Book Review: “Fault Lines” by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr.

I recently got access to an early copy of “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe” by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. Since I’ve long found Dr. Baucham to be a compelling speaker and writer, and this issue is one that demands our attention, I put a pause on my reading list to see what he had to say.

The short review: this is a desperately needed book, written by perhaps the best man for the job.

It’s no secret that race discussions of recent years have created a major “Fault Line” in both society at large and churches specifically. Writing as a black man who has the cultural experiences of South Central Los Angeles, white neighborhoods in Houston, and now Zambia, Africa, has an education in both sociology and theology, and has clout in the world of Christendom, Dr. Voddie Baucham may be better suited than anyone to offer the dissenting opinion on Critical Race Theory (CRT) in evangelicalism. The first few chapters explore Baucham’s personal background and his experiences navigating racism and racial division, affirming that he certainly has the experiential knowledge some consider a requirement for offering an opinion on race matters (something the author rejects and labels “ethnic gnosticism”).

Much of what Dr. Baucham says builds on the foundations others have set with regard to CRT, Intersectionality, and Social Justice, but his compilation of the arguments along with quotes directly from the sources (Kendi, DiAngelo, et. al.) makes for a good introduction to the current “antiracist” movement. It won’t break any ground for the reader who has spent time researching CRT, but for those who are new to the topic it’s a good primer, and for those who are somewhat familiar it will shore up their understanding of the ideas being promoted.

The truly controversial section, I suspect, is where “Fault Lines” begins to get into specific applications of the questions at hand. Police shootings and the narratives surrounding them are examined with penetrating questions that challenge the CRT framework. The book also explores some of the more popular responses to claims of racism, such as abortion in minority communities and black on black crime. Baucham does not merely parrot them as the “gotcha” talking points they are often used as, but digs in to the question of their validity in the discussion. 

For me, the greatest value is in the way the book examines the issue within the church world. I believe the case Dr. Baucham makes is a strong one, that CRT will continue to drive division because it is incompatible with core ideas like the Gospel and the sufficiency of Scripture. CRT is not just an analytical tool for helping us understand racism. It is both a worldview and a competing religion, as Baucham demonstrates, and the evangelical leaders who have jumped on board seem unaware of the Trojan horse they are wheeling in to their churches and to Christendom as a whole.

I pray this book reaches open hearts and minds and helps heal divisions before they grow any wider. But, I’m pessimistic. I think it’s far more likely to be read and championed by those who agree and ignored or spurned by those who don’t.

In any case, it offers a well-researched, well-argued alternate view to the prevailing narrative of the day. Even if you don’t end up agreeing with the conclusions, it provides valuable insights into the side of the argument that is often either under-represented, prevented from speaking, or argued poorly.

4 stars out of 5, highly recommended

To preorder Fault Lines on Amazon, or for more info, go here. The book release date is scheduled for April 6.

Key quotes

  • Those belonging to the social-justice crowd present themselves as the only ones pursuing justice, to the exclusion of all who disagree with their assessments—who, by that definition, are pursuing injustice. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current struggle is that it mischaracterizes Christians that way too. On one side are “compassionate” Christians who are “concerned about justice.” On the other are “insensitive” Christians who are “not concerned about justice.” This is wrong. (page 5)
  • Families are at odds. Marriages are on the rocks. And I don’t believe the fracture in this fault line is yet even a fraction of what it will be.
    No, I am not writing this book to stop the divide. I am writing to clearly identify the two sides of the fault line and to urge the reader to choose wisely. (7)
  • In case you’re wondering about its soteriology, there isn’t one. Antiracism offers no salvation—only perpetual penance in an effort to battle an incurable disease. And all of it begins with pouring new meaning into well-known words. (67)
  • I have often said, “The Eleventh Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt be nice” . . . and we don’t believe the other ten.” One of the negative results of this is no longer being able to deal with ideas without attacking the people who hold them. (132-3)
  • The idea that we need a new canon to be able to decipher what the Bible says, or more specifically, what it means regarding race, is quite troubling. This attack on the sufficiency of Scripture should serve as a call to arms. (130)
  • This will not repair the fault lines. Nothing will. These divisions are both real and necessary. As I said at the outset, the goal here is to be on the right side of the fault line when the catastrophe comes. In the meantime, we must love. I do not mean that we must accept the world’s faulty, emasculated, unbiblical version of love—the version that sees any disagreement or confrontation as inherently unloving. No, we must love each other with a tenacious, biblical, Christlike love.
    Dear reader, I know it is hard. I don’t like losing friends, being called names, or being ousted from platforms any more than you do. However, you and I must love the truth more than we love our friends, our reputations, or our platforms. (224)

