Fear, Flukes & Critical Race Theory

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Paul warns the Corinthians, “I am afraid…your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”  (2 Cor. 11:3-4) Why are we so easily deceived? How has racism been overlooked for so long?  What must we do to be saved from it?

You might have heard or even used the term, “It’s a fluke thing.” It happened by mistake. But in the case of the actual parasitic liver fluke it is a mind control thing (watch the fascinating National Geographic video about it). The liver fluke burrows into the brain of ants and makes ants slaves and moves them from their work in the ant colony to carry out the fluke’s work. The infected ant, like a zombie, delivers the fluke to the choice vegetation. A grazing cow eats the vegetation and the fluke gets to the cow liver with little effort on its part.

The fear of Critical Race Theory is a political fluke. Or is it an intentional tool? Either way, it exasperates Republican pundits and their supporters. Christopher Rufo from the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, recently said, “We will eventually turn it [CRT] toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’” (Washington Post, May 29, 2021)

Critical Race Theory is controversial and can be divisive. But so is politics.

Public servants take on a different persona when they fan the flames and stir their constituents to rage against some perceived enemy. The outcome is worse than the feared threat. The practice is not new. Nor is the reality of mobs murdering those around them. People are still alive who can give a firsthand account of Black women being raped, Black men being castrated and White Christians leading lynching mobs.  Native Americans can also share personal experiences of their God-given identity mangled by well-meaning Christians seeing an illusionary devil in their innocent young bodies.

Critical Race Theory is a legal evolving practice that “critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers,” according to the American Bar Association in a recent article. It seemed like the ticket for rational Christians to address harm to believers. The legal community adapted this framework and made space for arguments on systemic harm to black people but eventually others who claimed racial bias began using the tool too.

The same text Paul uses to raise the alarm to the Corinthians on swaying from a pure devotion to Christ, conservatives use for a call to purity. The Feminist movement, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual Queer movement, and Civil Rights Leaders have used the CRT tool to successfully win cases. So, conservatives have self-justified rejection of Critical Race Theory. Just like they did with the Belhar Confession, they believe they are justified in rejecting Critical Race Theory.

But is CRT the tool conservatives really object to, or is it a fear of contaminating their sense of religious and ethnic purity? Certainly, most if not all of the most influential fathers have been white, non-disabled men. For example, Abraham Kuyper, an admitted racist personally and certainly theologically, anchored his theology in White church identity (see this post by By Daniel José Camacho in the Reformed Journal). As we grow in our awareness of racism, we need to stop making excuses.

The sin of racism was rooted in the power of the law and opponents of Critical Race Theory are enacting laws to maintain power and maintain racism (read this Forbes, May 9, 2021 article). Indeed, Satan is in this divisive battle. But I am holding out for the promise that Christ has defeated this fluke. It is time to live into Christ’s promises. Critical Race Theory is not our enemy; the sin of racism is our enemy.

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Exactly!
Quote: " CRT is not our enemy, the sin of racism is our enemy."
I have found that it was painful work to recognize that I was unconsciously racist. I have repented, I am learning, I see it everywhere now, I grieve this, I pray, I try to talk about it, call it out even . . .
We cannot change what our forefathers did but we can definitely change what we do.

Participant

Hi MJill H,

I'm curious if you think that Jesus was "unconsciously racist" as a part of the Jewish social class and the systemic treatment and subjugation of the Samaritan social class?

Because I have concerns about the implications that such a view of systemic racism would turn Jesus into a sinner. Would you have any concerns in this regard?

Thanks

-Trevor

Community Builder

Jesus explicitly addresses this in his interaction with the woman at the well and the parable of the Good Samaritan. Further the argument can be made that Jesus does do the very thing you raise in rebuffing the Syrophoenician woman only to correct himself and heal the woman's daughter when she calls him out.

Participant

Jonathan,

We're talking about CRT here, which claims that people of the privileged social order can be inherently racist even while actively attempting to be anti-racist. So even if Jesus' teachings were "anti-racist", he himself was still a member of the privileged (and prejudicial) Jewish social order, and thus inherently racist.

Now, I'm going to hope that you consider being racist as something sinful...

Similarly, if the Syrophoenecian woman is correcting Jesus's sinful words of prejudice, that implies Jesus sinned in what he said.

Obviously, if Jesus Christ sinned, we are all damned to eternal destruction, because we have no savior.

All is lost.

Community Builder

All is not lost! We have great reason for hope.

