In a season of heightened awareness and focus on American culture, perhaps the only thing we can agree on is that we want to live in a country where people of all backgrounds feel safe and have a chance at a future of success and prosperity. And yet so many feel unsafe, disconnected and disadvantaged. Is Critical Race Theory the answer? Or is it a philosophy that is causing further division?
What does it mean?
To unpack this, we must understand the origin of Critical Race Theory (CRT) then understand how it is being applied today.
CRT is a subset of critical legal theory, an argument about systemic racism within the practice of law. Specifically, it argues race is not a biological fact but a cultural concept, and historically the legal system (via slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws) upheld inherently racist beliefs. It is easy to understand the need for laws and systems that treat every American equally. We have many new laws in place that have been added to the original constitution to ensure adequate protections for all citizens. But if you look at how CRT is being deployed (outside legal reform) in terms of our education system, in conversation, and politics; the objective seems less about equality and more about destroying racial harmony by pitting various races against one another, contradicting Biblical Truth and thus eroding the national benefits of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
CRT is Wrong About Humanity, Sin, and Salvation
CRT at a quick glance seems to shine light on our great need and offer hopeful outcomes. But under closer inspection, CRT suggests a different view of humanity than the Christian principles on which our country was founded. As Christians, our identity is in being an image-bearer of God versus being defined merely by race, gender, sexual preference, economics or any other demographic characteristic. CRT forces all into one of two camps, oppressors or oppressed—pitting us against one another. The Bible reminds us that humanity is created equal; equally valuable, equally guilty of sin, equally deserving of punishment, equally able to be saved.
CRT seeks to create justice by balancing the playing field. Legally this makes sense, but in today’s culture the conversation quickly devolves into reducing the value of one group to create equality for the other. Not unlike communism, in which the philosophy sounds charming, but the practical reality is the destruction of those in the middle class resulting in a few haves and a larger pool of have nots. The Bible teaches that justice is about restoring and elevating people because the God of the universe has called us valuable and worthy. And it is done without tearing down a group or our country in general.
CRT also offers a different view of sin compared to Christianity. Sin is anything contrary to God’s will. CRT teaches oppression is THE inherent overarching sin. Unfortunately, sin is bigger than oppression. Sin is in all people. Sin happens in our actions and in our reactions. CRT takes a narrow view on the underlying issues. As a result, it gets both the problem, sin, and the solution, salvation, wrong. God wants all people to repent of all of their sins not just the oppression of others. Repentance is a process of taking responsibility for our role in every infraction. It includes searching to consider what one could have done differently in the past and what could be done differently in the future. This process puts every human being in a position of humility to begin creating the right posture for forgiveness, redemption, and restoration.
CRT also offers a different view of salvation than Christianity. The Bible says salvation is found in repentance and receiving Christ. Salvation reminds us of our humanity and the very thing providing the courage to acknowledge when we are wrong so we can turn away from our bad behavior. CRT seeks a form of salvation/restoration through social justice/liberation. This approach employs shame and guilt as a motivation for change. Both data and history prove this is not a successful avenue for restoration. In most cases it causes defensiveness typically manifesting as fight, flight or freeze.
CRT misses on the fundamentals of who we are, does not address the real problem and therefore does not provide successful honest solutions. At a time of tremendous divisiveness, more Gospel Truth and a focus on what we have in common as human beings is the route to more equality, peace and hope.