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The Danger of Christians Overreacting to Critical Race Theory

Dr. Robert "Bob" Petterson | Author and Founder of the Legacy Imperative | Updated: Mar 25, 2022
The Danger of Christians Overreacting to Critical Race Theory

The Danger of Christians Overreacting to Critical Race Theory

Just when we were climbing out of the pit of racism created by our ancestors, we are being dragged back into it—exchanging one form of racism for another. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a denial of God’s grace and ought to be resisted by God’s people. 

That said, Christians should avoid overreactions to CRT proponents’ actions.

Some CRT advocates and the progressive “woke” mob are such an unhappy and unpleasant lot. I have noted one thing in my extensive study of CRT literature: these crusaders focus almost solely on past failures and present inequities. They want our next generation of kids to do the same. The greatest danger of CRT is the self-loathing and resentment we are creating in our children because of the circumstances into which they were born—whether it is white privilege or a lack of privilege.

It’s true that our country has experienced childhood wounds—especially when it comes to slavery, segregation and discrimination against Indigenous peoples, immigrants, women and other minorities. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that Christians are just as capable of engaging in unhealthy approaches to the traumas of our national childhood as non-Christians.

In an extreme overreaction to CRT, bills have been passed by some state legislatures allowing parents to remove library books they find offensive. Parents in many places have demanded the removal of history books that accurately present the history of racism in America. They have removed books about Black heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. This is an extreme overreaction. Keeping history from our children is as bad as handing them over to the CRT mob. Our Savior said, “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:32] There is no freedom in ignorance, half-truths or revisionist history—whether it’s from the left or the right.

In short, Christians should not react in a carnal way. Our ways and weapons are not those of the world. We do not charge into school board meetings like Hitler’s brown shirts, nor do we burn books as did the Nazis. We reason with schools in a Christ like manner. If we can’t convince them to do what is best, then we find alternate ways to educate our children.

Paul gives us a three-fold solution to move on from the bad things of the past in a healthy way. If you look closely at his words, you’ll see that what worked for him will work for solving our racial inequities.

In Philippians 3:7-10, Paul remembers the past, rejoices in his progress and looks to a brighter future:

“7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”  —Philippians 3:7-10 NIV

Paul acknowledged the past.

We, too, should remember our own past racial inequities and learn not to make the same mistakes again. The Bible doesn’t call us to sanctified amnesia. CRT is right to call us to not paper over our dysfunctional past as a nation. Our children need to know the brutal truth about slavery, segregation and that racism exists and has repercussions today.

Paul rejoiced in his progress.

Paul recognizes and celebrates that he has made great progress in his spiritual growth. He’s not where he wants to be, but he’s further along than he used to be.

Paul looked to a better future.

Paul is clear that he’s not there yet. He has spent years pursuing Christ and yet he says, “I want to know Christ…” There’s always more to be gained this side of heaven.

As individuals and society as a whole, we need to hold three things equally: we have a racist past, we have come a long way in overcoming it, and we still have a way to go before everyone can sing, “We have overcome.”

Racism, elitism, genderism, tribalism—anything that divides people, especially Christians, displeases Jesus. Our identity isn’t in our race, gender or social status. It’s in Christ alone!

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

Photo courtesy: ©U.J. Alexander/Getty Images

Dr. Robert “Bob” Petterson is an author, speaker, former pastor and founder of the Legacy Imperative, a ministry devoted to inspiring, mobilizing and equipping grandparents, parents and other advocates for Millennials and Generation Z to evangelize and disciple their loved ones who are far from the Christian faith.

The Danger of Christians Overreacting to Critical Race Theory