As Christian institutions like Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are promoting Critical Race Theory, many believers are confused as to what the doctrine is or why it’s dangerous. As the Southern Baptist Convention approved Resolution 9 in June, which promotes Critical Race Theory as an analytical tool, we need to know why it’s dangerous.
This information should provide a quick guide to four main things Christians need to know about Critical Race Theory (CRT).
CRT IS FUNDAMENTALLY OPPOSED TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Invented by Derrick Bell and other attorneys as a spin-off of Critical Legal Theory in American law schools in the 1980s, these theorists were disenchanted with the results of the Civil Rights Movement. Bell, Richard Delgado, and other CRT thinkers viewed classical liberal ideas such as meritocracy (people being rewarded based on their individual merits), equal opportunity, and colorblind justice (like that promoted by Dr. King) to all be factors that cause systemic, invisible, intangible racism.
What many people don’t understand is that CRT rejects most of the things that the 1960s Civil Rights Movement fought for, like treating people equally in institutions and under the law. Instead, CRT teaches that if power is to be properly redistributed from the “haves” to “have-nots” (which in their eyes include minority identity groups), the law may actually need to biased in favor of minority identity groups.
It is likely that the 1960s Civil Rights leaders like Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Hosea Williams, and Gloria Richardson all would have opposed CRT vehemently, as it denies that people should be judged “by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” CRT, conversely, teaches that skin color (or identity group) is the lens through which all things – especially justice – should be viewed.
CRT IS INTENTIONALLY DESIGNED TO DIVIDE PEOPLE RATHER THAN UNITE THEM (AND DOESN’T JUST APPLY TO RACE)
Christians should desire to have unity with all ethnicities, understanding our common ancestors (Adam and Eve) provide us both biological and theological reasons to reject the Darwinian notions of “race” altogether.
However, CRT is a system that rejects both human biology and Biblical doctrine and teaches that mankind should be separated into various ethnic minority groups.
With CRT, people are encouraged to identify with their ethnicity (which CRT thought-leaders inaccurately label “race”), rather than with greater and more significant distinguishing factors, like Jesus, their nation, or their community.
It’s also important to understand that Critical Race Theory – although it may seem counter-intuitive – doesn’t just deal with race. CRT promotes division between “identity groups,” dividing people into either the “oppressor class” (usually, White and “straight” men holding to the majority religion) versus “victim identity groups” which can include so-called “sexual minorities,” the disabled, abuse victims, women, the “transgender,” as well as ethnic groups.
CRT is used by homosexuals, the transgender, and women as much as it is used by ethnic minorities.
CRT DOESN’T DEFINE ‘WHITE,’ ‘BLACK,’ AND ‘RACISM’ THE WAY YOU MIGHT THINK
In CRT, “whiteness” refers to anything identifying with power or privilege as it relates to the “majority class” (usually, those who hold ethnic or religious majority). For CRT theorists, to be white is to have privilege, and to have privilege is to be white. The term, Whiteness, as used in CRT, refers to any majority group that has majority status and – in the world of CRT – that is synonymous with power and privilege.
This concept is actually called Whiteness Critical Theory. Because CRT views race as a pure social construct, anyone who enjoys social, political, racial, economic, or cultural standing that is better than the average can be classified as a part of the “White Identity Class” whether or not they are Caucasian, have light skin, or are of European descent.
Likewise in CRT, being “black” means one’s identification with oppression (much of this is from the work of James Cone who founded Black Liberation Theology and went so far as to say Jesus was black because he identified with the oppressed). In this sense, one can be “black” even if they do not have dark skin or African or Islander ancestry, so long as they identify themselves with an oppressed people group.
In CRT, it’s impossible for someone identifying with an oppressed people group to be racist, because they have created the equation “racism = bigotry + power.” If someone doesn’t have power because they’re not a part of an “oppressor (majority) class,” it is impossible – Critical Race Theorists say – for them to be racists. Therefore, they argue, black people cannot be racist.
However, Asians who succeed in America, CRT holds, can be racist because they are White by virtue of their overall class success. Therefore, even though Asians are in an ethnic minority in America, they are successful, so they are really apart of the White oppressor class. And if there are homosexuals who are white, because they face bigotry, they have “blackness” and are not considered to have oppressive “whiteness.”
CRT teaches that all white people (unless they can identify with another minority group like the disabled, homosexual, transgender, or victims) suffer from racism, because they have power and exhibit “micro-aggressions” (invisible or unperceivable slights of language and behavior that indicate the person is secretly a racist) that demonstrate bigotry. Consider the words of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary provost, Matt Hall.
In CRT, the only way to not be attacked as a racist is to preemptively admit your racism. Admitting your racism, white supremacy, privilege, or bigotry means that one has properly repented for their secret thoughts of supremacism. In CRT, the worst and most bigoted thing a white person can do is say they’re not racist, which – in the view of CRT – means that you surely are.
CRT IS THE OPPOSITE OF A BIBLICAL VIEW ON RACE
The Bibel says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Color-blindness – because ethnicity is not important to God and he’s not a respecter of persons – is far more aligned to a Biblical worldview than CRT, which views race as the analytical tool through which we should understand the world.
As believers in Jesus, we should be setting aside race, rather than highlighting it.
God wants to bring together people from every ethnic group into one (Revelation 7:9), not divide them by identity category so that they might endlessly fight one another.