In my first post I specified that I was interested in an ideology characterized by four claims regarding 1) oppression, 2) ideology, 3) liberation, and 4) knowledge.
If readers are unsure whether these ideas are common among contemporary critical theorists, I refer them back to my quotes from DiAngelo’s book. I could add: “Oppression and emancipation are the two main concerns of CST [Critical Social Theory]” (Leonardo, “CST and Transformative Knowledge, Educational Researcher, 2004, p. 16) or “Central to a critical theory argument is that systems like capitalism produce knowledge in such a way as to obscure their oppressive consequences.” (Freeman and Vanconcelos, “Critical Social Theory: Core Tenets and Inherent Issues”, Critical Social Theory and Evaluation Practice: New Directions for Evaluation, 127, 7–19). But crucially, Brad agreed that these ideas are “common to and included in critical theory,” so we don’t need to belabor this point.
In Parts 1 and 3, I asked Brad numerous questions, none of which he answered. In Part 5, I enumerated some of these questions and said:
I would appreciate it if Brad acknowledged and responded to these inquiries, since they’re foundational to our discussion.
Unfortunately, in Part 6, Brad again didn’t answer any of these questions.
For this reason, I’d like to take Brad up on his offer to focus on these four ideas, independent of the label we use to describe them. Can he now answer the specific questions I’ve asked him? Readers should consult previous posts, but they include questions like: Is there any ideology like the one I’ve described? What ideology is illustrated by DiAngelo’s Figure 5.1? Is Christ “our Black Mother?” Is the Sparrow Conference a “racist organization”? Do whites have “shriveled-heart syndrome?”
To provide more evidence that these ideas are influencing Christians, I’d like to focus on two figures in particular, Dr. Christena Cleveland and Lisa Sharon Harper.
On 1/9/19, Dr. Cleveland posted the following recommendation on her Facebook page: “For people who are interested in more liberated translations of the Christian scriptures. The People’s Bible is race/ethnicity-inclusive with post-colonial commentary by incredible scholars of color. The Inclusive Bible is gender- and class-inclusive. I use them together to get a more intersectional perspective.”
On 1/26/19, Dr. Cleveland posted a document entitled: “How you can actively reject your white privilege” which closed with the admonition “10. Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what.” When some of her followers objected, she replied: “Y’all who are concerned about #10 need to educate yourselves on what it means to be racist. DiAngelo’s “what does it mean to be white?” Is a good place to start.”
In a Twitter thread from 2/18/19, Lisa Sharon Harper wrote: “#DecenteringWhiteness in #WhiteEvangelicalism would mean moving Luther/Calvin from center of orthodoxy; recognizing they were European men in slaveholding empires, trying to understand text written by colonized people.” And “ALL seminaries [should] require ALL students to soak in the voices of theologians from social locations closest to the writers of the Biblical text, itself—the oppressed.“
On 6/4/19, Harper Tweeted: “[Sarah said that] LGBTQ+ abuse comes from the same source as violence/abuse against women—patriarchy. I add, patriarchy comes from same source as white supremacy. Ultimately ALL are about protecting white male dominance.”
Again, I’m not offering any commentary on these particular individuals, and -of course- social media posts are often unguarded. However, we should ask questions like “are these claims true?” and “is there some coherent ideology that gives rise to such claims?” Is there an ideology that insists that “all whites are racist”? Why would it be important to gain an “intersectional perspective” by using a “liberated translation” of the Bible with “post-colonial commentary” and “gender- and class-inclusive” language? Should we “move Luther/Calvin from the center of orthodoxy” because they are European men? Would an “oppressed” person from the 21st-century U.S. share the same “social location” as the writers of the Bible?
Finally, in response to Brad’s three charges of mischaracterization:
In #1, my statements about “Brad’s sources” from Part 5 referred to the sources on ‘critical theory’ that Brad himself introduced: the SEP, Bronner, and Held. Not only do these three sources indeed approach CT from the standpoint of the Frankfurt School, but the SEP actually contradicts Brad’s claim about the “core” of critical theory. It cites Horkheimer (1972) to define critical theory in this way:
a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human ’emancipation from slavery’, acts as a ‘liberating … influence’, and works ‘to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers’ of human beings.’
No mention is made here of Brad’s four-fold characterization of “critical theory” as “distinctively individuated by social pathology, historical immanence (historical dialectic), anti-essentialism (social constructivism), and social change as rational participation.”
I call attention to this statement to reiterate the point I’ve made repeatedly: there are many critical theories. My four-fold summary doesn’t characterize every critical theory (and I never claimed it did!). But neither does Brad’s four-fold summary. So I accept Brad’s offer to engage the actual ideas I’ve enumerated rather than arguing about which label we ought to use.
In #2, I said “Brad has now acknowledged…” and Brad responded: “This was no change of mind, no accommodation, nor new recognition.” I can’t see any mischaracterization on my part, since “Brad has now acknowledged X” doesn’t imply “Brad used to deny X.”
In #3, I did indeed assume that Brad qualified his statement about “dismantling structures” when he realized that his original statement committed him to dismantling marriage. Brad insists that this is “pure fabrication,” but here, I refer back to his actual words. I assumed (charitably and accurately, I think) that Brad added this qualification when he realized that his original words committed him to an unbiblical position. If I’m mistaken, Brad can easily show where the “normalized in God’s law” qualification is found in Part 2.
Briefly, Brad’s analogy to ‘Qinism’ is invalid, both because it fails to properly negate the four tenets I mentioned and because these tenets are true when properly negated. Kinism and CT are both incompatible with Christianity. But I’ll wait for him to respond to my questions before elaborating.
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