Note: I was given early access to my purchase – not a free copy – by the Fault Lines Launch Team in exchange for posting a review.

The Tyranny of the Uninformed

“Did you hear Governor Abbott just said they’re lifting the state’s mask mandate?” I asked the lady behind the counter at my neighborhood coffee stop last week, just minutes after the news broke.

“No, I didn’t. That’s interesting,” she replied.

“Leave it to Texas to be the first!” piped up the guy in line behind me.

“Well, actually Florida and some others have…” I started to say, before being interrupted by the lady at the back of the line – 

“Yeah, and everybody in Florida is sick!”

As brief as this exchange was, it speaks volumes about our national COVID conversation. 

The fact of the matter is, they were both wrong. Texas was not first, and Florida (and the states that opened long before it) is not overrun with sickness any more than moderate states like Texas or hard lockdown states such as California. In truth, they’re really not much different than anywhere else. And yet my fellow customers both confidently asserted these falsehoods with the implication that Texas is going on a suicide mission by throwing caution to the wind and lifting the mask mandate.

It’s been like this from the beginning. The mainstream opinion loudly shouts down any dissent, and here we are a year later having learned almost nothing. We ignore the fact that the effects of the virus are heavily scaled to age. We ignore any statistics that say areas with mask mandates have shown little difference in results from areas without them. We can’t have a conversation because the “moral” response was decided long before the facts had a chance to be debated.

Take, for instance, the early refrain that anyone who even mildly opposed state measures “Wanted to kill grandma.” The argument is presented as if they’re saying, “Such a position could be dangerous and potentially fatal to the elderly.” That’s not the same thing, though. “You’re going to kill grandma” does not leave room for discussion. It presents the discussion as settled, but by emotion rather than fact. Since emotion can’t be argued with, and since the conclusion has been assumed, the debate over the facts can’t happen. Rather than discussing ways to keep grandma safe, your business has to go under, your mental health has to plummet, and your children’s development has to be stunted. Period. Any objection makes you a grandma-killer.

Because emotion rules, facts won’t see the light. One can comfortably feel superior to scores of one’s fellow citizens just by accepting what is presented as fact, because to hold the majority, mainstream opinion, there is almost no research required whatsoever. We are all baptized in that viewpoint daily. It’s almost a feat to not know that side’s arguments. If you are going to believe something else, you have to go looking for it. 

This does not mean that everyone who holds the majority opinion is uninformed. It also does not mean that the minority opinion is always correct, or that its adherents are all smarter, better people. Plenty of people far smarter than me disagree with me. It means nothing more than this: the minority opinion, by nature, will always be made up of a more informed collection of individuals. We who hold minority opinions already know what you in the majority think, because we’re shown that point of view (and pressured to believe it) every single day. We don’t even have to go looking for it. For you to know our opinions, however, you will have to have the willingness to look in places you have been told are morally unsavory. Because most don’t do that, most won’t be informed on both sides.

Why then, does the majority opinion hold such a superiority complex over the minority opinion? How did the two people in the coffee shop – who clearly had not done the research necessary to make their claims – have such boldness to proclaim their incorrect understandings as settled, unarguable fact? They were wrong and yet the discussion framed me as the backwards one for merely pointing it out. How does that happen? Because the majority does not fight fair. To the majority, might makes right. Again, emotion rules the day.

This L.A. Times story gives us yet another example of this bold confidence without any self-awareness or research.

