Critical Theory vs Critical Thinking



(The FreeThinking Theist)


June 29, 2020

Social justice. That sounds great! After all, who would not want justice in the society in which they live? In fact, the Bible has so much to say about justice. Consider a few examples in Scripture beginning with the Old Testament.

Proverbs 18:5It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent.
Proverbs 21:15When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
Amos 5:24But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Micah 6:8 — He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Isaiah 61:8(a) — For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong…

The Law of Christ clarified in the New Testament continues to speak of justice:

Matthew 12:18Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
Matthew 23:23 — Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Luke 11:42But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Colossians 3:25For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
Hebrews 6:10 — God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Given what the Bible says about justice, it stands to reason that Christians should be leading the charge and advocating for social justice, right?

Well, not so fast! It depends on what one means by that. Is there a difference between biblical justice and what is commonly referred to today as “social justice”?

Critical Theory

The term “social justice” today is typically intertwined with something called Critical Theory (a branch of which is Critical Race Theory). The advocate of Critical Theory (hereafter, CT) assumes and asserts an interesting methodology that is antithetical to a biblical worldview. According to CT, all humanity at birth is cast into one of two groups which are potentially pitted against each other for eternity.

These two groups are categorized by those who are born with privilege and power, and those who are not born that way. Moreover, according to CT, those who happen to have power are always oppressing those who do not (consciously or subconsciously). Thus, those in power must always be resisted and opposed. The Critical Theorist assumes that it is just the right thing to do.

According to the worldview of CT, identity is grounded by your “group.” These groups are often identified by physical characteristics such as race and biological gender. Other features such as religion, immigration status, economic status, and the way one chooses to “identify” are also included.

So, it is asserted that white people are born into privilege and thus have power. Of course this is not always true (See Eastern Kentucky), but on average, white families have more money than black families. Thus, even the white people born into some of the worst living conditions in the nation are “oppressors” according to CT.

It is also asserted that males are privileged over females in America today. Thus, females are oppressed and must resist men. A problem quickly rises to the surface: what is a black male or a white female supposed to do? Each seems to be both an oppressor and an oppressee simultaneously. The white male, on the other hand, is now doubly oppressive! This is known as “intersectionality.”

Intersectionality seeks to measure a person’s level of oppression based on how these group identities intersect in someone’s life in relation to the oppressive group or Hegemonic power (influence over others in an indirect manner). Some people can experience being in both the oppressed and oppressor groups at the same time. Some people seem to hold all the power, and since it is asserted that power is always bad, these folks with the privilege of power have no moral authority to discuss the way things ought to be.

Christians, it is asserted, hold more power over those who think other world views are true. The Critical Theorist reaches the conclusion that Christ followers oppress non-Christians.

So, if a white male is also a true follower of Christ (which means he is going out of his way to love his neighbor who looks or believes differently than he does), then this man has lost even more moral authority and simply needs to be quiet and listen to those who have the power of moral authority (does this mean that those with the power of moral authority should be resisted by those who do not have the power of moral authority?). However, according to CT, if this white male would renounce Christ and join Islam, for example, then he would gain a few “moral authority points.” If this white biological male really wanted to get into the game and join the discussion, he could reject Christianity, divorce his wife, leave his family, identify as a female, start engaging in (biological) homosexual activity, and identify as “zie.”

If this gay white biological male who now identifies as a female and prefers the pronoun “zie” also bows the knee to non-white neighbors (whom he/zie was previously loving anyway), zie has gained so many “moral authority points” and is no longer in any danger of being “cancelled” by this new CT culture. However, if one was simply born a white biological male and also sincerely believes (based on reason and evidence) that Christianity is true, then he will be opposed and “cancelled” by the woke mob.

As shallow as that might be, I just described myself. I am a white male (I was born that way) and I freely choose to follow Christ because I believe it’s true (that God exists and raised Jesus from the dead). Suddenly it seems like “privilege” is on the other foot. So-called “power” seems to have shifted. According to CT, it seems that I am now justified in leading a revolt against those who have recently gained much more power than I seem to have — including the power to “cancel” me out of existence. But what happens if “cancelled” Christian white males band together and are successful in regaining power tomorrow? What if the day after tomorrow zie takes the power back once again, but then, the day after the day after tomorrow white male Christians “rage against the latest machine?” Will they be justified once again in leading the charge to fight the power?

