Understanding Critical Race Theory is Part of A Worldview
Conversations around subjects like Critical Race Theory have blown up the news cycles over the last couple of years. Personally, I have made no bones about the fact that I am staunchly opposed to CRT. That being said, one aspect which is important to remember in this conversation is that CRT is simply one part of a broader belief system known as Critical Theory, which really is a viewpoint steeped in Marxist thought. Recently, I have been reading through Dr. James Lindsay’s book Race Marxism which makes this point. When talking about his goals for what readers take away from the book, he hopes they will understand the truth “that Critical Race Theory is a totalizing belief system based upon a particular and poisonous worldview. This belief system is totalizing because it sees everything in society in this way and regards every other attempt to interpret society as part of the system that it is inherently against.”1
I want you to specifically notice that he describes CRT as being based upon a specific worldview. That reality is important, the Critical Theorists do not just have a specific manner by which they view race, but also all of life. In other words, their system of thought presents an all-of-life worldview. It has beliefs (certainly false ones) about gender, politics, family, the purpose of humanity, the education of children, and everything else. There is a definitive goal in mind, and Critical Theorists keep pressing towards that goal with a totalizing belief system. If you agree with them, then you are viewed as on the right side of history, but if you disagree, then you are called an evil oppressor seeking to only perpetuate issues in our society. It is a complete worldview . . . and that is specifically where we as Christians must maintain absolute clarity.
Seeing The Field of Worldview
So often when I have conversations with individuals about CRT, especially young people, they believe we can learn from this particular system about race, and specifically systemic racism. Systemic racism is an idea that our institutions and societies oppress individuals of color, as evidenced by disparities in outcomes.2 For example, differences in housing, incomes, education levels, and so forth are all viewed as being exclusively attributed to systemic racism. James Lindsay comments on this aspect and says:
“If the group labeled “whites” outperforms any other racial group, for instance, that’s said to be caused by white supremacy and systemic racism that Critical Race Theory needs to find by “interrogating” the relevant system. On the other hand, if any racial group outperforms whites on average, that fact is irrelevant unless it also outperforms some other racial group that is not considered white, at which point it is the result of that group buying into white supremacy in a way that only Critical Race Theory could believe.”3
So, young people will buy this idea of systemic racism, thinking they can accept that and no other component of this worldview. Often they believe that all the term systemic racism means is that societies and institutions can engage in genuine discrimination against individuals (i.e. Jim Crow and slavery). Yet the claim is beyond that, and this is where worldview thinking brings clarity. James Lindsay, addressing intersectionality and the view proposed by advocates of CRT states:
“All forms of oppression are linked to one another intersectionally. Intersectionality therefore makes two explicit calls to those who embrace it: engagement of positionality and solidarity with all other people who are systemically oppressed, as Critical Theories of identity and other neo-Marxian Critical Theories would have it.”4
In other words, CRT stems from a worldview that believes you must fight “systemic oppression” or disparities in outcomes in all areas. Not just in the area of race, but in the arena of able-bodied people versus disabled individuals, in the realm of gender, and in virtually every other area of life. My point, if you are going to accept CRT’s views regarding race, then you will be sucked into their views in other areas because it is a complete worldview system, and understanding that reality helps us to speak with clarity on this issue. This realm is where so many nibble at the bait on the hook, and before they know it, they are caught with the illustrative hole in their mouth! I am not saying we cannot recognize when someone from a different worldview is stating a truthful fact. If a proponent of CRT says something accurate like discussing the beauty of the sunrise, I will affirm that point. However, we cannot go into their worldview inch by inch, which is what so many are doing because they do not understand the complete picture.
Whole Pictures Not Bits and Pieces
One of my favorite Francis Schaeffer quotes of all time is found in his book A Christian Manifesto when he states:
“The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.” -Francis Schaeffer
We absolutely have got to stop seeing only one little bitty puzzle piece and instead see the entire puzzle. It is imperative for us to see not only the idea of “systemic racism” (which errs in and of itself) but also the entire origin of CRT and the beliefs of the worldview it comes from at its core. If we are so naïve as to form our worldviews on bits and pieces instead of totals, then we indeed are building upon a shaky foundation in a foolish and haphazard way.
Many societal ills are surfacing today, one of the chief of which is issues being driven by Critical Theory. However, we as Christians living in this moment have been placed here in the providence of God to declare His truth and go through each day with joy for the glory of His name. This is not an era to be discouraged, but to see everything clearly according to the Word and live accordingly. Part of understanding the issues at stake is seeing the reality of the entire worldview systems seeking to oppose Christianity.
We must not see beliefs like CRT as isolated alone, but as a part of a broader and deeper system of thought. Once we get that in our heads, then the opportunity before us to give a robust defense is wide open. However, if we fail to see this ideology as part of a larger worldview, then we will struggle to comprehend everything going on in the moment. So friends, let us see the biblical calling we have to understand and act in accordance with the worldview of Scripture. May we comprehend our duty to oppose the worldview of Critical Theory, and every other one that is not biblical, for the glory of Christ!
1 Lindsay, James. Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis (p. 27).
2 You can see some advocates of systemic racism here:
3 Lindsay, James. Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis (p. 22).
4 Lindsay, James. Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis (pp. 85-86). New Discourses. Kindle Edition.