What does CRT have to do with Christianity?

Isn’t it important to compare what Kendi teaches with what the Bible teaches?

The following is not mine; it is from Brian Overholt and is not copyrighted, so rather than restating it in my words, I have just copied it. You may find this summary helpful.

Anti-Biblical Elements of Critical Race Theory

Unbiblical View of Identity

CRT = The most important identity markers are race, sex, gender, sexual orientation. Do you belong to an oppressed class or an oppressor class?

Bible = All mankind are created with the image of God. (Gen 1:27)
There is no race, sex, or class within Christ (Gal. 3:28)
The only identity that really matters is whether you are in Christ (under grace), or in Adam (under sin). (1 Cor 15:22; Eph 1:7)

If we accept the Bible’s statements on identity, particularly in Galatians 3, then we must agree that our racial, sexual, and gender identities all are secondary to our primary identity in Christ.

Unbiblical View of Sin (partiality)

CRT = The only sin is the perpetuation of white supremacy through complicity within our racist culture. Only white people can be guilty of this sin, collectively, and this collective guilt remains unaffected by the cross of Christ.

Bible = There is no category for collective cultural racism in the Bible. Racism is merely one form of partiality, which is categorically condemned, whether it is directed at the privileged or unprivileged. (Lev 19:15; Gal 3:28; 1 Tim 5:21)

Furthermore, anyone from any group can be guilty of partiality, and this is a sin which is forgiven and paid for on the cross of Jesus Christ. If you were once a racist, you can be freed from bondage to that sin by Jesus, and by his spirit you can be sanctified and walk in newness of life without racism. (Eze 36:26-27; Rom 12:1-2)

Unbiblical View of Justice and Reconciliation

CRT = Justice requires retribution and a struggle to oppose dominant culture. Reconciliation will only be possible once that struggle has yielded a society without racial, sexual, or gender disparities.

Bible = The primary injustice in the world is not between men, but between man and God because of sin (Mark 7:21-23). All other injustices flow from that primary one. The sin problem of mankind has been solved on the cross of Jesus Christ (Rom 12:18-19) , and it is in him ultimate justice is found and all mankind is reconciled to God and each other.
(Eph 2:14-19; Gen 22:18; Matt 28:18-20; Rev 7:9-10)

Unbiblical View of Forgiveness

CRT = Forgiveness is a tool of white supremacy and to produce complacent minority citizens who will not challenge the status quo in the name of forgiveness. Pride and the willingness to fight are seen as more admirable traits. (Ill. Bell Hooks “Killing Rage”)

Bible = Forgiving those who have wronged us is not optional but commanded because of the forgiveness that Jesus has shown to us, and also because forgiveness frees us from the burden of offense. It is the chief characteristic of a spirit-filled person.
(Col 3:13; Eph 4:31-32; Rom 12:16-18)

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Evidently now opposing CRT is an issue bundled with things like opposing evolution and opposing climate science and has made it into Creationist faith statements like AIGs.

  • The concepts of “social justice,” “intersectionality,” and “critical race theory” as defined in modern terminology are anti-biblical and destructive to human flourishing (Ezekiel 18:1–20; James 2:8–9).
    This thread is open tentatively with the following expectations:
  1. Avoid negative characterizations of people affiliated with political parties.
  2. Avoid discussion of the “correct” Christian response to LGBTQ issues or what the Bible says or doesn’t say about gay, lesbian and transgender people.
  3. Follow the gracious dialogue guidelines and don’t jerks.

I guess my first question(s) would be what qualifications or prior experience of CRT does Overholt have? Does he provide footnotes for his definitions under each question? Does the article contain bibliography of sources that he used to compile the explainer?

I won’t lie, to provide Biblical references without providing references for his comments on CRT makes me instantly suspicious.

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Here is an accurate summary of what CRT actually is and why it has become controversial. In my experience, most Christians who are riled up about CRT are tilting at windmills and fighting strawmen. I fail to see any reason why Christians need to oppose the idea that race is a social construct, systemic racism affects our institutions and laws, and we should work for justice and equity for all.