There seems to be no end in sight. There seems to be no hope for peace and true equality. According to CT, some group of people must always be oppressed. According to CT, it is wrong for those in power to have power.

But why think a thing like that? What logically grounds this assumption/assertion which provides a foundation for CT? If there is no logical foundation for the view, then the Critical Theorist has her feet securely planted in thin air and has provided no good reason to think her ideology is true or that she ought to be heard.

The CT advocate asserts that the purpose of life is to “fight the power!”

Is this an objective purpose of life? If not, then it seems to be nothing but a blind faith that is not binding to anyone in either the so-called “oppressed” or “oppressor” groups. If fighting the power is the objective purpose of life, what logically grounds this objective purpose and how would we know it?

Because of this “fight the power” ideology, Bret Weinstein, a professor of evolutionary biology and self-proclaimed “progressive” recently stated:

“I would say we are headed for a collision course with history. I mean, we are staring at many scenarios that end in some kind of Civil War! And, while I do think it is still possible to avert that outcome, I don’t know the name of the force that gets in its way.”

I believe Weinstein is right, civil war seems impending. Unlike Weinstein, however, I know the ONLY force that can get in the way of otherwise guaranteed violence — the teachings of Jesus Christ!

Purpose Theory vs Critical Theory

In order for the Critical Theorist to logically ground her belief that white men who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead must be opposed, it seems she must maintain that humanity was created on purpose and for the specific purpose to always oppose those who belong to different people groups — which is the exact opposite of what Jesus and the Apostle Paul proclaimed (See, To COEXIST Is a Biblical Command).

Consider the following argument:

1. If a truth corresponds to reality, it is objectively true [apart from human opinion].
2. If God created humanity for a purpose, then this purpose is a truth that corresponds to reality.
3. Therefore, if God created humanity for a purpose, then this purpose is objectively true.
4. God created humanity for a purpose.
5. Therefore, God’s purpose for creating humanity is objectively true [apart from human opinion].

Premise (4) is key. The Critical theorist and the Christ follower might agree with the proposition; however, they will disagree about the objective purpose of humanity. Did God create humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to be in eternal conflict? Or did God create humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to always love everyone from your neighbor to those who might consider you to be an enemy (Matt 5:44; 22:39)?

The atheist who affirms CT seems to have no objective or logical foundation for CT. This is the case because if God does not exist, then life was not created on purpose or for any specific purpose. Thus, on an atheistic worldview, there is no objective purpose to the existence of humanity, and thus, there is nothing really good, bad, right, or wrong — let alone evil — with any manner in which one chooses to behave toward his fellow human. There is no objective plan, purpose, or goal about humanity in which we have a choice to approximate or not.

So, on atheism, nothing is really wrong with racism, white supremacy, or fighting against those who affirm CT. This is problematic for the atheist who affirms CT (which is likely the majority of Antifa).[1]

What is the critical theorist to do when facing this problem? Many who hold to CT today are attempting to marry it to Christianity. Indeed, this view seems to have infected the minds of many young Christians in the church. However, the Critical Theorists who hopes to marry CT with Christianity will soon find themselves opposing Christ Himself (but Jesus is a male oppressor with all the power anyway). So, according to Critical Theory, Jesus — and the omnipotent Triune God — must be opposed!

Let that sink in. Critical Theory affirms Satan’s original rebellion. Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, the handbook for a leftist takeover strategy, included this dedication:

“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history… the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

Whether Alinsky personally believed in Satan (or God) — or not — is irrelevant. If one is to always oppose those in power, then a so-called “Christ follower” must affirm Satan’s original rebellion. That is to say, if CT is true, a Christ follower should not follow Christ. This is the epitome of incoherence and absurdity, but surprisingly, many in the church today are so committed to this incoherent worldview that they are willing to align with the original sinner (Satan) and reject what Christ said, taught, and exemplified. As Alisa Childers has pointed out, this faulty postmodern worldview seems more dangerous than atheism!

This leaves the Critical Theorist with one of two options from which to choose:

1- Rebel against God.

2- Repent and ask God for forgiveness (God loves you)!

Monique Duson provides a great example. As a black woman she tried to marry Christianity with CT (namely Critical Race Theory). In fact, she graduated from my alma mater (Biola University) and was also a part of the Black Lives Matter organization which is based upon CT and Marxism (or Marxism weaponized by CT). After a while she began connecting the logical dots and realized that the worldview of CT and the worldview of Christianity were antithetically opposed. She realized that if she were to stay in the BLM organization, then she would be rebelling against God and sinning in an objective sense. Between the options above, Monique wisely chose the latter. This strong black woman left the Black Lives Matter organization and now speaks out against it.

