The Sin Beneath the Sin

I recently watched an interesting debate between two pastors on the topic of homosexuality and how Christianity views it. I didn’t really want to comment much on it here; I’d encourage you to go watch the 2-part series for yourself if you’re interested. But there was one line in particular that really caught my attention that I’d like to discuss briefly.

The pastor who was arguing that homosexuality is compatible with Christianity and the Bible said, around the 20:35 minute mark of part 1, that “In some way I can totally sign off on God designing sexuality, if I’m allowed to have my ways of thinking about it.” This one sentence, to me, was the most important sentence of the entire debate. Allow me to explain.

Christians have historically made a big deal out of certain sins, homosexuality being one of them, seemingly to the exclusion of other sins. I think this is one of the ways believers have erred in their faith. The problem is not calling sin what it is, but elevating certain sins over others. In doing so, it makes it appear that some people are really sinners while others are just kinda sinners. Naturally, we tend to be those who label ourselves only kinda sinners…how convenient!

However, I don’t think Scripture affords us this option. God’s Word declares that “there is none righteous; no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In this way, all people are in the same category: sinners who fall short of God’s moral standards for our lives. It is wrong to emphasize one person’s “falling short” over your own. We are all helpless sinners who need God’s forgiveness.

Moreover, Christians should seek that forgiveness with a sense of humility, not pride. Consider the parable Jesus tells in Luke 18:9-14, where one man boasts that he is better than others and yet is rejected by God, while another man throws himself at the feet of the Lord and humbly begs for mercy and receives it. It is a powerful reminder that our own sin has rendered us unacceptable in God’s sight and only his grace can change that fact. None of us are better than anyone else in the eyes of God.

It is a mistake, then, on the part of a believer to believe that *our* sin only separates us from God a little while *your* sin separates you from God a lot. The truth is that ALL sin separates us from God. This is because sin always has two layers. There is the expression of it, and there is the root of it. The expression of our sinfulness shows up in many ways, but the root of it is always the same: we want to be our own god.

When we sin, we are effectively saying to God, “I’m not going to live under your rule. I’m not going to let you call the shots. I’m going to do things my way, because I think my way is better than yours”. Back to the video debate, consider the subject of homosexuality. The issue isn’t really about homosexuality or any other sexual activity. The issue really is, “I want to define my own life, my own identity, and my own morality. I want to be my own god”. Or, to put it in the exact words one debater used, “I can totally sign off on God designing sexuality, if I’m allowed to have my ways of thinking about it.”

That last phrase is crucial. It is essentially declaring that we will submit to God so long as he agrees with us. God must affirm our way of thinking, and then we will follow him. Yet this is the polar opposite of how our relationship with God works. God is God; he calls the shots. He is the Creator, Designer, and Sustainer of life, and we fall into line with his way of ordering things, not the other way around. We are created in the image of God, but the root of sin is that we want to create a god in our own image.

Christianity does not really begin by discussing homosexuality or any other issue. It begins by knowing that we resist the rulership of God in our lives, and unless we are willing to submit to his authority, we are in sin. This resistance leads to two significant problems. The first is that it entrenches us in pride. We will forge our own way, determine our own life course, and operate according to our own personal ideals. The second problem is that it causes us to live outside of our created design. It would not be an issue for us to rebel against God if he were some tyrannical dictator who cared little about us. But it is an issue because he is a loving God and knows what is best for us. His designs are good and his ways are wise. Thus, to rebel against God and become our own god, we are alienating ourselves from the fullness of life that we were created to experience.

Don’t get too caught up in the details. The problem is always the same, and the solution is always the same. The problem is that we want to dethrone God and take his place. This is the essence of being a sinner. The solution is that we humbly seek his forgiveness, repent of our arrogant ways, and surrender our life to him. This is the essence of being redeemed. The gospel, the good news of Christianity, is that God never rejects anyone who comes to him in this way. His grace is a free gift to all who ask for it. Yet we must first be willing to lay aside our pride and give God his rightful place in our lives.

It does not matter what specific sins you commit personally. What matters is that underneath our sin is a hard heart that is resistant to God. That is our fundamental identity. But that reality can be changed by the grace of God, when we repent and believe in Jesus for salvation. Our sins are forgiven and our relationship to God is restored. We become a “new creation in Christ” and begin a new life with a new identity, no longer as sinners but as beloved children of God and members of his family. I pray that each person reading this would come to know that salvation.

What We Learned in 2020

It has been one crazy year.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe all that has taken place in just the last twelve months. We’ve had volatile elections, riots, murder hornets, celebrity scandals, big-tech censorship, and of course the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent challenges it has brought: lockdowns, mass distrust of media, government ineptitude, recession, and controversial vaccines.

One can’t help but wonder, what in the world is God doing?

In some ways, 2020 has been like every other year before it, only this time it was hooked up to a globe-sized bullhorn. The same dangers that mankind faced in 2020 were present in 2019 and the year before, and the year before, stretching back to the book of Genesis. As Scripture reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun. Humanity has always been stricken with illness, both of our body and our soul. We teeter on the fine line between life and death every moment of every day, long before COVID was even heard of. We are crushed under the weight of government corruption, burdened by racial unrest, and generally struggle to get along in a fallen world that is full of selfish sinners. In that sense, it is business as usual.

If I were to sum up what God has impressed upon me this year in one sentence, I would simply let Jesus speak for me:

“My kingdom is not of this world” – John 18:36

The challenges of this year have been a painful but helpful reminder that God’s kingdom is not yet arrived. Earth is not heaven, and never will be, until it’s triumphant King returns. Until then, we struggle on amidst worldly kingdoms with evil rulers, broken systems, and dreams that will never be realized on this side of eternity. Though I yearn for more, for a world at peace, well-organized, and united, it will never happen, because these yearnings find their origin in the kingdom of God. It is currently a heavenly reality, and a spiritual one, but not yet an earthly one. One day that will change.

Perhaps one of the great lessons we are to learn this year is the futility of placing our hope in the things of this world. We place our hope in rulers, in medicine, in policy, in money, in safety, in each other and in ourselves. None of these things can deliver on the expectations we place upon them. Yet we try nonetheless, only to be frustrated and angered when things don’t work out the way we demanded. Such is the reality of false hope: it is sure to disappoint.

As Christians, we know that our hope is in the Lord. But that does not mean we are immune to falling prey to worldly thinking. Often what we know to be true theologically is not realized in our own hearts. We know that God is our hope, but we like to keep a little spare bedroom in our hearts where other idols remain as invited guests. It is certain that one thing God is doing in 2020 is attempting to smash the idols we still cling to so that our hope lies fully in him. We would do well to stop resisting this important work of sanctification.

Fellow believers, we are not of this world. Our King is not of this world. Earth is not our home. We are strangers and aliens, exiles who are simply passing through. We live not for this life but for the life to come. Let the world crumble and fall as its foundation is being shaken. But may we, the Church, stand firm. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. God desires for that reality to take hold of you in a new way this year. Let it be so!

As we head into the new year, we know not how long our Lord will tarry. It seems apparent to me that human history is quickly marching towards the appointed end. Things will not remain as they are forever. The kingdoms of this world will be stripped away and the kingdom of heaven ushered in. If you find the circumstances of your life leading you to think “it shouldn’t be this way”, let that move you to saying with all your heart, “Come Lord Jesus!”

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has hit mainstream awareness ever since President Trump issued an executive order against teaching CRT through government-funded means. Until that point, CRT was mainly known only to those who have taken college and university courses in social studies. (Side note: I guarantee one of the first actions Joe Biden will likely take when sworn in is to overturn this order.) Nevertheless, CRT is a very specific thought-process that Christians need to be aware of not only because of the influence it is having in the culture (especially since the death of George Floyd and through Black Lives Matter) but also because it is being embraced by the Church. If you don’t know what CRT is yet, you will soon, and you likely have encountered it dozens of times already, especially if you use social media.

