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John Piper defends Critical Race Theory Part 1

Critical Race Theory is among the most prevailing issues in the church today. So, major Evangelical figures are finally addressing it. And John Piper is the latest to weigh in. But John Piper is deceptive and at best ill-equipped to handle this issue. On Desiring God, he unveils a two part series on Critical Race Theory.

John Piper begins part one with an explanation for why he is delaying his defining of Critical Race Theory.

I’m not going to start with definitions. And I hope you’ll see why before we’re done. Critical race theory is not only a bundle of beliefs and ideas and ways of thinking (about race and about other important things); it has also become a relationally destructive means of defamation. And that is what I want to talk about first

John Piper makes it clear that he is differing to later to have the most salient parts of the conversation.

Because my guess is that thousands of you do not have any clear idea of what critical race theory is. And here I am talking about it as a pejorative label that some people put on other people to their detriment.

Actually, many of us can clearly articulate what Critical Race Theory is, and John Piper is insulting people’s intelligence before demonstrating his own. So after going on about a debate featuring Neil Shenvi, Piper states two principles. The first is about slander, and this is his attempt to placate Critical Race Theorists.

Christians should be careful not to slander a Christian brother by the careless use of pejorative labels — like critical race theory.

So what John Piper’s principle on this issue is not to label people as Critical Race Theorists when they espouse Critical Race Theory because this is slander. This is as boneheaded of thinking as saying not to use antinomian against a Christian brother who espouses antinomianism. The irony of this is if someone is teaching antinomianism, they are not a Christian. The same is true for Critical Race Theory, as it is a central tenet of the Social Justice Gospel. We should not assume people espousing heretical ideas as Christians and act accordingly. So Piper’s statement on slandering the brethren is inapplicable.

In fact, I think one of the best ways to avoid slander in these highly contentious days is this: if you hear or read a brother say something that you think is unchristian or unbiblical with regard to race, don’t call it critical race theory. Call it unchristian and unbiblical (preferably in a private email, not in a public tweet or blog or podcast), and give solid biblical evidence for your concern.

This is the wrong mentality. If someone is teaching Critical Race Theory, it’s not slander to call it Critical Race Theory in the same way it is not slander to call out someone for teaching Calvinism. It would be a statement of fact if true. But Piper is against calling out false teaching.

The rest of part one tries to placate Grassroots Evangelicals by saying that Critical Race Theorists should not assume there is only one means to fight evil or racism.

There are tens of thousands of pastors right now who are not trying to tether critical race theory to every black lover of justice. And there are critics of critical race theory who believe with all their heart, and rightly, that there are aspects of critical race theory that are destructive to love and justice and racial harmony, so that their investment in the criticizing of critical race theory is not a detour away from the problem of racism, but an effort to destroy it.

John Piper concludes by not accurately representing the arguments. John Piper treats Critical Race Theory as some abstract idea that is being confused with what people are actually saying. He does not give enough credence to the idea that Critical Race Theory is actively being taught; therefore his ability to critique Critical Race Theory is effectively useless and the primary function of his article is to provide cover for Woke Evangelicals to be labeled Christians.


2 Responses

  1. Wow, that is another just ridiculous attempt by someone trying to change the rules of logic before starting an argument. It makes my head hurt. So don’t call something what it is because it’s not nice? How can we debate things if we can’t correctly identify them!? Cultural marxism is really good at chipping away at the edges of logic while out attention is drawn away to their outright full-blown assaults on it.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Remember, even with all the problems of today we still have it better than 99.9% of people who’ve lived. But we know it’s not really about standards of living anyways!

  2. Well said Ray. I would agree on most of this. Piper is likely trying to avoid contention and debate in his church and the community by avoiding using charged phrases. I understand his reason for doing this: he wants to promote peace and unity in the brethren as we are called to do in Ephesians 4:3 and other places in Scripture. I agree with you that we need to call something what it is. It is unhelpful to play semantics games and not use accurate terminology. However, it is also wise not to use the term “critical race theory” as a weapon if that is someone’s intention. It’s certainly not my intention. I just want to be clear and speak the truth of God in love. Now, that has become very hard in the U.S. today because as Piper notes, it is an extremely contentious time.

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