A Report on the IFCA Annual Convention (Part 3)

Read Part 1, and Part 2.

Another topic that received almost as much attention as the main theme at this year’s IFCA International Annual Convention, which was held in Lincoln, Neb., from June 28 to July 2, was social justice as well as the related subjects of critical race theory, intersectionality and wokeness.

In this final installment of a series about the convention, I will attempt to sum up a great deal of discussion that occurred on this topic.

First of all, on Tuesday morning, it was the subject of the first theological panel called, “Race and the Social Justice Issue.” Panel participants were as follows:

  • Richard Bargas, executive director, IFCA International
  • Alexander Granados, president, Calvary University in Kansas City, Mo.
  • Dan Fredericks, executive director, UIM International in Glendale, Ariz.
  • Gary Gilley, senior pastor, Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Ill.
  • Chad DeJong, senior pastor, Byron Center Bible Church in Byron Center, Mich.
  • Steve Wong, senior pastor, Fellowship Bible Church, in Belmont, Calif.

Gilley also presented a theology round table discussion on Thursday afternoon that dealt with these issues, and the subjects came up in other contexts, as well. IFCA members also ratified a resolution titled “Resolution on Social Justice.”1

All of the men on the panel contributed articles to the May-June 2021 issue of VOICE Magazine, which is published by IFCA International. The theme of the issue was “Critical Race Theory, Justice & the Bible.”2

Granados, who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, talked about social justice as a repackaging of that which was formerly called liberation theology—because, he said, that was “a bitter pill to swallow for evangelicals.”

Bargas said that the link between the two is actually the social gospel.

Granados went on to discuss one of the concerns at the base of all of these “secular philosophies”3—a term used in the resolution—poverty. He referenced the teaching of Christ in Matthew 26:11:

For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.4

Granados stressed the importance of discerning the factors that contribute to poverty before offering solutions. He also emphasized how Scripture must inform any action that we take to deal with poverty. The ultimate need of those trapped in poverty is to know Christ and to grow in Him, he said, explaining how that is superior to attempting “to advance a social/political agenda.”

“The only way (poverty) ends is with Christ’s return,” he added. “There is no human agenda to change that.”

“It is very easy to develop a hermeneutic of experience,” Granados stated. “Their whole lens is that experience.”

“We are ministering to the whole person,” Bargas stated.

“We have to define justice and righteousness Biblically,” Fredericks said, noting that God’s character alone is the basis for doing so.

“The definitions have been changed so dramatically,” DeJong added. Granados said that the secularists are “dictating terms” by using the language of “power structures” (such as the war on poverty), calling that “Marxist language.”

“They are masters of combative language,” he said. “It’s always an attempt to change our hermeneutic and to redefine our terms.”

“Intersectionality is who has power by the world’s definition,” stated DeJong.

Gilley said the proponents of such philosophies “are adding to the gospel.” He said the end result will be that the gospel will become less prominent for them.

“Our identity is bound in Christ,” Granados concluded. “The solution is the gospel.”

Next year’s convention will be held at the Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North in Albuquerque, N.M., from June 27 to July 1, 2022.

Notes

1 IFCA International; 8 July 2021; https://www.ifca.org/blog/Advancing%20the%20Cause/resolution-on-social-j…; Internet; accessed 22 July 2021.

2 Vol. 100, No. 3. This issue can also be accessed online at IFCA International; https://www.ifca.org/file/2ef529c0-e970-11eb-9a41-239c885721a6 Internet; accessed 22 July 2021.

3 “Resolution on Social Justice,” IFCA International; Internet; accessed 22 July 2021.

4 Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Paul Scharf 2019 Bio


Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, serving in the midwest. He also assists Whitcomb Ministries and writes for “Answers” Magazine and Regular Baptist Press. For more information on his ministry, visit foi.org/scharf or email pscharf@foi.org.

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Ed Vasicek's picture

Thanks, Paul, for this report of the convention.  

"The Midrash Detective"

pvawter's picture

Thanks for sharing the video links, Paul. I've enjoyed listening to several of them as I've traveled on vacation recently. I always appreciate hearing Larry Pettegrew and Tommy Ice speak.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Listening to the panel critique CRT and Social Justice as well as Gilley's workshop on the Social Gospel, along with reading every Panel member's articles about CRT and Social Justice in their IFCA Periodical "Voice" https://www.ifca.org/file/2ef529c0-e970-11eb-9a41-239c885721a6 was quite painful.  Not because they communicated profound Biblical truth to the subject, but rather they displayed such willful ignorance about CRT and Social Justice.  If you'd like, I can break down each article and explain how they are wrongly diagnosing CRT and Today's Social Justice. Many fundamentalist and conservative evangelical leaders and pastors rightly realize something is wrong with CRT and society's version of Social Justice, but they often get the prognosis wrong.  