I had an exchange recently with someone who absolutely insisted that I did not really know what Critical Race Theory was. He was adamant that I was mischaracterizing CRT and that was because I was unfamiliar with the origins of CRT in the 1980’s by legal scholars. This is somewhat true. I am only vaguely familiar with the content of CRT from the 80’s. Yet I don’t really care, because we live in 2020, not 1980. CRT may have began one way but, as all ideas do, it has morphed over time. Though I’m not familiar with the legal end of things pre-2000, I am familiar with CRT in its mainstream modern form.

In this article, I want to define CRT for believers and lay out the basic tenets of this ideology. This is to help us understand and evaluate it in light of Scripture. As I will demonstrate, CRT is riddled with truth-claims that are alien to God’s Word. But before the analysis, first the definition.

Definition

This is how I define Critical Race Theory: It is an adapted-Marxist line of thought designed to critique racial dominance in culture and correct it by bringing about greater equity between races.

Sound confusing? Don’t worry, it is more understandable than you might think. Let me break it down by highlighting 8 core principles of Critical Race Theory.

1. People are divided into groups based on their racial identity.

A fundamental question of life is, Who am I? Critical Race Theory answers this question by placing great emphasis on your race. Such a great emphasis, in fact, that your race is more important than your uniqueness as an individual. This is extremely important to understand, because everything else flows from it. CRT is about broad-brush characterizations of entire races without consideration for personal differences between members of the same race.

2. One race is considered to be dominant in a culture, while the others are oppressed

Since our Western culture was founded by white people and remains predominantly white, CRT teaches that white people are oppressive, while other racial groups are oppressed. You may believe this line of thinking is far too simplistic, but CRT doesn’t budge. Regardless of other factors, including personal integrity, whites are oppressive and all other races are oppressed—end of story.

3. The dominant race retains its dominance through cultural systems and structures

While most people think of racism as words or actions done by individual people, CRT sees racism as systemic. The systems and structures of society are tools used to keep the dominant group in power. This is why there is so much emphasis today on the tearing down of Western culture; it simply follows logically if the premise is that the entire culture structurally imposes racist ideals.

4. Reality is best defined by the experience of the oppressed

Since white people are systematically advantaged in society, they become blind to their own privilege. From a CRT perspective, of course white people don’t think society is racist—because it isn’t racist towards them! Minority races, on the other hand, see more clearly the systemic racism that exists because they face it everyday. As a result, people of colour are considered to have a more authoritative take on these issues than whites do.

There is one exception to this rule, however. What happens if a person of colour rejects the idea that society is systemically racist towards them? Are they still considered to be an authority on this issue? Critical Race Theory has a convenient response. That person has either “internalized” their oppression, meaning they have simply made peace with it, or, worse, they are intentionally speaking that way in order to gain favour with whites. Either way, minority people are supposed to agree that culture is racist towards them.

It is also worth noting that CRT is very narrative-based. Many CRT advocates don’t like to discuss facts, statistics, or other objective measures of society—unless they support the idea of systemic oppression. Otherwise, those who raise objections against CRT using objective data are considered to be using tools of oppression to conveniently dismiss the lived experience of the oppressed.

5. Double-standards are applied to the dominant group vs. the oppressed groups

Moral demands are different depending on your group identity. If you are in the dominant group (white), you should “check your privilege”, take the posture of a listener on these issues, and work to undo your internalized bias. If you are in an oppressed group (people of colour), you should assert yourself and fight for “your people”. It is also generally assumed that people of colour have freedom to “bend the rules” if needed, since, after all, the rules were created by white people, for white people. How can you play the game fairly if it has already been rigged against you?

6. Racial discrimination intersects and compounds with other forms of cultural oppression

Critical Race Theory is actually a branch of a wider ideology known as Critical Theory. Critical Theory brings together cultural oppression from many different areas of life, not just race. Thus, although all racial minorities are oppressed, that oppression is worsened if one is a woman (oppressed by men), homosexual (oppressed by heterosexuals), transgender (oppressed by cisgender), poor (oppressed by the rich), disabled (oppressed by able-bodied people), or any religion other than Christian. These layers of discrimination sometimes compound the suffering of oppressed groups. Thus, all discrimination must be fought against simultaneously.

7. Disparities between races are understood to be caused by discrimination

The proof that discrimination is real in society is the existence of disparities between racial groups. CRT implies that if discrimination in society were non-existent, all races would end up at the same place, having exactly the same degree of cultural influence, power, and resources. Thus, equity is the desired goal. “Equity” here means “equal outcomes”. Often, CRT proponents use the term “equality” instead of “equity”, but almost always they still mean “equal outcomes”.

8. Oppressors must be actively anti-racist and work with the oppressed for the common cause

The first six points define the problem. The seventh defines the end goal. This final point calls for action to go from one to the other. Undoing systemic racism is everyone’s responsibility, and thus the call to social justice is for all: both oppressors and the oppressed. This work will never be finished as long as racial disparities of any kind still exist in society.

What are we to make of this?

My original plan in this post was to go through point-by-point the various claims of Critical Race Theory and compare them against Scripture. There is a good place for that kind of thorough analysis. One would have to point out some of the following flaws:

  • Broad racial stereotyping is itself discriminatory and therefore sinful (James 2:2-4, Acts 10:34-35)
  • Claiming that all whites are oppressive is, at least in many cases, bearing false witness against your neighbour (Exodus 20:16)
  • Claiming that disparities prove discrimination lacks proper nuance, as there are many reasons for unequal outcomes for people, many of which do not constitute injustice (Proverbs 10:4, 12:11)
  • Race itself is not a biblical category; God considers mankind to be one race (Acts 17:26)
  • People are not morally responsible for the sinful actions of others that they had nothing to do with (Romans 2:6)
  • God considers double-standards to be sinful (Leviticus 19:15)
  • All people have inherent bias, including racial minorities; this sin is not unique to any group of people in particular (Romans 3:23)
  • Truth is not determined by one’s perceived experiences (John 17:17)
  • Racial harmony does not come through activism, but through unity in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29, Ephesians 2:14)

Among so many other things that could be mentioned, this last point is significant. Believers, in particular, need to reject Critical Race Theory because it presents a false path to racial unity. Racial unity does not come through racial stereotyping, dividing people in racial groups, casting around accusations, and demanding equity of outcome. Racial unity comes from our connection as family in Christ. Through Christ, we are individually redeemed of our sin and brought together as brothers and sisters under the care of our heavenly Father. Thus, through the gospel, we are reconciled—past tense. We may still need to learn to walk out our unity as a collection of people who differ from one another (in many more ways than just racially), yet our bond is already there, sealed by the blood of Christ. When we highlight racial division, especially in the Church, we are implying that the gospel is insufficient for this sin-caused problem. Such an attack on the power of the gospel is dangerous and need be denounced.

To illustrate the contrast between Critical Race Theory and unity in Christ: as I was writing this very article, one of our church members stopped by the church office to visit. This church member happens to be black. He came into my office and we chatted for several minutes. We talked about what is going on in each other’s lives, about work, about some of the struggles we each had been dealing with recently. We laughed at some of the stupid things I sometimes say on our church podcasts. Then we prayed together and he went on his way.

After he left, I returned to writing this article. I was struck by the contrast between how beautiful the harmony and brotherhood in Christ is verses the divisive, exhausting, and toxic culture placed between people of different races through Critical Race Theory. It was just so obvious to me how useless and nonsensical CRT is when people have such common ground as faith in Christ. He was not looking at me as someone who has hidden racial biases under the surface. I was not looking at him as someone I needed to confess my privilege to. We were just brothers, enjoying one another’s company and supporting and encouraging each other in the Lord.

Robin DiAngelo, who’s work perfectly exemplifies modern Critical Race Theory, says “Racism is always present in every cross-racial interaction. The question is not, ‘Is there racism?” but rather ‘How did racism manifest itself?'” Can you now see the kind of divisive poison CRT is, both in the Church and in society? Racism is real, but CRT elevates racism to a level where it infects every area of life. The Christian Church needs to reject this evil doctrine and instead elevate unity in Christ. Imagine how different the interaction between my friend and I would have been if we had allowed CRT to shape our thinking and our relationship. I am calling on my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord to stand up against CRT and refuse to allow it into the Church. There is already a battle being fought within many churches, denominations, and seminaries along these same lines. I hope and pray that the power of the gospel would not be cheapened or replaced by this disgusting alternative that has no place among the people of God.