When I admit the racism inside of myself as a beneficiary of white supremacy, that doesn't put me in a sinful state in and of itself. That would be akin to saying being a man is a sin. It would be impossible to repent of that type of sin. Counter to the idea that Christ is caught in some kind of sin loop because of male or racial privilege, Christ stands as a paragon example of rebuking and denying himself the privileges afforded to him by those stations. Part of the anger the temple establishment felt toward Jesus, and why they kept approaching him with "gotcha" questions about the sins of others, was his refusal to affirm their political and economic systems and aspirations. Much as I take great hope in the ways Christ is reforming my spirit to be more like His, I take great hope that He is also opening my eyes to systems of oppression that I participate in so that I may rebuke them myself.

I'm curious where you learned to interpret Critical Race Theory the way you do because I don't think it accurately reflects what CRT actually is.

Community Builder

It would seem that the author of this article and I have a pretty significant disagreement about the value and even the definition of Critical Race Theory, one branch of Critical Theory (e.g., Critical Gender Theory being another).

I wrote an article on Critical Race Theory some time ago that can be found here: https://reformedeveryday.com/featured-article/f/critical-race-theory-the...

 

Thank you very much, Doug, for a very thoughtful and insightful article!  You dig deeply into the philosophical foundations so it takes a little time to read it carefully.  However, the effort is worth it!  For anyone reading this, please click on the article and read it slowly.  I wish that article could be published in The Banner, although you might have to simplify it a little because people want to read in a hurry, and that does not work in this case.

Your article goes far deeper than the article to which you are responding.  Please keep writing, Doug.

Thanks for posting this response. 

Certainly, as you say so well, if 'Kinism' is judged to be a heresy, then CRT most certainly must be. 

I have two reasons for my "fears" of CRT: 1) It is both historicaly (in general) myopic and particularly so in terms of the history of redemption that we understand through reformed theology. It is myopic in terms of world history in that it fails to consider that -- save for the last hundred (or so) years, the world has never NOT had open chattel slavery. This change tto a relatively slavery-free world is to be celebrated. What CRT does is intentionally obscure this change lest it rob the Marxist philosophy behind it of a permanent and easily identified (skin color) identifiable underclass and oppressor class. It encourages the worldview that black and brown skinned people will forever and always be the victims and that they were not -- in fact -- blessed by our creator with his very image. Similarly, in terms of Reformed theology, CRT (if embraced by the CRC) would sweep aside the systematic and gradual approach that God has used to prepare the way, all in his perfect time, for bringing the new creation in all its fullness. We have both Paul's letter to Philemon plus the much cited Galations 3:28 to speak for us on that. Of course none of what I have said sweeps aside the mandate to be valiant and untiring workers and warriors in the fight against racism. However CRT amounts to a religion itself in that it replaces the sovereignty of God as the center of world and national and salvation history and replaces pepetual class war -- and in this case, race -- as the hub around which we understand our world and our being. 

Related to my fear of myopia in terms of history (world, national, or salvation), is that CRT forever burdens the non-white races with low expectations in their own and in others eyes. We have been doing ever so much better batteling these low expectations in recent decades because of the great leaders God has raised up from all races. But replacing EVERYTHING! with such a view will make racial hatred indelible on all future generations, deny the clear progress that has been made toward equality, and replace my identity as a child of God with my several other 'identities': i.e. white, male, educated, heterosexual, and comfortable economically, as more important. I AM disabled physically which might sneak me into the 'partially oppressed' realm of things so I might have a little bit less to fear, but probabably not. 

Synod needs to study post-modernism and how it has been influenced by Marxism and how it has now -- dressed up as anti-racism -- foisted on us CRT.

Participant

Excellent article by Mr. Vande Griend. 
Thank you for including the link. 
I am in agreement with you. 

Participant

Thanks, Rudy, for highlighting how CRT is a useful flashpoint for certain political operatives (who benefit from unending culture wars). This is a good reminder to me to be vigilant about such distractions and instead remain focused on Christ's liberating love that has overcome the sin of racism and calls me and others to participate in that overcoming; to understand the very real violence done to my siblings in Christ; and to better learn how I as a white Christian am not only caught up in the cycle of violence but can also renounce it, in community, by the power of the Spirit. I hope you'll keep challenging me/us with your writing. 

Rank Your Identities

 

“… all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:27-29

 

Imagine with me: Say you are somewhere in a reflective mood – perhaps on a walk down a country path – or, stuck in traffic, (and already have abandoned hope of getting home on time) – just somewhere thinking -- and you start ruminating on what seems to be the chief issue of the current political era: “What is your identity?” or, “Which of your various ‘identities’ is most important in shaping you?”

