What Is Critical Theory?
Critical theory is an insidious ideology that has been embraced by left-leaning politics, media, education and religion. It is an umbrella for such concepts as social justice, multiculturalism, white privilege, institutional racism, wealth distribution, gender inequality, identity politics, etc. It displays itself along political lines, social lines, academic lines, and religious lines. It is most pronounced today in the partisan political battles between left and right. The modern ultra-progressive movement has embraced all the concepts and language of critical theory.
Critical Theory Concepts
Sometimes Disguised In
Comfortable and Familiar Environments
But this ideology is rooted in Karl Marx’s writings about power being possessed by the elite few. These power structures must be criticized (critical theory) and torn down to make equality for all so as to make all people free. It was developed by a group of sociologists in Germany who referred to themselves as the Frankfurt School. How should Christians view this ideology and does it line up with the Bible?
Misrepresentations of a Critical Theorist
Critical theorists are driven by the desire to transform reality by liberating oppressed groups from the values, norms, systems, and structures which oppress them. Individual identity is inseparable from group identity. Our identity as an individual depends on whether or not we are part of an “oppressed group” or an “oppressor group.” This is determined by gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality. For example, all men are part of a dominant, oppressor group, and all women are members of a subordinate, and consequently oppressed, group. In our culture, blacks, immigrants, the poor and LGBTQ+ community are the oppressed groups while whites, Americans, the wealthy and Bible-believing Christians are the oppressors.
Redemption For the Oppressor
According to modern critical theory our primary duty as human beings is to work for the liberation of oppressed groups. Those who are oppressors are primarily expected to listen, learn, express contrition, and follow direction. They only way an oppressor can make right all his wrongs is to engage in daily acts of penitence, acknowledge their privilege, actively reject that privilege, educating themselves about oppression, unite with oppressed groups, tweet about the right causes, join the right protests, like the right comments, support the right political candidates, etc. This is the only pathway of salvation for the oppressor.
The Critical Theory Contradiction
But even from a secular perspective the basic assumptions of critical theory are false. Our society is a democratic republic where anyone can rise and fall based on their efforts, not based on oppressive structures. That is not to say that injustice does not occur, it certainly does, but America is the place where you can achieve anything no matter who you are. More importantly, critical theory is antithetical to Christianity. The foundation of critical theory is faulty from square one. People are not and should not be identified by groups.
We Are Made In The Image of God
People are made in the image of God and are individuals with unique individual identities (Genesis 1:26). We all belong to the human race and God is no respecter of persons (Acts 17:26). Oppression is the original sin of critical theory, but the Bible says that Adam’s transgression is the original sin (Romans 5:12). Critical theory says, salvation is standing with the right groups and promoting the right causes. But the Bible says that salvation is having our sins paid for by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Peter 2:24). To critical theory the goal in life is to liberate the oppressed to make a real difference in society. But the Bible speaks of liberation from sin, death and hell (John 3:16; 5:24). We have the charter of freedom in Christ not in human ideology (John 8:32). To critical theory, advancement comes through political, social and religious revolution (as they define it), as oppressed groups get their rightful place in society. But the Bible speaks of advancement through the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33; Acts 1:8). When we seek righteousness as defined by the Bible not only do we please God, but others are affected for the better (Matthew 5:13). The role of the church is not to play around with false ideologies like this, but to preach the everlasting Gospel and make disciples that will impact the world for Christ.