War of Words: Christians Are Becoming Secularized Because of Shifting Definitions

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going” – Rita Mae Brown

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwell

“Language is power, in ways more literal than most people think. When we speak, we exercise the power of language to transform reality. Why don’t more of us realize the connection between language and power?” – Julia Penelope

I don’t like to waste words, so let me get straight to the point: Christianity is becoming more and more unstable every day, and it is because the foundation that it sits on is rapidly eroding. That foundation is truth. Truth is under assault in our culture, and even within the walls of the Church. Truth, as should be made obvious, is expressed in ideas, which are then expressed in words. All good writers in history understood and appreciated that there is great power in words to define and shape reality. Consequently, words can be used to re-define and distort reality. Christianity has long been quite resistant to this kind of assault, because our faith rests upon the unchanging Word of God. God has spoken to us in words, which have been faithfully recorded and preserved for millennia. This is not insignificant. Indeed, it is one of the reasons Christianity has been able to endure all that is has throughout the centuries.

But times are changing. Our culture is currently undergoing one of the greatest re-shapings in history, and the battle has become a battle of words. I very briefly touched in my previous post that the Church as been absorbing secular philosophy through shared words with different meanings. More pointedly, I said “social justice as the world defines it is very different than helping the oppressed from a Scriptural perspective.” Here I want to outline some of what I’m talking about.

As an illustration, consider that Mirriam-Webster literally changed the definition of “sexual preference” the very day after Senator Mazie Hirono challenged then-supreme-court-candidate Amy Coney Barrett that her use of the phrase was inappropriate. (See one write up about it here.) Overnight, the term was deemed “offensive” by Mirriam-Webster despite no one really seeming to care. Anyone familiar with how tyranny quietly imposes power knows that changing the meaning of words is one way to control how people think. This kind of thing is truly alarming.

The very same thing has happened under the noses of Christians. Those who advocate for social justice movements use phrases and terms that are well-known to believers but infuse them with very different meanings. Consider a few examples.

The very term “social justice” is riddled with baggage. When many Christians hear the term, they immediately think of Scriptures like Micah 6:8, which says “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Most believers then simply think to themselves, “God requires us to pursue justice, therefore I am going to support social justice movements. It is what God would want me to do”. This sounds rational but is mistaken because Scripture and culture define justice differently. A simple google search for “define social justice” will draw the following:

Notice that the qualifier “social” in “social justice” changes the meaning of the phrase. Social justice speaks to systems in culture that result in disparities between people groups. These disparities are then corrected through “social justice”, or the redistribution of resources from those who have to those who have not. This, however, is not at all what the Bible speaks of when it refers to justice. Consider Leviticus 19:15, where the law of God says “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour.” This definition of justice is actually the opposite of the secular one. In God’s economy, true justice is about equal treatment under the law: neither the rich nor the poor get preferential treatment. But in modern social justice terms, justice is intentional preferential treatment in order to create equal outcomes among people groups. Though both the secular culture and Scriptures speak of “justice”, they mean completely different things.

Consider also the definition of racism. In the secular world, racism has changed meanings over the last several decades. Racism used to mean being prejudiced against someone because of their ethnicity or skin colour. This is the simple, straightforward definition that has existed, as far as I can tell, from the first notion of the concept. Modern culture, however, is consistently moving towards using the term “systemic racism” as virtually synonymous with “racism”. While old-fashioned racism is on the individual level, systemic racism is societal. Yet in the minds of modern social justice proponents, the two are the same. Consider a few quotations to illustrate:

“…many critical race theorists and social scientists hold that racism is pervasive, systemic, and deeply ingrained. If we take this perspective, then no white member of society seems quite so innocent.” – Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

“Racism presupposes the ability to control a significant section of the population economically, politically, and socially by imposing law, covenant, and restriction on their lives. Black people ain’t have no capacity to do that. Can we be bigoted? Yes. Can we be prejudiced? Yes. Racist? No.” – Eric Dyson (video)

“White’s see their friendship with blacks as proof that they are on the non-racist side of the good-bad binary. Yet cross-racial friendships do not block out the dynamics of racism in the society at large, and these dynamics continue unabated. Racism invariably manifests itself within cross-racial friendships as well. Racism cannot be absent from your friendship. No cross-racial relationship is free from the dynamics of racism in the society.” – White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

“Racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race when those views are reinforced by systems of power.” – So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

“And if you are white in a white supremacist society, you are racist.” – So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

The point is clear. While racism used to mean prejudice, it now means prejudice plus power. In North America, since white people are seen as those with social advantage, and since white people are socially conditioned to affirm white culture as the norm, all white people are racist AND it is impossible for people of colour to be racist. I would simply want to ask, is this the definition of racism you hold to as a believer? Is it supported by Scripture? Or even common sense?

Consider also the word “equality”. The word seems straightforward enough, yet it can have many different uses. When people speak about equality, what do they really mean? Are they saying we are equal in value because we are made in the image of God? Do they mean that everyone should have equal opportunities? Or do they mean that everyone should have equal outcomes? All three of these uses have vastly different meanings and implications. Again, I see many Christians using the term without realizing that what it means to the secular world is very different from what they mean by it Scripturally.

This kind of word shape-shifting is happening all over the place. In fact, it is happening at such an alarming rate that it is impossible to keep up with for the average person not deeply entrenched in this ideology. The result is that many well-meaning Christians start to adopt and promote these ideas without fully knowing what they are getting in to. Still other self-proclaiming Christians knowingly adopt these views and try to integrate them into biblical theology with more nefarious intentions. Either way, the purity of Christian truth becomes corrupted by these worldly philosophies.

Let’s just call it what it is. This is Marxist-Communist thinking. Read again the definition of “social justice” and see that it parallels Neo-Marxist ideas perfectly. Neo-Marxism is defined by identifying social disparities as the result of systemic oppression that must be corrected by force if necessary. The vast majority of what flies under the banner of “social justice” fits this very description. Christians may or may not know it, but they are blending an anti-Christian worldview with their faith that will sooner or later devour them too.

Words matter. Definitions matter. Ideas matter. I wonder if Christians are being swept up into the social justice movements of our day under the faulty notion that it is somehow loving to do so. Are we not to love our neighbour? Of course we are. But we are not called to abandon truth in the pursuit of love. In fact, doing so is quite unloving. The Bible would not put such emphasis on the truth and the need to be discerning if it were going to be so simple. Having a robust Christian worldview that is shaped by the Scriptures is absolutely paramount to obeying the command to love your neighbour. Thus, I am not advocating for some kind of overly sophisticated and Pharisaical approach to living out our faith in the world. Rather, I am warning against the pull to be “taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

The Christian Church needs to better recognize what is happening before our very eyes. Though in some ways I think is kind of corruption is inevitable, those who protect the flock have a duty before God to lead with righteousness and truth, even though this will cause them to become targets for hate not only from the culture at large, but sometimes even those claiming the name of Christ. My desire is to see the Church honour God and love others as God would have us do, not according to worldly definitions. People need to care about this. People need to become sticklers when it comes to definitions and clarity of communication. Doing so will help the sheep steer clear of wolves who intend only to deceive and devour them.

Social Justice Is a Secular Religion

I have been hammering on this theme for a while now, and there is good reason for that. I remember listening to some sermons and podcasts over 10 years ago where some Christian leaders were trying to point out the problems with the social justice movements happening in North America, in particular how they affect and infect the Church. At the time, I remember thinking to myself, “there definitely is something off about all this, but I don’t really see what the big deal is”. There were then—and are now—other Christian leaders who fully embraced the social justice movement and, even more the point, argued that it was demanded of us as believers to do so. To be honest, it felt like a lot of this went right over my head and I ended up not really doing much about it.

