Church, we’ve got a problem: Critical Theory (sometimes referred to as Critical Race Theory). This worldview is a growing problem finding its way into the Church. Too many professing Christians today are, willingly or unwillingly, buying into this idea known to have Marxist origins. It’s an attempt to explain and confront power structures in the world that it claims are oppressing others. As Christians we certainly are against oppression but we ought to seek a Biblical understanding of the problems and a Biblical solution regarding such things.
This article demonstrates that Critical Theory is in contrast to the Bible. Thus, Christians need to know exactly what Critical Theory is so we don’t ignorantly mix an unbiblical approach with a Biblical one.
In Critical Theory all people are divided into two groups, which are in turn pitted against one another. These groups are comprised of those who have power and those who don’t. Those who have power are always oppressing those who don’t.
So who are these oppressors and oppressed? In Critical Theory they are identified based on your group identity. Features of individuals such as race and gender determine whether you are one of the oppressed or one of the oppressors (other features such as religion, immigration status, and economic status are also included). The features chosen for the oppressors or hegemonic power are really arbitrarily chosen based on the society at hand as someone might be part of an oppressed group in one way but one of the oppressors in another.
In Critical Theory there’s also this concept called Intersectionality. Intersectionality seeks to measure a person’s level of oppression based on how these group identities intersect in someone’s life in relation to the oppressive group or Hegemonic power. The common idea nowadays in the United States (where Critical Theory is primarily advocated) for this oppressive group or Hegemonic power are those individuals with the identifying features of being white, male, and heterosexual. Some would even include being Christian as an identifying feature of this said oppressor group.
So an example of intersectionality measuring a person’s level of oppression would be seen by an individual who is a black heterosexual male. This person would be said to be oppressed by the fact they are not white but they would be less oppressed than another individual who is a black heterosexual woman. This is said to be due to the fact that being a male corresponds more with the oppressor identity of being male over being a female. Furthering this example would be that the individual who is a black heterosexual female would be considered less oppressed than another who is a black lesbian. Intersectionality says the further your features/identity do not intersect with that of the alleged oppressor group, the more oppressed you are.
Critical Theory also appears to advocate that the degree to which you are oppressed determines your level of moral authority. As you identify with more and more categories that do not identify with the Hegemonic power, the more moral authority you seem to have. An example of this would be that the experience and perspective of a black lesbian is more valuable than the experience and perspective of a white male heterosexual individual. The view not only elevates the moral authority of the oppressed but also says that the more a person is oppressed, the less moral responsibility they have for their actions. This is why we are seeing many actions being excused in recent events when it comes to harming others or property damage. This is also why we see those who speak out against such opportunistic violence are being shut down or silence alleging they “do not understand” or are not in a place to talk since they “don’t have the perspective of those oppressed” or their level of oppression. Objective right and wrong are traded in exchange for a right and wrong based relative to your oppression.
Critical Theory’s Solution
Critical Theory outlines the problem as this “Hegemonic Power” structure that oppresses anyone not identified with their features. What are those of the Hegemonic power group, namely white heterosexual male individuals, supposed to do to fix this said oppression in which they are consciously or unconsciously participating? “Wokeness.”
Being “woke” is the idea that those who are identified as the oppressors give up or surrender a wide variety outlined “privileges” that the oppressed name to the oppressor by virtue of their claimed moral authority. This can be their economic status, wealth, or position but as well has been known to include submission by kneeling or repenting of being born white.
The goal of Critical Theory is to take down the current said power structure and give it to the outlined oppressed so that they have the power.
The intent isn’t about equality but about the switching of roles. The oppressors lose their said power and those oppressed gain the power. But as before mentioned, the view says that those with power oppress and the switching of roles does nothing to really mitigate this proposed problem, it just swaps who is an oppressor and who is oppressed — but the problem still remains.
Christians and a Biblical Understanding
So where does Jesus fit in here? Obviously Jesus is against oppression but how does this differ from Biblical Christianity regarding the problem and the solution? How does this secular view affect the way we should view one another?
Equally Created and Valuable
While Critical Theory suggests that our identity is rooted in features such as our skin tone and gender, the Bible establishes our true identity in the fact that we are human beings whose value is established in virtue of being created in the image of God (Imago Dei). Every single human being possesses this imago dei regardless of whether your skin is white or black, whether you are male or female, or whether you identify as cis gendered or otherwise. All human beings are considered before God as equally created and equally valuable (and thus possess objectively equal and unalienable rights).
