Apart from the elections and coronavirus, nothing has taken 2020 more by storm than racial tension. The death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has led to violence in the streets, the toppling of statues, the renaming of schools and universities — and in many corners of the country, a fierce emphasis on Critical Race Theory. What is it and why should we care? Dr. Owen Strachan joined me on “Washington Watch” to explain.
Like most people, Strachan isn’t questioning whether there’s racism in America or excusing our horrific, slave-holding past. But Critical Race Theory isn’t a cure for either of those things, he argues. It’s a contentious, unjust construct that weaponizes our past and accuses every person of holding secret prejudices. “That’s a big claim,” he points out, with even bigger ramifications. “Your average person in America, including a so-called white person, is not a white supremacist. This system is not uniting us. Tragically, it’s dividing us.” And unfortunately for America, the proponents of this theory are taking it everywhere — to college campuses, the federal workforce, even pulpits.
“Sadly,” Strachan said, “a lot of Christians look at… this country and they see the kind of sins and weaknesses and failings that you and I have already clearly identified. They believe that they need to do anything they possibly can to counter that heritage and overcome it in the current day. And so in many cases, I think, they are tricked or led to in making that claim that there are white supremacists, that America is systemically unjust, [and this] is going to solve that. They think it’s going to be the bridge to diversity that the church [wants]… [but] it’s going to breed the opposite.”
Last summer, the issue created a storm of controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention when the delegates decided to pass Resolution 9, a neutral statement on Critical Race Theory instead of a repudiation of the concept. As Strachan pointed out, the acid test for believers on this subject should be what scripture says. “Instead of embracing society, we would do better to… embrace the biblical gospel and recognize that there’s one new man in Christ Jesus, and that is the only solution to racial disunity, prejudice, bias, and any structural inequities… So we might hear theories sound good when they talk in the tone. But I would very much counsel pastors and Christians to not embrace the system.”
Several Southern Baptist seminary presidents appear to have listened. This week, six of them released a joint statement condemning racism and Critical Race Theory. They called the theory “incompatible with the Baptist faith and message.” “Unfortunately, the problem of racism still exists, but Critical Race Theory is not a biblical solution…the closer you look into the history, advocates, and aims of Critical Race Theory the more troubling it becomes,” noted Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Theological Seminary — where Strachan is a professor.
With this statement, the Southern Baptist Convention is taking a clear, intentional, and public stand against Critical Race Theory. It was a gutsy move in light of the current cultural friction. The church needs leaders who will take a stand against the lies and deception of the world. These men are trying to obey the words of Paul, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Critical Race Theory has taken far too many in the church captive and deceived its members through the tactics of shame and guilt. May we join in praying for the eyes of the church to be open, our hearts softened, and our minds to be sharpened. As Strachan told listeners Wednesday night, “I think we’re all in danger of being taken captive by worldly ideology. And that’s happening today… [But] I pray that this statement is used to stop the advance of CRT in the SBC and even push it back in our time.”