High schools (and their foreign equivalents) have opened all around the world, many of them months ago. We don’t have to sit around and wonder if it’s safe. We have more data than we could ever need. And yet here they are presenting this as some kind of mystery. They’re so far behind the documented facts on this, it’s little different than saying “Guys, we just saw somebody drink milk that came from a cow. Maybe it’s safe for human consumption!” Further, the model they’re citing includes testing students for covid every single morning. “If you want to open your campus, you have to do this,” says the presumed exemplary principal. Except high schools have opened literally around the planet, safely, without such measures. You don’t have to do this. 

What we’re dealing with in Texas is another case of the exact same problem. We don’t have to wonder what removing the mask mandate will do. We’ve already seen populous, elderly, unhealthy states take such measures. By the same token, we’ve had rather lax lockdown measures for many months with regard to things like restaurant capacity and gathering limits, and other states are looking at us as crazy or suicidal.

Can we please stop pretending we’re walking blindfolded on the edge of a canyon when there are people who have already crossed the bridge?

This has been the hallmark of this whole matter – readily available knowledge gets either treated with skepticism, ignored outright, or morally condemned. If it doesn’t line up with the morally right view, it isn’t permitted a spot at the table. As long as that remains the case, we remain hopeless. Until facts can win the day – honestly, until facts are even allowed to be discussed – we will continue to be vulnerable to very bad people and very bad ideas. 

If you want to go down the rabbit hole of the alternative view, start with Tom Woods’ free eBook that breaks down misleading Covid charts. Check out The Great Barrington Declaration, an anti-lockdown paper written by 3 Ph.D.s in the field and signed by over 50,000 scientists and medical professionals. And, scroll through Covid Clarity and other related Twitter accounts who have been digging up data since the beginning.

My Covid archives:

Can You Please Just Let Me Be Wrong?

Fear of Death is not a Christian Virtue

Fear is the Name of the Game. Stop Playing.

The Day the Lockdown Should’ve Ended

One Year into Covid, I was Horribly Wrong

Can you please just let me be wrong?

Hoo boy. Here goes. This is not a fun discussion. But it’s time.

It’s time, because somebody has to push back on the lectures about holding certain beliefs on current events. I grow so tired of being told that views which part from the mainstream narrative are “baffling,” “damaging to the church,” “unreasonable,” “spreading falsehoods,” etc. It’s time, because so many of us have spent far too long shutting our mouths and changing the subject when “those crazy/stupid/rotten people who disagree” (i.e., people like us) are brought up in conversation.

If you’re in that camp, have you considered that maybe from the other side of the fence, your view is baffling? That the unreasonable person is the one who, in practical terms, defines “reasonable” as “agreeing with me on current events?” That other people think you are the misinformed one, and that they’re willing to give you the grace of merely believing you to be misinformed rather than a liar?

It’s an unfair rhetorical tactic to say disagreeing with the mainstream narrative on an issue is “dangerous” and “harmful to Christian witness.” That’s not how loving brethren argue. It’s how condescending people argue. It’s not a good faith argument, because it’s emotional rather than logical. I’ll be straightforward with you – it’s wrong. Why? Because it’s divisive. It says you have to submit to me and my views, or you are being unreasonable and hurting the church. That’s exactly what Romans 14 told us not to do.

On a lot of issues, I’ve kept my views to myself because I didn’t want other Christians to take offense. But who’s in the wrong in that equation? Me, for holding an opinion? Or them, for responding that way? In other words, if we’re able to remain friends while I know your opinion but suddenly have a problem once you know mine, maybe the issue is not with me.

I’m allowed to hold an opinion and even express it, so long as I don’t beat people over the head with it. People who hold views opposite mine – particularly mainstream views – rarely show that kind of hesitance to offend. When only one side is allowed to talk, we don’t really have unity.

What matters far less than the views themselves is our method of handling them. If one insists that everybody has to hold the official view on every issue or else they are in bad standing as Christians, we have a big problem. Me and my particular views matter little, though, other than as a device to introduce ideas that have been pronounced as anathema. I could go into any number of hot button issues – Trump and politics, racism and critical race theory, conspiracy theories, whatever else – but I’ll limit this discussion specifically to COVID matters. So, here goes.

