For some time now, friends have asked me to weigh in on the controversies surrounding the CRT and the broader issues of biblical and social justice. But I waited and watched rather than writing because: 1) I wanted to understand exactly what people meant by CRT, and 2) I wanted to have something constructive to add to the discussion.
Earlier this week, I interviewed Joe Dallas, a respected leader of the ex-gay movement and author of a new book titled, Christians in an annulled culture. He argued that we need to take a firm stand against the evils of racism, addressing all its manifestations in our society, while firmly opposing movements like the BLM or ideologies like the CRT. (For the record, Joe is white.)
A few months ago, I interviewed Chris Broussard, a well-known sports commentator on television and radio, but also a respected church leader with an important ministry to men. He pleaded for the Church to lead the way in making reparations for past sins that have had lingering consequences for African Americans. (FYI, Chris is black.)
As I followed responses to those shows, especially Chris’s interview, as it’s been posted online longer, I saw that, for the most part, both “sides” were rooting deeper, reacting more than responding.
It even got to the point where some white Christians accused their black siblings of being sold-out liberals while some black Christians said their white siblings were not even Christians at all. So much for moving the conversation forward and fostering deeper unity, understanding and positive action.
How then to move forward? How do we act righteously and biblically in trying to appear awake? And how to remedy the real blind spots without capitulating to cancel the culture?
Allow me to present four basic proposals. The first three are fairly straightforward and straightforward. The fourth must be unpacked.
First, when the topic of CRT comes up, ask this question: “Could you please explain to me exactly what you mean by CRT?” It is possible that this is more of a semantic problem than a substantive one, and that in reality you have more in common than you think. Of course, the reverse is also possible, and you may deeply disagree with the CRT agenda as defined by whoever you interact with.
Either way, you’ll at least know what you’re dealing with. So overcome emotional reactions and misunderstandings and focus on the real issues. Definitions, please!
Second, let’s make it clear where we are as lovers of God and His Word. We categorically reject racism (let’s also define what we mean by that!). We categorically denounce America’s past racist sins. We agree that where racism exists in our society, whether individually or systemically, we will work together against it.
Third, let’s set parameters for repentance, based on those criteria. Is sin still present among us? In other words, are we still dealing with racist ideologies or attitudes today? If so, we need to recognize them, give them up, and truly repent, which means turning around and going in the right direction.
If the sin is no longer present, is the fruit of that sin still present? For example, let’s stay, 20 years ago, before I was a Christian, I was a dishonest businessman who blindly robbed you, made you bankrupt, still impoverishing you today.
Fortunately, five years ago I was born again and now live a godly life, but I still enjoy the richness of my sinful life as you continue to suffer. Justice demands that I take care of this and settle things with you.
So that leads to the fourth point, and this is where things get complicated, intersecting with the issue of reparations.
Frankly, as I told Chris Broussard in our interview, in the past I have viewed the subject of reparations as something the radical left talked about, not something conservative Christians talked about.
After all, we went through the devastating Civil War, still our bloodiest war yet, in the wake of the emancipation of slaves. And since then, little by little, we have continued to make progress, enacting various anti-discrimination laws while continuing to level the playing field.
In Chris’ view, not as a punishment but as an example of the church being the church, the issue of reparations should be taken seriously, complicated as it is. (He didn’t have time on the air to set out his thoughts in detail, but in what he submitted to me in writing, with lots of scripture references, he presents a detailed and practical case.)
Where I am right now, that’s it. We continue to see inequalities in our society that are a legacy of our sinful past. And we continue to see manifestations of racism so deeply ingrained in our society that we often fail to recognize them. At the same time, I don’t believe for a moment that America today as a country is systematically racist.
But there is a practical way forward, which is this: we assess where things are wrong in our society – for example, the education system in our inner cities; the broken family structure (helped and encouraged by the welfare state?); lack of net worth in the average African American family compared to the average white American family – and then we ask, “What can we do about it?” “
My friend Daniel Juster, a great theologian with a big heart for justice, wrote a important article criticizing the Marxist aspects of the CRT (as expressed by some of its main supporters) but then calling the church to sacrificial action on a number of important fronts.
He writes: “However, we have to start with the situation as it exists with a lot of people coming from households headed by single mothers. Disciplining mothers is so important. Many single mothers are illiterate. They need education and training. Some of the best programs I’ve seen start with kids and teens and put them into tutoring programs and then into full-time schools with a gospel focus.
“There are several such programs. Until the vouchers are available from public funds (they are available in some states), we need to engage the wealthy and anyone who can give to fund such schools. CHATS (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring and Schooling) in Richmond, Virginia is one of those programs that I support. They maintain a full high school and the pass rate is incredible. It challenges the lie that black people must fail because of racism for the graduates of this ghetto school to succeed, and a lot.
“Overcoming massive illiteracy is crucial. Public schools in ghetto communities pull many illiterate poor out of high school if they stay in school! Practical vocational training should be part of these schools. Christians can provide vocational training. “
This is, I believe, how we can move forward as one, fulfilling our call to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, walking in righteousness and loving one another as Jesus loved us. Are you with me
Dr Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the national union Line of fire radio program. He holds a doctorate. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at New York University and has been a professor in several seminars. He is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube.