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A Spreading Cancer— Part IIOctober 30, 2019
I want to continue my self-talk concerning Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Intersectionality. Listen in as you wish and help me to learn better what it is all about. I want to two things in this second of three posts on this issue. I want to offer my own definitions of the terms born out of what I have read and heard from those who seem to know the topic, and I want to use an analogy that is all too familiar to Southern Baptists. I begin with definitions.
CRT is the view that so much of what we believe even about what the Bible teaches is shaped by a majority culture. That majority culture is male, Anglo, gender clear as defined by biology, heterosexual, and productive in the work force. What the majority culture has established as meaning in the culture has been in place for so long that nobody questions it, until now. CRT is all about interpreting texts of all kinds from the perspectives of other identities with the awareness that these other identities could in fact bring different meanings. It is a way of reading texts and looking at life that makes a post-modernist happy. CRT would have us to believe that meaning is shaped by those who read and examine texts so that the truth of a particular text is found in the one interpreting the text and not in the text itself. It means that I as a member of the majority culture could read the Harry Potter novels as I have done and someone of a minority culture could read them and our cultural backgrounds could cause us to arrive at entirely different meanings. This would mean at the end of the day that each cultural or ethnic or whatever label is used category brings its own heritage and current station in life to the issues of meaning and understanding as they come through texts. The end result is that no text is ever absolute and interpretations are always fluid at best. It means that no one interpretation of any text could ever be presented as more accurate than another.
This approach when believed and put into practice leads to the conviction that institutions that deal with texts of any kind and their interpretation must have those in the institution working in those areas coming from all kinds of backgrounds. Intersectionality simply means that the further removed that a person is from the majority culture, the more voice they should have and their voice should be heard as stronger than others. This means that a Hispanic woman who is gender conflicted and homosexual should have a greater and more powerful voice in conversations about meaning as found in texts than others would have. The word that is being used to broker CRT and intersectionality as must do mandates is the word “equity.” Whatever else it means, it does not mean equality of voice or vote in matters of any kind of real and lasting significance.
Go back with me now to the later fifties and early sixties in the life of the SBC. Higher Criticism or the historical-critical method was just beginning to make its way into many of our seminaries and state colleges. We had been employing before then in our approach to the Bible the basic tools of textual criticism and historical-grammatical criticism. They were called the lower criticisms. Textual criticism was used to establish from Greek and Hebrew manuscripts the best readings of a given passage. Historical-Grammatical criticism looked at he use of words and concepts in their historical, literary, and canonical contexts. Higher Criticism, however, born in Germany and brought through Great Britain to America was a way of reading texts that treated the texts as human creations using various forms and methods that were prevalent in the ancient world so that the texts were seen mostly as products of human creativity with a core principle that was reduced to the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all mankind. Nobody thought much of it when these “analytical tools” were first introduced into our seminaries. They were seen as assessment tools to help us hear more clearly the voice of God. But there was behind them a worldview that denied the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of Scripture. Too many of us know all too well that what was first seen as an analytical tool was actually driven by a worldview whose intent was to destroy the veracity and the integrity of the Bible. What looked like just a little spot on the skin of our seminaries and colleges turned out to be a spreading cancer that almost killed us.
Is that what we are facing in CRT and intersectionality? Or is it just a small spot on our body about which we should have no concern. We should watch it, monitor it, pay attention to it, but do nothing about it right now. Is that the approach that we should be taking? I want to think through that more in the next post.