  • I fully acknowledge that COVID-19 is real and is dangerous, in varying degrees to varying people. People my age have almost nothing to fear from it, so I don’t operate out of fear. I plan to live with at least some degree of normalcy. I can fully understand if you are more wary of the virus and want to take more personal precautions. You are fully in your rights to do that and I have neither the right nor the intention to lecture you for doing so. But if you think I’m wrong, can we still get along?
  • I believe the science shows areas with mask mandates differ little from areas without, and that lockdowns do far more harm than good. I believe that while this particular strain of virus is new, this class of virus is not, and the scientific consensus for handling such viruses prior to March 2020 said mandating masks and locking people down are counterproductive measures. I’ll mask up around those who ask me to, because it’s my understanding that that’s what “being all things to all men” and “giving preference to one another in love” ask of me (1 Corinthians 9:22, Romans 12:10). I can fully understand if somebody doesn’t want to wear a mask, and I can fully understand if you believe the mask to be necessary. I understand if you prefer to be more cautious. But please don’t characterize me as a bad person if I don’t see it the way you do. If you think I’m wrong, can we still get along?
  • I’m not going to get the vaccine because the virus is an infinitesimally small threat to someone of my age and health history and we’re yet to see the effects of the vaccine. I understand if you plan to get the vaccine. I’m not asking you to agree with me. I’m just asking you to extend me the grace of letting me be “wrong.” If you think I’m wrong, can we still get along?

The phenomenon of people holding alternate views such as these is not going away. It’s the effect of the internet age, where “truth” is decentralized. You can see that as a good thing or a bad thing. Those I’m addressing see it as a grave threat, because experts and authorities are being broadly ignored and a lot of bad ideas are getting out. I see it as a great thing, because in the past we had no ability to know if what we were being told was right or wrong. At least now we have a fighting chance. If the cost of that chance is the spread of some falsehoods, it’s a price worth paying. To say otherwise is to say that widespread belief of falsehoods – even costly ones – wasn’t an issue before the last 10 years. (Hello, Iraq war.)

Because this phenomenon is so widespread, it only makes sense that huge swaths of Christians believe alternate views. If you really believe it’s a sin issue, get ready to discipline and disfellowship scores of members. If you don’t, can you please just let us be wrong? Can you please advocate your view and let some of us disagree?

I’ll let you believe what you want to believe. Can you please do the same for me? Can we agree that our Christian unity can overcome differing views on a news report? Are we really so casual about our unity that we’ll throw brethren under the bus in order to side with government or media? You might vehemently disagree with every position I took here, and that’s ok. But can you please just let me be wrong?

Fear is the name of the game. Stop playing.

The year was 2001. When we hear that number, our mind automatically goes to 9/11. However, in the 8 full months preceding 9/11 there were a number of major news stories from the year that have been largely forgotten.

You may remember, though, how that summer featured a constant stream of shark attack reports. I have memories of watching story after story on shark bites, typically accompanied by helicopter footage of evacuated beaches. It was a major talking point that had a tangible impact on the livelihood of coastal businesses that rely on tourism. Government agencies scrambled to distribute information on the slim likelihood of shark attacks, and how to take steps to avoid them. Summer 2001 was and is widely referred to as “The Summer of the Shark” as a panic swept the nation.

The truth of the matter was, there was nothing unusual about shark attacks in 2001. The numbers of attacks and deaths were actually lower than the year before, when little attention was given to the matter. But out of nowhere, and for seemingly no reason, the power of the media led America to believe we were experiencing an unprecedented string of shark attacks. It was wildly irresponsible, with real life affects on real people, but they did it anyway.

I led with that because in order to rightly observe the world, you need to understand things like this happen. Many people don’t realize they happen. Others refuse to believe it when they do. Others know it happens and still fall for the trick from time to time (guilty – JW). But it’s simply a fact that the media can and does drive fear whenever they want. They’ve done it over and over again this year.