All of that changed for me when George Floyd died. The subsequent Black Lives Matter movement absolutely forced me to no longer stay on the fringe of these issues, so I finally dived in full force. I read and listened to absolutely everything I could get my hands on from a variety of different perspectives. But, most importantly, I started investigating text books and primary source literature about social justice. This is when the light bulb finally went on for me. The reason I had trouble making sense of social justice movements was simply because I never took any sociology classes in college or university. These places are the training grounds for social justice activists, where they gain a certain understanding of the world and everything wrong with it. Once I was finally able to bring clarity to various terms and concepts, everything fell into place.

Therefore, I have a lot of sympathy for those who either reject my arguments or are suspicious of them. I was in their shoes not long ago. It took me a long time to make sense of it all, and it helped hearing it from a variety of different angles. That’s why I keep harping on this issue. I’m certain there are those out there who, like me, will take some time to be able to wrap their heads around this subject.

Here I am again shooting at the same target from a different angle. I’m arguing that social justice, as it is being lived out in real-time, functions exactly like a religion. It is not a fringe activity that can be tacked on to the life you are already living. It actually demands to be at the centre of your life, because embracing social justice demands embracing a certain view of the world, yourself, and those around you. I have created the following chart to help show the ways social justice parallels Christianity. The point is to demonstrate that the more you embrace social justice ideology, the more your Christian faith will be forced out of your life. Put simply: they are competing worldviews. To the degree that you accept one, you must reject the other.

This is not to say that Christians don’t care about justice or compassion. Don’t misunderstand me. Scripture calls us to love our neighbours and seek the well-being of others. Yet this is not the same as secular social justice. Social justice as the world defines it is very different than helping the oppressed from a Scriptural perspective. I will elaborate in a future post more about this difference, but just know that here I am arguing against social justice the way the world defines it, not the way well-meaning Christians use the term.

CHRISTIANTIYASPECT OF RELIGIONSOCIAL JUSTICE
Born into a sinful natureOriginal Sin: What is the main problem?Born into a dominant group
Individual made in God’s imageIdentity: Who am I?Member of a group
God’s WordTruth: What determines reality?Personal experience
The BibleScripture: What writing is authoritative?Critical Theory literature
10 CommandmentsEthics: What moral code should I follow?Political Correctness
The ChurchCommunity: Who are “my people”?Members of my group identity
RebukeDiscipline: How does the community respond to unacceptable behaviour?Cancelled
Confession to God and offended partyRepentance: How do I restore myself?Public apology and work on yourself
Born againConversion: How do I label my change?Woke
GraceSalvation: What overcomes my failures?Works
Baptism & CommunionSacraments: How do I acknowledge my beliefs publicly?Virtue signalling
Glorify GodLife Purpose: What is my mission in life?End oppression
With Christ in paradiseHeaven: What is the best possible outcome?Social equity
Apart from Christ foreverHell: What is the worst possible outcome?Social disparities
God / Final judgmentJudgment: Who/what assesses my life?The court of public opinion
Love God, love othersGreat Commandment: What is the highest good?“Do better”
Share gospel & make disciplesGreat Commission: How do I evangelize?Education & activism
ChristSaviour: Who do we put our hope in?Humanity

Since unfolding the details of this chart would take a book-length explanation, I’ll chip away at it over time. Drop your comments, questions, or critiques by leaving a comment below, and I’ll do my best to respond to them. Stay tuned for more info coming.

What Does It Mean to “Think Biblically”?

God cares about how we think. It is no mistake that we are created with cognitive faculties that allow us to learn, ponder, and assess things in ways that other creatures cannot. The Bible tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Along these lines, Christians often talk about “thinking biblically” about the issues of life and culture that we often face. What does this somewhat-ambiguous phrase really mean?

The first thing we need to understand is that everyone has a worldview. I define a worldview as “a system and beliefs and values that help us understand and interact with the world around us”. How we think about various issues is directly linked to our particular worldview. A robust worldview answers some of the most fundamental questions of life, such as:

  • Identity: Who am I?
  • Purpose: What am I here for?
  • Community: How do I relate to others?
  • Truth: What defines reality?
  • Origin: Where do I come from?
  • Destination: Where am I going?
  • Morality: What is right and wrong?
  • Transcendence: Am I a part of something bigger than me?

Christianity answers these questions in Scripture. The Bible is the place Christians look to shape our worldview. Thus, when we talk about “thinking Biblically” we are referring to a process of developing a worldview that is shaped by Scripture that then interprets the world around us. As I stated earlier, a worldview is a collection of “beliefs and values”. Since the world we live in offers us differing ideas of what beliefs and values we should hold, some of those are going to “pass the test” of aligning with what Scripture teaches while others do not.

This is what Romans 12:2 is getting at when it states “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. Consider of a few points from this passage. Notice first that this world has a “pattern”, aka a worldview. The “world” (referred to here as collective mankind without acknowledgment of God) has beliefs and values that it holds to because of our sinful nature as human beings. These are predictable “patterns” that are contrary to God. Next, notice that humans can be “conformed” to this pattern. This means that people’s beliefs and values are moldable. They can change via influence. They are not fixed realities in ourselves, but can be adapted. Third, notice that the way we change is linked to our “mind”. How we think is what shapes who we are. Fourth, our mind has a pre-determined condition that requires “renewing”. This implies that our default pattern is worldly and requires a “breaking-the-mold” approach to free ourselves from our sinful selves. Fifth, our mind renewal comes from intentional focus on the will of God. In this way, Scripture teaches us that God’s will contrasts with the patterns of this world. What God believes and values is different from what we believe and value. Sixth, God’s beliefs and values are called good, acceptable, and perfect. They are better and superior to our worldly ways of thinking. Seventh, in order for us to be renewed we must “discern” the difference between worldly thinking and Godly thinking. When people talking about “thinking Biblically”, this is exactly the process they have in mind.

Therefore, thinking biblically means identifying the beliefs and values that are being promoted by the world and assessing wether or not they conform to God’s will as revealed in the Bible. If they do, we accept them. If they don’t, we reject them. This is a crucial part of growing as a disciple of Christ and maturing as a Christian believer.

It pains me to say, but I often see many Christians failing to “think biblically” about issues in their lives or the world around us. It seems that many have a compartmentalized relationship with God, where they accept the need for God’s forgiveness but don’t allow for a full renewing of their mind to change their future thoughts and behaviour. Put differently, they accept salvation but not sanctification. They call themselves a Christian but don’t engage in the hard work of change to be conformed to the image of Christ. If you don’t believe me, scroll through social media. That is exactly the thing that prompted me to write this post. I regularly see believers of Jesus saying things and promoting things that are contrary to a Christian worldview without even realizing it. They, for one reason or another, are failing to “discern” God’s will and have become conformed to worldly patterns of thought.

This is why reading Scripture regularly is so important. God’s Word confronts us about the sinful patterns of thought in our lives and contrasts it to the way God thinks about things. As a result, when we read our Bibles we should regularly find ourselves in prayer repenting of our worldliness and asking God for help to change. When this fails to become a regular activity in our lives we can be sure that the process of renewal has waned and we are slowly being conformed to the patterns of this world.

Scripture must play a central role in our lives. If we are to follow Christ, it will mean a daily renewal and confrontation with ourselves that slowly kills what is earthly in us and allows the Spirit of God to more fully dwell in our hearts. I am pleading with any Christian who is reading this to not take this lightly. Being renewed is a lifelong process and one of the true marks of a believer. Those who fail to endure in this just might one day find that the God they once loved has become an irrelevant relic of their past and the patterns of the world have taken root in their lives. In such a case, a person is exposed for what they are—a Christian by label only, and apart from God’s grace.

Renewal is hard. Thinking biblically is hard. There are a hundred valid reasons for not wanting to do it. We may find Scripture boring or confusing. We may fall out of the habit of reading it. We may stop attending church for one reason or another. We may find a part of the Christian worldview offensive. We may surround ourselves with worldly thinking people. We may even fall in love with one of them. These can all be real challenges but we cannot allow them to become stumbling blocks in our lives. The moment we make peace with patterns of the world is the moment we begin conforming to them. It is like a stream that is flowing away from God and we must actively swim against the current or be swept away by it. Coasting is easy. Swimming is hard. It may seem silly but Dory was right about this one. Just keep swimming.

