Riots, hate, and hopelessness are becoming more and more of a problem in America. The church can bring relief; we can be the salt that preserves and light that shows the way. Unfortunately, vast numbers of believers are late coming on the scene and have trouble understanding what they are dealing with. Time is short, so we need to ask God to guide and use us; giving us eyes to see, ears to hear, and mouths to speak His words.
It helps to understand that we are reaping the fruit of the seed philosophers, educators, and authors have been sowing for decades; that seed is called Critical Theory. Here’s an example from an op-ed in Philadelphia of the thinking Critical Theory encourages:
Racism isn’t something white people can cure themselves of just by wanting to. You can read a thousand books, go to hundreds of protests, and talk to dozens of Black people — but until the systems of oppression are permanently dismantled, white people are forever stained with the guilt and shame of racism.
That is the battle cry in the streets today: dismantle the systems of oppression! As you listen to people who are calling for change, you may have trouble deciphering what they say, but it makes complete sense to them because they’ve been indoctrinated in Critical Theory.
If you’ve never heard of Critical Theory, you’re not alone. Most of the people who follow its philosophy would be hard-pressed to describe it (and that may include you to some degree). However, it is one of the principal frameworks behind today’s angry voices. It’s in the shadows, as many philosophies are, but it is very dangerous, especially to the church.
The primary goal of Critical Theory is to overcome the social structures that oppress people. It has been “immensely influential in the study of history, law, literature, and the social sciences.” Not surprisingly, the creators of the Theory drew heavily from Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Our focus will be on an offshoot of Critical Theory known as Critical Race Theory (CRT).
CRT assumes (according to UCLA) that, “Racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society.” To understand how they reach that conclusion, it is helpful to define the terms that are commonly used.
- Whiteness: a set of privileges that are granted to white-skinned people and groups. These privileges are invisible to white people.
- White Privilege: unearned privileges that accrue to white people just because they are white.
- White Supremacy: any behavior, belief or system that supports white privilege
- White Fragility: the inability or unwillingness of white people to talk about racial inequalities due to the grip that whiteness, white privilege, and white supremacy exert on them, knowingly or unknowingly.
- Racism: This term no longer deals with an individual or applies to people of color. It is now about whiteness, having white privilege, having white supremacy, or showing white fragility. By virtue of their whiteness, all white people are racist, hence America is racist by definition. (Read the quotation at the beginning of this article again.)
- Anti-racist: Someone who believes in racial equality, but they also believe inequalities are not an individual matter. They believe the root of the problem is in power structures and policies. The only explanation for inequality is racism.
You can see how this leaves no room for discussion. If we try to reason that racism is about the opinions and actions of individuals, then we are racists experiencing white fragility. To say you are not a racist, means you are not anti-racist (you didn’t use the term), so you are a racist and likely enjoying white privilege. If you are not white but still disagree with CRT, your reaction is just evidence that you are damaged by racism, so you can’t even understand how this works.
No matter how you may try to rebut a CRT argument, you are hemmed in and left defenseless. The whole conversation is intentionally designed to defeat any disagreement. You can’t win—ever—so long as you are trying to win their arguments.
What is the Real Issue?
One Christian writing on this topic stated, “He who defines the problem gets to define the solution. If the main problem for “people of color” is that they are inevitably oppressed by structures that are inherently oppressive, then the only solution is to tear down those structures in the pursuit of justice.” There is no place for reform in this approach. The structures they see are beyond redemption and must be dismantled.
In contrast, the Bible defines the problem as each individual’s evil desires, which lead to sin and death. Oppression is the result of our human condition; left on their own, people do evil things like oppressing other people. This is a problem caused by individuals; structural oppression is secondary to our own evil desires.
So, the real issue is the condition of persons, not the condition of systems and structures.
This exposes another truth that CRT avoids. Oppressed people are prone to the same shortcomings as their oppressors. Too often, once the oppressed have relief, they take revenge and become the oppressors. It’s ironic that their solution can lead right back to repeating the problem they set out to solve. Even the oppressed are fallen, sin-filled people, just like the rest of the us—without exception. The sinful nature is inescapable.
We must understand the issues from a biblical worldview because that offers the best hope for a remedy that will be lasting. Accepting their premise of oppression coming from social systems is dangerous because it leads to destructive solutions when peaceful, biblical, ones are available. Don’t buy into their deceitful premise.
How We Should Respond
People with a CRT perspective don’t want the church as an ally because they think we are part of the problem. In their worldview, Christianity is a white religion and, consequently, is systemically racist. They don’t want our message. Only theirs can be allowed to be heard. We need to be absolutely clear that God’s message is the one that the world needs to hear; it’s good news.