Since the start of the outbreak, we’ve had fear-inducing headlines like:

And if the virus fears weren’t enough, we can throw on:

In reading that list, you might have thought “Oh yeah, I forgot about that” with regard to a couple of the entries. They come so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. But are you seeing the pattern here? These kinds of stories get rushed to print/post immediately because they drive all kinds of interest, and yet the corrections and retractions get a fraction of the coverage. With many of these, it’s pure speculation rather than actual reporting.

The other tactic at play in these stories may be the more nefarious of the two. To quote a Michael Malice catchphrase, they are factual, not truthful. For example, it was factual to say that sharks were attacking people in 2001. But it wasn’t truthful to report in such a way to imply that we were facing a never-before-seen spike in shark attacks. It is factual to say there is another swine flu strain in existence, but it’s not truthful to run that as a headline and lead people to believe we’re in danger of it.

The media’s gross misconduct is only half of the issue, though, because without our tendencies to overreact, to talk down to our neighbor, and to want to be the first of our friends to post the latest news, their headlines would do little to spread panic. If we weren’t lapping it up and running to Facebook and Twitter to lecture other people about paying attention to the latest headline, these things wouldn’t spread. In our hurry, though, fact-checking and waiting for confirmation are left totally in the dust. Our critical thinking skills are often the first casualty of panic. Take, for example, this fabrication that was shared far and wide on social media.

No photo description available.

To start with, the first line is wrong. The death rate is well below 1%. But it gets worse from there. For example, there’s statistically no chance that every person in America is going to get the virus. The idea that 1 out of every 5 Americans will come out of this with permanent heart damage should have gotten this person laughed off the internet. With wildly exaggerated claims like this we’ve stopped just short of having Andy Dwyer declare “THE VIRUS IS SHOOTING AT US!”

Yes, the coronavirus is very real. I am not saying it isn’t, and I’m not saying we should throw caution to the wind. I’m not saying any of those things. But one can acknowledge both the reality of the danger and the reality that the constant attempts to drive fear are out of control (unless one is a binary thinker, of course). Yes, it is dangerous – but we know who to protect, we know what is safe and what isn’t, and we know the hierarchy of risk by age and health status. Just making up scary claims out of thin air or running with the first hint that things might possibly get worse is irresponsible and dishonest. Why do they do it, then?

Why was Neil Ferguson’s model that predicted 2.2 million American deaths the only one reported at the start of the outbreak when the man has a track record so bad he should have been banished from the industry years ago?

Why is Sweden being condemned but New York being commended?Isn’t the place with the lower death rate and the intact economy the one who was right?

Why did major outlets run a headline telling us not to celebrate a lower death rate? Shouldn’t we be happy that fewer infected people are dying?

Because fear sells, and apologizing for being wrong about the fear is out of the question.

So, knowing those two principles, we can know for certain how we should act going forward.

#1. Stop giving them attention, and stop spreading the panic on social media. Turn the TV off, and ignore the headlines to the best of your ability. Thankfully they’ve played their hand too far and many are beginning to do just this.

#2. When you know the tactics, notice when they are being used. When you see the next shock headline (because total disengagement is almost impossible), take it with a gigantic grain of salt. Don’t post the speculatory articles, but rather wait for the actual research behind the speculation to surface.

#3. Learn to comb through the mounds of garbage, gather the information you need, and walk away. Use your critical thinking to sniff out those stories that seem too perfect to be true.

When you save all that time by shutting off the TV and staying off of news sites and social media, you’ll find extra time to spend in prayer, Bible study, exercise, reading old books, and connecting with friends via phone call or video chat. Which option do you think will leave you better off?

Please – I beg you – don’t be a binary thinker

One of the worst aspects of social media is the reign of binary thinkers. Binary simply means “something made of two things or parts” (Merriam-Webster). A binary thinker, then is someone who thinks there are only two ways to see an issue. This method makes everything an either/or proposition.

Whether you realize it or not, we’ve all been trained to think this way for years. Two minutes of social media consumption shows just how wildly successful the training has been. How did we get here? By two steps of a kind of social peer pressure.

