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Understanding critical race theory

Understanding critical race theory
Posted on January 27, 2021  - By Godly John

Recent times have seen the rise of social justice movements and so-called anti-racist organisations such as ‘Black Lives Matter’. Many Christians have aligned themselves with these movements. However, these movements operate on a worldview built on critical race theory (CRT).

While the world may have been captured by this worldview, we, as Christians, must seek to never be deceived by ideas and philosophies that are antithetical to Christ and His gospel (Colossians 2:9). Even the tacit affirmation of such philosophies will result in the breaking of peace among Christians and lead to deception entering the church because it explicitly denies gospel truth. 

And that’s exactly the situation we are facing, with the rise of the social justice gospel and the woke church movement.

What is critical race theory?

Critical race theory was conceived as a way to explain society’s imbalances. It primarily divides society into two groups ― the oppressed and the oppressors. Those in power are seen as the oppressors and those without power are seen as the oppressed. Modern social justice movements are heavily rooted in critical race theory, and seek to group society into oppressor/oppressed groups based on racial and other intersectional identities. 

Modern social justice movements are heavily rooted in critical race theory

This is the lens through which it seeks to explain real or perceived inequities and imbalances in society, and attempts to correct them based on those terms.

Incompatibility with Christianity

CRT is not just an analytical tool as some have claimed. It is, in fact, a worldview by which reality is comprehended. If we have the right view of reality and of the problems we face, the solutions that arrive at will solve the actual problem.

But CRT cannot do that. Why? Because its worldview is simply not consistent with reality. Very briefly, I will look at just three of these worldview issues:

1. Who are we?

According to CRT, race is a social construct rooted in power structures that are designed to oppress groups of people.

However, Scripture teaches that there is, in fact, no such thing as race, as we are all descended from the same original parents. The Bible does teach that due to man’s sinfulness, there arose nations and people groups. In fact, many nations have fought against other nations and oppressed each other in every century and on every continent.

2. What is our problem?

According to CRT, the primary problem is the imbalance of power and inequalities related to wealth and privilege.

Different people groups may have different moral values. But Scripture is clear: all people groups are equally sinful in the sight of God. No one group ― not even the people of Israel ― was righteous. Every person from every nation/people group is born a sinner who rebels against God. This rebellion is evident in how we sin against each other. 

Different people groups may have different moral values. But all people groups are equally sinful in the sight of God

Our fundamental problem is not our racial-ethnic identity or the sins of our ancestors, but our sin in this present day!

Evil was not done in the past alone — it is ever-present today.

3. What is the solution?

CRT proposes the dismantling of existing social power structures in order to correct the power imbalance and set right historical sins and current inequities. While this approach may not be incorrect in some areas, especially when there are systemic laws and practices in place that disadvantage groups of people, it does not go far enough.

Scripture actually proposes that the root problem with all of these issues is the heart condition. Even if you removed all systemic imbalances and set up the right systems, the underlying heart condition remains unaddressed. Until man’s sinfulness is dealt with, sin will continue to perpetuate whatever social structures and systems we establish.

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The heart of the matter

CS Lewis termed it ‘chronological snobbery’ when we assume that, as a progressive advanced human society in the 21st century, we have a better grasp and understanding than those who lived in the past centuries. However, the reality is that, had we been in those times, we would have committed just as many injustices — if not more. 

It was in Scripture that the correct diagnosis has been given: the root problem is the heart of man, from which arises all kinds of deception. 

No one denies that setting up a just system is good. However, it is not the ultimate solution. Because no matter what systems we set up, without the fundamental rebirth, man will continue to sin in more creative and destructive ways in any system he sets up.

Until man’s sinfulness is dealt with, sin will continue to perpetuate whatever social structures and systems we establish

Man, being fundamentally sinful, needs a complete rescue — not just a readjustment of chairs on a sinking ship. He ultimately needs his heart of rebellion to be turned into a heart of worship to the living God. When he possesses a heart that is right with God, he will begin to live rightly with those around him (Romans 1:18-22).

It was to achieve this ‘peace’ that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was born into this world. He did not come to destroy kingdoms and systematic structures immediately, but to shed His blood as the ransom for the unrighteous and unclean ― people like you and me.

If we’ve been saved from such a desperate reality, then how much more should we be careful not to compromise the gift that we have in our shared identity in Christ rather than in our cultural or group identity.

In Christ, there is no distinction between Christians of any nation or people group. And while CRT says that we remain divided, Christ says He has made us one with Himself and with each other.

For a Christian, our ultimate common identity as brothers and sisters united in Christ is an identity that far surpasses the world’s perceived identity-based race and culture.

We are one in Christ. 

Colossians 3:11-15: 

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

In the next article, we will look at more implications of the gospel with respect to CRT.

Godly John

About Godly John

Raised in the Middle East, now living in Melbourne, Australia, Godly John is married with one son. A former agnostic, he is now involved in lay teaching ministries at his local church, and loves thinking about the intersection between reformed theology, philosophy, culture and ethics.



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