I don't want to talk about Critical Race Theory. When it burst into the public view, I was quite content to ignore the controversy and just read my usual stuff, but it's inescapable. It's everywhere. Pastors you wouldn't expect are preaching these ideas from the pulpit. States are debating whether to require or forbid (those seem to be the only two options) teaching it in schools. It's become the basis for race-relations courses at many major corporations, something that usually signals it'll be everywhere soon. If something's rocking, not only society, but the church, we need to know about it.
But that's a good thing, right? Shouldn't we be talking about racism? Isn't it time we do something about it?
Absolutely. But not supporting CRT is NOT the same thing as not believing in racism or not addressing racism or any of the other things proponents will accuse you of if you don't support it. Part of the problem is that people have varying views of what CRT even is.
Some people will speak as if CRT is the cure for racism. Most advocates call it "an analytical tool for examining race." But it is indisputably a worldview. Critical theory would like to change how we view everything. Specifically, it says there is a racial element to everything.
That should be setting off alarm bells, but many surprising people are embracing it, so I decided to look into it. Is it as good as proponents say? Is it as toxic as some detractors say? Is it true?
I'm just beginning my journey on the topic, but I wanted to share some of the resources I've come across.
Kevin DeYoung has a very useful piece breaking down the four approaches to race and CRT we see in conservative churches. Some are contrite, broken-hearted over the church's past complicity in racial sins, and see CRT as a way for us to own up to our sins and make up for them. Some are compassionate, seeing the pain in the world and wanting to weep with those who weep and show the love of Christ to the hurting. Some are cautious, knowing that ours is an age that rushes to change and frequently over-corrects. And some are courageous, seeing this as another sign of the church's compromise with the spirit of the age. As he points out, most of the noise comes from the two extremes.
Applying these specifically to CRT, he says the contrite see CRT as "full of good insights," while the compassionate are content to "chew on the meat, spit out the bones." The careful see core concepts that are "deeply at odds with Christian conviction" but are disinclined to throw around lables. The courageous see it as "the church's path toward liberalism" (a danger that is not obvious until you hear someone like Voddie Baucham explain).
DeYoung applies these categories to several other issues of the day, and I recommend you read the whole article. The categories are useful, charitable ways to think about people who are supporting this movement. At this point in time, I would classify myself as careful, because some of the things I've learned deeply concern me, but I may go a step in either direction depending on what else I learn.
Below I will list some of the best introductory resources I've come across. For what I'm sure are obvious reasons, I prefer to stick to authors of a darker complexion than myself on this issue. If that is a concern of yours, then you can be at ease.
Here is a short video where Voddie Baucham explains what CRT is and what he sees as wrong with it. Voddie has been speaking on CRT for years, long before most of us heard of it. This is a great introduction.
Neil Shenvi has become a go-to resource on the topic for a lot of people. He has a page that collects a lot of resources, and his website has more on the topic.
Finally, Samuel Sey (whose whole site is good) has a section on Critical Race Theory that is well worth your time. It includes books reviews and recommendations for books from both camps. I particularly recommend his thoughts on why this is popping up in reformed churches.