But that's what happens when one doesn't engage primary sources about the CRT and Social Justice, but rather secondary sources from "discernment bloggers and preachers who have benefited from building a huge platform by being anti-CRT, anti-SJ, and anti-Woke. What's terrible is that it's not just that they are quoting Jon Harris (an admitted confederate Southern Baptist that wrote "when Social Justice comes to church) or Owen Strachan who constantly uses hasty generalizations, cherry-picking, appeal to motives, false dilemmas to build a giant straw man to beat down. But that Voddie Baucham's book "Fault Lines" was lifted up as the "best book on the subject." 

Sadly Voddie, in describing CRT from Richard Delgado's book, Critical Race Theory, attributes false quotations to Delgado that Delgado didn't actually say in his book. For example, As part of Delgado describing "Convergence Theory," Voddie added this line to the quote even though Delgaldo never said it. "This means whites are incapable of righteous actions on race and only undo racism when it benefits them, when their interests converge with the interests of people of color." https://www.lambsreign.com/blog/voddies-fault-lines-worse-than-before-fake-quotations-and-plagiarism He also plagiarized James Lindsay in the book. This is a no-no, especially for someone who is the Dean of Faculty and Dean of Theology at a Christian University. 

When you create fake quotes that a CRT author didn't say to make them sound worse than they really are, you are breaking the 9th commandment of Bearing False Witness. Even as this has come out in the past week or so, the Founders Group and other conservative Christians who embrace and give Voddie a huge platform have been predictably silent.  I find it interesting that when socio-political issues are involved, truth-telling matters less and less (even for conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists). I guess we're all post-modern now (not just the progressive liberals).   

 

 

 

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Well, I haven't listed to any of the IFCA sessions, but I certainly agree that CT and CRT should be attacked based on what they really are, rather than caricatures of them.  And plagiarizing and misquoting are indeed indefensible, as you have noted.  There are those (like Neil Shenvi) who, at least as far as I can tell, get it right, and give plenty of reasons that CT/CRT should be rejected.  What's true about CT/CRT is bad enough.  When we have the truth, we don't need to make stuff up.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Shaffer's picture

I think Neil Shenvi is a voice that needs to be heard and I have benefited from several of his articles and book reviews. He often asks very good probing questions (especially in his book reviews) and does not dismiss the idea of systemic racism in America. He also will alter his views in response to his critics if he was wrong about an author of CRT. That shows humility. I also like how he differentiates between prescriptive white privilege and descriptive white privilege.

Where I differ from Shenvi is when he will broad-brush CRT at times, especially in his attempt to prove that CRT has a common anti-Christian worldview.   Questions such as "Who is God?; Who am I?; What’s my purpose for living?; What is real?; Who determines right from wrong?; and What happens after I die? to be asked or answered.  That is not where CRT's interests lie. CRT is much more concerned with the racial inequality of laws in the history of America and how that affects our country today.  However, there are some folks/scholars who have made CRT more of.a worldview, but that happened later as the people attached other sociological theories/aspects to CRT. For example, Patricia Hill Collins' Intersectionality (Key Concepts) assumes a very progressive secular worldview, much of which is anti-Christian. However, she also admits that Intersectionality is an analytical tool that can be used by anyone including right-wing political groups or even racist groups like the KKK although she bemoans both group types for utilizing it.  Because Shenvi is a pretty good amateur apologist, he is going to see things more through worldview lens, but sometimes it leads to creating overly simplistic categories.  

In many ways, Shenvi is addressing  the populist "Velveeta cheese" versions of CRT, more of an imitation, processed variant than the scholarly real thing. 

Back in March, former editor of Christianity Today Ed Stetzer invited about 10-12 scholars/knowledgeable Christians to write small essays about CRT on the church leaders website, this included Shenvi and his partner/writer Dr. Pat Sawyer. I really like some of Sawyer's stand alone writings on CRT. He still heavily critiques it, but not from the apologist angle.   Unfortunately, they must've taken the essays off the internet because links that I saved no longer exists. 

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