By Marsha Orbke
The words “Justice,” “Equity,” and “Diversity have been increasingly used in recent years. You may have heard them in the media, but they’re commonly referenced in our schools, in our government, in everyday conversations, and even in our churches. Nothing is wrong with these words, but as John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview states, “It’s no good having the same vocabulary if we’re using different dictionaries.”
Our words really do matter because they shape our ideas that we hold true and frame our very belief systems. Therefore, when words like justice, equity, diversity, or even words defining what is racist or not, are prominent in our society (as they are right now), we need to know how these words are being defined in our current culture.
This article will define some of the terms surrounding the popular ideology called Critical Race Theory (CRT). If we are going to either advocate in any way or fight battles in our culture, we need to first be armed with the right information and must not assume that because a word is familiar, it shares the same definition that we have always known.
Before reviewing the following definitions, I recommend reading the previous article from Nick Judd on the origins of Critical Theory for an overall grounding on the subject.
Critical Race Theory:
Here is a definition from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
CRT is an intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.
From the surface that definition may not sound too bad. It may even champion things that Christians already advocate for like justice, racial equality, and human dignity. When looking from the outside in, this appears to be a worthy movement. Therefore, many people, especially Christians, want to link arms with these organizations which seem to align biblically on the surface. Unfortunately, beneath the surface, many of these organizations are extremely hostile to the Christian worldview.
As author, Scott David Allen states in his book, Why Social Justice is not Biblical Justice, “Christians committed to a biblical worldview should reject the redefinition of racism popularized by critical race theory, namely, prejudice plus power that only applies to white people.”
This type of racism defines a group rather than an individual. It does not look at the person, whether that individual is racist or not, it calls out an entire group, namely white persons, and claims all white people are inherently racist no matter the true heart or actions of the individual. Ironically, by assigning racism to the many who aren’t personally racist, it minimizes the guilt of the few who are.
More Terms Defined:
Intersectionality is the driving force that advocates see as dividing victims and oppressors. Intersectionalists define oppressors as any person who simply holds a positional level of power. That definition is contrary to the biblical use of that term, which incorporates an oppressor’s positional power and purposeful evil done to others (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3). Intersectionality scales “oppressed” groups on how marginalized they appear to be, or on degrees of perceived victimhood. With intersectionality, being a victim is, in itself, considered virtue.
For example: a black lesbian is labeled as more oppressed than a heterosexual white female, and even more so than a white Christian male who is married, has a job and is well-educated. Such a person would be so high on the oppressor scale, their contribution to any conversation would hold little to no value given that victimhood equals virtue in this philosophy.
In this intersectionality mindset, all truth becomes subjective. The “story” of the most oppressed person holds the most value and experience. Intersectionality denies the existence of absolute truth (what God teaches).
Finally, there is no grace or forgiveness in this concept. They see a person is being ultimately defined by unchangeable elements such as skin color, with inherent, implicit guilt based simply on biology. Intersectional appeasement through the admission of guilt is demanded, but those admissions are often ever-moving goalposts. We, as Christians need to ask ourselves, is this what the Bible teaches?
Whiteness, White Privilege, White Supremacy, White Fragility
“Whiteness” is characterized as an evil or something similar to “original sin.” This is the same with “white privilege.” White supremacy is viewed as someone of the lighter skin tone having a superiority over other people with darker skin tones. In CRT, it is being taught that white people need to be “woke to” their inherent racism / privilege and to hate their whiteness. White people are told to never defend their “whiteness”, because this would show clearly their “white fragility.” White fragility is said to be when a white person has feelings or behaviors when matters of race come up. These feelings are negative feelings like defensiveness, hostility, or anger. Popular critical race theorist, Robin DiAngelo, has written a very controversial book called, White Fragility, which is being read in many schools to children. Anyone who disagrees with books like these is painted into a corner, as verbalizing disagreement only further evidences a person’s inherent racism and white fragility.
Equality Vs Equity:
Equality is a term with deep American roots and is a Biblical idea, but the social justice meaning is quite different from the historic meaning of the word. In America, equality has always focused on the equal rights of an individual. In Biblical Terms, the Bible expresses that all humans are born in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which means all people everywhere, no matter what, have equal worth and God-given rights.
Equity is disguised as “equality” in the culture of social justice, and is a Marxist ideology centered on groups, not individuals, and demands comparable outcomes. It focuses on equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. It says all groups of people must be the same. This is ironic, considering the same philosophy rightly champions diversity. It seeks to create “sameness” out of diverse groups, therefore, losing their diversity.
We can see similar instances where this has happened in the past. These goals were seen in the communism of the Soviet Union and China. In these places, people were made to dress, act, and think the same upon the threat of death. True diversity was completely absent! There were no freedoms to the individual.
Being Woke or Wokeness:
Historically, the word woke has meant someone waking up from sleep. This is a prime example of how language constantly changes, so we must not only look at terms, but interpretations of those terms during a particular time or culture that it is being used.
Right now, being “woke” means that you are waking up to being conscious of racial injustices/social justice. You are admitting personal responsibility for being part of an oppressor group that maintains a system where some have less power or means than others. This whole idea of being “woke” is either you are either woke or asleep. There is no middle ground.
Biblical Justice Vs. Social Justice
The word “Justice” is being widely misunderstood right now.
Most people, especially Christians, hear the word “justice” and quickly get on board with whatever is being thrown to them. We all innately want justice instead of injustice, but what is defining justice right now?
Social Justice: Fair treatment of all people in a society, including respect for the rights of minorities and equitable distribution of resources among members of a community (Dictionary.com) or (Google.com) justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
Essentially, it is what many would call socialism, referencing the redistribution of wealth / resources. It is taking down or deconstructing all traditional systems that certain groups deem to be oppressive, and then redistributing those resources to those that certain groups deem to be the oppressed. Of course, this is all in for the quest of ultimate equality of outcome. Consequently, we must ask who are these “certain groups” who get to orchestrate all the deconstructing and redistributing?
Biblical Justice: This is based on God’s moral standard. Unlike social justice, biblical justice is the “authentic justice,” whereas social justice is a false sense of justice and can be an “illegitimate way for governments to promote redistribution of wealth & expansion of civil government”, the justice of the Bible actually protects individuals from this very thing.
Biblical justice seeks to protect individual liberty while promoting personal responsibility. It is essential for a free world. In order to understand true justice, we must go to God’s Word. God condemns injustice and promotes rightful justice, while protecting liberties for all. John MacArthur (pastor of Grace Community Church) says, “Those who let the culture, a political ideology, popular opinion, or any other extra-biblical source define ‘justice’ for them will soon find that Scripture opposes them. If they are determined to retain a perverted idea of justice, they will therefore have to oppose Scripture.”
We all know racism is a serious problem that must be confronted. We, the church and followers of Jesus Christ are bound to fight against racism in all forms, since we all equally are image-bearers of God.
We must first ask the question? What is racism? Racism is the sin of partiality described in James 2, with that partiality being rooted in an individual’s race. We will never “solve” the problem, as partiality and racism resurface with each new generation born under the curse of sin. We should certainly reject racism, (especially not allowing for it in our policies) but definitions are important.
Racism is a problem just like theft, murder, rape, and any other unjust treament of another human being. Part of our culture’s problem is that we have elevated it to the ultimate problem right now, and that itself is problematic.
We must be aware of the new definitions used by advocates of CRT and intersectionality to avoid confusion with the historic and biblical uses of those terms. In any discussion, it is vital to ensure we hold a common understanding of the terms used. Christians should always be ready to ask “What do you mean by…?” as we share biblical wisdom and respond to unbiblical ideologies.