Christians Should Reject Critical Theory

The short version of why Christians should reject Critical Theory (CT) is because the basic premises of CT are antithetical to a biblical worldview. I will defend this thesis while recognizing that an increasing number of Christians (and Christian leaders) are adopting CT as a helpful tool in social justice initiatives and living out their Christian faith in the culture at large. I see this as very concerning and damaging to the Body of Christ. As of yet, there is no universal rejection or acceptance of CT among the Church. It is still up for debate, and I hope to inject some helpful information and perspective into this conversation. For that reason, I will first throughly define CT using primary source literature before contrasting it with Scripture. My intent is to properly present the central ideas of CT before engaging with them so as to avoid being accused of straw-man arguments.

First, let’s define CT. Oxford languages defines Critical Theory as “a philosophical approach to culture, and especially to literature, that seeks to confront the social, historical, and ideological forces and structures that produce and constrain it. The term is applied particularly to the work of the Frankfurt School.” This is a good, although somewhat ambiguous, definition. Brittanica.com defines Critical theory as a “Marxist-inspired movement in social and political philosophy originally associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. Drawing particularly on the thought of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, critical theorists maintain that a primary goal of philosophy is to understand and to help overcome the social structures through which people are dominated and oppressed.”

Put together, these two definitions give us a starting point in understanding Critical Theory. Put into my own words, it is an approach to understanding and alleviating social ills using an adapted Marxist approach that sees the world as identity groups competing for power. I will not delve very deep into the Marxist roots of Critical Theory in this essay, although it is an incredibly important connection to make. If you wish to read up more on that, a very good and brief historical detailing can be found here. As this link shows, Critical Theory is birthed directly out of Marxism in the 1930’s and has adapted over the years to the current form it takes today. This is where our focus will lie.

To help flesh out the modern form of CT more fully, I will draw on the book Is Everyone Really Equal? An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education by Robin DiAngelo and Ozlem Sensoy. Lest you think I am drawing on a fringe or outlier source, consider that Robin DiAngelo is possibly the most influential person in the world right now in terms of advancing Critical Theory ideas. Her book White Fragility is the go-to resource on racial issues, having only recently been bumped down to #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list in the paperback non-fiction category. It has been on the Best Sellers list for 109 weeks in a row. White Fragility is explicitly a work crafted from Critical Theory, with a focus on racism. Her book Is Everyone Really Equal?, on the other hand, more explicitly explains CT as it may apply to any social problem, not just racism. Therefore, the more broad scope of this text will help us to understand the underlying ideas of Critical Theory.

At first glance, Critical Theory is a tough concept to wrap your head around. This is because it cannot properly be summed up in one sentence (hence the problem trying to define it). It is, rather, a collection of connected ideas that develop a particular view of the world. I will outline below five core tenets of CT which will help the reader to begin to see the picture of what CT is and how it operates as an ideology.

  1. Social Binaries

By “social binaries” I mean that people are categorized into opposing identity groups. To quote DiAngelo and Sensoy, “for every social group, there is an opposite group…the primary groups that we name here are: race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, and nationality.” Elsewhere in the book they clarify, “although we are individuals, we are also—and perhaps fundamentally—members of social groups. These group memberships shape us as profoundly, if not more so, than any unique characteristic we may claim to possess.”

Thus, CT sees the identity of people not as primarily individuals, but as members of social groups. Your group membership is your fundamental identity. Based on this framework, my own fundamental identity is that I am a straight, white, Christian male. Very little else about me matters. Read the above quotes again. Notice that these social groupings create my identity more so than any unique characteristic I may possess.

This is incredibly important to understand. Coming from a CT framework, people are lumped into group membership and thus given the identity of those groups. That becomes who you are. Even though I may have my own unique experiences and opinions that greatly differ from other straight, white, Christian men, it matters very little. I am just like them because I am one of them.

2. Oppression Narrative

By “oppression narrative” I mean that one group identity asserts dominance over the other. According to CT, people are divided into opposing social groups, yet these groups are not on a level playing field. One group is dominant or oppressive, the other is subjugated or oppressed. Again, to quote DiAngelo and Sensoy, “Oppression involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the imposition of the dominant group’s culture on the minoritized group. No individual member of the dominant group has to do anything specific to oppress a member of the minoritized group.”

Not only does CT give you an identity based on social groupings, it also gives you moral qualities. What this means is that you are either an oppressor or an oppressed person depending on your own group identity. For example, if you are male, you are an oppressor. If you are a woman, you are oppressed. I can imagine some men raising their hand in objection and saying, “Wait a minute! I’m not oppressive towards women. I’ve never done or said anything to demean a woman in my life.” The canned response from a CT perspective would be “It doesn’t matter. You’re still an oppressor.” Once again, I encourage you to read the quote from the previous paragraph again. Note particularly the phrase “No individual member of the dominant group has to do anything specific to oppress a member of the minoritized group.” This means that, quite literally, you are given a moral label based not on anything you have ever personally done, but simply based on your group identity. In fact, in White Fragility, DiAngelo expands on this idea to argue that people who try to defend themselves from the accusation of being an oppressor based only on their group identity are actually demonstrating their oppression in real time. The only solution for an oppressor group member to escape their moral dilemma is to admit their own obvious or internalized oppressive ways and actively renounce them.

It is worth briefly noting here that CT is playing directly off of Marxism in these first two points. It was Marx, after all, who developed the theory that the world was broken because the rich oppressed the poor. This opressor-oppressed dichotomy has simply been expanded by Critical Theory to include other aspects of culture. Yet, the root theory remains the same. This ought to cause Christians at least some alarm considering the atheistic origins of Marxism and the horrific atrocities the ideology carried out in practice under Communism. Christianity has been enemy #1 for Communist regimes, yet its slightly prettier but just-as-evil step-sister Critical Theory is being embraced by the Church. Consider the origins and connections of CT and be warned.

Perhaps the most important thing you can learn from DiAngelo and Sensoy’s book can be seen in the following chart which succinctly and plainly summarizes Critical Theory in one image:

Recall that these same authors argue that no individual of a dominant group must actually do anything in order to still be considered guilty of oppression. If this chart neatly outlines who is the oppressors in society, I am perhaps one of the most oppressive people I know. Also note that to be a Christian is to be in a dominant group. Once again, I should hope this gives followers of Jesus a pause. Though Christ calls us the salt of the earth and light of the world, Critical Theory calls us oppressors. Which label of identity should we accept? How would accepting one over the other change your view of yourself and of others, and of your role in the world?

I observe that many Christians attempt to use CT as a tool to engage in social justice initiatives. Indeed, remember that the subtitle of DiAngelo and Sensoy’s book is “An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education”. Many believers see the secular world rising up against racism and think to themselves, “I am against racism too. This is a shared value. We can work with the world to fight this together”. This perspective is naive and fails in two regards. The first is to recognize that Christians and Critical Theory have different definitions of racism. The Christian believes racism to be partiality or bigotry based on skin colour. In that sense, anyone can be racist. CT on the other hand would define racism as prejudice plus power. This means that only people in the power group (whites) can be racist, and it is impossible for a member of the minority group (people of colour) to be racist. Lest you think I am overstating my case, DiAngelo says in White Fragility that “A positive white identity is an impossible goal. White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.” I see no way a Bible-believing Christian can adopt this line of thinking in aiming to help bring peace to racial issues, as it blatantly runs against basic Christian doctrine.

The second error Christians make when trying to wed themselves to social justice movements is to fail to recognize that Critical Theory defines their very faith as oppressive. You may think you are on the same team fighting against racism or poverty, but it is only a matter of time before the activists turn on you. You, as a Christian, are a member of an oppressor group. To support CT as a Christian is to feed the monster who will later devour you. Sooner or later you will have to tackle that confrontation, and only two results will come. Either you will compromise your faith and bow to cultural pressure, or you will stand firm and be persecuted as a result. Scripture is not silent on which of these outcomes are expected of believers.

