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Monday, February 15, 2021

Deconstructing the threat

Some Christians are less concerned about the philosophical dangers of critical race Theory (CRT) than are some secular liberals.

Dr. Anthony Bradley portrays CRT as being a rational “intellectual movement” to find and dismantle white supremacy “wherever it is found.” He argues we should “learn what one can from it while rejecting what is wrong.” Specifically, he rejects a claim that racism explains “all racial struggles and racial disparities that non-white faces in America” as “overly simplistic, unsophisticated, and monistic.” He views CRT as simply using anti-racism to save us from white supremacy. He proposes we “use the resources of the Christian and Presbyterian traditions for analysis and proposals for solutions, and pray.”

To him, racial injustice is “woefully inadequate to explain the nature of reality and to offer non-coercive solutions” as compared to having the Word of God, various summary confessions and ample centuries of history. The Word of God, when proclaimed, is effective because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). What happens when it is not proclaimed? What if CRT is not just “a limited analytical tool”? What if CRT is a part of a larger framework not interested in a solution?

Authors Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay characterize critical race theory and intersectionality as “ending racism by seeing it everywhere.” They demonstrate CRT is part of a larger Theory movement of applied postmodernism focused on the blurring of boundaries, the power of language, cultural relativism and the loss of the individual and the universal. Taken together, these things are the tools of a full frontal attack on a theology from the Bible. If there is no moral law, if words have no definite meaning, if truth isn't universally true, and if the individual is indistinguishable, then what is salvation in Jesus?

These ideas are not just being applied to race, but also to education, law, economics, politics, history, sexuality, disability, health, and public discourse. Further, it is not satisfied with being an intellectual movement, but is actively focused on real deconstruction anywhere it can lodge a complaint. The level of commitment is akin to a secular view of church commitment. Pluckrose and Lindsay explain, 
During its applied turn, Theory underwent a moral mutation: it adopted a number of beliefs about the rights and wrongs of power and privilege. The original Theorists were content to observe, bemoan, and play with such phenomena; the new ones wanted to reorder society. If social injustice is caused by legitimizing bad discourses, they reasoned, social justice can be achieved by delegitimizing them and replacing them with better ones. Those social sciences and humanities scholars who took Theoretical approaches began to form a left-wing moral community, rather than a purely academic one: an intellectual organ more interested in advocating a particular ought than attempting a detached assessment of is—an attitude we usually associate with churches, rather than universities.

The authors concede Bradley's point that history is not in their favor. They note, “The idea that obesity is just like homosexuality, for example, could threaten the hard-won recent consensus that homosexuality is innate, value-free, and perfectly healthy,” and the change in perceptions about sexuality is a “dramatic and rapid change” that “is still very fragile and new.” However, the reason these ideas are fragile and easily threatened is not because they are new, but because they go against God's moral law. That sense of fragility is due to the moral law written on their hearts that says otherwise.

The dramatic and rapid change in consensus should be a warning to believers. Four times, Dr. Bradley suggests we “eat the meat and spit out the bones” when it comes to critical race theory. Is that the best analogy for something that is part of a system of beliefs that is on fervent militant attack on every front? Even the authors suggest, “We must object to any requirement of an orthodox Social Justice statement of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or mandatory diversity or equity training, just as we would object to public institutions that required a statement of Christian or Muslim belief or attendance of church or mosque.” Perhaps these are not just bones so easily discarded. What if this is leaven? It's much harder to eat the bread and spit out the leaven.

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