7 thoughts on “Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 6

  1. Nathan A. Rinne September 10, 2019 / 11:12 am


    Some thoughts here which I hope are constructive, appreciated.

    “I’m still open to beginning a discussion on CT and evangelicalism, but we’d have to shift to ideas like social pathology, historical immanence/dialectic, social constructivism/anti-essentialism, and social change as rational/critical participation.”

    I for one, would like to see that, though I can understand why many (even me, I confess) might wonder how necessary that really is at this point. What do I mean? Read on…

    “Why the dogged commitment to his fourfold construction?”

    I suspect that it is because *as this plays out on the ground* — or at least as it plays out on the ground in terms of what gets people’s attention and gets talked about — that fourfold construction seems remarkably accurate and to many, doesn’t look like an oversimplification or unfair characterization. The importance of that cannot be underestimated. Those things seem to many (even many who subscribe to these ideas in the more popular sense?) *as if they really are the core*, even if some of those practicing “KT” don’t recognize that as the core.

    Just to put things in some context here… Dr. Shenvi said this was what he saw as constituting CT/KT:

    “1) divides society into oppressed and oppressor groups, 2) sees the imposition of dominant-group values as a form of oppression, 3) seeks to dismantle the norms and structures which subjugate oppressed groups, and 4) insists that oppressed groups have special access to truth.”

    Something I notice about his construction is that these are all positive attributes (not in the terms of these being good, but in terms of them being things that describe something that is active) the phenomenon he is attempting to describe as he and others see and experience it. Because of this *positivity* this happens quite readily.

    Now, on the contrary, let’s look at your fourfold construction of kinism/qinism:

    1. Society is not divided into dominant, oppressor groups and subordinate, oppressed groups along lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, gender identity, etc.
    2. Oppression is to be defined in terms of violence.
    3. We should not expose and dismantle the values and structures of dominant groups.
    4. ‘Social location’ has little to do with access to truth.

    Notice that all of these points are either negatives statements (1,4), or statements about what we should not do (3), or statements about things that do not characterize kinism (2). This seems markedly different to me than what Dr. Shenvi has done.

    Could you offer a fourfold construction that gives attributes of kinism/qinism that describe how this phenomenon *is active in the world* and can thereby be more readily identified and/or experienced?

    I am not saying that you can’t. And then, I think your point would be stronger… As it stands now, I think you are saying (my own words here) “just because kinism has these active characteristics that we can readily observe in the world doesn’t mean that everything that looks like these really is kinism…”, but many folks are going to have the stumbling block I’ve had.

    “Biblically speaking, it is immoral to structure societies to distribute advantages/disadvantages according to whatever group identities a society happens to cobble together.”

    We know from world history that new ethnic identities have formed, and with them, new cultures. Are you saying it is wrong for these ethnic and cultural groups to try basically maintain what they have in terms of identity and way of life? If so, why would that be wrong? I don’t see how I can understand your words in a different way, but perhaps I am missing something?

    I don’t think *that* is kinism…



Leave a Reply to Nathan A. Rinne Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s