Critical Race Theory
July 4, 2021
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois

This Bible study is an add-on to my previous study titled "Overcoming Racism."

Last summer, while race riots were raging, we studied the problem of racism. At the end of that class I asked this question, “Do some remedies for racism go too far?” Critical Race Theory is a response to the problem of racism, but it is not a Christian response. As we evaluate CRT, we will try to find its philosophical and theological foundation. We will identify those aspects that are contrary to the Bible and any that are in harmony with it. 

1. A Brief Summary of Racism From the 2020 Class

Inherent Inferiority As I pointed out in last summer’s class, “racism” is a concept that arose in the Enlightenment. Its roots reach into the Theory of Evolution to draw its energy. Racism teaches that certain kinds of people are inherently inferior and others are superior. Prior to the Enlightenment, people thought this way, however, they didn’t think of it biologically or genetically. The victors of wars were superior, the losers of wars were inferior. Bad science gave people permission to rank human beings according to their characteristics. This led to horrible practices such as slavery and eugenics. 

Categorical Thinking also contributes to the problem of racism. Categorical thinking is what human beings do in order to think and live efficiently. If three different people from a certain group of people abuse me, I begin to associate all the people of that group with that behavior. But categorical thinking goes well beyond the characteristics of skin color, language, etc. This happens when people from Illinois start associating behaviors with people from Missouri (such as driving skills, etc.)! 

Theological Rebellion I also pointed out last summer that one of the root causes of racism is idolatry, particularly the idolatry of self. If the roots of racism reach into the Theory of Evolution and into Categorical Thinking, the tap root of racism reaches into the sinful nature of man that shakes its angry fist at God and hates all that God loves. I’ll expand more on this third prong of the racism pitchfork in this class and in next week’s class on antisemitism. 

2. What is Critical Race Theory?

Main Source: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (Delgado, Stefancic)

CRT denies that “race” is biological or natural. Race is a socially constructed category. This is a major shift in the definition of “race” that I’ve used. CRT says that society “creates races, and endows them with pseudo-permanent characteristics” (8). Despite this definition, CRT constantly uses biological/natural differences of whiteness vs. color. CRT is critical of past civil rights progress. Color blindness and equal rights may have solved some problems of racism, but many others remain: poverty, infant mortality rates, incarceration rates, school dropout rates, the gap between income, assets and education between whites and nonwhites. CRT sees at least two causes for these problems: 1. The weight of past oppression particularly the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws; 2. Economic oppression of white people vs. people of color as the dominant race (The “two headed hydra”) (90). 

3. What Do Critical Race Theorists Want? And How?

CRT wants economic equality/equity between whites and people of color as well as power sharing. According to CRT, "whites" are not just people of a certain skin color. "Whites" are all people who have found success through the current structures of society, especially through capitalism. "People of color" are not just African Americans, they include anyone who has been oppressed by the current structures of society including LGBTQ persons. Ways to achieve this include: wealth redistribution, including reparations (118); police and prison reform (120ff); Affirmative Action (125ff); new voting procedures such as Cumulative Voting (138ff); race-conscious measures in employment and education to level the playing field (157).

4. What About Marxism?

Delgado and Stefancic never mention Marxism (except in the glossary). However, it is obviously hidden in the background. Karl Marx developed a theory to solve the problem of poverty. In his mind, poverty was caused by capitalism, and the solution was to destroy capitalism. At the heart of capitalism is the idea of “merit”: People have a right to be stewards of the rewards of their labor/investment. Marx denied this by abolishing private property. His famous slogan was: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Marxism is a “need” based system of economics. The authors ask this: If racism is largely economic in nature – a search for profits – and hypercapitalism is increasingly showing itself as a flawed system, what follows for a theory of civil rights? (108). One obvious answer to that question is Marxism. 

5. CRT and CT

Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the founders of the CRT movement said that CRT is grounded in Critical Theory (Critical Race Theory, the Key Writings That Formed the Movement, p. xxvii). Critical Theory is a philosophical/sociological movement of the Frankfurt School of Germany and America. The Frankfurt School was interested in changing society using the ideas of Marx and Freud. They sought emancipation from economic and sexual oppression. The leaders of CRT have really modified the goals of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to become part of the goals of Critical Theory. Without going into a lot of details, many of these goals are anti-Christian and anti-family. 

6. A Christian Response to CRT

A. We have to reject the idea that any individual is racist/oppressive because of his or her skin color, ancestry, or achievements in life. This is categorical thinking, and it is a kind of racism itself. CRT does not recognize the sinful nature of man and focuses rather on collective guilt. The Christian worldview believes that “all fall short of the glory of God” and need God’s mercy and forgiveness in order to overcome the problem of sin (Romans 3.21-24).

B. We continue to work against all forms of hatred and all that goes against the Second Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22.39). 

C. We must continue to uphold the ethics of the Ten Commandments and reject any worldview that condones behavior contrary to these commandments. (Intersectionality)

D. We must continue to confess the theology of the Apostles’ Creed that we live in a world created by God, redeemed by God, and sanctified by God.