By What Standard documentary review

An in depth articulation of  practicing biblical inerrancy.

 

On December 12th, 2019, Dr. Tom Ascol of Founders Ministry released his anticipated documentary “By What Standard?” where he highlights some of the biggest battles within the Evangelical church, specifically the Southern Baptist Convention. Among these hot button issues are egalitarianism, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality, with some delving into the issue of homosexuality and sexual ethics.

The documentary begins with friendly atheist/agnostics playing out how secularists would rid themselves of Christianity. They determine that the sure way to accomplish this would be woke pastors. This is the set up for what is to come.

We then see interviews that take place at SBC 2019. The messengers explain their love of the Southern Baptist Convention and its resilient history. One of the most damaging scandals within the SBC is sex abuse. And what we see is sex abuse being used as a means for people within the church to attack complementarianism, blaming it in some capacity. In this I am unsure strong arguments were presented. By What Standard? articulates, quite beautifully what masculinity looks like, with Al Mohler of all people being the mouthpiece. However these arguments I found defensive. A better defense would have been to point out the more pervasive sex abuse in egalitarian institutions such as public schools which dwarfs that of the Catholic Church.

But the argument By What Standards does however attack egalitarianism on the grounds of sexism. This offensive questioned how egalitarians and feminists view women and femininity, ultimately begging the question of how people view women if they want them to be more like men.

By What Standard? then transitions from the raging complementarian debate to Resolution 9. Tom Ascol leads us through how the Resolutions Committee has a sense of credibility that makes it very difficult to vote down a Resolution. From here we go through the meticulous and well calculated effort the Resolutions Committee underwent to beachhead an anti-biblical ideology as an analytics tool. By What Standard? goes on a deep dive explaining the Marxist roots of Critical Race Theory before ultimately returning to the Convention where we see Resolution 9 reluctantly debated and passing. We see the debates at the Convention where this was passed, and the debates are presented fairly, for By What Standard? took the time to explain the context of the Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, and which allowed them to fairly present the more long formed in-context argument in support of CRT by the Resolutions Committee.

By What Standards? does not rely on strawmen. You get the actual arguments made by proponents. We see the logical conclusion of the ideology as the heretic Dr. James Hal Cone articulates. But this extreme example is not the only one. Throughout the documentary, Tom Ascol grants a high level of charity to ideological opponents. He does not assume that proponents of egalitarianism and CRT/I are automatically heretics. He genuinely disagrees with them believing the Bible to be the standard by which we should live. In doing so he does not hold back or follow the 11th Commandment. Russell Moore is depicted as an absolute capitulator to Social Justice, and the atheists/agnostics we saw in the beginning laugh at hearing that. SBC President JD Greear is shown in a negative light because clips from his fallacious sermon on Romans 1-3 were shown, a personal favorite I must say. It’s also worth noting that the idea of white people committing sin by simply existing forces the Christian to examine how to repent. By What Standard? articulates that supporting a sort of revolution would be the logical conclusion.

By What Standard? does an excellent job at presenting the growing wokeness in the church in a charitable light while also exposing the godless ideologies at work underneath the surface. If you are a unlearned when it comes to the battle within Evangelicalism, this is two hours well spent bringing you up to speed on the macro issues. If you are aware of this postmodern struggle, it’s good to know that those on the side of orthodoxy can put together a high quality production with much of the funds coming from the grassroots. In any case, its worth watching for protestants in the United States or a developed country where neo-Marxist ideas are taking firm root.

Not too far into the documentary, I started pondering a question. What is the story By What Standard? is trying to tell? Is the story about complementarianism under assault? Or Critical Race Theory infiltrating the church? Is it about a renewed fight over inerrancy? No. It’s about not just believing that the Bible is inerrant by practicing our faith with such conviction. Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, along with egalitarianism, are not how we live if we believe the Bible to be inerrant. These are conflicting ideologies. The question is not what do we believe but how do we live? By whose rules? Ours or God’s?

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