3. Lived Experience = Reality

By this I mean that truth is determined by people’s life experiences, especially the experience of the oppressed. This concept is born out of postmodernism which essentially rejects objective truth. According to CT, the experiences and perspectives of the marginalized define how things really are. DiAngelo and Sensoy explain, “Dominant groups have the most narrow or limited view of society because they do not have to understand the experiences of the minoritized group in order to survive… Minoritized groups often have the widest view of society, in that they must understand both their own and the dominant group’s perspective — develop a double-consciousness — to succeed.”

Put differently, people who are a part of oppressor groups are blind to their own privilege. They live in a society that is designed to benefit them, and thus they live in a protected bubble without even knowing it. People in oppressed groups, on the other hand, see life with a broader perspective since they can see both the protective bubble of the privileged and the harsh sufferings of the disadvantaged. Thus dual-perspective, according to CT, means their point of view is actually more authoritative.

This explains why the opinions of white, straight men are largely treated with contempt or dismissal. CT has taught society that this group of people have a comparatively limited perspective to that of, say, a black lesbian woman. As a result, CT tends to uplift the voice of marginalized groups to the exclusion of others. Reality is best defined by the experiences of the oppressed, and those people need their story heard.

In practice, however, CT doesn’t follow its own rules. Although marginalized peoples are to have their voices lifted up, that is really only true for people who speak in congruence with Critical Theory. For instance, women should be encouraged to speak out on women’s issues…unless that woman takes a more traditional view of gender roles, in which case they should not be paid attention. Likewise, black people are encouraged to speak up about the injustices they face…unless a black person rejects the idea that society is generally racist towards them, in which case we dismiss them and say they are a traitor to their own people. This kind of thing happens all the time. CT presents itself as promoting diversity while in reality it rejects true diversity—diversity of thought.

4. Intersectional Identity

By saying that people are fundamentally members of identity groups, CT creates a problem for itself: someone can be a member of an oppressed group and an oppressor group at the same time. Take a black man for example. According to CT, this person would be an oppressor as a male, but oppressed as a person of colour. What then?

Intersectionality attempts to sort through this dilemma. Returning to our text, DiAngelo and Sensoy state, “Intersectionality is the idea that identity cannot be fully understood via a single lens such as gender, race, or class alone — what legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) called a ‘single axis framework’ (p. 139).” The following image (from a different source) illustrates well how intersectionality works in practice.

The thick, purple line across the middle represents oppression or domination. All of the group identities above the line are considered dominant, while those under the line are considered oppressed or marginalized. You can then trace the “spokes” of the wheel from one end to the other to see which group identities are considered paired together. Pin-pointing your own group identities on the diagram is meant to help an individual find their place in society. For most people, they will be advantaged in some areas of life and disadvantaged in others. Intersectionality is meant to help you find those advantages and disadvantages so that you can orient yourself properly in society. In areas where you are an oppressor, you should “check your privilege”. In areas where you are an oppressed person, you should speak up and seek greater equality. This brings us to our final point.

5. Transformative Action

By transformative action I simply mean “social justice”. The first four points of CT have laid out a comprehensive view of the world; the final objective is to do something about it. The list of possible social justice initiatives and tactics are virtually endless. They include both large-scale initiatives like mass education programs and corporate diversity training to more grassroots things like local protests and social media campaigns. The actual means are generally less important than the goal: the absence of social disparities. Again, recall what CT has taught us. In a nutshell, it says that society is composed of advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Individuals of those groups are no exception to the rule. This oppressor-oppressed dichotomy is verified by the lived experience of marginalized groups. These resulting disparities among groups are considered problematic and therefore social action needs to take place for corrective measures. The ultimate goal is perfect equity among all people groups where no one is advantaged over anyone else. It is worth noting that this outcome seems strangely similar to the definition of Communism.

A Worldview Issue

The careful reader should note that Critical Theory functions, as I stated at the beginning, as a worldview. Though some call it merely a “tool” to help us analyze culture, it is actually far more than that. The five points of CT tell us who we are (oppressors or oppressed), what community of people we belong to (our group identity), where ultimate truth comes from (the experience of the oppressed), what fundamental ills have befallen the world (social advantages for some but not for others), and a worthy life purpose to pursue (the alleviation of oppression). Make no mistake about it: these are the components of a comprehensive worldview.

The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the world’s largest Evangelical denomination, is a prime exampling of trying to merge Christianity with Critical Theory. In what has become known as Resolution 9, the SBC moved to adopt CT as a useful tool to address social ills. Their resolution states, in part, that “critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks.” The problem with this statement is that it is fundamentally impossible. Critical Theory is a transcendent ideological framework. I believe I have demonstrably shown that to be the case in this essay. Thus, the entire theory would come under the authority of Scripture and be rendered virtually useless, since it fails to pass the test on almost every point it contends to make. Allow me to summarize briefly.

Critical Theory is wrong about group identity superseding individual identity. To define someone by their group identity at the expense of their individuality is, by definition, prejudicial. On the Last Day, does Scripture declare that God will judge you based on what your group identity has done? Or does it declare that God will hold you accountable for your own thoughts, actions, words, and motives? So you can see that God judges us as individuals. Similarly, does not Abraham plead with God to spare the innocent in Sodom and Gomorrah? Does he not do so on the basis of God’s prefect justice, that it would be unrighteous of God to judge the innocent for the deeds of the wicked? So you can see from Scripture that God does not treat people fundamentally as members of social groups, but rather as individuals made in his image.

Critical Theory is wrong to characterize all members of oppressor groups with moral guilt. To say that all men, whites, straights, and the like, are oppressive without exception even in the absence of actual evidence is breaking the ninth commandment. It is bearing false witness against your neighbour. It is slandering them and accusing them of sin without justification. Certainly no Christian should accept or participate in a system of thinking that causes us to break God’s law and malign other people.

Likewise, Critical Theory is wrong to characterize all members of oppressed groups as victims. Surely people are actually taken advantage of by others in this world. No one denies this. But to say that all disparities are due to people being taken advantage of is flat-out wrong. Some people are disadvantaged in life for faults of their own. Scripturally, this can be attributed to God’s principle of sowing and reaping. God has built into creation mechanisms and consequences for actions that generally reward godliness and punish ungodliness. These should not be viewed as problematic but rather as part of God’s wisdom in action.

Critical Theory is wrong to ascribe asymmetrical ethics. By this I mean that those who are considered oppressors are governed by a different moral code than those who are considered oppressed. Oppressors, for example, are generally told to be quiet, check their privilege, and are much quicker to be castigated for stepping out of line with socially unacceptable behaviour. The oppressed, on the other hand, are told to speak up, assert themselves, and largely are given a pass for committing what would otherwise be considered socially unacceptable behaviour. Consider, as an illustration, when a black NBA player was seen during a game calling another caucasian player a “b**** a** white boy”. A few people in the media called him out for it, but the act was barely considered newsworthy. Now consider if the roles were reversed, and the white player had demeaned the black one with a similar racial epithet. Public outcry would have made headlines everywhere, and surely the consequences would have been severe. From a Critical Theory perspective, this moral asymmetry is perfectly just, since the white player is considered to have a social advantage over the black one. No one can fault the downtrodden for bending the rules against those who have the power. Yet Scripture does not support this. God’s law is applicable to all people equally, without partiality. Leviticus 19:15 states “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly.” This ethic is consistent in Scripture. God’s commands go “both ways”. Thus, the moral asymmetry of CT is exposed for what it really is: a double-standard that perverts true justice.

