Josh McDowell is most famous for his apologetics book, Evidence Which Demands a Verdict. He made a business out of that book and subsequent books defending Christianity. Yesterday and today, he is famous for words he wants to take back.
Last night McDowell spoke at the American Association of Christian Counselors conference in Orlando, FL. He gave a speech titled “Six Epidemics in the Church.” McDowell said the first “epidemic” was critical race theory, followed by social justice. A friend of professor Aaron New who was at the conference and in McDowell’s plenary session related a stunning, offensive quote which Dr. New posted on Twitter. I got a recording of the talk and posted the clip. The whole thing set off a fire storm which led to a McDowell apology today. See the tweets below to follow the issue. In part one, I want to set the background for more comments in part two about why this episode illustrates the need for CRT or something like it.
I’m sitting here kinda stunned. I have a friend at the @theaacc World Conference.
And in his tirade against CRT, @josh_mcdowell just said this:
“Black people don't have access to opportunities, they say. But it's because they weren't raised to value education and hard work."
— Aaron New (@DrAaronNew) September 18, 2021
After Aaron posted this, a scramble ensued to find audio of the talk. A conference goer sent it along and I clipped out the quote which demonstrated that it was in essence what Aaron and his conference friend reported.
— Warren I Got the Shotmorton (@wthrockmorton) September 19, 2021
In the clip, McDowell said:
Everybody says blacks, whites everybody has equal opportunity to make it in America. No they don’t, folks. I do not believe Blacks, African-Americans or other minorities have equal opportunities. Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a great emphasis on education, security. You can do anything you want; you can change the world. If you work hard, you will make it. So many African-Americans don’t have those privileges like I did. My folks weren’t very rich, in fact, they were a poor farming family. But the way I was raised, I had advantages in life ingrained into me. You can do it! Get your education! Get a job! Change the world! And that makes different opportunities.
After being thoroughly criticized for hours on Twitter, McDowell today issued this statement:
A statement from Josh McDowell: pic.twitter.com/MhYaL2iA28
— Josh McDowell (@josh_mcdowell) Sespeech ptember 19, 2021
To me, this rings a little hollow since McDowell didn’t address his bombastic criticism of structural racism. In his statements, he completely ignored the actual reasons for lack of equity in opportunity. He told us in his apology what he didn’t mean, but he didn’t tell us what he did mean. He spent the first 10 minutes of his AACC speech blasting the concept of structural impediments to equity. So Mr. McDowell, what is the reason for lack of equal opportunity?
I hope this incident will be a teachable moment for white evangelicals who have mindlessly accepted the word of their talking heads about CRT. Brother Josh sees through a glass darkly, but he isn’t all the way to a clear view yet. I hope his awakening will be more than from a PR nightmare.