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Last week (June 13-16, 2021), Southern Baptists held their annual convention in Nashville. As the meeting approached, many both inside and outside the SBC were uneasy about the direction the denomination would head, particularly regarding critical race theory (CRT). It had been seeping into more liberal denominations, but more concerningly, in 2019, the resolutions committee rushed a number of resolutions through at the last minute, one of them being Resolution 9, which reads in part:
…Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences…
Conservatives objected both to the underhanded tactics and the acceptance of CRT as an “analytical tool.” This year, they unsuccessfully sought approval of a resolution more strongly condemning CRT, which the newly elected liberal-leaning Convention president, Ed Litton, declined to support. That an ostensibly conservative denomination like the SBC would cave to CRT is unfortunate, and to careful observers, unsurprising. But this shows just how quickly the cancer can spread, and those of us outside the SBC ought to watch our own institutions assiduously.
Poll after poll find that most people instinctively know CRT is dangerous, but when presented as an “analytical tool” alone, many let their guard down. However, this attempt to mask CRT and smuggle it in the back door ought to be opposed just as vigorously, and we’re going to cover why and how.
What is CRT?
Even defining CRT is a bit difficult since it's a rather new phenomenon, plus their jargon is hard to wade through. It emerged in the 70s from Marxist-flavored critical legal theories, spread throughout other disciplines, and from these, developed a postmodern bent in the 90s, thus becoming what we know today.1 The Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice defines CRT thus:2
[A] scholarly and political approach to examining race that leads to a consequential analysis and profound understanding of racism. It argues, as a starting point, that the axis of American social life is fundamentally constructed in race. As a result, the economic, political, and historical relationships and arrangements that social actors have to institutions and social processes are all race based. CRT also argues that, as a whole, this idea has been purposefully ignored, subdued, and marginalized in both the dominant and public discourse and that there are serious repercussions that arise from this structural blindness…. One of the important tenets of CRT is the assertion that race is socially constructed, yet it denotes explicitly and implicitly how power is used and appropriated in society.
Definitions vary, but there are several characteristics found in virtually all flavors of CRT:
The belief that race is not an inherent, biological fact but rather a social construct devised by whites to oppress other races,
The belief that white racism towards nonwhites is ubiquitous and unavoidable,
The belief that the inherent racism of whites embeds itself in all institutions they create, and thus nonwhites face “systemic racism” even when white individuals do not harbor forthright or even conscious3 racist beliefs,
The belief that “color-blind” or “equal before the law” policies cannot adequately redress the weight of historic wrongs nor the subliminal effect of “systemic racism,” and thus more radical solutions must be enacted in the name of “equity,” and
The belief that due to the subliminal, unconscious nature of “systemic racism,” whites simply do not and cannot truly understand the “black experience,” and that, by the same token, nonwhites possess a unique perspective on the reality of the situation, thus disqualifying whites from weighing in on the subject and vice versa. This is also known as “standpoint epistemology.”
As you can see, critical race theory is a system of power and race analysis that ascribes guilt to all whites and victim status to all nonwhites. This is used as a justification for limiting educational and career opportunities for whites via systematic discrimination against them for nonwhites, and as grounds for advocating reparations payments from whites to blacks (despite the fact that tens of trillions of dollars have already been transferred from whites to blacks via the welfare system). One can only speculate about what else it may be used to justify doing to whites in the future. Moreover, its constant ascription of guilt to whites is used to make them feel as though they deserve to be punished and obediently accept discrimination against them.
Why the Church Cannot Use CRT as an “Analytical Tool” Alone:
1. A diseased tree cannot bear good fruit (Matt. 7:18). CRT has spent decades under development by the most anti-Christ, anti-biblical location possible: academia. Furthermore, as we have seen, all its philosophical underpinnings are godless: it’s a chimera composed of postmodernism, Marxism, and social constructivism, animated by anti-white hatred. Expecting something good or true to come from CRT is as insane as expecting apples to grow on an orange tree or salt water to flow from a freshwater spring (James 3:11). If it is used at all, it will track in other godless ideologies and wreak havoc on the church.
2. CRT is blatantly anti-white. It wrongly imputes guilt to whites for the “sins” of their fathers (Deut. 24:16 & Ezek. 18:20) and hypothesizes empirically disproven “systemic racism” to bully whites into accepting the increasing discrimination and hatred towards them. Needless to say, this is inconsistent with neighbor love and the church has a duty to protect and defend people - including whites - from unjust laws, policies, and ideologies.
3. It is a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. Using anti-Scriptural “analytical tools” to “diagnose social ills” is an effective denial of the sufficiency of Scripture to do so. Using unbiblical epistemologies, ethics, economics, anthropologies, and philosophies cannot take the place of or even supplement Scripture if they are inconsistent with it. If someone genuinely believes that, “All truth is God’s truth and any truth in CRT is therefore from God,” the burden of proof is on them to explain how exactly the aforementioned ideologies are rightly gleaned from natural revelation and how they have been correctly used to arrive at some truth. Alternatively, they may seek to prove whatever “truth” CRT supposedly shows outside the framework of CRT, but of course this undercuts the entire basis for accepting it as an “analytical tool.”
4. Adopting CRT as an “analytical tool” alone is no limitation whatsoever in reality. If you recall from the definition above, CRT is itself an analytical tool. Therefore, if one says, “We’re using this analytical tool only as an analytical tool,” no limits have actually been set; no boundaries have actually been formed. This is just a clever way to deceive people who aren’t as familiar with it, and any acceptance of CRT as “only an analytical tool” is equivalent to a whole hog acceptance of CRT in its entirety.
How to Protect Your Church:
While it is saddening that sons of God would ever embrace such an unbiblical ideology, the fact of the matter is that CRT is becoming more prevalent throughout congregations in the U.S. Even more unfortunately, CRT is being exported from the U.S. into other countries as well. We know churches need to be on guard against CRT, but what can ordinary laymen do?
First, if you are white, you need to remind yourself of the truth of justification and make it a habit to quickly and fully confess your sins to God. While this is always a good thing to do, it is especially necessary now because CRT activists, like their father the devil, use guilt to manipulate whites. Having a clean conscience before God and men neutralizes these guilt tactics. Conversely, if you are nonwhite, you need to resist the temptation to use CRT against your white brothers. And both whites and nonwhites need to resist the temptation to begin accusing one another. The temptation to self-righteously accuse is satanic in the most literal sense of the term (Rev. 12:10). Loving, Scripture-informed dialogue about the evils of CRT is the way to go.
Second, do your homework and familiarize yourself with CRT (some good resources have already been provided) and stay alert for subtle manifestations of it. Realize, however, that if your church is already infected with it, especially if the elders hold to it, or even sympathize with it, eventual apostasy is almost guaranteed. This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t stay, but you need to be realistic about the trajectory these churches rapidly follow. Since CRT is so difficult to excise, the best defense is to prevent it from taking root in the first place. Confer with your pastor(s) about CRT. Ask questions like: Are they aware of it? Do they understand it? Are they opposed to it? Faithful pastors courageously guarding the flock are necessary in this battle. You can suggest strategies to your pastor(s) for educating the congregation about CRT such as through sermons, members meetings, drafting official statements against CRT, etc. While the church faces numerous issues, CRT is one of the most pernicious and must be absolutely squashed. Let this be an encouragement to you not to falter in resisting the pressures of the world to conform to it (Rom. 12:2), but instead continue to live by the truth of God in your homes, at your jobs, or wherever you may be. God bless.
For a more detailed history and exposition of the theories, see Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, “Cynical Theories.” Though it has a classical liberal slant, the information is presented fairly.