About a week ago I published a link to Father Matt Kennedy’s post on Critical Race Theory (CRT). A few hours later I noticed a large (for me anyways) amount of people accessing it from twitter. But the tweet itself seemed to have no interaction. What I discovered is someone had copied the tweet link, rather than retweeting the tweet:
The argument appears to be, if you oppose CRT then it must be because you are a racist. However, Father Matt’s central point was this: CRT is based on a purely materialistic view of the world and this is incompatible with the reality of the world presented in scripture.
That reality presented in scripture is this: we are all sinners. We were born into a world ravaged by sin. We know nothing else.
And while we were yet sinners, a Holy God reached out to us in the person of Jesus Christ, the only son of God, to serve as a propitiation for our sins, nailing them to the cross. Reality is not purely materialistic. True reality, a world full of death and sin, is both spiritual and material. Our salvation, our being saved from sin and death, rests on our trusting Jesus to do it for us.
Sin against our fellow human, is a constant companion in this life. Samuel Sey writes eloquently on this all the time. His latest piece again dives into the color blindness of sin and I think deeply relevant to this discussion of CRT:
Getting back to CRT, Dr. Nathan Luis Cartagena, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College, posted an article on why the Church should engage with the theory. Rev. Dr. Emily McGowin, an associate lecturer of Theology also at Wheaton College as well as an ordained Priest in the ACNA diocese of C4SO, tweeted out her support of the article:
I’ve read the article, and I find it unconvincing.
Within the article he also expresses some pain about his ill treatment by others, but without specifics. As far as I can tell he feels he was mistreated at some point, or many points, because of his ethnicity. There’s some hurt there, and I deeply hope he finds the prayer and spiritual practices he needs to heal.
He then moves into an attempt to summarize CRT, because there are evidently various factions within the philosophical community that have different takes on what it is and what it means. It’s at this point that the whole argument collapses in on itself, in my amateur estimation. He says the church needs to look at it and resolve the tension, because it will give us a better understanding of sinful structures within society.
I mean this without any animosity or condescension: has he read his bible?
I don’t need CRT to tell me there are problems in society. Society is made up of people, therefore sin is involved, therefore there are problems. We can’t fix all the ills of society because no one is free of sin. There is none righteous, no not one.
Should that stop us from trying to fix the ills of society? No, not at all. I just think we need to take them on with a lot more humility.
So, what is the Anglican response I write of in the title? It is for us to get on our knees and pray, we are all miserable wretches in need of healing. Our Anglican heritage is one of looking to preserve that which is best in the small “c” catholic tradition, the way of the universal church. The seminal work of our Tradition is called the Book of Common Prayer. A collection of prayers written, across generations and languages and ethnicities, to be said together: prayers dripping in scripture, in eternal truth. The prayers are didactic, they teach while also giving words to the deepest agonies of our hearts. There’s morning and evening prayer, the daily office: a structure of prayers and a lectionary to guide us trough scripture. And then Sunday worship, more scripture reading, a sermon and then the Eucharist. And the Prayer of humble access:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
And then a prayer of Thanksgiving:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
I understand Dr. Cartagena to say that the Church needs to engage with CRT to fix it, to then help the church with it, because racism is a pressing problem. (If this is not a fair representation of his argument, I am wide open to correction.)
That’s not, however, the call of the Church. The Church is the mother of all believers, her job is to bring us miserable sinners into her fold and nourish us on the milk and meat of scripture. To point our faces at Christ and say “look on him who you pierced” and be saved. To point our faces again and again to Christ and say “be like him!” To say to us again and again, you are broken and need of fixing, turn and repent, because Sin and Death are pressing problems. Critical race theory can’t save you, but Jesus can.