Much has been said in our society about critical theory over the last couple years. The focus has specifically been on Critical Race Theory, but CRT is only one sewer line coming out of the cesspool of critical theory. This ideological view of race also has views on gender, sex, economics, and a variety of subjects.
First, let’s address the idea that critical theory is a Christian heresy. While many atheists believe CT, I place it within the heretical roots. Heresy by definition, within our context, is a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox beliefs. As we study critical theory, we will see that it is full of views of God, man, sin, redemption and the like that are opposed to biblical worldviews.
Second, let me give you a quick background on the roots and history of critical theory. This will be very short, and if you would like to learn more, I have written several articles previously, including Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism: Five Christian Resources. In short, critical theory has its roots in “The Communist Manifesto” published by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. While not a perfect parallel, it was reborn in a sense in the early 1900’s by The Frankfurt School in Germany.
Then in the late 1980’s Kimberlee Williams Crenshaw took these ideas and developed intersectionality out of that. Today we are seeing a lot in the world which has been birthed by these groups out of this heretical ideology.
This leads us to where we are today. So what are some of the ideas that are shaping society today to be anti-God, and anti-gospel which comes from this movement? We will list several ways critical theory sees things that are the opposite of the gospel. This list is not in any specific order.
IDENTITY IN CHRIST
Christians should have their primary identity in Christ. This means when they talk about themselves, how they see themselves, first and foremost should be that they, if they have true faith, are a child of God and saved by Jesus. A great example of this thinking is found in Ephesians chapter 1 where the apostle Paul mentions 14 times how we are “in Christ, in Him” or variations of this idea.
Critical theory calls us to find our primary identity almost always, unless negatively thinking, in anything but our Christian belief, faith and practice. It asks you to find your identity in your race, sex, or a variety of other groups.
BEARING FALSE WITNESS
Critical theory, which promotes intersectionality, categorizes people above a line as oppressors, or below the line as oppressed. Kimberle Williams Crenshaw developed this analytical framework in 1989, although Marx and Engles and other communists used such language in their works over a century earlier.
People are automatically above or below the line just because of race, creed, sex, gender, etc. Those above the line are oppressors or in oppressive groups. It declares people as oppressors because they belong to a certain people group whether or not they have personally oppressed someone. It bears false witness (Exodus 20:19) from the beginning.
No one doubts that there are oppressors which can be found in every people group. Oppressive individuals should confess their sin and repent. Labeling every individual and laying guilt on every person in a group “above the line” is not in keeping with the way God’s law functions.
As a side note, this should be very concerning to every Christian because Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto’’ declares Christians and all religions as oppressors. Marx and Engles state they seek to abolish religion and Christianity because they are oppressors. Those who embrace this theory will help strengthen those who wish to attack Christianity and, worse yet, Christ.
In Christianity, we know that, foremost, our sin is against God (Psalm 51:4). We must confess all sins first to Him (I John 1:9). If we have personally sinned against someone else, God calls us to confess to the wounded party directly (Matt.18).
Critical theory calls us to confess our sins publicly to society. We must stand and disavow sins on public platforms such as social media pages. We must repent of sin without naming our specific sin. This, of course, is not how God directs us to practice confession and restoration.
I hope you can start to see how critical theory and Marxist ideology are not merely innocent political ideas, but Christian heresy. It asks us to find our identity in something other than Christ. It bears false witness and asks us to confess to someone other than Christ. In Part II I will share more ways that the thinking is different from that of Christianity. We will look at the ideas of power and privilege, suffering, heaven, and justice.
Where have you already seen critical theory and social Marxism creep into our society? Where have you maybe seen it creep into the church, or even your own Christian thinking?
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