“So Jesus again said to them … ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.’” (John 10:7a, 10-12, RSV)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ —
My heart is broken. And no doubt, so is yours. Rarely, if ever (at least not since the 1860’s), have we experienced so much enmity and animosity rise up within our nation. It is especially evident within the Church, people groups, and our own families. There are many reasons for this. The purpose of this article is not to unpack a detailed history behind this cultural shaking but to name just one source of this great divide, Critical Race Theory (CRT). Minimally, CRT serves as a catalyst for this all-consuming fire of chaos and confusion, truly exasperating an already significant rift in our nation’s union. Also, I hope to scratch the surface of why pastors and leaders of the Church should be deeply troubled and consider engaging in the conversation surrounding CRT. As I consider this issue, in light of my call as a ‘little shepherd’ within Christ’s Church (and my own family), I am quite aware of what Jesus speaks to us in John 10:7-10, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
We must stand on the truth of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ, the way of the Cross, and what that way conveys in terms of genuine and eternal Redemption and Transformation. This way of CRT (the Cross of Redemption and Transformation) is radically different in its eventual outcome from that of CRT (Critical Race Theory) which is rooted in a Marxist ideology and does not include (or allow) a Christ-like redemption or reconciliation but only unhealthy reparations in a spirit of revenge. It does not understand the Christ-like grace and healing experienced in authentic transformation but only that which ‘transforms’ through tearing down and building back something totally unfamiliar to orthodox Christians and traditional citizens of the United States of America.
In his excellent article, Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It, Christopher Rufo explains why attempts to halt encroachment have not succeeded; one reason for this is that “ … Americans across the political spectrum have failed to separate the premise of critical race theory from its conclusion. Its premise — that American history includes slavery and other injustices, and that we should examine and learn from that history — is undeniable. But its revolutionary conclusion — that America was founded on and defined by racism and that our founding principles, our Constitution, and our way of life should be overthrown — does not rightly, much less necessarily, follow.” (March, 2021, Imprimis)
Who’s shepherding our children?
Our hearts should be broken and our spirits in tremendous upheaval because of what CRT represents and how it is establishing itself as a ‘door’ to the hearts and minds of our children and our children’s children. It becomes “a hireling and not a shepherd!” (John 10:12) CRT’s agenda is to dismantle the ancient foundational markers and bring division not only to the family but the nation. Deuteronomy 4:9 reminds us, “Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.” An administrator in the public school system recently said, “Like a cancerous tumor that has metastasized in the body, Critical Race Theory and its variants including social justice; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI); anti-racism; cultural competency; and implicit bias have poisoned all aspects of public education and even some private schools. These hateful and racist philosophies have become entrenched in every level and aspect of American public education.” (April 2, 2021, American Thinker, “I Work in the Public School System-Critical Race Theory Is Everywhere”) This is only one of countless dozens who are on the frontlines of this intrusive assault upon their students (sheep) who are responding in a similar manner. While many are speaking out, it seems that the Church is relatively silent.
Admittedly, in the past I have not addressed this issue as I should. It would be so tempting and much easier to remain silent and not enter into ‘the arena’ of this particular public discourse. It is messy and may be costly! However, my gut is wrenching when I consider these words: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42) Those who are most vulnerable and malleable — this present generation — are at risk! How can we haphazardly and quietly watch our children be told lies, shamed, and coerced into living a life contrary to the Gospel?
