At the recent 2021 G3 Conference, a copy of World Magazine was placed on every single chair in the main session room for each attendee. This is something that has repeated every year since about 2018. However, this year proved to be unique as the selected publication (9-11-21) included a review of Voddie Baucham’s book Fault Lines by Marvin Olasky. Although short and somewhat complementary, Olasky took a swipe at Baucham’s book by writing the following:
What’s not helpful is Baucham’s dismissal of theologically sound Christians, including individuals and groups like Tim Keller, the Gospel Coalition, and Mark Dever/9Marks. We can make more honey if we go beyond buzzwords. Let’s spin the latter-day followers of Marx, Darwin, and the Black Panthers. Let’s ally with those who also emphasize the Bible rather than racial division. Let’s agree that black lives matter but oppose the BLM industrial complex. 
This caught the attention of many G3 attendees who asked me for a response. Obviously, I wasn’t aware of the review of Baucham’s book in this edition of World Magazine prior to it showing up at the conference. While I agree that we can have differences of opinion on various matters within evangelicalism and sometimes a friendly critique is helpful, I want to push back on this critique, point out the flaws of Olasky’s review, and substantiate how Baucham defends the faith and calls out names in a biblically consistent manner.
The Biblical Pattern of “Naming Names”
All throughout the Scripture, we see a pattern of naming names in various contexts. This practice is used to warn the faithful about deceitful schemes, devilish doctrines, and divisive people. When we read the New Testament, we find that Jesus called out the names of the Pharisees and Herod (subsequently calling out the Herodians) in Mark 8:14–21. Jesus was issuing a warning to his disciples regarding their false teaching and sinful practices.
Jesus warned the church at Ephesus of the Nicolaitans. He demanded those who hold to their teachings to repent or suffer the wrath of God (Rev 2:6; 15–16). Once again, we see that Jesus calls out names and warns his church of devilish schemes.
We must recall that Jesus was mistaken for John the Baptist, who also named names. In his public preaching ministry, John the Baptist called out Herod for committing adultery with his brother’s wife. It’s apparent that John the Baptist was a judgment preacher—warning people of their sin and impending doom (Luke 3:19).
Paul also named names of divisive people in his letters—including both enemies of the cross to avoid and brothers and sisters who need to be corrected in love. In his second letter to Timothy (2 Tim 4:14), Paul writes the following:
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
It’s apparent that Paul wanted Timothy to know of this evil man and how he had greatly opposed the work of the gospel—bringing injury to Paul.
Paul warned Timothy of two men who had made shipwreck of their faith and gone as far as blaspheming God. Paul writes the following in 1 Timothy 1:20: “Among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Paul was not pulling punches when it came to those who attacked the gospel or divided God’s church.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul named two women, Euodia and Syntyche, who had apparently been the cause of the division in the church. Much of what Paul labors to correct in his letter to the church was caused by their division. In this case, Paul calls the names of sisters in the Lord who needed to be corrected.
Paul likewise rebuked the church at Corinth (see 1 Cor. 5) by pointing an intense spotlight upon an unnamed man who had been committing adultery with his father’s wife. Perhaps Paul didn’t know the exact name of the man, but the entire church did know his name. Paul rebuked the church and called for them to act swiftly in church discipline.
The biblical pattern is crystal clear when it comes to calling out names of those who are in error. While we must be careful not to rush to conclusions and falsely label people as heretics based on disagreements on tertiary matters, there comes a time when we must actually call out names and rebuke those who contradict the truth. The truth matters. It seems that if Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul frequently called out the names of people who were in error, Voddie Baucham is in good company.
Fault Lines and Defending the Faith
In his rebuke of Baucham’s book, Olasky claims that we can “make more honey” if we go beyond buzzwords. It’s unclear exactly what Olasky is trying to communicate by this sentence, but suffice it to say, Baucham went far beyond the surface of buzzwords in his book. Baucham goes to the source of the ideology behind the social justice controversy within evangelicalism and then points out how such men and organizations have capitulated on the truth.
