In a recent blog I discussed the origins of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the impact it is having on the cultural divide. Given the relevance of this topic and its manifestation in a movement called “cancel culture”, it deserves further conversation.
The Meaning Behind Cancel Culture
Cancel culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles. This ousting can take place online, through social media, or in person. While we think this is a new concept—it has actually been around for decades. It is generally deployed after a person or company has done or said something considered objectionable or offensive by the arbiters of truth. Academic research and cultural studies validate that this practice leads to self-policing, further polarization and is ineffective in generating long term change. At its core, cancel culture focuses on shaming people (publicly), and certainly opposes everything we understand about forgiveness and redemption offered through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Based on critical theory, which regards lived experience as the highest form of truth, right and wrong is determined based on if it supports the oppressor/oppressed ideology. Critical theory therefore cannot be contradicted by reason, empirical studies, scripture, an appeal to history, or any other form of fact-based argument. This strategy creates an echo chamber for its adherents by looking only within itself for truth closing off inclusion of any other potential source. There is therefore no way to argue against it—thus, anything in opposition must be subdued, silenced, and overthrown.
Our Founding Fathers
the very men who boldly created a form of government offering personal freedom and opportunity that the world had never known are not immune. In the context of cancel culture there is no room for redemption—even Benjamin Franklin, who was adamantly against slavery, is not excluded. It no longer matters what good they accomplished; or the impact the American experiment has had on a global basis. By this measure of absolutes, none of us are worth listening to, learning from, or celebrating if we are on the wrong side of an issue at any time in our lives. We once celebrated people’s strengths, acknowledged their weakness; and learned from both. Now, mistakes and failures are weaponized. Within this totalitarian system of judgement, we are all guilty.
Critical theory claims to defy intolerance but changes the definition of the word to mean anyone voicing an opposing opinion. Critical theory adherents are completely intolerant of outside voices.
Erasing Flawed People
In the current environment, even Ulysses S. Grant is cancelled, along with all of the men who bravely fought valiantly with the Union during our Civil War. In spite of that, let’s wade in here and consider a very incendiary historic figure, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest. He was a slave trader, a military hero, brilliant strategist and early member of the original KKK—by all accounts an evil man. From anyone’s perspective, an unlikely character for a redemption story. And yet Forest found Christ in his later years and worked with and for the advancement of those he once sold like cattle. At the end of his life, he was celebrated by the black community, and in fact thousands of African Americans attend his funeral. Even before cancel culture became popular that part of Forest’s history had been expunged and denied.
You might ask how a Christian can even consider a man like Forest for forgiveness? Consider a Biblical comparison, the apostle Paul. Paul himself criticized, attacked and slaughtered Christians and was a murderer by his own admission. And then on the Road to Damascus, his life changed. Paul spent the rest of his days becoming one of the most influential leaders of Christianity. Should we remove him from history because his pre-conversion life was wretched? We wouldn’t even think of removing him or any of the broken and flawed people in the Bible because it is a part of the history of Christianity and reminds us of our own flawed humanity.
These conversions are EXACTLY what gives us the hope that we too can finish well regardless of what we have done in our past. Instead of celebrating a miraculous conversion, there is no redemption in today’s cancel culture. By attacking forgiveness, redemption and salvation we cancel everyone for everything they’ve ever done. No one will be left worth listening to because our sins will always overshadow the good. What hope do we have? Where does that leave humanity?
Let’s look deeper. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, the one who condemns us for our past sins and shames us into thinking there is no forgiveness on this earth, and no eternal life for us later.
Another manifestation of critical theory is blame shifting, the idea that everything is everyone else’s fault, a refusal to examine or acknowledge the individual’s contribution to their own problems. Blaming others does not create a posture of humility and grace. This unforgiving mindset aligns itself with a satanic, accusing, condemning spirit. In Ezekiel 18:1-28, God forbids blaming others for our own sins.