Review: Tom Ascol and Founders Minstries’ “By What Standard”

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Sunday night my wife and I watched the just-released documentary from Tom Ascol and Founders Ministries, By What Standard? God’s World…God’s Rules. In particular, By What Standard? focuses on the sudden appearance and quickly-dominating ideologies of Critical Theory and Intersectionality within the Southern Baptist Convention. Before you and I write off the threats because we’re not in the SBC, we have to realize that the SBC is the largest denomination in America, so what comes into it is also coming into, or trying to come into, every other denomination, including whatever yours and mine are.

Throughout the history of the Church, Satan has attacked. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But how well do you know the ways he is attacking it today?

My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…

1 Corinthians 2:4 ESV

By What Standard? The Intellectual Ideological Assault

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments…

Colossians 2:4 ESV

Over the millennia, Satan has at times attacked from the outside. Sometimes he infiltrated and weakened from within. In some times and places he attacks with overt and ruthless persecution, and other times and elsewhere he attacks with sophisticated arguments or pleasurable amusements.

Many of the attacks of the last hundred years or so have been clear and obvious. It was easy to know which side to be on if you wanted to be on God’s side. Creation vs. Evolution, for example, was a straight-forward attack, the choices were either one or the other. Theistic evolution tried to find a middle ground, and still does, but even that is an untenable position which will ultimately force one side or other. Liberalism and Biblical inerrancy were other clear attacks.

However, what the Church has been experiencing in the last 30 years, beginning with post-modernism and political correctness, is a repackaging of classic Marxism + the social justice gospel + 1960s Liberation Theology, and a few other ideas, all intertwined like a box of snakes. There’s more than one ideological head to attack with a shovel these days, and none are staying still long enough to do it.

CT: Life through Marxist Lenses

Critical Theory is essentially the Marxian idea of class warfare, of the proletariat workers oppressed by the bourgeois owners and the revolution to change the balance of power, but (primarily) applied to race, not class.

Intersectionality: 3D Chess

If Marxism is chess and the sides are classes, CRT is chess between races. One side is always the oppressor and the other side is always the oppressed. Intersectionality, well, imagine playing chess in 3D and with 8 or 10 competing factions. Let me explain.

Intersectionality is where a person, a whole, explores the sum of his or her parts, and then sees the same struggle for power on each front of their identity. A minority lesbian, for example, would see where her whole is made up of those parts (and others), where they intersect and how they inter-relate. So, following the logic, she would be oppressed as a minority, oppressed as a woman, and oppressed as a lesbian. Intersectionality takes Marxism and makes it personal, and then multiplies and replicates it across the various aspects of a person’s identity.

Losing Hard-Won Ground

What is happening as you read this in SBC and PCA seminaries, leadership, and churches—and undoubtedly elsewhere— is that these places which once fought so hard to stay conservative are being infiltrated and influenced by those bringing CRT and Intersectionality in. And unlike the clear and straight-forward errors of Darwinian Evolution, the sin-gutted social gospel, or biblical inerrancy, it has taken me 500 words just to offer the simplest explanation of these complex and sophisticated attacks.

25 years after the clear success of the conservative resurgence, it seems like evangelicals, including Southern Baptists, are in danger of loosening their commitments to those basic, Christian commitments. Dangerous ideologies like Critical Theory and Intersectionality are gaining inroads into the thinking of some leaders, churches and organizations.

from the Founders Ministries website

By What Standard is a long (almost two hours), complicated, and thorough explanation of what is happening. And for those reasons, and for the cause of Truth and allegiance to Christ and everything the Bible asserts of our foremost new identity in Him, the film is timely and important. You really should watch it. It’s hard to understand sometimes but that’s not the fault of filmmakers. As I already alluded to, giving the lay of the land of the complexity of said 3D (5D? 10D?) chessboard and its implications is just a lot to explain.

By What Standard? is a critical film for a critical time.

How much will you learn by watching By What Standard? A lot. How much of it is important? All of it. By What Standard? is a critical film for a critical time.

Christianity has always been under attack. It is today still. Here in America it isn’t just by CRT and Intersectionality. It’s feminism (still). It’s post-modernism (still). It’s open attack on Christian values. It’s the LGBTQ+ agenda. It’s false teacher pastors, prosperity gospel snakes, and nominal churches offering the bread and circuses of man-centered self-help and worldly amusements.

They’re all attacking Christ’s Church. And if you think they won’t be able to cross the moat, you’re already fooled. They have already breached the castle. The question now is can they be turned back? The Lord Jesus will ultimately triumph, but historically, in the wisdom of God, sometimes the visible church does fall back before it regroups.

What can you do? Be in the Scriptures. Be a reading and thinking Christian. Keep loving God and loving others. “Contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 3). And don’t despair, the Lord is in control!

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth is his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

By What Standard? is available on the Founders Ministry website here. You can also scroll down to view the trailer. It is not yet on YouTube or Vimeo, but maybe they’ll release it to those sites soon. If you have the capability through your phone, tablet, or laptop, you may be able to mirror your screen and watch it on your Smart-TV for easier viewing. That’s what we did.