I’m glad that Brad has chosen to continue our dialogue, but I’m puzzled by his latest response.
In my first post, I outlined an ideology characterized by four basic tenets revolving around 1) oppression, 2) ideology, 3) liberation, and 4) knowledge and asked:
“does Brad agree that this ideology, whatever we call it and whatever its historical origin, is incompatible with Christianity?”
I also devoted one-third of my post to five examples of prominent Christians making false, unbiblical statements rooted in this ideology. In Brad’s first response, he did not answer my question, nor did he interact with any of my examples.
In my second post, I asked the following question three times in various ways:
“is there any coherent ideology characterized by the four tenets I mentioned in my article?”
I also repeated the five examples I provided and asked specifically:
Is the Sparrow Conference a “racist organization”? Are whites “blind wanderers” who suffer from “shriveled-heart syndrome”? Can we refer to Christ as “our Black Mother”? Does Tim Keller have “no authority to teach on justice”? Does Brad think these claims are completely unrelated to contemporary critical theory, despite the fact that these Christian authors cited DiAngelo, Bonilla-Silva, Ignatiev, and other contemporary critical theorists? I’d appreciate interaction on these points (and examples can be multiplied).
In his second response, Brad again didn’t answer any of these questions. I would appreciate it if Brad acknowledged and responded to these inquiries, since they’re foundational to our discussion.
Instead, Brad’s second response mainly focused once more on the proper definition of ‘critical theory.’ (As a side note, I’d appreciate it if Brad could explain precisely where I mischaracterized him, as I take pains to present my interlocutors’ claims accurately). I’ll state for the third time that there are many critical theories which have developed since the origin of Critical Theory in the Frankfurt School, which is what Brad’s sources are characterizing. I’d also note that one of the very sources Brad cited (the SEP entry on ‘critical theory’) makes this point in its opening paragraph:
Critical Theory has a narrow and a broad meaning in philosophy and in the history of the social sciences… [M]any “critical theories” in the broader sense have been developed…in connection with the many social movements that identify varied dimensions of the domination of human beings in modern societies.
Since Sensoy and DiAngelo clearly espouse the four tenets I listed and insist that their project of critical social justice is “rooted in a critical theoretical approach,” (D&S, p. xx) and is “based on a school of thought known as Critical Theory” (D&S, p. 25), I believe ‘contemporary critical theory’ is an appropriate term (again, other sources available on request).
However, I’m grateful that Brad has now acknowledged that my four tenets are “a construction—a reconstruction—of ideas common to and included in CT“ even if he thinks they are not “distinguishing nor determinative” of critical theory. This is a very important recognition on his part, because it puts the focus back on the ideas, rather than the labels being used to describe them.
In the same way, if we were discussing the question “is Queer Theory a threat to evangelicalism?,” arguing over what constitutes “the essence” of Queer Theory or whether we can find traces of these ideas in ancient Greece is far less important than determining whether dangerous ideas found in Queer Theory are indeed making their way into evangelicalism through culture and through the writings of Queer Theorists.
Just to make sure that we don’t have to revisit this issue, let’s label the ideology characterized by my four tenets as “Kritical Theory,” where these tenets are -as Brad himself said- “common to and included in Critical Theory.” With that issue settled, we can return to the questions I’ve been asking throughout this series:
Does Brad agree that “Kritical Theory” is incompatible with Christianity for the reasons I’ve stated?
Does Brad agree that scholars like DiAngelo, Bonilla-Silva, Crenshaw, and McIntosh espouse the tenets of “Kritical Theory”?
Does Brad agree that the five quotes from professing Christians are rooted in “Kritical Theory,” whose proponents were explicitly cited?
Does Brad think that these five quotes are true and biblical?
Finally, I pointed out that Brad inadvertently committed himself to dismantling traditional marriage when he stated that Christians should be “interested in dismantling systems which distribute advantages and disadvantages based on constructed identities.” In his latest response, he wrote: “it is immoral to distribute advantages and disadvantages according to identities that are not created by God, nor normalized in His Law, but historical products of group self-interest.”
Note that Brad has added the crucial qualifications “nor normalized in His Law” and “historical products of group self-interest” to his original claim to avoid its logical implications. These qualifications perfectly illustrate my point. Brad’s original statement sounded just, compassionate, and undeniable. Yet it was false, and its implications were catastrophic. Why? Because, without qualification, his statement took for granted the idea that systems of advantage and disadvantage based on constructed identity should be dismantled. This idea is incorrect, as I warned in my very first post.
As “Kritical Theory” becomes more and more prevalent in our culture, Christians are similarly adopting its ideas uncritically. They aren’t thinking about the devastating implications these premises will have on Christian theology if taken to their logical conclusions, exemplified by Christian professor Christena Cleveland doing an “intersectional exploration of God’s blackness and femaleness on the cross.”
In this case, when I pointed out these implications, Brad immediately recognized the inconsistency and modified his claim. But what will happen if Christians aren’t taught to recognize the tenets of “Kritical Theory” or how they are based on profoundly unbiblical premises? What happens when they’re told that “Kritical Theory” is the only way to truly combat racism, sexism, and injustice? Or that anyone who opposes “Kritical Theory” is constructing a bogeyman in order to preserve their own power and privilege?
The consequences will be dire.
See my initial post here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Bradly Mason, Part 1
And Brad’s first response here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 2
See my second post here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Bradly Mason, Part 3
And Brad’s second response here:
Is Critical Theory a Thread to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 4
See my third post here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Bradly Mason, Part 5
And Brad’s third response here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi Part 6
See my fourth post here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Bradly Mason, Part 7
And Brad’s fourth response here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 8
See my fifth post here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Bradly Mason, Part 9
And Brad’s final response here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Neil Shenvi, Part 10
See my final post here:
Is Critical Theory a Threat to Evangelicalism? – A Dialogue with Bradly Mason, Part 11