If you’re still unsure about CRT antagonism toward the church, go on the internet and try to count the number of attacks on church buildings that have occurred recently. There has been a dramatic increase, which signals an escalation that can move this behavior from attacks on buildings to attacks on people. Remember that the roots of CRT include the writings of Marx, and Marxism is violently against Christianity. Russia and China are testaments to that fact.
It may sound too simplistic to say that the answer is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so here’s a detailed description of how a Christian can engage with society to be salt and light.
- Pray. Ask for wisdom from above, which is first of all pure, then peaceable (read James 1:5; 3:7). Ask the Lord to bring the right Scripture to your attention in order to guide you.
- Have an answer ready. What are the likely situations you’ll find yourself in where protests, inequality, and injustice would be discussed? What do you think you would hear? Prepare for this and rehearse how you would respond.
- Overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) When you talk with someone, ask God to help you see them as He sees them. Jesus referred to both the lost and our enemies. Meditate on Luke 15 and Matthew 5:44 to help you change the way you see people. Remember the “more excellent way” of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Always strive to remember Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- Recognize who you meet. Many people have been deceived and don’t even know it; they are the blind following the blind. Some will listen, some will not.
- Learn to recognize someone who fits the definition of a fool in Proverbs and don’t spend much time with them.
- Be alert to those who are proud and have evil intentions—they are dangerous and without ‘ears to hear.’
- Watch for the people who have a divine appointment with God. As His ambassador, you are to deliver His message. Rely on Him for both the contact, and the words. All of this is a spiritual work, so “walk in the Spirit” as Galatians 5:25 instructs.
- Don’t’ be afraid. When you enter a conversation like this, immediately pray for God to lead you by His Spirit. Ask questions like these and then listen closely:
- “What are you trying to change?”
- “Will what you’re doing make that change happen?”
- “Won’t there still be problems after the change? People will still have failings.” (For instance, the autonomous zone in Seattle was supposed to be a good place, but it wasn’t very long before people were murdered.)
- “Aren’t the people you want to help still prone to have the same kinds of shortcomings that you’re fighting against now?”
- Make a statement at some point: “It really is best if people treat each other the way they want to be treated.” Wait to see if they are curious about your statement. If not, don’t push, but come back to the idea when you can. At some point, let them know this came from Jesus, and if His teaching is used as it should be, it could change the world. This is where sacred and secular ideas collide, but also where the Holy Spirit does His miracle of conviction and faith.
- End the conversation at the right point. You may be the one who plants seeds, or one who waters what someone else has planted, or you might get to reap the harvest. However, if you’re planting the first seeds, you probably won’t get to reap the harvest; let that be okay. Knowing when to stop is part of the wisdom that God gives in the moment as He leads you by His Spirit.
This describes encounters with individuals. However, if you are in an arena where you’re addressing the larger movement and making a strategic plan for the church or an organization, it still applies. These issues are still important:
- Spiritual preparation for ministry
- Sensitivity to the target audience (and a strategy concerning those who would block your contact with the audience)
- Being as harmless as a dove, but wise. This is walking in the Spirit.
- Giving attention to timing
After both individual and group contacts, it may be possible to do some degree of follow-up. If you can continue the conversation that’s been started, by all means, do so.
We are witnessing a forceful attack on our institutions and culture, including our Judeo-Christian roots. Even the church is in the crosshairs of these attacks. From language and values to symbols and heroes, this society is being torn apart; shredded to pieces as we watch. The new order will not deliver what it promises—it cannot, but it might succeed despite that fact.
This is happening because students have been indoctrinated for decades with teaching tainted by Critical Thinking. Textbooks, movies, and role models have spread the opinions that align with this philosophy. It is not the only force behind what’s happening, but it is, unmistakably, a major force.
Admittedly, the movement we see is loosely organized and has been fragmented. There are a variety of groups coming together who may agree on destroying the culture but also have disagreements, such as who will be in charge when the dust settles. This means that we will find people who don’t follow the exact arguments presented by CRT. However, the problem of our natural inclination to do evil things and the solution we offer—following Jesus— remain the same. The Lord has the best solutions for dealing with the fallen human state: repentance, faith, and being set apart to Him. There is no better way to deal with oppression and inequalities.
We follow Jesus and represent Him to a world that desperately needs Him. He established the church for just such a time as this, so we can take His message to both the troublemakers and those who don’t understand what’s happening. Without His intervention, we could end up living in a society where religious freedom is only a slogan, and the gospel is hindered.
Help us, Lord God Almighty. Hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word.
“At every critical juncture, the One pulling the strings
is the Ruler of the Universe.”
“The One who works in the lives of individuals
is also in control of the affairs of nations.”
Chuck Missler, 2009