Equally Guilty of Sin
God has an intentional design and purpose for mankind that was violated when Adam and Eve rebelled against God by their act of disobedience. The continued violation of God’s purpose and design for man is sin and we are ALL guilty of it (Romans 3:23). Unjust oppression of any person by another is certainly within this violation of God’s design and purpose for mankind. Critical Theory advocates go beyond this by saying those with power, especially those within the identified oppressor of the time (Hegemonic power), are simply out to oppress. The focus in Critical Theory is solely on those within the labeled oppressor group because they have power. Power is sinful unless the oppressed have it. The problem is based on an “Us Versus Them” mentality when the real problem lies on all humanity because of our sin nature.
Equally Able to Find Redemption through the Grace and Mercy of Jesus Christ.
Biblically, since all humans are equally guilty of sin, the only way salvation can be found is through Jesus Christ. Repenting and believing the Gospel! Our hope is found in Jesus and what He does to remove our sin. Critical Theory, however, presents the notion that the oppressors are guilty but the oppressed are not. The only way salvation can be had under such a view is not through repentance but social liberation. The hope is not in Christ but in activism. The mentality created, again, is an “Us versus Them” mentality. which is antithetical to a Biblical worldview. We are ALL are in need of redemption through Jesus Christ.
Our Identity Matters
According to a biblical worldview, our identity is not found in skin tone, gender, economic status, or otherwise. Our identity is found in Christ and nowhere else. Now don’t confuse this to mean these other features aren’t important, they just do not comprises the essence of our identity. We all have distinctive God-given physical features, whether that means we possess high or low Melanin levels, facial structures like high cheek bones, stocky or slim body types, God displays his creativity through our diversity. All are things that make us individually unique and in their own ways glorify God. Our identity, however, isn’t found in these physical features as the Critical Race Theorist asserts, but in Christ alone.
Critical Theory focuses incorrectly on one’s identity as being derived or found in such features. This couldn’t be further from the truth as displayed in scripture.
A quick word on being “colorblind” (as it is called). In an attempt to resolve the issue some will opt to say such things as “I don’t see color, I just see people”. They want to live life as if there is no difference between individuals, namely skin tone. This actually hurts us as a people made by God. Being able to recognize, enjoy, and learn from each other and how God has created each of us uniquely is a wonderful and meaningful thing. An example of this is when we go visiting new places on vacation. We tend to go to places that are different, places that we can appreciate while we are there and garner experience in something new or different. The same is with people. God purposefully made us unique and different so that we can grow and have meaningful experiences in the differences we possess.
God has purposefully and intentionally created us within different times, places, and circumstances. Given these differences, each of us will have varying strengths and weaknesses. While we are created equally before God we are not created in equal circumstances. God blesses us in varying ways. Within those times, places, and circumstances we find ourselves in we are to strive after Jesus and live how he leads us via the Spirit in this life according to his Word.
Assuredly if we are blessed with things like economic wealth, we ought to use our gifts and strengths to help others! This is because we each have God given strengths and weaknesses. So while we may be uplifting others in a way, we will be uplifted and helped amidst our very own weaknesses where others are strong. When our identity is centered and found in Christ, the differences in status, finances, abilities, talents aren’t about being privileged or not, being a part of the Hegemonic power or not as Critical Theory suggests.
Rather in our growing to be like Christ we find opportunities to embrace others. We find opportunities to help not just our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ but even our enemies! To seek their good, even lift them up. A life pursuing Christ won’t be one that seeks to take what others have for their own gain out of jealousy or greed.
Mankind on his own is selfish and bent towards evil but in Christ we are called to die to self daily, pick our cross and follow after him. The ramifications would have an astounding rippling effect throughout the world if the Gospel was focused on, shared, and preached rather than being shunted in favor of secular and false ideologies. We would be more about finding out how God would have us live our lives now and how we can bless others with our gifts rather than trying to bring others down who have gifts that we lust for and desire. When living like Christ is our goal and focus, we will be less about merely helping ourselves out for our own gain (just as Christ’s Parable of the Good Samaritan exemplifies).