Critical Theory is wrong about the nature of truth. CT posits that truth is not objective, but rather subjective. It also asserts that truth is largely shaped by the experiences and opinions of the oppressed. Yet this is not true, at least not exhaustively. It is just as possible for a “person of power” to see the truth as it is for a marginalized person. Neither has a monopoly on truth. Certainly, they each can have their own perspective. Additionally, Christian values would rightly state that a person’s life experience and perspective should be respected. But that is not the same as saying it is necessarily true. There is a difference (at least sometimes) between how we perceive things to be and how things really are. The Bible’s message is that truth is a fixed standard to which we can align ourselves or deceive ourselves, but it does not change even if it doesn’t jive with our personal experiences. We don’t determine truth. We humbly discover it. The obvious implication is that sometimes—and this is true for everyone—we are flat out wrong. Scripture gives us no indication that only powerful people have bias while marginalized people see reality. Both the advantaged and the disadvantaged are equally able to access or deny truth because both are self-centred sinners by default. Our sinful nature is the great equalizer that gives no one the “upper hand” when it comes to access to the truth.

Critical Theory is wrong about our intersectional identity. There are multiple issues here. One is that the categories are wrong. While CT emphasizes our gender, race, and sexual orientation as primary identity markers, Scripture uses different categories. I would contend that Scripture uses three foundational identity markers before getting to the ones that CT emphasizes. Our first identity is that we are human beings made in the image of our Creator. This is our first and fundamental identity. The second is that we are sinners. This is the next-most important identity marker with which God sees us. The third is as the redeemed or the unredeemed. Unlike the first two categories, which are universally applicable to all people, this third category brings distinction. God sees the redeemed differently than he sees the unredeemed. I would argue without hesitation that these three layers of identity (image bearers of God, fallen sinners, redeemed/unredeemed) are the most foundational markers of our personal identities. Only after these categories should we add our more unique characteristics like gender, nationality, and so forth. Doing this fundamentally changes the way we understand ourselves and each other and orients us towards a biblical approach to human relationships.

A second problem with intersectional identity is one of application. Who is to say which identity markers are important and which are not? Why should we not add other categories to the list? Right handed or left handed? Curly or straight hair? Freckles or not? Athletic or musical? High or low IQ? Raised by single parent or both? First born or youngest in the family? Sexually abused or never taken advantage of? Raised in the city or countryside? The point here is that there are an infinite number of ways to categorize people, and an infinite number of potentially life-altering circumstances that people face. Therefore, if we aim to take intersectionality to its logical conclusion, what eventually happens are enough categories of distinction can be applied so that everyone is reduced to being a unique individual. No other person on the planet lands in the exact same categories as you. Thus, intersectionality renders itself useless because we are left with the very thing intersectionality intends to destroy: the uniqueness of every person. Rather than treating me the way you assume a straight, white man should be treated, you should see me as a unique individual who has a completely non-replicated life experience. No one sees, feels, thinks, and experiences things exactly as I do. The same goes for you. This concept means that every person on the planet is a fascinating individual who reflects the creative diversity of God and should be interacted with as such. CT, on the other hand, develops canned responses to certain people groups that rob individual people of their uniqueness and overlooks the beauty of God’s design in humanity.

Critical Theory is wrong about social justice. Or, put more accurately, it develops a faulty foundation for social justice. There is no question that God calls on believers to express their faith in concrete ways. We are to love our neighbour through good deeds. Most Christians conflate this call with secular social justice; yet I think this is a mistake. The secular call to social justice is to alleviate oppression as defined by Critical Theory. Therein lies the problem. As I have shown, CT does not reliably define justice and actually perverts true justice in many instances. My belief is that Christians engage with social justice because of (1) common language and (2) a misunderstanding of definitions. Social justice uses some biblical language, calling people to care for the helpless, aid the marginalized, alleviate the oppressed, speak up for the voiceless, and help the downtrodden. This sounds a lot like what we read in our Bibles. Yet the devil is in the details. By understanding how CT defines these terms, we can see that social justice operates by principles that are contrary to God’s Word.

Critical Theory is wrong about gratitude. More pointedly, CT actually lacks gratitude at all. The CT perspective is that the advantaged should feel bad about their privilege and the marginalized should be angry about their disadvantage. There is no category of gratitude for either group. Yet we know that Scripture calls people to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Biblically, both those that CT defines as oppressors and oppressed are to give thanks to God. Yet this runs completely contrary to all that CT outlines. Perhaps this alone ought to show us that CT need be rejected as useful in the life of a believer.

Critical Theory is wrong about God. Technically, CT completely ignores God altogether. It should then not surprise us that most of the conclusions CT draws are fundamentally wrong. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Since CT does not incorporate God at all, it does not begin with a foundation of wisdom. Perhaps the most significant problem with Critical Theory is that it runs contrary to the sovereignty of God. The Bible teaches that God is in control of all things, that he appoints people their lot in life, and does so for his own good designs and purposes. CT comes along and essentially accuses God of making mistakes that need correction. CT attempts to straighten out God’s sovereign plans and direct them towards different aims. Is it not God’s design to sometimes bring people down low? To strip away their wealth? To take away their health? To make them unseemly in the eyes of the world yet precious is his sight? To raise up kings and take them down? None of God’s sovereign plan omits the Christian call to alleviate suffering in this world. We are to bear one another’s burdens. Yet even in the midst of it, God is at work in ways we cannot understand. He is orienting the circumstances of life in order to bring about his sovereign plan. This core Christian value makes the premises on which CT stands virtually untenable.

What then are we to make of all this? Colossians 2:8 tells us: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Put simply, we are to reject the philosophies of this world and stand firm on the truth of God’s Word. Critical Theory makes truth claims that are contrary to Scripture. As I have shown, these truth claims are not “fringe” points in CT, but the very fundamentals of it. Instead of relying on CT to instruct us in good works, we must follow the source which God has provided. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In theological terms, this verse speaks to the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is sufficient to “equip us for every good work”. It alone can provide us with the framework we need to do God’s will and fulfill the command to love our neighbour. This means that CT is a dispensable tool. Not only does it fail to be grounded in Scriptural principles, but it cannot prepare us for Christian service the way God’s Word can. If you wish to be a faithful believer in the world shining the light of Christ, do not bother yourself with Critical Theory. Instead, rely on God’s Word to guide you and the Spirit to empower you as go about showering the world with the love of God it so desperately needs.

*Special thanks to Neil Shenvi for his research on this subject. See his website at shenviapologetics.com

Burn Down or Build Up?

We are living in tense times. The rate at which our culture is polarizing and the extremes at which they are ending up is concerning. Quickly vanishing are middle-ground approaches, meaningful dialogue, and a genuine desire to understand someone else’s point of view. Civility is being replaced by anarchy and the volatility of seemingly every single public event just keeps amping up the rage. It breaks my heart to see these things unfold, and I really only have one thing to say.

If you are a believer in Jesus, resist the urge to burn down. Instead, do the hard work of building up. About the only thing we can all agree on is that things are not right the way they are. Our world needs change, hope, and a plan for the future. No one denies this. Yet what are we to do with this problem? There are really only two approaches: burning or building.

It seems that more and more people are taking the easy route of burning down. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. One can burn down a building, a neighbourhood, or a cop car with some gasoline and fire. Others can burn down ideas, friendships, families, morals, or public figures through metaphysical means of burning. Censorship, intimidation, public smearing, unforgiveness, and the like are all tools of those who seek to destroy. But let’s be honest for a moment. How hard is it to burn something down? A toddler can do it by accident. A strike of the match is all you need and the rest takes care of itself. There’s nothing impressive about that. Even Jesus said that Satan came to “seek, kill, and destroy“.

Again protesters carrying signs face off with Oakland Police Officers on the other end of 7th and Broadway. May 29, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

But believers are not to partake in this way. We are supposed to be different. The Bible calls us not to be those who burn down but those who build up. Scripture reminds us that “love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Unlike burning, which takes very little effort, building is a demanding enterprise. To build a nation, a city, a neighbourhood, a business, a family, or a church takes hard work. It takes commitment. It is a slow and painful process that many are afraid to bother with. Yet I contend that God does not give his followers an option in this regard. We are called to be builders. Christ called us to engage in the lives of others around us and love them without restraint. He calls us to be those who lift others up and not tear them down.

