4 thoughts on “Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 4

  1. Nathan A. Rinne September 6, 2019 / 5:59 am

    Bradly,

    “And the new quotes culled to ground his four “tenets” are simply never presented in Sensoy/DiAngelo’s work as the core tenets of CT, CRT, or CSJ; again, this is just a construction—a reconstruction—of ideas common to and included in CT, though never presented as distinguishing nor determinative. When Sensoy/DiAngelo (or any other Crits) do offer definitions or overviews of CT, these “tenets” just aren’t present.”

    If I might say so, this, perhaps, is the real sticking point. It is rare that you are going to find a conservative Christian who highly values God’s word and also takes the writings of CT writers at absolute face value, like you are admirably (I think!) trying to do.

    Still, if CT is anti-essentialist as you say and all is socially constructed — if people are operating within this frame — what does this mean? It means that they are at war with God and hence all their thinking — whatever good insights they may possess — is ultimately going to be geared to overthrowing His authority and work in creation (and word)

    Why? If all is socially constructed this just means it is much easier to justify misleading or even outright lying to persons ***about what you really think are the core issues*** — and then justifying one’s self as not being a liar at all! Why? Because, as one Lutheran pastor in our LC-MS flock recently put it, “preaching is worldmaking”. And many non-Christian-preachers say “Amen” too.

    That phrase about “worldmaking,” I suppose, can be understood in a Christian way, but you know those sympathetic to the sophists, for example, might take that in another direction. One can justify not being a liar because our words are important and we know they certainly have the power to create all manner of positive change and cause no small measure of [Hegelian] evolution! We make reality — to a degree!

    We *know* these changes need to happen and we must do it, and so the means justify the ends (eggs and omelets), but it is now tempered a bit by the [conflicted] Christian convictions in the mix….

    This is how many influential people in the world, driven by Vico’s historicism/Hegelianism (subconsciously or consciously), operate. And here, given that they don’t have an authoritative source outside of the Bible that clarifies what is natural or good, we need to challenge them mightily for lack of grounding of their certainty (for while they might be right in some areas, they go so, so wrong in many others). So, as I put it in a critique of the American Library Association’s tenet that “authority is constructed in contextual”:

    “When the influential Richard Rorty defined truth as “what our peers will let us get away with saying,” how does this not, in effect, make truth liable to being nothing more than a power play for one’s advantage? From which it follows that it is really true (!) that it is ultimately only things that overpower other things that can be said to exist – to be. This certainly puts a new spin on what Aristotle said about truth, namely that “to say that which is, is and that which is not is not, is true”! With this assumed, the best among us can only be those who take and lead leaps of faith into oceans, hoping that the evolving beliefs we think are “good” – and not just our genes – will be spread and passed on. Here, any classical notions of knowledge as “justified true belief” are banished, as whatever can function to win, if only temporarily, is all that remains for us to hope in. On the other hand, what if what we ultimately need is just such knowledge, and real wisdom, perhaps even involving a truth that even goes beyond “accuracy” – implying perhaps even a goodness that goes beyond our own subjective impressions?”

    https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/tcl/vol59/iss2/6/

    Ultimately, I think this is the kind of thing we need to be thinking hard about and challenging the world about — and also in the church: how it affects how we are seeing all of these critical questions about race.

    I believe that deception is occurring and the father of lies is having a field day with our culture right now. How conscious any of the deception is among the humans involved I don’t know… Many deceive others, I believe, without even being aware that they are doing it. This would be because they would also be deceiving themselves. After all, we suppress all kinds of knowledge of God, His creation, and its ways.

    +Nathan

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