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THanks for that article link, Christy. I’ve already forwarded that link to some others.

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Who is Brian Overholt and why should I care about what he thinks?

Good article, Christy. Most who deride CRT have no idea what it says. I don’t know why some have such a hard time realizing that laws and social institutions made by racially biased people reflect the views of the people who created them.

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The problem that I see with The Great Critical Race Theory Debate (TGCRTD) is that, like far too many other things these days, there is far too much of a tendency to adopt an all-or-nothing approach.

As I understand it, CRT does have some valid points to make. Historical racial injustices have left imbalances and systemic biases in society, in politics, in economics, in all sorts of things, and these do need to be redressed. One particular example is in facial recognition – these algorithms can have trouble recognising people from ethnic minorities if these minorities were under-represented in the training data they were given.

Having said that, I do get the impression that there are other aspects of CRT that are problematic. One particular thing I’d heard about it, for example (correct me if I’m wrong here) is that it rejects evidence-based approaches in favour of “storytelling” and the like.

I think that a sensible Christian approach to CRT would be to take those aspects of it that make valid points and that seek to redress systemic, deep-seated biases in society, while rejecting any aspects of it that may be unhelpful or harmful. But rejecting the whole lot is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

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Well if you must know,

Brian Overholt is the product of a Christian home, in which his father instilled a love for apologetics and the intellectual depth of the Christian faith from an early age. His passion for ministry began at 9 years old, volunteering to teach the gospel to preschoolers. Today Brian is the Worship and Communications Director for Lake Bible Church, where he also teaches and preaches on apologetics. He is the proud husband to Becky, who also leads worship with him, and together they have 4 children.

I think that’s there is a pretty big divide for how many Christians think about this world and how many of the users here think about the world.

You don’t need expertise you just need the Bible

On one hand it is perfectly natural for any Christian to speak as an authority on any topic if they’ve studied the Bible on the matter. They don’t need to know anything else really, so as long as they are getting their wisdom from the word of God.

  • economics? You don’t need a doctorate you need to study the principles in the book of Proverbs
  • science? You don’t need any relevant degrees to know that evolution is wrong because anyone who studies the Bible without bias will see that evolution is obviously wrong
  • same sex attraction? Gender dysphoria? You don’t need any background other than the Bible says God created them male and female and so on and so on.

So it’s perfectly natural for someone to have a strong Christian upbringing to share the wisdom of God on critical race theory despite having no background in legal or political theory. And plenty of people will be convinced by such arguments and impressed with such a godly background. Fascinatingly, people from this category sometimes even trust somebody less if they are an actual true expert in the relevant field.

But expertise is important, at least most people think so when they need brain surgery

But then on the other hand it turns out that other Christians think experts actually do matter in these fields and sometimes rather plain seeming biblical statements are maybe not the best way to read it (geocentrism I’m looking at you here). But such arguments are seemingly contrary to the spirit of the Evangelical world which gives you a Bible and says God will help you understand it. This latter category seems to say “well actually no you can’t understand it without having the relevant expertise or consulting the relevant theologians on the topic or integrating research from clinical psychology, etc.” And for people in the first group such an argument runs contrary to every fiber of their being and worldwide and is incredibly offensive. It’s not offensive just to them as individuals but they think it’s offensive to the word of God itself.

Can the real Brian Overholt stand up or does it even matter?

So at the end of the day for most people it doesn’t matter who Brian Overholt is, the arguments from the Bible stand alone and we should judge such arguments based upon their content and not who Brian Overholt is, right?

The short answer is it’s complicated. For example I’ve come across so many people who claimed to have solved problems of cosmology and even bring the Bible into their arguments on occasion. So why don’t we just let such persons arguments stand on their own? One problem is that there isn’t enough time in the world to demonstrate why your uncle’s friend has not indeed solved the mysteries of the universe but honestly has no idea what he’s talking about and isn’t actually worth listening to. Not all opinions are equal or even worth discussing… Unfortunately.

