Pastor John MacArthur on the Wickedness of Critical Theory


We all acknowledge that racism exists and that it is a manifestation of the sin of partiality which the Bible directly condemns (James 2:9). The racism of CRT is very different. In case you are not familiar with CRT, it is the vicious, pernicious, and virulent brand of identity politics that results when neo-Marxist social philosophy is blended with postmodern theory. The CRT credo includes the following poisonous doctrines:

“Racism” is unconquerable and ubiquitous; it is the singular evil that underlies virtually everything wrong with our culture. It is “the stain that will never be removed.”

“Systemic racism” and “unconscious bias” are built into the current structure of western society. This cannot be remedied apart from the wholesale dismantling and restructuring of political mechanisms, economic policies, moral standards, and other social norms.

White people are members of the world’s most privileged ethnic group. “White privilege” is not only one of the main proofs of systemic racism; it is also a subtle but sinister injustice to other people groups.

The term racism describes a uniquely white pathology. Members of less privileged ethnic groups are victims, not perpetrators, of social injustice — and it is therefore legitimate for them to retaliate with retributive violence or expressions of ethnic contempt. This is not “racism,” but an appropriate response to the oppression they suffer.

“White supremacy so permeates our institutions, policies, practices, and ways of knowing that it is nearly impossible to think outside it.” It is full-on “racial terrorism.”

All white people are racists, whether they want to be or not.

“Whiteness” is therefore an evil that must be confessed and repudiated, but without any guarantee of forgiveness.

Members of privileged ethnic groups who deny being racists are guilty of perpetuating racism.

That is by no means an exhaustive list of CRT dogmas, but those are enough to explain why after nearly a decade of relentless indoctrination in this system, the result has been an explosion of ethnic animosity and civic unrest. This is a worldview that deliberately foments and feeds on resentment, strife, hatred, and division.

CRT is, as our [President Trump said], a sickness. It is a ruthlessly cynical, divisive, pessimistic, misanthropic, sociological cancer. It is the greatest danger our nation currently faces, but no national leader has stood up to halt its spread until now.

In short, the doctrines of CRT are dangerous to society’s well-being. But more, they are unsound and unbiblical — and utterly incompatible with authentic Christianity. CRT diverts attention from the real problem with the human race: all are sinful and under divine judgment. It removes the centrality of Christ and the cross. It turns the hearts and minds of Christians from things above to things on this earth. It obscures the promise of forgiveness for hopeless sinners by telling people they are hapless victims of other people’s misdeeds. It is devoid of love.

Christians are the last people who should ever become offended, resentful, envious, or unforgiving. Love “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The mark of a Christian is turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, praying for those who mistreat us. Christ is the example whose steps we are to follow: “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

Hatred, envy, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, hostility, divisiveness, bitterness, pride, selfishness, hard feelings, vindictiveness — and all similar attitudes of resentment — are the self-destructive works of the flesh. The beneficial fruit the Holy Spirit produces are the exact opposite attitudes: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” The NIV translates 1 Corinthians 13:5 this way: “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.”

Such qualities, frankly, directly contradict the core principles of CRT.

In spite of all that, over the past few years, CRT has aggressively made itself at home in the evangelical community. How, you might ask, is that possible? Don’t they have more discernment than Trump?

Apparently not.

The besetting sin of pragmatic, style-conscious evangelicals has always been that they shamelessly borrow fads and talking points from the unbelieving world. Today’s evangelicals evidently don’t believe “the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). Virtually any theory, ideology, or amusement that captures the fancy of secular pop culture will be adopted, slightly adapted, perhaps cloaked in spiritual-sounding language, propped up with specious proof texts, and peddled as an issue that is vital for evangelicals to embrace — because, after all, we don’t want to be perceived as totally irrelevant.

That’s precisely how evangelicals in the mid-twentieth century became obsessed for several decades with positive thinking, self-esteem, and psychotherapeutic methodologies. After that, it was marketing savvy and promotional strategies. By the beginning of the twenty-first century it was postmodernism, repackaged and aggressively promoting itself as the Emerging Church Movement.

Today, critical race theory, feminism, “toxic masculinity,” intersectional theory, LGBT advocacy, progressive immigration policies, animal rights, and other left-wing political causes are all actively vying for evangelical acceptance under the rubric of “social justice.” Evangelical leaders are beginning to employ the same rhetoric and rationale of victimhood versus oppression that is relentlessly employed by secularists who advocate for all kinds of deviant lifestyles and ideologies. It is a worse form of “worldliness” than Christians in earlier generations ever contemplated.

Indeed, as social justice rhetoric has gained currency among evangelicals, just about every cause that is deemed politically correct in the secular world has found a foothold among evangelicals. CRT is one of those causes. It would be folly to pretend CRT and the social justice movement pose no threat whatsoever to evangelical conviction.

Nevertheless in 2019, the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest conservative evangelical denomination, passed Resolution 9, formally commending CRT as a useful “set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society.” Baptist seminaries now feature courses and seminars indoctrinating students with CRT principles.

Key leaders throughout the evangelical movement have begun preaching doctrines and using rhetoric borrowed directly from the catalogues of CRT literature. Some of the largest Christian conferences of the past half-decade have been narrowly focused on race and social justice, and the message being sent is heavily influenced by the ideology of CRT. Viewpoints and vocabulary like “white privilege” and “systemic racism” have literally been added to the liturgy or adopted as articles of faith in some evangelical organizations. Some even subject their Christian employees to CRT-inspired training seminars exactly like the ones correctly labeled “divisive, false, and demeaning” by the White House.

James Lindsay is an author and mathematics scholar who gained fame by helping expose the fraudulent nature of “grievance studies.” He is an atheist who describes himself as politically liberal. But he is also an articulate critic of countless absurdities and falsehoods that emerge out of postmodern theory. Speaking to evangelicals in particular, he warns that CRT is a Trojan horse, smuggling ideas into the movement that will undermine and eventually eliminate core biblical values and doctrines. He is absolutely right about that.

So how do James Lindsay and President Trump have the clarity and courage to expose CRT for what it is, while so many pastors and church leaders continue to dabble in such a destructive and obviously divisive worldview? This is one of those instances where “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8). Though Christians are often pictured as sheep in Scripture, we are not supposed to cultivate the artless dim-wittedness that is characteristic of such animals. Rather, Jesus said, “Be shrewd as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).

Never has the church of Jesus Christ been more desperately in need of bold, courageous, clear-thinking, forthright, steadfast biblical leadership. As refreshing as it is to see a shift at the government level away from the deliberate dissemination of CRT propaganda, this urgently needs to happen in the church too.

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