Statement on Critical Race Theory

CCU Statement on Critical Race Theory

April 20, 2022

In Christ, our primary identity as redeemed image-bearers is restored.

Because Colorado Christian University is committed to the truth of Holy Scripture, we look at the issues of race and racism through the lens of a Christian worldview. Therefore, we view critical race theory (CRT) as an inadequate social theory with a fundamentally flawed foundation, diagnosis, and prescription for the human condition.

Critical race theory is a post-Civil Rights social philosophy, legal theory, and strategy for addressing racism and our changing society. Its underlying framework — critical theory — was formed as an attempt to understand human brokenness and oppression and to point a way toward liberation. It was formulated upon a neo-Marxist philosophy and worldview as developed by the Frankfurt School in Germany in the 1930s.

Critical theory is a master narrative that reduces human associations to relations of power. Adopting a neo-Marxist framework, one is either oppressed or an oppressor. Critical theorists go on to classify capitalism, "heteronormativity," Christianity etc., as forms of oppression that keeps oppressed groups in bondage. It aims to dismantle these norms in order to bring "true liberation."

Critical race theory (one outworking of critical theory) critiques society through the lens of racial oppression. It denies a biblical view of human nature and sees everything through racial categories. One is either a racist or a victim of racism. Selectively, it makes whiteness the foundation of evil. Being white and non-racist is impossible.

According to CRT advocates, the United States of America is a white supremacist society. They assert that an ethnic majority culture is automatically racist. They claim America is hopelessly racist and state that its true founding was in 1619 (when Europeans brought slaves to Virginia) and not in 1776. They falsely declare that the American Revolution took place for the purpose of preserving slavery, and often make the claim that racism is perpetuated by capitalism.

We at CCU do not believe that racism is the defining feature of Western society. Nor do we believe it is the defining feature of the American founding or that a free market economy is racist. We also take issue with the 1619 Project's central thesis and favor the rebuttal offered by Robert Woodson's 1776 Unites project.1

In saying this, we are not blind to America's racial sins and the blind spots of our nation's founders. We are very much aware of the sad legacy of chattel slavery, Jim Crow laws, debt servitude, black codes, lynchings, forced relocations and various race-based laws, urban policies, and local codes. We are aware of the effect of this history on the black family. We do not believe this history should be ignored.

We believe that America is not essentially nor uniquely racist. Racism afflicts all nations and people groups. We are thankful for the amazing progress made in overturning racially unjust laws to the point of African Americans rising to the highest ranks in government, business and law. While America is certainly not the New Jerusalem or the Kingdom of God, we are grateful for the way the prosperity and freedom of this great republic has impacted so many people, including people of color.

In making its extreme claims, CRT asserts that members of oppressed groups have special access to truth due to their lived experience of oppression. Whereas, everyone else, i.e. the oppressors, are thoroughly blinded by their privilege.

Arguments to the contrary and appeals to reason or objective evidence are actually, so it is claimed, white supremacist bids for power. Hence any disagreement with CRT is said to be racist. In other words, CRT denies the legitimacy of evidence to refute it. It is unfalsifiable, and hence anti-intellectual. This alone is reason to deny it a prominent place in the academy.

Building on this stance, CRT attacks the very foundation of the classical liberal legal order — which includes legal reasoning, equality theory, and supposed neutral principles of constitutional law.

Furthermore, CRT is opposed to the dominant social order and proposes dismantling the oppressive structures of Western society to "liberate" and bring revolutionary change.

CRT is often advanced through DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives where those seemingly benign words take on new meaning. Stripped from any biblical foundation, diversity becomes an absolute, the dominant concern of every agenda or discipline. Equity becomes, not equal dignity and equal opportunity, but equal outcomes promoting the redistribution of wealth. And inclusion is reframed by agendas that are at odds with biblical truth.

Sadly, the all too common outcome of CRT is that it reduces personal responsibility and fosters a victimhood culture, i.e. instilling into youth a victim mentality. It also creates a culture of non-resilience on university campuses, replete with safe spaces, micro aggressions and trigger warnings. In a strange twist of outcomes, since it absolutizes race, it actually fosters more racism and not less.

For these reasons, CRT fails as a master narrative. It sets forth a worldview that radically differs from a Christian worldview. We agree with African American pastor Tony Evans, in his book Kingdom Race Theology: God's Answer to Our Racial Crisis,2 that "race and racism cannot be the grid for determining theology." Rather, a biblical theology has to be the grid for evaluating CRT, and a Christian worldview significantly differs from the CRT narrative.

The Christian story is best set forth in a fourfold framework.
Creation

We are created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, all humans created by God in his image have intrinsic and equal dignity and worth. This transcends race or national origin. Taking issue with critical theory and CRT, we deny that all human interaction can be reduced to and understood merely in terms of power relations, class warfare or race.

Fall

All people are enslaved to sin, sit under the Creator’s just judgment, and need to be reconciled to God and one another. CRT advocates distort this and make racism the first sin, the only sin, and the defining sin. However, in the Bible, racism is not the first sin or the only sin. The first and defining sin is rebellion against God. From that one sin flows all other sins.

We readily affirm that racial injustice is real and is sinful and repugnant to God. The desire to oppress is wrong. Racism is a global sin and not unique to America or the Western world. The world has a long history of tribalism, slavery, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Members of any race can be racist, not just white people. Such racism can be individual or structural (i.e. embedded in systems). Its historical reality also leaves a legacy with lingering effects.

With CRT, there is little hope of liberation for the oppressed, no hope of redemption for the racist, and scant hope of healing the racial divide.

Redemption

Once again, the Bible's storyline differs from that of CRT. We are not left to hopelessness. Although human remedies will only take us so far, we need divine help and that is precisely what was offered when God sent Jesus into the world at his first coming. 1 Peter 3.18 tells us, "Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God." It is through his atoning death on the cross for our sins that we can find forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation. By faith in Christ we can be reconciled vertically with God, and horizontally with others.

Through union with Christ by faith we not only find a new standing with God, but in Christ we find a new standing with others. For "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3.28)

In Christ, our primary identity as redeemed image-bearers is restored. Thus we find no grounds to stereotype all members of any race or ethnicity. Through the gospel, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, God restores the beautiful global mosaic of humanity that he made to reflect his glory. Consequently, Christ-followers should build relationships across racial lines and work together to repair the damage done by past injustices.

Consummation

The final part of the biblical framework involves eschatological promise and hope. Christians proclaim in worship, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." This is our blessed hope. We await the return of the king who will restore all things and bring the true liberation that our hearts (and the hearts of critical theorists) long for. Final justice is coming. A new heaven and earth is coming. Gathered around his throne will be people "from every tribe and language and people and nation," a ransomed people for God, made into a kingdom of priests, who will reign on the earth with him forever. (Revelation 5.9-10).

A Christian worldview significantly differs from the popular, secular CRT narrative. Because of these distinct differences, CCU rejects and does not promote CRT or critical theory. We believe it is based on the fundamentally flawed (and spent) ideas of neo-Marxist thought, and that it actually leads to more racial division and not less. While we do not shy away from teaching about the shameful aspects of American history or inhibit discussions about race or racism in the classroom or on campus, and while we promote the freedom to discuss any theory, idea or worldview, we think there is a better way to understand race, define racism, and promote racial justice, i.e. through the gospel of Jesus Christ and a kingdom-based theology of righteousness and justice built upon the truth of the Bible.


1 https://woodsoncenter.org/how-we-help/1776-unites/
2 Kingdom Race Theology: God's Answer to Our Racial Crisis, Tony Evans, (Moody Publishers, Chicago), 2022.