My only goal in this short essay it to remind my fellow Christians to focus on building, not burning. Do not allow your frustration to lead you to partner with Satan in his work of destruction. Rather, partner with God in his work of restoration. Yes, it will be much more difficult. Yes, it will be slow to yield results. But if we truly are going to love God and this world he has entrusted to us, there simply is no other way forward.

Education Isn’t the Answer

Our world has many serious problems. It does not matter what background you come from, what experiences you have had, or what worldview you ascribe to, everyone recognizes that things are broken. Life on earth is not as it could be, maybe even as it should be. I believe this is a universal acknowledgement. Therefore, one of mankind’s greatest tasks is to seek solutions to these problems. What avenues can we explore that might make things better than they are? There is no shortage of answers to this question. From my vantage point, the most common refrain in our modern, Western world is that EDUCATION is best option available.

It is espoused that education can turn things around. If people are educated, they have hope to escape poverty. If people are educated, they are less likely to be bigots. If people are educated, they are more likely to make good life choices, more likely to avoid substance abuse, more likely to escape mental health problems, more likely to progress society into an enlightened state, and so forth. There are those who embrace this perspective, and those who don’t are told to “educate yourself”. It seems that we have settled on education as the means to fix the world.

I want to challenge this idea. It’s not because education is bad. Obviously it isn’t. I can’t imagine that less information is somehow better than more information, unless one wants to argue that naivety is bliss. That may be true to an extent, especially for young children, but with age comes a realization of life’s problems that can’t be avoided. Thus, I am not arguing that education isn’t part of the answer. I believe it is. But education alone isn’t sufficient, and it has its own inherent weaknesses that can’t be overlooked. Consider at least three of them.

People can be educated beyond their intelligence. In everyday terms, we call this “indoctrination”. This happens when someone is consistently told what to think, but not how to think. They may well receive a robust “education”, but their own ability to reason hasn’t necessarily grown stronger. You can see this in practice when someone is willing to parrot ideas that they have been told but can’t sustain any kind of intellectual dialogue with a dissenter. I would contend that much of modern education fits this form. Robust debate is resisted. Safe spaces are embraced. Yet what could possibly be more destructive to the advancement of good ideas than what Haidt called the coddling of the mind? Good ideas are resilient. If they contain truth, they will stand even in the face of great opposition. Good education happens when space is created for ideas to battle it out. When this doesn’t happen, and only certain ideas are allowed to be explored to the exclusion of others, the result is education that exceeds actual intelligence.

People can be educated beyond common sense. Hans Christian Andersen explored this concept well in The Emperor’s New Clothes. With the right social pressure, people can adopt beliefs that are contrary to what they see with their own eyes. Take, for example, the rise of Communist-Socialist thinking in higher education. Students increasingly despise Capitalism (which, to be fair, has its flaws) while enjoying the benefits of it. They instead embrace the concept of extreme wealth distribution while assuming that people’s desire to be productive will remain intact. This, of course, is nonsense. When results are unlinked from effort, laziness abounds. We know this to be true because we understand human nature. The very students who embrace this idea would prove its own foolishness if their professor told them everyone in the class would receive the same grade even if they didn’t show up or hand in any assignments. The vast majority of them, if not all, would never show up again. Yet somehow we think that things would be different in the actual marketplace. In that sense, education can provide only surface level answers to deep and complex problems that we embrace at the expense of our own common human experience.

People can be educated beyond their morality. The idea that education can turn an immoral person into a moral one is absurd. It is assumed that if you embrace ideas that are deemed unethical, you can be educated out of them. Perhaps there is a seed of truth here, since seeing things from another perspective may draw out sympathy from an individual. However, the problem is that education deals primarily at the intellectual level while morality operates at the heart level. We assume that the high school dropout embraced a life of crime because they lacked education. Yet what then do we make of the crooked businessmen and highly-educated societal elites who display their immorality in more sophisticated ways? The corruption is the same. The only difference is that one has avenues to execute their immorality with more devious methods. Many Nazi’s were educated. They were also immoral. Education alone can’t remodel the human affections so that they are oriented to love and service to others.

This is why Christians must embrace a fully-orbed view of discipleship. Education, to be sure, is an important component—essential, actually. But recall that the great commandment is to love the Lord with one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. A good education can help to embolden love of the mind, but the other components of humanity may remain untouched. The heart, the will, the emotion, even the very soul, require a kind of change that education alone is insufficient to give. Supernatural intervention is required. The Bible calls it regeneration or new birth. What this refers to is a work of God on the inner part of a person that results in real change. This kind of change is what can free someone from enslavement to their own humanity. It alone can provide people with the resources they need—namely, love—that can help change the world.

What You Should Know About #blacklivesmatter

The #blacklivesmatter movement might be the single largest social justice movement in the world today. This is certainly true in the United States, but increasingly so elsewhere as well. As such, Christians need to know about it, and know it well.

I am attempting to summarize the movement as succinctly as possible. I think it is helpful to break it down into three parts, as shown in this Venn diagram:

Photographic Venn Diagram

Let’s look at each of these categories, beginning with the two extremes.

Black Lives Matter as a Statement

The first way Black Lives Matter exists is merely as a statement of truth. As a standalone claim, “black lives matter” is undoubtedly true. In fact, you could even say that the statement is too weak from a biblical perspective. Black lives more than matter—they are sacred. All humans are made in the image of God and “matter”. Human lives are worthy of dignity and respect as image-bearers of God. This of course includes black people.

For some, the statement “black lives matter” essentially means “Racism is bad. I’m not for racism and I think black people should be treated with respect”. It amounts to a general statement against racism.

Black Lives Matter as an Organization

Some people are not aware of this, but there is a legal, non-profit organization named blacklivesmatter. It was founded in 2013 and has chapters in various parts of the world, including here in Canada. You can read for yourself their statements of belief, some of which sound great and others of which are quite alarming. In particular, their unabashed support for LGBTQ lifestyles and their anti-male dogma. Notice as well the following:

“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Any Bible-believing Christian ought to have concerns over this agenda. Not only is it historically inaccurate to say nuclear families are an invention of the West (it pre-dates Western societies), but Scripture contends that the nuclear family is God’s idea. Genesis 1 and 2 reveals that God created man and woman to be together in marriage, and within this context to procreate the fill the earth. Any Christian should pause before supporting an organization that explicitly is on the attack against God’s good design. Former NFL player Marcellus Wiley pointed out some of the flaws in this thinking in a great video you should take time to watch.

Blacklivesmatter the organization is also admittedly Marxist. As I have written about before, Marxism is a godless worldview that has no founding in Scripture, is based on greed and contempt for others, and led to the murder of about 100 million people during the 20th Century.

In short, the organization blacklivesmatter is an extreme leftist, Marxist, anti-Christian creation that believers should have no part in supporting.

Black Lives Matter as a Movement

Somewhere in the middle, these two categories collide to form what can be described as the blacklivesmatter movement. The diagram shows overlapping circles because the movement is made up both of well-meaning but somewhat naive people who want to show support against racism and those who fully understand the ideological worldview of the organization and are driving towards those goals. Thus, when you see #blacklivesmatter on your social media, it could be a person saying “racism is bad” or it could be a person saying “I’m here to impose white guilt, destroy family structures, affirm LGBTQ lifestyles, and will oppose anyone who gets in my way”. There is also, of course, some spectrum in between these two groups, but nevertheless the point stands.

What Now?

I write this article because I want people to know what they are getting themselves into by saying “black lives matter”. The statement is true and docile. The ideology is vicious and anti-Christian. Personally, even though I vehemently reject racism, I refuse to use the phrase “black lives matter” as a show of support because of the baggage that statement comes with. I want to distance myself from the organization and the belief structure behind it.

Those of you who are believers should consider how you want to approach this issue, but I think it’s important to make informed decisions. Don’t assume you know what someone means by the phrase “black lives matter”, and recognize that some people use it innocently while for others it represents a definite agenda. This is going to be more important as time goes on because the #blacklivesmatter movement isn’t going away anytime soon.