Messengers at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting were catapulted into the world of Critical Race Theory and intersectionality due to the proposal of “Resolution 9”. My hunch is that many, if not most, of the messengers were unfamiliar with CRT, and I am certain that we as a Convention were unprepared to vote on a resolution whose purpose was to evaluate, or at least discuss, the lofty academic ideas of CRT and intersectionality.
One possible response to the challenges presented by Resolution 9 might be to avoid the creation of any resolution whose content is so academically elevated that it renders the Convention unable to make a reasoned, informed vote. But even if such a conclusion were drawn, it should not be predicated on the notion that academic ideas are inconsequential to the lives of ordinary people. In other words, just because the average Southern Baptist does not know what CRT is does not mean the average Southern Baptist is unaffected by its message.
A few weeks ago I attempted to make this point during a Glorious Union podcast with my fellow pastors. It is tempting for us to believe that the jargon of the university stays at the university with little to no effect on the culture. But even those of us who do not keep up with the latest ideas presented in scholarly journals and academic conferences will still be influenced by their gradual shift into the culture and they have the potential to affect our perception of the world. This can, of course, be for good or for ill.
The history of the church is a simple way to see these realities in action. Did it really matter if pastors and theologians across the ages discussed and debated ideas such as Gnosticism, Nestorianism, and Manichaeism? How would those ridiculous sounding words ever have an impact on actual Christians worshiping in churches around the world? Thankfully, the defenders of our faith understood the power of ideas and the transformative way they can impact the church.
In this brief video, I discuss on our podcast the mistake of thinking academic ideas are limited to the university. Just a few days later, I was delighted to listen to a podcast, The London Lyceum, highlighting a recent book by author Carl Trueman. He addresses this issue as well, and does so in a much better way, and with a much better accent! (He uses the word “eggheads” to describe academic elites). Check it out: