If you’ve heard of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and wondered what it is, this is a post that will help answer that question. What is Critical Race Theory? Critical Race Theory (CRT), basically, is the view that race, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is socially constructed and that race, as a socially constructed concept, functions as a means to maintain the interests of the white population that constructed it. Is it important to understand how this is impacting the Christian Church? Yes it is. I will extensively quote a good basic level overview article authored by Matt Slick and published on gotquestions.org on this subject and then provide additional links that I recommend at the bottom of this post.
I know that this overview and the accompanying links will take time to read and digest. The problem being, if you do not take the time to at least gain a basic understanding of what CRT represents and seeks to accomplish, you will NOT be aware of the implications that it represents to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when you run into it and make no mistake, you will run into it.
Critical race theory (CRT) examines racism within culture and society and seeks to explain how it relates to law, opportunity, power, housing, employment, education, status, etc. Proponents of CRT often say a socially constructed system of oppression instituted by white people is designed to suppress people of color. This system can be unconscious or deliberate. Please consider the following definitions of CRT.
“Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is a theoretical and interpretive mode that examines the appearance of race and racism across dominant cultural modes of expression.” https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_
“Critical race theory (CRT), the view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of colour.” https://www.britannica.com/topic/critical-race-theory
“Critical race theory (CRT) is a movement that challenges the ability of conventional legal strategies to deliver social and economic justice and specifically calls for legal approaches that take into consideration race as a nexus of American life.” https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1254/critical-race-theory
Using Critical Race Theory to Implement Change
By studying CRT, people attempt to understand how the dynamics of racial prejudices and inequalities manifest within any particular society. Then, by understanding and exposing those parts of society where racism is embedded, the goal is to bring awareness to the problem and, hopefully, stop it and achieve an equitable utilization of various assets within society. These assets can include language policies, the application of the law, housing, schooling, job opportunities, etc. The goal is to challenge, and if necessary, reshape the dominant social structures and cultural expectations and practices that govern society.
Origins of Critical Race Theory
CRT originated in the 1970s in legal studies that sought to identify and rectify legal inequities.
“In the 1970’s and 80’s a group of lawyers, activists, and legal scholars* recognized that they needed a new framework to combat racism and oppression in America. They blended concepts from critical legal studies and radical feminism with the influences of the Black Power and Chicano movements of the time and critical race theory was born. At first it was mainly referenced in legal scholarship, but now it’s used across many different fields and disciplines. ” https://adawaygroup.com/critical-race-theory/
Is Critical Race Theory Dangerous?
Critical race theory presupposes that racism is everywhere, all the time. Therefore, it has the potential for being misused especially since it has Marxist leanings. It divides people into the oppressors and the oppressed based on skin color and aims at having the government force societal changes for the greater good. It sees people as groups, not individuals. It tends to view everything in terms of its own criteria and judging all areas of society based on critical race theory. Therefore, white people are guilty of racism because they are white. This is, of course, reverse racism. It sees free societies as bad because such freedom only supports further racism. And, it keeps the “racist problem” alive and actually contributes to the thing it is supposed to prevent. Let me list them here.
- Racism is everywhere, all the time.
- CRT presupposes that white people are inherently racist.
- It views people as groups, not individuals.
- A free society only supports the racist paradigm.
- Encourages the racism it purports to prevent
Are all white people racist? CRT implies that they are. But how can that assertion be validated? When developing methods for discovering something, we often find exactly what we look for. If a social scientist seeks to uncover racism within a person or group of people (i.e., white people), it is possible to gear a study to find it or even create false positives – because that is what he or she is looking for. After all, we all assume certain values consistent with our worldview. If we don’t, then we are inconsistent. So, the sociologist’s own prejudices cannot be divorced from his or her methodological studies. Often, they assume their conclusion from the beginning and discover data to confirm it.
One of the natural dangers to misapplication of information derived from critical race theory studies could be the imposition of societal changes to benefit a minority group over the majority. Now, this is a touchy subject. We do not want minorities mistreated for the benefit of the majority. But we also don’t want the majority mistreated for the sake of the minority. Generally speaking, societal change occurs slowly, not by forced imposition and legal declaration. Of course, as a Christian, I would assert that such change must be based on biblical truth. Change begins in the heart with the proper biblical teaching that we are all made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). The Bible teaches there is only one race, the human race. There is no distinction made between people based on her skin color. That is secular practice. Because we are made in God’s image, we are all worthy of respect and honor, and we should avoid prejudicial favoritism and denigration (James 2:2-4). Such sins can only be cleansed by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, and when we trust in Him, He changes us from within.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come,” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Biblical Response to Critical Race Theory
The Bible says there is only one race, the human race. According to Scripture, all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Therefore, all people are worthy of respect. For the Christian, prejudice, whether in favor or against people, is forbidden in Scripture.
“For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:2–4).
Because the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and because no one does good (Romans 3:10-12), we all have the propensity to sin. Racism is a sin. But, it is not restricted only to those who are white in skin color. It exists among all people groups. It is our nature to judge others by our own standards, leading to racism. Instead, we need to judge others by the standard that God has revealed in Scripture and through the person of Christ. After all, we are all equally in need of redemption and repentance.
Furthermore, though CRT has a noble aim that seeks equity among people within society (noble because it is biblical in a narrow sense), it can be and is being used in an oppressive and ungodly way. It is dangerous, and we ought to pray against it. Those who promote Critical Race Theory often seek to force change upon people through accusations of white privilege and inherent white racism, whether it is conscious or unconscious. White people are guilty because they are white. CRT proponents sometimes employ the cancel culture’s atrocious practice, doxing, and shaming to force people into compliance with their social justice standards. In so doing, they often elevate the rights of the minorities above the rights of others and show prejudicial favor toward them and against whites. They become guilty of what they accuse others (Rom. 2:1).
When justice is advocated without God as the standard, then justice becomes the changing standard of those who pressure others and the tool of those who don’t know God to force others into compliance with the New Social Norm standard. They neglect the heart’s issues and seek to replace Christ’s redemptive work with Social Justice moral standards. This is humanism, and it is dangerous.
Finally, this imposition of standards upon others by threat of punishment from the cancel culture only exacerbates racism. It brings about the opposite of what it requires. Not surprisingly, this problem is reflected in understanding the nature of God’s law. It brings about the opposite of what it requires because it is externally required, not internally motivated. The law of God says, “you shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17), But shows us where we covet.
“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead,” (Romans 7:7–8).
Likewise, critical race theory and its accusations of white privilege, bigotry, and racism do not produce heartfelt repentance because it is not regenerative. It tends to increase the thing it is trying to prevent. In truth, it is only the gospel that saves and only the gospel that has the power to change people’s hearts. Critical race theory is not the true Gospel. We need regeneration, not CRT.
All Christians should abhor racism in themselves and in others. We should be in prayer about it as we seek to be like Jesus. But, our repentance should be done for the glory of Christ as a people who are redeemed from sin and as a people who understand that all are made in the image of God. There is only one race, the race that is descended from our ancient father, Adam. We are all ultimately, in this sense, brethren.
Additional recommended links are as follows:
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!