After an initial inquiry into Critical Race Theory (CRT), I confess that I do not understand it and find no reason to pursue it further. As a student of theology, I am familiar with fruitless arguments such as the famous effort to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If this debate ever actually occurred, it was about the point of a pin and, ironically, pointless. It seems that CRT may be like that.
However, the current furor over CRT which, in many ways seems to have little to do with the theory, could be useful if we take it as an occasion for self-examination. On the one hand, the proponents of CRT insist that people like many of us Oswegonians must examine ourselves to see if we are guilty of unjust prejudice that we are not aware of, especially in the groups that we are associated with. One annoying thing about this side of the controversy is that there is only accusation against us and never confession from our accusers. They seem never to look for the log in their own eye before they become outraged with the speck they think they see in our eyes (Matthew 7:1-5). They assume that they are righteous and only others are guilty. On the other hand, there are those among people like us who assume that we and the groups that we are a part of are innocent, even before we examine ourselves. A sad and destructive outcome of this situation is that, often, those who are innocent are condemned and those who are guilty are vindicated. Consequently, CRT effects injustice in its effort to overcome it.
Self-examination is always suitable and timely and, at the very least, CRT gives us encouragement to do this. But an essential element of self-examination is a standard against which to measure ourselves. I am not sure what CRT’s standard is except that it is manmade; humans imposing their own standard on other humans which is tyranny. The only true, reliable, unchangeable, lawful standard for human beings created to be free from the oppressive doctrines and commandments of mankind, is the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures. As Christ, at the head of the apostles and prophets said, “Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). This is the only standard for what we are to believe and for how we are to behave and, therefore, it is the only standard for self-examination.
The crystal-clear standard of the Scriptures for how we are to think, feel, speak and act toward other people is to love them as ourselves. But we are totally unable to do this until and unless we are loved by God in Christ and, in Christ, love Him with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. The worship of God in Christ and by the Spirit is the indispensable foundation for right living with all our neighbors. This right living includes not murdering anyone including unborn children, not perverting human sexuality from its divine intent, not taking what is not ours without a lawful exchange, not speaking or acting contrary to fact and not desiring anything beyond what is suitable and sufficient to our calling. This standard applies to persons of every race, gender, creed, sexual orientation and gender identity. This standard requires us to accept every person as they are but it does not require that we approve every theory or practice. Rather, it requires that we speak the truth of the Scriptures in love to the glory of God and to the good of our neighbor even and especially when the truth is corrective. Calling sin what God in the Scriptures calls sin is not only not hatred, it is love, seeking the repentance and salvation of the one living in sin. Self-examination looks to God to show us to ourselves and to fix what is out of order.
Judging from its fruits, it seems destructive to support CRT or to advocate for the instruction or application of it. But it is also dangerous to participate in any quick pretense to understanding it and outraged resistance to it. We must, however, deal with the practice of this theory. If innocent people or groups are condemned, we must stand against it. If we examine ourselves and the groups we are a part of and find sin, we must confess our guilt, repent of it and earnestly pursue new obedience. In any case, taking the occasion in the CRT controversy for careful examination of our inward attitudes and outward actions toward our neighbors, individually and corporately, is a good thing. We do this by asking the Lord, through Scripture and prayer, to enable us to see ourselves as we really are, namely as He sees us. This frees us from the false accusations of mere and fallen humans and, instead, subjects us to the true convictions in conscience of a gracious heavenly Father. He is a perfect critic and One who corrects gently and improves effectively.
For more information on Bible passages behind this article, to make requests for prayer or to ask about the Christian faith and life, please contact Rev. Kit Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 630-6325. Swartz is the retired Pastor-Teacher of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Oswego after 40 years of service there. He invites all to join the congregation for worship, 10 a.m. Lord’s Day (Sunday) mornings, 154 City Line Road and visit www.oswegorpc.org for more information.