So while it does indeed sound nice to just let Overholt’s arguments stand on their own, it doesn’t seem to me that he has any relevant background to even begin discussing the complexities of CRT. Maybe he has some good ideas, or some biblical principles that are worth emphasizing, but I certainly wouldn’t just take his word for it that this is your perspective you should have without… understanding the actual experts first.

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Yes, is think is this a very sensible approach to take for Christian engagement in general, where one affirms and celebrates what is good whilst also drawing attention to possible errors. Much like positive deconstructionism.

And avoids the pendulum swings and definition by subtraction ('I’m not sure what I believe but I know it isn’t that!") which is so common in evangelicalism today.

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I wonder if it has to do with misunderstanding guilt.
We had a really good lecturer at work recently about inherent racism and expectations we have that put minorities and women down. The lecturer pointed out that it never works to address people immediately as condemning. Saying “You are racist,” especially when people by and large consciously try to be accommodating and kind, really puts their guard up. She pointed out, as in the Harvard study on implicit bias, that this is largely unintended, and we have to encourage good intent while changing views that we all have (minorities also possess implicit bias about themselves from culture, as shown on the tests).
By focusing on a positive bent–that inclusiveness of multiple points of view and backgrounds actually improves function of a team, rather than homogeneity–it became a positive exercise, rather than a guilt one.
The perception of unjust accusation is likely, I think, what sets people up for defensiveness. Ironically, it’s the resistance to that, that proves we value inclusiveness.
I remember reading a quote that “racism is common and forgivable,” once. It seems that having a bit more patience like this will help. Most of us really are willing to change and improve things.
I had 2 Black roommates in med school in Detroit, and ran into a lot of understanding and forgiveness in the community
Thanks.

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I don’t think that is quite right. I think it critiques bias in many of the studies that have been done to determine whether things are equitable or not. There has been proven bias in instruments that are used to measure intelligence, for example. So they are saying that people’s lived experience needs to matter because a lot of the “objective facts” are not as objective as they are made out to be and reflect the view from privileged social locations.

Agree. But at this point the whole endeavor has been so mischaracterized and oversimplified and so many things have been lumped under “CRT,” that the idea that the average lay-Christian is going to understand legitimate critiques is pretty hopeless. The well has been poisoned and the language around the whole topic has been appropriated and redefined by people with agendas.

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The latest issue of Scientific American includes this editorial:

Teaching about Racism Is Essential for Education
Lessons about racial injustice help students understand reality

An excerpt:

Elected officials who campaigned against critical race theory (CRT), the study of how social structures perpetuate racial inequality and injustice, are being sworn into office all over the U.S. These candidates captured voters’ attention by vilifying CRT, which has become a catch-all to describe any teaching about racial injustice. Lessons about the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, segregation and systemic racism would harm children, these candidates argued. Calling its inclusion divisive, some states have enacted legislation banning CRT from school curricula altogether.

What does the Integrate curriculum have to say about such things?

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So, basically, what exactly the term “Critical Race Theory” even means in the first place depends on who you’re talking to?

I came across this interesting take by Jerry Coyne on the subject:

After you work your way through Helen’s long piece, you realize that you simply cannot use “Critical Race Theory” unless you specify exactly what version you’re talking about. In fact, I’d say it’s best to ditch the phrase altogether and just discuss the claims.

So in other words, approach it the same way as I recommend approaching evolution: break it down, examine the different well-defined aspects of the subject, and address them individually in their own right.

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Thanks. Good guidelines to keep us on the rails.

So many here may disagree with AiG about origins. But I think we need to be careful about conflating AiG’s position on origins and their statement that you posted. We should assess it on its own merits.

For example, I recently downloaded on my kindle a sample of one of the primary documents on the 1619 Project. I wanted to see what tripe they were pushing. I read through the entire sample and was surprised, based on what others had written about the 1619 project. It gave me a good historical perspective. In that sample, there was nothing I disagreed with, and much that I found helpful. So even though I may reject their primary thesis that 1619 is the defining moment of American history, I can still appreciate much of what they have to say and learn from it.