 

When and if you do that, which of your many identity markers is primary in your mind? Does one of them always have first place or are there a few (or even several) that contest with each other for primacy? Is there a top three? A top five? If you are playing along with me here, of the twenty choices listed below please consider what the top three (or five) would be. And, a follow-up question to ask yourself: “If I was asked to do this publically, would my answers be different than doing it by myself?”

 

Occupation/Career

Favorite Team (“I bleed BLUE!”)

Gender 

Nationality

Political Party/political tendency

Ethnicity/Race

Unique Ability

Special Need

Family/Marital Status

Generation (boomer, post-millennial)

Primary Fear (your Kryptonite)

Brand Name Allegiance (“I’m a Ford man.”)

Educational Level

Hobby

Religion/Denomination

Economic Level/”Class”

Body Type

Addictions

Affections (animals, cooking, etc.)

Hatreds

Other  

 

Okay, me first. I think I would probably put my top three in this order: 1. Religion, 2. Family status, 3. Educational level. After that I’d have to start putting in embarrassing stuff such as “Denver Bronco Fan” and “Chicago Bears Loather.” But then, sure, the very close runner ups and struggling for a spot in the top five: Special Need or disability, and then the “also rans” (in no particular order), Affections (stories – literature, film), Economic Status, Occupation, Ethnicity, Nationality, etc. Like you, I could probably go through the whole list and give each its rank (ties allowed) and add several more in the “Other” category.

 

In 12 Step Groups such as AA, if someone speaks they begin with, “Hi, I’m ______ and I’m an alcoholic.” That tradition is a longstanding one in the 12 Step movement and it underscores how powerful an addiction is in an addict’s life. It ranks number one, right after their name, and intentionally next to it. They name the thing that rules or wants to rule their life.

 

In our political culture today, identity, too, seems to be the main driver. It seems to me that our mass media, following some political and sociological thinkers, have taken it on themselves to assign race and sexual identity to the top spots for all of us.

 

This ranking your identities feels risky so I hasten to say, “Be careful with it but give it a try – it’s good for you.” In our current culture which is so heavily polarized in so many ways regarding identity, I think it a useful exercise for you and me to NAME these things and then to give them their place in our consciousness. In doing so we intentionally place in front of ourselves our economic and political class, our privilege (or lack), our obsessions (silly or serious), our fragilities, our superiorities, and the direction our hearts lean.

 

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, tells us and his first readers that though they have several identities, all of the markers recede into nothingness in light of God’s people’s place in the covenant in Christ Jesus. It is not only our personal relationship to Christ that Paul means by “in Christ” or “with Christ” it is our standing shoulder to shoulder with all the others so situated – by baptism and the Holy Spirit – with Christ whether they be circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free, male or female, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, Sox fan or Cubs fan, that makes the difference. Paul says, in Christ we are co-heirs of Abraham and belong to no other tribe that counts.

 

Many of our different identities whether chosen by us or thrust on us by birth are important and many are frivolous. But Paul says that within the context of the church and the kingdom of God, these things fade to nothing.

 

How wonderful it would be if we, in all our settings and all our doings with our fellow humans, treated our myriad differences as merely matters of fun and interest rather than as animosity signals.

 

By John Schuurman

Thank you for this article. As Reformed Christians who understand Total Depravity, I think we can see how all of creation has been tainted by original sin. The sin of racism is pervasive to our systems, like all sin.  Much of what is discussed in the comments above point to Marxist connections to CRT. I wonder why we don't use the same barometer for the Tea Party or Libertarian roots in Marxist Monarchism. The idea that total deregulation is the only way to social and economic equilibrium is rooted in Marxist anarchism but I don't see anyone labeling Libertarians as Marxist. That is likely because, like those trying to bring light to the sin of racism in our social structures, neither group are fully Marxist. Rather, we are humans collectively trying to do what is best for all people and some ideas are present in a variety of philosophical statements.  If we are being truly objective exegetes of culture,  I think we should expect the scrutiny of ideas to be consistent and generous of spirit.

CRT is a worldview, and is being built into our higher education systems, including our Christian universities. It ties into progressive Christianity, and the way we engage with justice.  We need to really wake up, and study this more deeply.  CRT emphasizes "repenting of our racism" as the means of being sanctified....rather than Christ... focusing on SIN which is in all of us. Alisa Childers helps us understand the danger of this framework in her book "Another Gospel"...  Listen to her podcast with Monique Duson, to get a better understanding.  https://www.alisachilders.com/blog/race-injustice-and-the-gospel-of-crit...