It’s all about the foundation
What has created this void of leadership, seemingly in all segments of our society, to allow such a corrupt and deceptive agenda to permeate the very core of our culture? How have our foundational underpinnings been compromised so terribly and brutalized so thoroughly to divide our nation so severely (cf. The 1619 Project, etc.)? “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matthew 12:25)
It was just six months into the new millennium, on July 4th, 2000, that I wrote down these random thoughts, slightly modified for this writing: “It’s all about the foundation … As I watch my home being built, I’m mindful that in a few short weeks the insulation will be installed, the drywall stocked and put up, and the trim work finished, thus covering up much of what’s most important … the electric, plumbing, HVAC, the framing, and, of course, the foundation. The stuff we take for granted. For the most part we only see the externals. The glitz. The façade. In our society, much of what’s most important is ‘hidden’ from our sight to the point of obscurity or even forgotten. On this first Independence Day of the new millennium our nation’s economy is robust and prosperous. But something is not right. We are much ‘too comfortable’ as a people, which should create a great discomfort and uneasiness within our collective spirit, primarily because in the midst of all of our comfort, we are simultaneously witnessing our values, morals, foundational pieces (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) eroding away … With so much emphasis upon the externals, we are in danger of forgetting what lies at the very core … what is foundational for our country.”
More recently, nearly twenty-one years after completing the construction of our home, we are now engaged in significant remodeling and renovation on many fronts; and once again, ironically, I find myself in a metaphorical and fairly introspective mood, especially as it relates to building on a solid foundation. Whether new building or re-construction, it really is all about the foundation, knowing that the foundation is the basis for all enduring construction which must be deep, bed-rock solid, and level. Before any construction project begins, a transit level (or builder’s level) is set upon the proposed construction site. A transit level is an optical instrument, or a telescope, complete with a built-in spirit/bubble level that is mounted on a tripod, and used to establish a reference line. Once the transit is secured, all the subsequent construction of a building is necessarily impacted and the resulting foundation will be either solid or faulty.
A beginning definition
As noted previously in this article, I’m gravely concerned about CRT and what it represents. I believe that it’s a particularly treacherous ‘transit level’ that is being established across the landscape of this great country to supposedly create a new and more hopeful future; but, it must first utterly demolish and completely dismantle the old foundational moorings, beginning with our nation’s history and divide us as a people. One of Rev. Martin Luther King’s closest friends and advisers, Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, clearly rejected CRT. One of the core principles of CRT begins with “blocs” (with each person assigned to an identity or economic bloc, as in Marxism). “Human-to-human interactions are replaced with bloc-to-bloc interactions. As Dr. Walker tried to make clear, thinking in terms of blocs of people, rather than of people as individuals, leads to a whole set of insidious results. How can two people bind together in friendship if they are members of power blocs that are presumed to be inherently opposed … How can we ever find peace among the races and religions if we won’t look to each other, person by person, based on actual facts and actual intentions?” (RealClear Politics, “The Civil Rights Legend Who Opposed Critical Race Theory”, Steve Klinsky, October 12, 2020)
In trying to remain objective in defining CRT, I’ve turned to a known and well-established source, the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, June 16, 2021: “Critical Race Theory (CRT), intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.“
The proponents of CRT use a variety of euphemisms to attract potential followers; i.e., equity, social justice, diversity, culturally responsive teaching, white fragility, etc. For example, “ … critical race theorists realize that ‘neo-Marxism’ would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds non-threatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality.” (March 2021, Imprimis, “Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It”) CRT is being methodically and fiercely introduced and even inoculated into all segments of our culture, including government/military, mainstream media, public education, workplace, sports, religious institutions, etc.
We are presently witnessing the quick erosion — actually a deliberate eradication — of the foundational blocks of our country; except now, it’s right at our doorstep. Somehow, like a very plump and happy frog luxuriating in a very broad and shallow kettle full of plenteous water but totally oblivious to the reality that the kettle is sitting on a seductively warm fire — lulling the frog into a deep sleep and eventual death as the temperature of the water overcomes the frog — we, too, have become totally unaware of our immediate surroundings, either because we have taken so much for granted and the water is way too familiar or we have become distracted by the trivialities and choices of life or just plain fell into carelessness in our inability to assess the spirit of the age. (1 John 4:1-6)
In Part II, I will unpack further the distinctives between the philosophical ways and intent of Critical Race Theory and the theological-biblical ways and intent of the Cross of Redemption and Transformation.
K. Craig Moorman
Mission Developer/Pastor of River’s Edge Ministries/NALC-LCMC
Mt. Airy, Maryland