First, the options are prepared for us. If a large group of people are all going to be binary thinkers, they can’t just all be making up their own options. They are being presented to us through the press, education, and popular culture. You have Fox News and you have MSNBC. You have Vox and you have the Daily Wire. You have The Young Turks and you have Prager University. You have Republican and you have Democrat, and so on. Imagine going to a restaurant and being told they only serve two items. You can either get a Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple toppings) or a mushroom and swiss burger. I hate both of them.

We are told, though, that in our political and cultural discourse, we’re either on team Hawaiian pizza, or team mushroom swiss burger. These are the options from which you must choose. There are variations in the options we are presented, but only slightly. You can find Tea Party-ish and libertarian Republicans, and you can find socialist Democrats. It’s like being able to get extra pineapples or extra mushrooms. It’s different, but only by degree.

Part two of the programming is the truly nefarious part. Not only are you led to believe you have to choose a side from pre-selected options. Once you’re entrenched on that side, you are led to view anyone on the other side as opposition. You don’t like Hawaiian pizza, but you absolutely hate mushroom swiss burgers, so if you only have the two options then Hawaiian pizza it is. The only problem is, the restaurant is going to tally up everyone’s orders and whichever item gets the most orders will be served to everybody.

Now you’re obligated to despise the mushroom swiss fans, regardless of whether they actually like the sandwich or not. Maybe they dislike it just a little less than you do, but it matters not. You are now at odds with them and must defeat them. If Hawaiian pizza wins, they’ll hold it against you. If mushroom swiss wins, you’ll hold it against them.

Real life simply does not work this way. A restaurant wouldn’t last a week with such an absurd setup. You’ll just drive to the restaurant down the street with 40 items on its menu and unlimited substitutions. Because it doesn’t have any competition, a government can make the game last a little longer. Its fate will nevertheless eventually be the same. Collapse is inevitable…unless people stop playing the game.

I’m going to give you three reasons why you should stop playing the game, and then I’ll show you how.

Binary thinking accepts false dichotomies.

I want neither ham nor pineapples on my pizza, but I like the crust, sauce, and cheese underneath them. I can’t stand mushrooms, and though I can live with swiss I would much rather have a different cheese. So, I make substitutions. I choose what I like, and I leave off the rest. Here’s the secret: you can do the same thing with your political views. You are under no obligation to accept the whole of what is offered to you. You can make substitutions whenever you want.

If you don’t pick and choose on a case-by-case basis, you will unavoidably be stuck with rotten options at some point. The obvious current example is the implicit question presented to us on social media: “Who are you with – the police, or black Americans?” You do not have to choose between those two. There is room for all kinds of nuance on this issue, yet every single day I see my Facebook friends accepting the false dichotomies and choosing one side or the other.

Binary thinking dehumanizes people.

You rob people of their humanity when you lump everybody into Team A or Team B. The greatest example you’ll ever see occurred in January 2018 when English journalist Cathy Newman interviewed Jordan Peterson on Britain’s Channel 4 News. The interview went viral both for Peterson’s calm, composed, answers (20 million YouTube hits to date – you can watch it here) in the face of Newman’s repeated attempts to assume Peterson’s beliefs. The image here captures the kind of back and forth that occurred over and over throughout the interview, as Peterson would state a finding from his research only to see Newman attempt to sum it up with a wildly different conclusion, led by the phrase “So you’re saying…” (a line that was memed for months).

25 Memes That Sum Up Jordan Peterson vs. Cathy Newman

She assumed she knew everything he believed. As a binary thinker, she thought that she believed one way, and people who disagreed with her believed the opposite. Because of this she showed no interest in listening to what he actually said – in her mind, she already knew.

How often do you see this same interaction on Facebook? “Well, I think A.” “Oh, so you’re saying you hate B?” That’s not how humans work. Sometimes people who are on team mushroom swiss aren’t actually that big of fans of mushrooms, and maybe you could find common ground with them… but because they aren’t on team Hawaiian pizza, you assume you already know everything about them and their preferences.