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I wish more people would go to the primary sources like this.

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The Bereans were applauded for searching the scriptures to see if what the Apostle Paul taught them was consistent with the scriptures they had. That is what Overholtz has done with CRT–search the scriptures to see what is and is not consistent with biblical teaching. That is what every Christian should do with the ideas we are engaging with, and Overholt gives us a leg up on that for CRT.

If you want Overholt’s complete presentation, here is a link:

I just copied the last page of his presentation which I have on my computer. The rest is in chart form and doesn’t copy and paste well, so I don’t know how to share this. But what his presentation and that resource tells us that he actually did study the primary resources, and did an analysis that he shared with us.

On the first two pages, he references 6 different books–sources that most of us would agree are the primary sources on this issue and considered the most authoritative by many. So it seems he did his homework. It was also “peer reviewed” in the sense that before a person speaks on the monthly Friday Forum, the presentation is vetted by other qualified Christian apologists. Okay, let me presage this: there will be one or even several that argue that this kind of peer review is meaningless.

So here is the conundrum: There are a lot of important issues for each of us to try and understand. But if for us to have anything to say about an issue, each of us must read the primary sources on these issues, then we have not much we can say about much of anything.

So it seems that Overholt actually did study these primary sources, and put them together in a summary that can help others to understand these issues and compare them to biblical principles. I found it very helpful.

I think in this whole endeavor of trying to figure out “what the Bible says about CRT” we need to remember that race as the construct we know came out of the colonial expansion of Western European countries in the seventeenth century. It is inherently tied to the conquering and plundering and enslavement of Indigenous groups and to the chattel slave trade in Africa. The Bible doesn’t speak directly to this social/cultural reality. Whatever insights we can gain from Jew/Gentile conflicts, or the way the Bible speaks about ethnicities, or societal sin, the applications we make to race in America (or elsewhere with colonial and slavery histories) are extrapolations and analogies. The Bible doesn’t talk about race the way we use race today because it wasn’t a thing then.

I get annoyed when people are like “this analysis of history isn’t biblical” because it doesn’t use the same categories as people in Bible times did to understand their social situation. Well, maybe different historical developments demand new categories, that doesn’t make them wrong.

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I think you help demonstrate the first category of people I described very well. That is, expertise is meaningless on any topic which the Bible can be made to apply. You don’t need any education or experience doing academic work in the relevant fields, you can just simply sit down and…

That seems impressive to engage such literature like that and it gives one an air of authority. But referencing academic sources does not mean you either a) understand them or b) are fairly representing them. I’ve seen far too many examples of people taking little blips of papers out of context when the actual source itself sometimes even refutes them literally the sentence after. And so who really goes through and judges Overholt’s academic work? Qualified and relevant experts?

Again it is clear how something like that seems impressive to people in this first category, but I’m not so convinced anyone there has any relevant expertise to critique his ideas or judge his work. It’s at least good that other humans supposedly critiqued or offered feedback to him before he presented it but we don’t really know any details. Arguably apologetics is a craft that consists of DIY researchers to have this belief that they are definitely qualified and capable to understand any topic and synthesize or refute it with Christianity.

Maybe all of these apologists are on to something, but maybe not. How could we ever tell? Just assume this group of apologists is our best chance of understanding?

I would imagine that you did, but that’s in part because you approach the world the same way as Overholt. I however no longer think that’s a great way to approach any topic. I don’t think the best way to figure out a complex social topic is have a bunch of people who none of them have actual expertise in the area sit down and think they can figure it out cuz they’re real smart. It’s not that you need to be an expert to understand things but I don’t put much stock anymore in someone whose main expertise comes from the University of Google… even if they seem to be a good Berean.

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The problem is, you can take bad ideas, even racism and slavery, and make a “biblical case” to justify them.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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