Critical Race Theory: A Tool or Threat for Christians?

The “World”: Sin as Both Individual and Systemic

As Christians, we should be very aware of the pathological nature of both individual and social ills. That is, social ills are not just easily individualized and conceptually isolatable bad actions, ideas, practices, policies, or stereotypes. Rather, just as a pathological liar habitually lies without even taking note of it, or just as a disease can infect a whole body with looming death yet appear perfectly healthy, so economic exploitation, racism, sexism, and the like can be embedded within whole social systems, producing symptoms that may even seem quite normal and ineradicable, though we feel the existential burdens of their bitter fruit.

We call it sin, and we recognize its far-reaching effects. Not only has sin brought about spiritual and physical death, but sin has broken man’s community with God (Gen. 3:24-25), broken his community with neighbor (Gen. 3:16; 4:1-8; Gal. 5:14-15), corrupted his economic activity (Gen. 3:17; Isa. 3:5; Mic. 2:2), corrupted his habitation and environment (Rom. 8:19-21), and has even distorted his very mind and reason (Matt. 15:19; Rom. 1:28; Eph. 2:1-3; 4:18). In fact, the Scripture declares that our minds must be “renewed” in order to escape conformity “to this world” (Rom. 12:2).

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From Faith, Philosophy & Politics: Social Doctrines, CRT & the Culture Wars: A Conversation with Bradly Mason

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I had a fantastic conversation with Scott M. Coley on his Faith, Philosophy & Politics podcast a ways back. We discussed the relation of Christian traditions to colonialism, Marxism at length, our blindness to our own social philosophies, all the recent shenanigans surrounding CRT and “systemic racism,” and more!

Please have a listen and let us know what you think!

Link to audio: “Social Doctrines, CRT & the Culture Wars: A Conversation with Bradly Mason

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Introducing Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is, at bottom, the radical civil rights tradition critically transformed to address a post-Civil Rights legal era rooted in the liberal ideology of “color-blindness” and “equal treatment,” which have together preserved and legitimated the continuation of racially subordinated circumstances.

Broadly speaking, two visions of civil rights law emerged out of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM). On the one hand, White progressives, along with the developing Black middle-class, centered their continued civil rights vision on the analytics of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation. That is, the social problem of racism was understood to be personal prejudice and bias due to irrationally allowing physical and ancestral difference to justify partiality; discrimination was thought to be the specific, individuatable, and intentional actions resulting from personal prejudice—in particular, allowing race to figure into decision-making; and, last, segregation was thought to be the social, legal, and political manifestation of prejudice and discrimination.

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From Big Brown Army: “Understanding Critical Race Theory with Bradly Mason”

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I hope no one missed this fantastic discussion with DeCruz on the Big Brown Army podcast! I particularly enjoyed the question and answer format, hitting several of the most popular questions/objections leveled at Critical Race Theory, and antiracism more broadly. Also, he didn’t misspell my name in the title!

Please listen, if you haven’t already, and let us know what you think!

Link to audio: “Understanding Critical Race Theory with Bradly Mason

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From Southside Rabbi: “CRT Series Part Two: ‘Fault Lines’ and Social Holiness with Bradly Mason”

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I had the tremendous honor of joining Ameen and KB on the Southside Rabbi podcast! We discussed Critical Race Theory, Voddie Baucham’s book Fault Lines, racist policing, social doctrine and social responsibility, and so much more! It couldn’t have been more fun.

Please have a listen and let me know what you think!

Link to audio: “CRT Series Part Two: ‘Fault Lines’ and Social Holiness with Bradly Mason

Link to YouTube video: “CRT Series Part Two: ‘Fault Lines’ and Social Holiness with Bradly Mason

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The Spirituality of the Church vs. the Prophetic Mission of the Church in the American Reformed and Presbyterian Tradition

Examples of systemic racism abound. Beginning in Colonial America, laws were passed explicitly to benefit the newly created category “white” at the expense of the newly created “negro and mulatto,” and such laws were carried on into the new republic. The ensuing Antebellum system of race-based chattel slavery is an obvious example of systemic or institutionalized racism—I would hope this is immediately clear. But we could go on from there to provide hundreds of examples from the abandonment of post-emancipation Reconstruction, to share cropping and penal slavery, Jim Crow laws, “ghettoizing” in the North, race-steering, redlining by the Federal Housing Administration, the racialized application of the GI Bill, the “legal” theft of land from Black farmers, the post-Civil Rights criminalization campaign, the “Southern Strategy,” the “Law and Order” movement, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, employment and wage discrimination, the ongoing retrenchment of civil rights legal reforms, and on and on and on. To find these examples simply requires us to care enough to look.

So, how about the Church?

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From the Substance Podcast: “Bradly Mason on Telling the Truth About CRT”

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I had a fantastic discussion with Philip, Trevor, and Vincent over at The Substance podcast. We talked some truth about Critical Race Theory, the ongoing culture war, a little Voddie Baucham, and the many misrepresentations and characterizations of antiracism plaguing the Church.

I hope you will check it out and let us know what you think. So far we’ve heard a lot of great feedback!

Audio Link: “Bradly Mason on Telling the Truth About CRT

YouTube Link: Bradly Mason on Telling the Truth About CRT

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A Christian Chop Session on Critical Race Theory: Part 3

Contextual Note to Our Readers: This is our third chop session on Critical Race Theory. For session one, see HERE or HERE. For session two, see HERE or HERE.

Prelude: Why Chop Session Three is on Robin DiAngelo

Conjunto: We ended our first chop session promising to discuss some of our favorite CRT works in the next chop session. But since publishing that piece, many have voiced their surprise about our not mentioning Ibram X. Kendi or Robin DiAngelo in a session answering the question, “What is CRT?” Because this series es para el pueblo—“for the people”—we’ve decided to change course and use chop sessions two and three to explain why Kendi and DiAngelo did not appear in our first post, and why, apart from those sessions, they’re unlikely to appear in the rest of the series.

This chop session is on DiAngelo. The previous one was on Kendi. Enjoy!

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From Becoming Bridge Builders, with Keith Haney: “A Deep Dive Into Critical Race Theory”

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I had a great conversation with Keith Haney on his Becoming Bridge Builders podcast! We discussed Critical Race Theory, what it is and is not, whether it is “Marxist,” how it differs from popular conceptions, and how we can engage against the perennial public distortions of culture warriors. Please have a listen and let us know what you think!

Link to audio: “A Deep Dive Into Critical Race Theory

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“Systemic Racism,” in the Key of CRT

Systemic racism” can be a difficult concept to grasp, largely because “racism” is commonly understood as an exclusively individual and intentional affair. Thus, most Americans begin with an idea of racism as personal prejudice toward those of different skin color and then are left imagining how this intentional prejudice can somehow become a property of systems, institutions, or social structures. In the end, many are left believing systemic racism is a grand conspiracy of racist individuals, or an ethos which pervades a society, or a set of explicit laws and basic assumptions hidden somewhere deep in the books.

Others, alternatively, tend to think of systemic racism as any policy, whether state or private, which leads to or preserves racial disparity. This is a contender, to my lights, as the racial distribution of harm and/or advantage should certainly be recognized as a measure of a policy’s success. But is, for example, every fee hike or price increase a racist act?

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