That’s the challenge posed by Bradley Mason here. His challenge is clearly stated:
It has become nearly a truism for many Christians that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is incompatible with the gospel or Christianity, though none so far have met the burden of proof necessary to sustain such a claim, nor even begun to travel down the rigorous path to do so.
In the realm of ideas, “incompatible” is a logical claim. Just as incompatible people may not be able to comfortably share a space together due to irreconcilable differences, so incompatible ideas are not able to share the same intellectual space due to logical contradiction. And this latter is the claim being made about CRT and Christianity—they are, in whole or in part, irreconcilable due to contradictory ideas or entailments. But it is one thing to claim such incompatibility and quite another to prove it with the required logical rigor.
The goal here is to first examine Mr. Mason’s challenges on merit along with an examination of critical race theory (CRT). His phrase regarding to being “irreconcilable due to contradictory ideas or entailments” is sufficient. But I will posit that this not be limited to CRT but to its progenitor critical theory (CT) and the progenitors of CT, classic Marxism and neo-Marxism. CRT does not exist in a bubble, without a context and a history, and CRT does not exist only in the minds of its proponents or detractors. CT provides the foundational working principles for CRT and its siblings.
His challenges are these:
- Accurately define and/or describe CRT according to its creators and practitioners.
- By 1 (and that is key), either (a) demonstrate that use of any part of CRT entails the whole, (b) demonstrate that every component of CRT is unique to CRT, and therefore the component’s use implicates the whole, or (c) demonstrate that the component used is properly defintional of CRT, such that its denial necessitates denial of the whole.
- Finally, by 1 and 2 (again, that is key), demonstrate that CRT necessarily (not could, might, sometimes, can be used to, is associated with, has roots in, or as so construed) entails and/or logically requires a belief or beliefs which logically contradict the gospel.
To conclude, this is the bar that must be met to justify the claim that Critical Race Theory is incompatible with the gospel.
The merit of these challenges is dubious. Number 1 seeks to avoid history. It places knowledge solely within the purview of the proponents and adherents, completely avoiding history. The second challenge is a request to commit the most basic logical fallacy. He asks you to argue from the specific to the general. And, of course, his response would be that such an argument is weak while it was he who raised the malformed argument in the first place. Finally, in the third challenge goes from something broad (he acknowledges the breadth of CRT in his challenge) to something specific and narrow. The structure of number 3 repeats the error of number two, but instead of asking the respondent to commit the fallacy he commits it himself in the structure of the question.
Mr. Mason’s error goes further when he provides his definition of CRT. When you read it what you will notice is (a) the lack of historical relationship to CT and (b) the definition itself employs the same critical method that is entailed in CRT. In other words, he begs the question at the essay level.
So, what is the issue?
CRT has its origins in CT, along with a few other feeders. The process of deconstruction, where ideas are broken down to core components, is then treaded according according to the neo-Marxist assumptions of power structures. This differs from classic Marxism where the power structures are specifically identified as economics and family. The neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt group extended this to all hierarchical relationships. The group did an extended application of a basic principle espoused by Marx. There is no CRT without CT, without Marxism.
The incompatibility with the gospel has been written about extensively, though unfortunately few give due attention to the works done in past years. An easy-to-read theological examination may be found in Klaus Bockmuehl’s “The Challenge of Marxism, a Christian Response” where he outlines the incompatibility of the two worldviews. This includes both the materialistic and the metaphysical claims of the Marxist and how they conflict with orthodox theology.
Can’t a Christian hold to both?
Yes, Of course, they can. People often hold to contradictory positions without thinking. We do it every day when we say to ourselves “it is wrong to gratuitously exceed the speed limit” while at the same time drive significantly over the posted limit. The ideas may exist in one’s mind at the same time but they are mutually exclusive. On many issues many Christians do not think about the implications of what they are pursuing.
For a pastor and teacher to hold contradictory positions, to practice in the church what is opposed to the whole of the Word, and would diminish the gospel specifically, is a situation reflective of Paul’s letters to Timothy. Not only are the practices of the pagans not to be allowed or taught in church (I Tim 4), but the teachings are to have no place (II Tim. 3). There is nothing redeeming in Marxism or its children.
Defenses against Marxism and its children have been raised for many years. There is no need to repeat a list of them. To argue for CRT by ignoring history and raising fallacious and malformed challenges is specious at best and disingenuous at worst.