While much more could be said about cautions regarding CRT, I must bring this to a close. I want to conclude by making a final point about CRT. Part of CRT’s allure, seduction even, is that it listens to Black people and all people of color and takes into full account their racial pain. My dear friend, William “Duce” Branch (aka the The Ambassador) is quick to make this point. He’s also keen to emphasize the Church’s responsibility in this. Among other things, this is an indictment of the Church, specifically White spaces in the Church. Racism is an abomination to God. It should not even be named among God’s people. Yet much of the professing White church, throughout its history in the U.S., has been marked by either active engagement in racism, looking the other way, or acting as if it is no longer a concern. Moreover, as historian and theologian, Esau McCaulley, points out regarding historical Evangelicalism, “apexes of theological faithfulness coincided with nadirs of Black freedom” (Reading While Black, p. 11). Let that sink in.
To be sure this means that impenitent, tyrannical enslavers (1 Timothy 1:10) who named the name of Christ had a form of godliness but without its power (2 Timothy 3:5). For more than a few, the “lawlessness” that Christ refers to in Matthew 7:23 is racism. I have little doubt that the brutal slaveholder, as well as the fervent Jim Crow champion, who professed to know Christ, was damningly self-deceived and is suffering under God’s wrath at this present moment. I personally can’t make a biblical case for their salvation. The book of 1 John alone and its sobering analysis regarding love and hate towards fellow brothers and sisters and what that means concerning salvation is a hurdle too high, not to mention numerous other texts and passages.
Nevertheless, this also means that those of us who are actual Christians, who are white, need to take stock. We should take no comfort or any praise for never owning slaves or not approving of Jim Crow laws. Such protests are often (not always) cover for being content with more subtle forms of racism. Inasmuch as we are personally guilty in failing to love our fellow human beings of color and our fellow Christians of color as providence would dictate when it comes to listening and responding to their racial pain, fighting against racism (within and without), and seeking to correct the injustices against them, we need to repent.
While a robust embracement of CRT is incompatible with biblical Christianity and will ultimately exacerbate racial division, and while it is a genuine threat to the Church and certainly not a red herring or mere distraction, we must acknowledge that it addresses a real and present concern in racism – a horrendous evil – that must be challenged and rebuked on every front. May we as God’s people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9) love each other deeply (1 John 4:7-12), relish and promote our oneness (John 17:21), and bring our future (Revelation 7:9-10) into the NOW.
The references for Dr. Pat Sawyer’s series start just after the links to the larger series discussion on Critical Race Theory. Read Dr. Sawyer’s other articles in this series here:
Read the entire series here.
Read the Complete Critical Race Theory Series
Part 1: Framing Critical Race Theory
1) Dyches J. & Thomas D. (2020) Unsettling the “White Savior” Narrative: Reading Huck Finn through a Critical Race Theory/Critical Whiteness Studies Lens. English Education, 53(1):35-53.
2) McCaulley, E. (2020). Reading While Black. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
3) Dixson, A.D. (2018). “What’s Going On?”: A Critical Race Theory Perspective on Black Lives Matter and Activism in Education. Urban Education, 53(2), 231-247.
4) Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York, NY: NYU Press.
5) Annamma, S. (2015). Whiteness as Property: Innocence and Ability in Teacher Education. Urban Review, 47(2), 293–316
6) Brown, K. & Jackson, D.D. (2013). The History and Conceptual Elements of Critical Race Theory. In M. Lynn & A.D. Dixson (Eds.), Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education (pp. 9-22). New York, NY: Routledge.
7) Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2013). Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
8) Kumasi, K.D. (2011). Critical Race Theory and Education: Mapping a Legacy of Activism and Scholarship. In B. A. U. Levinson, J. P. K. Gross, C. Hanks, J. H. Dadds, K. D. Kumasi, J. Link, & D. Metro-Roland (Eds.), Beyond critique: Exploring critical social theories and education (pp. 196-219). Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
9) Abrams L.S. & Moio J.A. (2009). Critical Race Theory and the Cultural Competence Dilemma in Social Work Education. Journal of Social Work Education, 45(2):245-261.
10) Harper, S.R., Patton, L.D., & Wooden, O.S. (2009). Access and Equity for African American Students in Higher Education: A Critical Race Historical Analysis of Policy Efforts. Journal of Higher Education, 80(4), 389-414.
11) Lynn M. & Adams M. (2002) Introductory Overview to the Special Issue Critical Race Theory and Education: Recent Developments in the Field. Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(2):87-92.
12) Ladson-Billings, G. (1998). Just What is Critical Race Theory and What’s It Doing in a Nice Field Like Education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1), 7-24
13) Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas K. (Eds.). (1996). Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. New York, NY: The New Press.
14) Matsuda, MJ., Lawrence, C.R., Delgado, R., & Crenshaw, K.W. (1993). Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment. New York, NY: Routledge.
15) Bell, D. (1992). Faces at the Bottom of the Well. New York, NY: Basic Books.