I had to listen to it several times to make sure I heard him correctly. The denomination in which what was said was not a surprise. The church in which it was said was not a surprise. The pastor who said it was actually quite surprising… at least to me.
Let me set the context. The so-called ‘sermon’ was actually a panel discussion on the topic of women in pastoral ministry by the pastoral staff of this particular church – lead pastor, worship and education pastor, and youth pastor. After a significant pooling of ignorance which took a decidedly pro stance on the issue at hand a final question was asked by the moderator. It was a rambling question which I will paraphrase – “What does agreeing to disagree on this issue look like?” In other words, we want to be a church that allows for and celebrates both sides of this issue among the membership so how can we all get along when we will, no doubt, disagree?
This is not a blog about women in pastoral leadership in the church. It is a blog about how CRT can easily creep into the church. The response by the lead pastor to this question indicates exactly how CRT can and has – even in the Bible-belt area of Steinbach and the surrounding area where this church is located – influenced the church and its leaders. Here’s what the lead pastor said in reply to the above question,
I recognize that as a white male I’m not fully aware of the privilege that I have. I can be oblivious to the engrained limitations that the past traditions and practices have created. I am complementarian… but I also recognize that having in church lost the two for the price of one pastoral role that used to exist where the pastor’s wife would often accompany in visitation and do a lot of counselling and so on, I have thought for a long time that having a female pastor on staff there are ways of ministering that she would bring, there are perspectives and ways of communicating there’s counselling or home visitation that would be far more effective by a female pastor than one of us could try and do it.
Leave the discussion of women in ministry out of things. What I want you to notice is the line of thinking demonstrated in the response. It smacks of the influence of CRT and illustrates the contradictions CRT forces upon Christianity. Let me break down the reply in point form.
- I suffer from white male privilege of which I was previously oblivious. Now that I am ‘woke’ I realize that as a white man I am significantly limited in my ability to minister fully to the body of Christ.
- The old traditions which forced a pastoral role on the wife of the pastor are now defunct. This creates a pastoral void in the church.
- I am complementarian. This means I believe men and women in marriage and the church have distinct yet complementary roles. Men and women are equal in value, but different in God-given roles. In the church, this means that men alone are to be elders and pastors.
- BUT, because of #1 and #2 I believe we should have female pastors in the church.
Do you see the problem? The previously held beliefs of this lead pastor have been trumped by CRT and the movement of culture.
I recognize I am making two assumptions regarding this lead pastor’s beliefs. Two assumptions that, I believe, are in his favor and are fair to make given our limited interaction. But these assumptions, if true, make his conclusions all the more troublesome. Assumption #1 – his complementarian beliefs emanated from Scripture rather than his church tradition. Assumption #2 – he based his beliefs on Scripture because he believes in sola Scriptura. If these assumptions are correct, this pastor has chosen to abandon biblical truth for a particular brand of cultural evaluation. He stated two contradictory things — 1) I am a complementarian; 2) I believe our church should have a female pastor. If #1 was true of him he would deny #2. If #2 was true of him he would deny #1. So why does he try to hold both equally as though there was no contradiction? The language he uses at the beginning of his reply tips us off – CRT is the philosophy he is using to try and hold these opposing statements together. [Remember CRT doesn’t care about objective truth at all so this kind of statement wouldn’t be seen as a problem.]
This is the fundamental issue between CRT and Christianity – it is a worldview which forces us to choose between authorities. It forces us to choose between the witness of Scripture and the highly dubious cultural observations and philosophies upon which it is built. Sadly this pastor has made his choice – CRT and its view of culture wins; Scripture loses. The effects of this on the church and ministry will be swift and destructive. I pray correction and repentance comes quickly.
