Racial Reconciliation and a Biblical Worldview
Racial Reconciliation and a Biblical Worldview
We live in a world with a constant stream of media-influenced narrative. As such, I have come to realize how important it is to hold the presented narrative up to a gospel-centered worldview to reveal the truth.
Why is worldview so important? Neil Shenvi states that it answers important questions like: Who are we? What is our fundamental problem? What is the answer to the problem? What is our primary moral duty?
When we have a proper worldview, those answers are gospel-centric. As believers, we know that our primary problem is vertical (our relationship to God), not horizontal (our relationship to mankind). This does not negate the problems we face and the fact that there are horizontal solutions; rather, it addresses the fundamental problem. So, how do you see yourself? What is your problem?
The racial injustices that have again been brought to light due to recent events have also brought to light a pervasive secular worldview. Critical theory, or critical race theory, is a secular concept that has begun to make its way into the evangelical church. It’s one of those concepts that sounds like it could be biblical, but when held up to the light of truth is not. This highlights the importance of continuing to develop a biblical worldview that can hold concepts like critical theory up to absolute truth and judge whether or not they fit into a biblical worldview.
Neil Shenvi gives a reader-friendly definition of critical theory:
Modern critical theory views reality through the lens of power. Each individual is seen either as oppressed or as an oppressor, depending on their race, class, gender, sexuality, and a number of other categories. Oppressed groups are subjugated not by physical force or even overt discrimination, but through the exercise of hegemonic power- the ability of dominant groups to impose their norms, values, and expectations on society as a whole, relegating other groups to subordinate positions.
Critical theory proposes that the central problem that we face as an individual is oppression. There are certainly true statements within critical theory. For example, many would affirm that there are real injustices and oppression to minority groups in the United States, and there are real solutions that we must pursue. In a biblical worldview, our primary problem is a vertical problem and not a horizontal problem. Our problem is that sin separates us from God rather than power separating us from one another.
Can I be honest and vulnerable? As a Christian, white, middle-class woman, how does this affect my experience with white privilege? Critical race theory would state that my fundamental problem in this world is that, because of my race, I am an oppressor, and that my participation in solutions to the race issues in my community is retribution for my white privilege. A gospel worldview would state that my fundamental problem in this world is that I am a sinner and that me helping find solutions to race issues in my community is out of an outpouring of love of the gospel and an understanding that all people are made in the image of God. One could argue that this is only about semantics and not about biblical truth, but the intentions of our hearts are important to God. How would me doing the important work of racial reconciliation in my community glorify God if I am doing it out of guilt? The cross has freed me from the law of sin and death (even cultural law and cultural morality), but it has set me free in Christ Jesus.
A right view of my place in this world allows me to reject ideas that tell me I am anything other than a sinner who has been set free from sin and adopted as a daughter of the king who rules a kingdom that is here, but also not yet. A right view of my place in this world highlights the importance of justice for all people because all people are made in the image of the one true God.
In light of this information, and recent events around racial injustices, what is a right reaction as a believer? Lamenting with our brothers and sisters over the injustices they face is necessary. As we lament, may we listen with the intent to understand experiences that are not our own. May we not listen as oppressors/ oppressed people, but people who have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). May we listen as a people who understand the need for justice and mercy (Micah 6:8). More than anything, let us seek solutions that proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). The Gospel has freed us from a worldview of “us” versus “them.” It has brought to light our utter inability to make right things on our own. May we lean into the power of the cross as we seek mercy and justice.
More information on critical theory and critical race theory can be found here:
Resources on biblical worldview:
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