Monique has started the Center for Biblical Unity as an alternative to the Black Lives Matter organization. It is clear that many people are confused because an objectively evil organization has adopted an objectively true statement as their name. As Christ followers, we must affirm the true proposition “black lives matter” but we must reject the evil organization known as Black Lives Matter that has hijacked the true statement (although I affirm the statement, I typically try to use different words to communicate the same sentiment as to avoid confusion). Monique’s organization provides a way for Christians to affirm the true proposition and advance a righteous cause without making a deal with the devil.

Critical Theory Rejects Critical Thinking

Since CT is on the wrong side of logic, it stands to reason (more logic) that if one is blindly committed to Critical Theory, then she will not only reject God, but also reject logic and critical thinking as subjectively “western” or “masculine.” This irrationality is exemplified by Margaret L. Anderson’s assertion in Race, Class, and Gender:

“The idea that objectivity is best reached only through rational thought is a specifically Western and masculine way of thinking” (p. 5).

Neil Shenvi has noted the difficulty in having reasonable, rational, and logical conversations with the critical theorist because they assert that those in the oppressed groups — no matter how logically incoherent their assumptions, assertions, or statements — must be trusted and accepted simply because “oppressor groups hide their oppression under the guise or pretense of objectivity.” So, if a white Christian male offers logic, reason, and evidence showing that CT is false, Shenvi explains that the Critical Theorist might respond in the following manner: “You’re just trying to get power and you are using [“western logic”], rationality, evidence, and arguments as a way to cloak your will to dominate.”

Accordingly, the white Christian male — no matter how reasonable — is rejected. He must only “shut up” and listen to the critical theorist’s subjective and anecdotal experiences. This is post-modernism at its finest and the antithesis to what the Prophet Isaiah taught in the Bible: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…” Isaiah does not tell one person to “shut up and listen,” but challenges all people to “reason together.” In fact, he attributes this command to be from God Himself.

I lovingly challenge the Christian who hopes to marry CT with Christianity to consider  2 Corinthians 10:5. In this passage, the Apostle Paul writes:

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

I love this Bible verse for two reasons: First, Paul provides the example for Christians to destroy every argument and incorrect opinion about God.

The second reason I love this verse is because Paul states that “we” — and implies that we ought to — take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. According to Paul’s other writings, Jesus Christ is ultimate reality (Col 1:16). Thus, when we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ, we are thinking objectively true thoughts. This is because truth corresponds to reality (as explained above).

Paul is clear that we ought to take our thoughts captive to obey Christ — to obey reality. He also implies that we can be taken captive by “shallow” or “deceptive” incorrect thinking in Colossians 2:8. It follows that humanity is engaged in a battle. This battle is “not against flesh — of any color — and blood” (Eph 6:12); no, whether we realize it or not, each and every one of us is in a battle for the mind and how we think. There is a biblical prescription for how we ought to think.

Indeed, if one rejects logic, all one is left with is gibberish, temper tantrums, and perhaps physical violence.

Critical Theory (the foundation of organizations like Antifa and Black Lives Matter) is the epitome of the “shallow and deceptive philosophies” Paul warned us about in his letter to the Colossians. To ignore truth and logic is intellectual and spiritual suicide and objectively true justice will never be found in our society.[2]

Bottom line: It is critical to take our thoughts and “theories” captive before they take us captive.

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Dr. Tim Stratton


[1] Interestingly, many Christian apologists and “new atheists” are finding common ground against Critical Theory (See Corey Miller and Peter Boghossian as an example). This might be the case because both groups are committed to both reason and science (hence countless academic debates), and thus, are realizing they both have a common enemy since CT rejects both logic and science.

From a Christian perspective, watch theoretical chemist, Dr. Neil Shenvi discuss the many problems of CT with Bobby Conway on The One Minute Apologist. From a secular perspective, listen to evolutionary biologist, Dr. Bret Weinstein discuss the many problems with CT on the Joe Rogan Show.

[2] It is vital to not to simply take an author’s “word for it,” but to do some of your own homework. A good place to start is with a series of essays compiled together in Race, Class, and Gender (linked above). Neil Shenvi provides a long review of this “Anthology” here.


About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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