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A Spreading Cancer??October 28, 2019
I have heard the stories far too many times. They never cease to be scary. The person says, “it all started as just a place on my skin that seemed to get bigger and darker, but I had no pain so I was not worried until a year later when it did not go away and got larger, and I found out it was cancer.” Is that what critical race theory and intersectionality is, or is it nothing, just a dark spot on the skin of our culture that may frustrate and irritate some, but it has no real potential for lasting impact. I want to spend some time writing for me. I may be the only one that reads what I write. That is ok. Writing helps me think through more fully what I am contemplating. And I have been contemplating the potentials of critical race theory and intersectionality since June of this year when the SBC passed the now infamous or famous resolution 9.
Here is the issue: is critical race theory and intersectionality an analytical tool that can be used objectively to assess who we are and where we are in becoming and being a more just society, or does it come with both clear philosophical presuppositions and subjectivity so that it becomes clearly biased as an analytical tool? Put simply, is it far more than an analytical tool? Does it constitute a world-view that must be known and put in place before it can be used in any sense as an analytical tool? This issue is of massive importance for all conservative evangelicals generally and for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the light of the passage of Resolution 9. And what seems to be the very clear conclusion of almost all who know the most about CRT and Intersectionality is that its use as an analytical tool is grounded, and must be; in the worldview from which it operates. This reality presents a real problem for the SBC.
Here is the problem put in the form of a question: if we believe and base who we are in our churches on the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura expressed for us more than adequately in our BFM 2000 statement of faith, why do we need any other assessment tools to help us to understand who we are and how we relate to one another? Our position should be clear. We are humans who are made in the image of God who because of our sin in Adam have so effaced that image that we stand in need of the restoration of both our relationship to God as our Father and in ourselves in terms of what it means to be fully human which comes to us in the grace of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, our identity as believers is that we are “in Christ.” This most favorite term of the apostle Paul carries with it both an individual and corporate component. We are made by the grace of God a child of God. We connect with other believers in the body of Christ or the church in which we do life together as the children of God. This is who we are. This is how we live in relationship to one another. We are new creations in Christ. He defines who we are. We are not defined essentially or primarily by our skin color, our ethnicity or any other aspect of our humanity.
This is where it gets a bit sticky. CRT as I understand it wants to remind us that we all come out of different ethnicities that often are expressed in and through different cultures. These cultures do not define us completely but we cannot define all that we are apart from them. I am a white male born in the south. That is a basic part of my identity. Thus, I read and receive all that I read and receive, including Scripture; as a white male born in the south. You can insert here whatever is your basic cultural identity by gender and region in which you live and you see some of the point. But my question is whether or not ethnic and racial and linguistic and social identities delimit and define how I read and receive whatever I read and receive anything, including Scripture? If this is true, then Scripture must be received and read in all kinds of different ways because we come from all kinds of backgrounds. What goes out of the house of faith then is any real and true understanding of inerrancy, infallibility or sufficiency. What comes into the house is individualism, multi-culturalism, liberalism and universalism. Does that disturb you? It does me. But is where all of the talk about CRT leads if its use as an analytical tool is driven by the very liberal worldview that seems to determine how the theory is used.
We can say that this “analytical tool” is subservient to Scripture but that only works for those who have a high or right view of Scripture as the inerrant, infallible and fully sufficient Word of God. But people who read and study Scripture from this perspective do not need CRT as an analytical tool. Those who need it are those who would come to Scripture with at best a compromised view of the absolute Truth of Holy Scripture. CRT may help us as a tool recognize some of the realities that we face in our culture, but the answer to those realities is not in its theories but in the absolute Truth of God which both assesses our human condition and gives us the answers.
I will stop there for now and pick it up right here next time.