Biola’s Talbot Seminary: New Theology Dean Endorses ‘Woke’ Notion of ‘White Fragility’ – American Faith

Biola University in La Mirada, California announced in February that beginning July 2, 2023, influential evangelical leader Dr. Ed Stetzer will become the nondenominational Christian university’s new Dean of Talbot School of Theology.

Talbot considers itself to be “biblically faithful, culturally engaged and theologically sound” as well as one of America’s “leading theological schools.”

A 2020 blog post on Dr. Stetzer’s website endorses Robin DiAngelo’s 2018 book White Fragility, which sold tens of thousands of copies in the wake of George Floyd’s death, as an “important” resource for “particularly white evangelical Christians” to develop “a language to identify, name, and describe white supremacy and the difficulty and refusal of white people to speak this language and move toward healing.”

Stetzer has defined ‘white fragility’ as “how quickly white people respond with anger and defensiveness in conversations about race.”

The post on the new theology dean’s website states, “I think this book is important for evangelical Christians, particularly white evangelical Christians (both people who would identify as progressive, conservative, or a combination of the two), because it speaks a language that has been almost completely missing within the white evangelical church throughout its history.”

The blog also shares how white students often express shock and disbelief when learning about the supposed historical role of Christianity in perpetuating racism: “I teach graduate courses in Christian institutions on these topics and in every class, my white students say, why have I not heard this before? Why didn’t I learn this in Sunday school in my church?” the post reads.

The article argues that DiAngelo’s book provides a necessary framework for understanding the presumed past and present racial traumas that white Christians have created and defended: “DiAngelo gives us language to not only understand our racial past, but to understand why it has been in the benefit of whites (which includes white evangelicals) to avoid the truth of our past and the reality of our present, and why it is so difficult for whites to talk about race and racism now.”

According to Stetzer’s website, although some may criticize White Fragility as a secular work, his readers are encouraged to be open to learning from it: “We can reject this book as secular and unbiblical, or we can glean from it and write our own books about whiteness and about the truth of the past and present racial trauma that the white Christian church has created and defended; and we can do this work through the lens of the Gospel, which is our hope for moving forward.”

Another blog post on Stetzer’s website purports to analyze not only the “merits” but also the “flaws” of DiAngelo’s White Fragility, implying impartiality toward the work. However, the post points to no theological, philosophical, or historical inaccuracies in the book, instead simply summarizing its chapters.

In a March webinar entitled “Racial Justice: The Next Frontier,” DiAngelo called for what some have characterized as outright racial “segregation,” when she told those on the call that “[p]eople of color need to get away from White people and have some community with each other.”

Responding to DiAngelo’s statement, Director of Digital Platforms at Grace to You Ministries Darrell B. Harrison argued that the author’s words revealed her own racist attitudes.

“For people like Robin DiAngelo, it’s always other white people who black people need to ‘get away from,’ but never her,” Harrison tweeted. “DiAngelo is a woke Bull Connor, only instead of dogs and fire hoses, she uses the divisive and factious tenets of critical race theory to keep blacks in their place,” he added, referencing Alabama politician and ardent segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor (1897-1973).

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an ideology rooted in Cultural Marxism, a worldview that sees Western Culture as an evil that needs to be dismantled.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, American Marxists “have gained more influence than ever before” and have done so by “[c]loaking their goals under the pretense of social justice, they now seek to dismantle the foundations of the American republic by rewriting history; reintroducing racism; creating privileged classes; and determining what can be said in public discourse, the military, and houses of worship.”

The foundation warns that “[u]nless Marxist thought is defeated again, today’s cultural Marxists will achieve what the Soviet Union never could: the subjugation of the United States to a totalitarian, soul-destroying ideology.”

Commenting on the dangers of the worldview, Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, argues that Cultural Marxism “stands in opposition to a biblical worldview” and “eliminat[es] the role of individual accountability in society and attributing society’s issues to the oppression of cultural hegemony” by “cut[ting] off the pursuit of truth which could lead to individual healing and a more just and unified society.”

“Christianity must counter [Cultural Marxism] by proclaiming that in Christ, there is now neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, male and female (Galatians 3:28), but that we’re all one in the Savior who rescues us from the oppression of sin,” writes Dr. Baucham.

Biola and Talbot’s decision to appoint Stetzer as theology dean raises questions about the extent to which anti-Western and potentially anti-biblical ideologies have become embedded into even apparently conservative Christian universities in the United States.

American Faith reached out to Biola for comment.