.

[123] Richard Delgado, Critical Race Theory, 9.

[124]  “The 1619 Project,” Aug. 14, 2019, The New York Times.

[125] Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (New York: Penguin, 2019).

[126] Margaret L. Anderson and Patricia Hill Collins, Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1998), 12.

[127] Herbert Marcuse, “Repressive Tolerance,” essay in the book by Robert Paul Wolff, Barrington Moore, Jr., and Herbert Marcuse, A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), pp. 95-137.

[128] Richard Delgado, Critical Race Theory, 92.

[129] Ibid., 5.

[130] Ibid., 45.

[131] One example of storytelling can be found in the film Straight Outta Compton. In the movie, NWA is told by racist cops to lay down on the sidewalk outside their studio as their white music producer, Jerry Heller (played by Paul Giamatti) is appalled as he watches the injustice and humiliation the rappers were being forced to experience. But the truth is that Eazy E and Dr. Dre were in a car driving around shooting people who were in their cars and at bus stops with paintballs, and that’s why the police stopped them and made them lay down on the sidewalk. (Brent Albrecht, “5 Facts You Didn’t Know About N.W.A, Indie 88, Aug. 17, 2015. (Daryl Nelson, “Ice Cube and Dr. Dre Explain How ‘F—tha Police’ Was Really Made [Video],” The Boombox, July 7, 2017. In the movie, the rappers were made to look as though they were completely innocent and were being unjustly harassed, but in reality, they were harassing innocent people. Even so, the scene was a type of storytelling that was used as a way to instill anger at racial injustice.

[132] “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” Southern Baptist Convention, Birmingham, AL, 2019.

[133] Mark Nayna, “Part One: Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying and the Evergreen Equity Council,” Jan. 17, 2019.

[134] Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility.

[135] Jarvis Williams, Removing the Stain of Racism.

[136] James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019), 154.   

[137] Ibid., 156.

[138] Unfaithfulness (or spiritual adultery) is happening in many other ways in the evangelical church. Think about the ways the church has added to the Word, creating a “lukewarm” and unholy blend. We’ve blended Christianity with psychology, science (such as evolution or quantum theory), business principles, love of mammon (through the prosperity gospel), philosophy (such as Jurgen Moltmann), contemplative prayer, spiritual formation (in the form of pagan religious rituals that have been Christianized), man-made traditions, new revelations (such as Rick Joyner’s Final Quest), fiction (such as The Shack), joining with other religions (especially when evangelicals have met with Pope Francis or implemented Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan), environmentalism, political ideologies, Old Testament law, and on and on. This list is not exhaustive!

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