“So you’re saying…” casts a person as you want to see them, not as they are. But every single human is a unique individual. To assume you can know everything about them and how they think without taking 2 minutes to learn their perspective is incredibly dehumanizing. It’s why we don’t listen to each other, and it’s a big reason why we don’t respect each other. Don’t dehumanize people by assuming you know them just because they aren’t on your team. You wouldn’t want someone to do that to you, so don’t do it to them (Matthew 7:12).

Binary thinking ignores truth.

When you are led to believe you have to choose between one of two options, neither of which are particularly pleasing, you eventually start overlooking flaws in your option and strengths in the other option. Because your goal is beating the other option, you think you have to do this. You may know deep down that pineapple has no business being on pizza, but when you get in the trap of binary thinking you suddenly forget this, because to admit it would be ceding ground to the mushroom swiss crowd. Similarly, you may know deep down that people on the other side of a cultural issue have some valid points, but it can be incredibly difficult to be honest enough to admit that.

Everybody can nitpick the tiniest flaw in the other side’s argument while turning a blind eye to the problems on their own side of the fence. Again, we are trained to do so. And, again, Jesus tells us not to do that (Matthew 7:1-5). It does not make you weak to call out the flaws of your side. It makes you truthful, which makes you far stronger.

Beyond that, binary thinking by necessity has to put a stop to any truth that does not fit the narrative. Traditionally, people have ignored or explained away truths that don’t fit in with their team’s narrative. We’re now entering an era in which a discussion of facts is not allowed and is grounds for “cancelation” if the facts don’t support the narrative. That’s a dangerous place to be, and every Christian should have a problem with such tactics.


You are allowed to create your own menu. In fact, it’s incredibly important that you do so. It’s the only way to stop playing the game, start focusing on truth rather than sides, and start viewing people as humans. Here are a few practical examples.

You can believe that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have questionable histories with women. You can admit that both Donald Trump and the Clintons had ties to Jeffrey Epstein. Binary thinking leads people to defend their team’s guy at all costs while attacking the other team’s guy. Reject such thinking.

You can acknowledge a valid criticism against your politician or ideology without immediately jumping to “Oh yeah? Well the other side…”

You can believe that much of the COVID-19 response was mishandled based on bad or premature conclusions without buying into the idea that it’s a hoax. Conversely, you aren’t throwing all caution to the wind if you admit that the CDC and WHO have been wrong on a thing or two. You may be more cautious, or you may be less cautious. That does not mean everything the people on the other side believe is wrong.

You can believe the media exacerbates many of the problems in our country and still believe the problems exist.

You aren’t inherently condemning every police officer or accepting the entire agenda of critical theorists when you say that there is a widespread problem in the way black individuals are policed in our country.

You can evaluate each police killing case on its own merits. The George Floyd case was not the Rayshard Brooks case, which was not the Tamir Rice case, which was not the Michael Brown case, which was not the Botham Jean case. Binary thinkers (on either side) come to the same conclusion about nearly every single case, proving that it’s not about siding with truth but siding with a team.

You can be against racism and still think that the violence and destruction of property caused by the rioters was not acceptable, and you can think that the violence and destruction of property caused by the rioters was not acceptable and still be against racism. You don’t have to choose which one you think is wrong. Honest people simply call bad actions bad, period. Binary thinkers give a speech as to why bad actions aren’t as bad when their team does it.

You can be patriotic and still understand the point Colin Kaepernick was trying to make.

You can be strongly against racism while still strongly rejecting the world’s framework for correcting it, and you can question and reject that framework without giving up your status as an anti-racist.


The best thing you can do any time a new issue arises is to reject the menu that is handed to you. Do not accept the box Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, or social media want to place you into. Don’t order the Hawaiian pizza or the mushroom swiss burger. Choose a “build your own” meal, in which you get to parse out the issues that are right and wrong without accepting all of the things you don’t like from Team A or Team B.

People will dislike you for it, but your primary obligation is not to be liked. It is to be lovingly truthful. Love people enough to kindly tell them the truth and you’ll make the kind of difference we all want to see in the world.