The purpose of this blog is not to name names and create an us vs them type of thinking within broad evangelicalism. If you want to know which Christian authors or personalities advocate a marriage between CRT and Christianity check out Fault Lines by Voddie Bauckam. The purpose of this blog is to reinforce the point that CRT is at odds with Christian religion because it is itself a false religion and that it is happening right close to home. It is not only a problem in Christian colleges and Seminaries. (It is. Just ask the Southern Baptist Convention.) It is a problem here. Now. In our local churches. Thus, we need to be wise to what is happening and steel ourselves against it. Paul has written exactly these things,
See to it that on one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of this world, and not according to Christ.Colossians 2:8
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.1 Timothy 6:20-21
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…2 Corinthians 10:5
CRT has been around long enough and its influence has been seen recently enough for us to know what it is all about and where it takes us. Consequently it should be obvious that any movement toward the basic principles of CRT is a movement away from the foundational principles of Christianity. Shenvi and Sawyer’s words are worth revisiting,
Contemporary critical theory and Christianity conflict not merely with respect to a few minor details, but with respect to basic questions of epistemology, identity, morality and authority. To the extent that we accept and embrace fully the core principles of contemporary critical theory, we will have to abandon Christianity and vice versa.Engaging Critical Theory and the Social Justice Movement
The reason why this is the case is because CRT is a religion as much as it is a philosophy and as a religion it competes directly against Christianity. John McWhorter notes exactly this problem,
Note also the eerie parallel between the conceptions of original sin and white privilege as unremovable stains about which one is to maintain a lifelong concern and guilt. Religions don’t always have gods, but they usually need sins, which in the new religion is the whiteness that supposedly bestrides everything in our lives.
Voddie Baucham, in chapter 4 of his book Fault Lines, identifies how CRT has become a new religion. (See also chapter 3 in Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness) It has a new cosmology (a story of origins) – in the beginning white people (particularly males) created whiteness and all its inherent privileges and oppressiveness. It has a new original sin – systemic racism. It has a new law – the work of antiracism. It has a new canon – the writings of CRT prophets. But what it does not have is any way to overcome original sin. It has no justice. It has no truth. It has no savior. It has no hope for the present or the future. It offers only condemnation, disunity, and despair. Like a depraved cult, it entrenches what it purports to eliminate. Put simply, the foundations, structure, and occupants of the church of CRT are fundamentally incompatible with biblical Christianity. CRT is not a worldview that can be synchronized with Christianity. It is a fundamentally different religion. It is at odds with just about every foundational aspect of Christianity.
One quick caveat. What I have just said does not mean that ALL of the observations of CRT are bad. It does not mean that we should write off everything that CRT advocates detect within our modern culture. After all, a blind squirrel can find a nut every once in a while. Or to put it less colloquially, since truth is revealed by God in the world around us and can be found in the searching and musing of unbelievers we must recognize truth wherever and by whomever it is found. BUT we need to recognize that CRT is not our authority on anything. Scripture alone takes that place for the believer. We will explore this tension in future blogs.
CRT is not simply an analytical tool to help us see the world better. CRT is more than a lens through which we view the world. It is a particular cultural religion that demands to be our full and only authority. Thus it cannot be picked up, used, and then put down. It demands full submission in order to work. It is a religious philosophy which seeks to create converts and shut out all heretics and damn all unbelievers who question the system. What John McWhorter says about places of higher learning and governments in the United States can equally, and sadly, be applied to many churches and Christian schools.
There is a pitchfork aspect to how this way of thinking is penetrating our institutions of enlightenment. With an unreachable pitilessness, a catechism couched in an elaborate jargon is being imposed almost as if sacred: privilege, decentering, hegemony, antiracism. Nonbelievers, sometimes even agnostics, are cast out, leaving a cowed polity pretending to agree. This is a regrettable kind of religion…
Unlike the church and pastor mentioned above, God’s people are not to be so easily influenced by our culture and its preaching. The church is not to be critiqued or influenced by anything other than Scripture. The previous quotations from Colossians and 2 Corinthians remind us of that. The implication of this is clear — culture is to be critiqued by the church using only the litmus test of God’s word properly interpreted. Thus, as Voddie Baucham states, it should give us “pause when men who have been studying and teaching the Bible for many decades proclaim that they have come to some life-altering revelation that has not been derived from Scripture.”
The Bible is the best source for understanding race relations, gender, sexual ethics, human value, cross-cultural interaction, or anything else CRT desires to speak about. CRT gets almost all of these things so very wrong because it is built on a foundation other than Christ. The Christian faith grounded in Scripture alone has always and will always provide light on every issue of every day. Why? Because its author, God himself, gave it for exactly this purpose.
The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.WCF, I, 4
This means that Scripture is both necessary and sufficient for us,
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.WCF, I, 6
The choice between CRT and Christianity is clear… because there is no choice to be made.
Soli Deo Gloria