As Christians our identity is found in Christ and Christ alone. Your identity is not found in your skin tone, profession, or economic status. Those are simply unique features about you that when approached rightly and in reflection of God’s purpose and design, glorifies God. When these features are substituted as an identity instead of Christ, it always begets strife and sin. We have an example to follow and we need to lead in our actions and how we live. Be the change the world needs, because it is Christ that it needs. Be like Christ and you will see how we can end oppression and racism by turning away from sin, becoming new creatures with minds that are being transformed (Romans 12:2) as Christ works in us.
Derin Stidd is someone online who made some very relevant points that are reflected by my article above and elsewhere. Take note of what he says and what we can begin to do in our thoughts and outlook. As well don’t forget to check out further resources below.
“This world is crazy right now.
The thing that fuels the insanity the most is the silence of Christians regarding the Gospel.
It’s not that Christians aren’t saying anything. It’s just that we aren’t saying anything about Jesus. Instead, we are adopting the view of our “side” and repeating their slogans and talking points.
Here’s my question, how do you even know that any lives matter at all?
Human life, all human life, has intrinsic value because human beings bear the image of God.
It is *IMPOSSIBLE* to enhance or diminish the value of human life on the basis of things like skin color, privilege, victimhood, vocation, ability, or any other character trait which is secondary to the innate value that comes from the image of God.
Even though we are created in the image of God, we are also broken, because we are sinners, in rebellion against the God who created us, and gives us inherent value by creating us in His image.
We show our greatest rebellion against God in the evil ways we interact with one another. We hate each other. We murder each other. We steal from each other. We abuse each other. We often treat our neighbor as though God’s image upon them is of no value.
On our own, our hearts are wicked, seeking out every advantage we might take to ourselves, in order to exalt ourselves, and our interests over that of our neighbor.
Jesus, the Son of the Living God came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross in our place. In took upon Himself God’s wrath for the sins of the whole world. He paid the just penalty for our crimes against God. And on the third day He arose from the dead, defeating death and sin. And is now seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling from His throne in Heaven.
If you turn from your sin, and turn in faith to Christ alone for salvation, God will forgive your sins, and because of the finished work of His Son on the cross, He will make you His child, and grant you eternal life.
Now, renewed in Christ, and indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God, The Christian is no longer a slave to sin, and is now able to love His neighbor to the Glory of God, as God created Him to do.
The Christian now possesses a new ability to love, to a greater extent, because He has experienced the Love of God in Christ, and this kind of Love is reserved uniquely for the family of God. The Christian is compelled to love His brothers and sisters in Christ as Christ has loved the Church.
In the New Testament Church we see this love at work. We see Christian Jews, along with Greeks and Romans, figure out how to love one another to a greater extent even than they love their own heritage, and their own blood relatives.
In Christ, Romans who once conquered, and subdued the Jews, viewing them as not citizens in the nation of Rome, learned to identify with the suffering of the Jews. And the Jews set aside the privilege of the Romans in order that they might be able to receive them as brothers, despite their former sin against them.
In Christ, the Jews, once the Covenant People of God, who received the law of God, learned to set aside the privelege of their heritage as Jews, and to instead receive their heritage in Christ, and learned to see the Romans (and Greeks) as their fellow brothers in Jesus Christ.
In Christ, the Jew has more in common with the Roman than he does with his fellow Jew who does not know Christ. And in Christ the Roman has more in common with the Jew than he does with his fellow Roman who does not know Christ.
The same is true of us today. In Christ, the white Christian has more in common with the black Christian, than he does even with his own blood relatives who are not Christians. And the black Christian has more in common with the white Christian than he does with his own blood relatives in Christ.
We do not seek to identify with one another on the basis of privilege, other than the privilege of knowing and serving Christ.
We do not seek to identify with one another on the basis of suffering, other than the suffering of Jesus Christ.
The only hope of genuine reconciliation in found in Christ alone.
Christians *MUST* love one another as Christ has loved the church. Jesus said this is how the world would know us.
Additional Resources to Check Out
https://youtu.be/DAABuCC96tI – What Would You Say short video on the subject.
https://www.gotquestions.org/critical-race-theory.html – A good overview of the subject.
https://youtu.be/GRMFBdDDTkI – Lecture by Voddie Bachaum on the subject of Cultural Marxism
https://youtu.be/FoJGYCc7EUg – Voddie Bachaum on Racial Reconciliation and the Gospel