Opinion: Critical Race Theory is Not the Gospel
Critical Race Theory has replaced the precious message of the gospel for far too long, and the Church must wake up.
You may not know what the term “critical theory” (CT) means, but I can guarantee you have seen it play out or someone has tried to teach the ideology to you. More recently, critical race theory (CRT) plays a major role in the way people shape their opinions on race and culture. What many masked as an analytical tool has morphed itself into a worldview that Christians must be wary of, avoid and never allow to replace the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Many evangelical institutions have been breached by critical theory ideas, which have gone in some parts undetected and encouraged, but before we dive into that problem, let’s get to the root of the evil.
In the 1930s at the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research, a new ideological way of thinking and understanding societal power structures quickly became a feeding ground for worldviews like Marxism. These worldviews analyze society through a lens of oppressor and oppressed, viewing any means of authority as the object of potential oppression. One of the theorists, Herbert Marcuse, describes CT as a “social theory supposed to analyze existing societies in the light of their own functions and capabilities and to identify demonstrable tendencies (if any) which might lead beyond the existing state of affairs.”
In the creation of CT, people like Max Horkheimer, one the original critical theorists, tried to use Marxist principles more broadly than just economic principles but rather in culture and media in his 1937 essay “Tradition and Critical Theory.”
This way of analyzing society became a foreground for other critical social theories such as second-wave feminism, queer theory and critical race theory, among others. All of these are searching for how power produces and executes domination and oppression. A majority of critical theory lies in the oppressed experiences, purposefully excluding rational thought from the discussion.
Herein lies the issue: when the critical theory definition of oppression, which hopes to destroy all levels of authority that is deemed evil or all levels of power that prevent in their terms “equality,” has made its way into the Protestant church’s pulpit. Now we have a case of Christians who naively took on the critical theorists’ definition of the oppressed rather than using the Bible to sculpt their definitions and understanding of how to care for those Christ called Blessed in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-11).
When reading the Holy Bible and seeking to understand it, you will find numerous points (Jeremiah 17:9, for example) where the depravity of man reveals evil and deceit through sin — oppression being one of those sins. Based on current events happening in the U.S., it is no secret that the sinful nature of man is behind it. Unfortunately, people are looking for answers in a man-made worldview rather than the inherent Word of God. As apologist Neil Shenvi put it, “evangelicals, who nonetheless found their views evolving as their commitment to the presuppositions of critical theory supplanted their commitment to biblical doctrine.”
Instead of looking to the Bible for supreme truth and praying for conviction, I see young people fleeing to books filtered through the lens of woke-ism like “White Fragility” and “Race, Class, and Gender,” which are littered with tails of standpoint epistemology (experience) and deny the opportunity of rational objective thought, calling it evil and a byproduct of the western culture. If there is no standard of objective truth, how is anything true in this world?
Virgil Walker, discipleship pastor at Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska and host of the Just Thinking podcast, called out the use of CRT within the evangelical circle at the Falkirk Center’s Faith Summit, saying, “Since the church is trying to be relevant with the world, they are bowing down to the ways of culture.”
The Gospel of Christ is the only means to unite man, whereas the Marxist destruction of liberty and abandonment of Christian morals, found in CT, will bring about more oppression rather than abolishing it. I believe there is no better place to end than pointing back to what scripture says in Ephesians 2, showing us that Christ breaks down the dividing wall of hostility and is the only means to peace, restoration and freedom.
Hattie Troutman is the Editor-In-Chief. Follow her on Twitter at @hattrout.