While we live in an age where men lack backbone and are often times unwilling to do the unpopular thing, it’s quite refreshing to see men like Voddie Baucham spend time dealing with the issues and pointing out the errors of men and organizations that were once trusted and respected. Keep in mind, Baucham is committed to the truth, so if he witnesses individuals or organizations capitulating and causing others to swerve from the truth—this would necessitate a response. Baucham’s book is a bold and calculated response to these errors within evangelicalism.
The very organizations that are defended by Olasky have been the catalyst to great confusion and error within the evangelical world. For instance, when we released The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, Tim Keller spoke against “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel,” stating the following:
It’s not so much what [the statement] says, but what it does. It’s trying to marginalize people talking about race and justice, it’s trying to say, ‘You’re really not biblical’ and it’s not fair in that sense…If somebody tried to go down [the statement] with me, ‘Will you agree with this, will you agree with this,’ I would say, ‘You’re looking at the level of what it says and not the level of what it’s doing. I do think what it’s trying to do is it’s trying to say, ‘Don’t make this emphasis, don’t worry about the poor, don’t worry about the injustice, that’s really what it’s saying.’ Even if I could agree with most of it…it’s what it’s doing that I don’t like.
Keep in mind, it was The Gospel Coalition in partnership with The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention that sponsored the MLK50 conference that created a great deal of controversy and opened up a chasm of division within evangelicalism on matters of intersectionality and critical race theory.
Mark Dever is extremely gifted in discipleship. That’s apparent by those who receive direct investment from his ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. However, in his discipleship endeavors, Dever has erred on matters of social justice. This is clear by his ongoing endorsement of the book by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. This book has created much confusion and quite a stir within evangelical circles. It promotes a faulty view of race and assesses the problems of our sinful culture through the lens of sociology rather than the Scriptures.
In his book, Baucham noted the influence of Dever’s endorsement of Divided By Faith. That came to the surface in the 2018 T4G conference where they had plenary sessions and Q&A sessions devoted to social justice. This decisive turn of direction caused many people to take up the sword of social justice rather than the sword of the Spirit within the evangelical world. That last sentence may sting a little, but it’s necessary. I’ve heard story after story of people who have lost deep friendships and had to leave their local churches as a direct result of the ongoing influence of SBC leaders and T4G on matters pertaining to social justice (CRT/I).
What Voddie Baucham is seeking to do in his book is to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3). Baucham is not some unchained figure who suddenly erupted into a frenzy of name calling and sword swinging on a blog written from his mother’s basement without proper measure. The reason for the great success of the book is actually based on the reality of Baucham’s commitment to the truth above all else and his ability to know where to apply proper pressure when calling out specific names.
My endorsement of Voddie Baucham’s book reveals my support for the book itself, but I likewise believe that naming names is often necessary to protect God’s Church, to defend the faith, and to lead God’s people to the sufficiency of God’s Word (which is sweeter than honey). Baucham is not trying to make honey. I see him as one who is defending the sweetness of God’s Word (Psalm 19:10) from impurities of this present evil world.
Olasky writes, “Let’s spin the latter-day followers of Marx, Darwin, and the Black Panthers. Let’s ally with those who also emphasize the Bible rather than racial division. Let’s agree that black lives matter but oppose the BLM industrial complex.” This is true, but where Olasky misses the mark is based on the fact that such evangelical leaders have opened the gates to the social justice movement within evangelicalism resulting in divisive statements like “Resolution 9” of the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention. Such leaders must be checked publicly for their public capitulation.
Careful and honest critique is necessary to protect God’s Church. A refusal to critique colleagues actually makes institutions and denominations weaker rather than stronger. Many people have accused leaders within the SBC of the so called “Eleventh Commandment” ring kissing practices. This unwritten rule means that you never call out other leaders within your denomination in order to protect the “system” or organization. This is quite troubling and deserves proper exposure. While Baucham is no longer within the SBC, it’s no surprise when a notable voice who dares to do the unpopular thing is critiqued for naming names. Therein lies the contradiction of Olasky’s review of Baucham’s book. He calls out Baucham publicly for calling out other people publicly.
Remember what John Calvin once stated, “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” In closing, I believe Voddie Baucham’s book is a measured response that calls out names in a healthy and biblically consistent pattern that serves the church well.
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