Episode 115: Christianity & Critical Race Theory – “Understanding Social Justice.”

In today’s episode, we are going to talk about some of the academic ideas related to Biblical Antiracism. Critical Race Theory – or CRT – may be something you have heard discussed in recent years in Christian circles. Marxism and Socialism have been terms repeatedly used and weaponized in political discourse in the United States. Some people link Critical Race Theory and Marxism together, but go one step further, insinuating that these ideas are both Un-American and Un-Christian. In many ways, there exists a sense in some Christian circles that Critical Race Theory, Marxism and Socialism are implicitly evil, and that Christians must resist them at all costs. But is this actually true?

Most of us are not experts in Marxism or Socialism. Most of us take the word of people whom we believe know more than we do on these issues, and adopt their positions as our own.

One of our listeners recently wrote to us, asking us to talk about the topic of Critical Race Theory, and we agreed. This would be good to talk about … and while we all were familiar with Critical Race Theory and had explored these ideas at some depth, none of us could claim to be academic experts on this topic. So… we looked to find someone who was.

There are many resources out there about Critical Race Theory written by people who identify as Christians as well as those who do not. So if you are wondering about this topic, we would encourage you to feed your intellectual curiosity by reading more about Critical Race Theory yourself. We have provided a short reading list in the links on this episode page.

Among the many thoughtful books and articles on Critical Race Theory was a piece written by Kelly Hamren PhD, a Christian professor at the Evangelical institution Liberty Univeristy – who writes and teaches on Russian literature, Marxism and Critical Race Theory. Her article, “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism and Biblical Ethics” came out in June of 2020 in Christianity Today, and will serve as the basis of this miniseries we are doing here on the Antioch Podcast we are calling “Christianity and Critical Race Theory” where we will talk about each of the four arguments she puts forth in her article. This is the first episode, covering the introduction to the article, in this series.


Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics: Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America. KELLY HAMREN, Christianity Today


(Approximate minute markers noted in parenthesis)

  • (14) What do members of the podcast sayin response to Michelle’s question, “What is Critical Race Theory (CRT)?”  Did anything they said surprise you?
  • (16) Pastor Reggie asks, “What does it mean to have identity?”  How would you describe your identity based on our demographic labels like the members of the podcast team do at the start of every episode?  How do you feel about the idea that American history could be told from the vantage point of many different demographic groups?  Notice these feelings, writing them down.
  • (17) How might telling the American story in terms of “both the good and the bad” be different than how you learned history as a child?  NOTE: There may be noteworthy generational differences here, so if you are in a small group, leave time for different members to share their recollections of how they were taught history as children, and whose viewpoints curated the facts that were included in the historical curriculum and which facts were excluded.
  • (21) How would you describe social justice?  How does the podcast team describe social justice?  What ideas stood out to you?
  • (25) How might seeing where the word “you” is meant to be understood as a plural (collective) pronoun help you read the Bible more accurately?  What Bible verses does asking this question make you curious about?”  Use the link to the Calvin Seminary Scripture Study App to learn more.
  • (28) What is the difference between “intent” and “impact”?  How might thinking about these ideas affect your understanding of social justice?
  • (31) What examples do you hear the podcast team identify as examples of how overtly racist policies from the past still affect people today?  How often do you think about these things?  What may be possible reasons for why you think of them as often as you do?  How often might you think of them if you were a person of another race?
  • (37) “Personal Responsibility”.  Have you ever heard someone use this phrase to imply that an individual is somewhat or entirely responsible for their unfortunate life circumstances?  How might understanding systemic sin give us an outlook on these differences that are characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit?
  • (39) Pastor Reggie talks about how Black Christianity as the Black church speaks to Black Christians.  How does he describe this?  How might these ideas be communicated to the congregation?  (Be specific if you can.)
  • (40) “…we seem to divorce our history from our ethics.”  Give examples from the history of the White church where this kind of complicity with the sin of racism happened.  (Be as specific as you can.). What might a reckoning with this history be like in the White church?
  • (40) Why do you imagine the phrase “White privilege” makes many white people uncomfortable?  If you are a White person, talk about your own emotional reaction to this phrase over time.  How did you first respond when you heard or read the phrase “White privilege”?  How do you respond to it today?  How do you think God responds to it?  Libby describes White privilege as “White people getting something that is a human right that other people aren’t given.”  How does this idea strike you?
  • (44) Michelle says, “If you are a person of color (POC) you are not assumed to be middle-class or upper-class especially if you are dressed casually or athletically.”  Reflect on this statement and the story of the jogger that follows.  Notice your thoughts and emotions, writing them down.  How might you personally (whatever racial group you identify with) pray about these reactions, asking God to heal what may be in your heart?  NOTE: this story was first told in Episode 71 if you want to listen to it.
  • (47) Eric says, “People who are experts in racism are the people who experience it often … listen and believe that they are telling the truth.”  Why might it be difficult to believe someone who has different experiences that we never have had?  Why do you think we come to believe some people’s stories that are different from our own, but challenge or reject other stories?  What are the consequences for POC when they are repeatedly disbelieved by individuals and systemically disbelieved or ignored by institutions?
  • (50) How does Pastor Reggie characterize the book of Exodus? He goes on to say, “you cannot disconnect justice from ethics.”  How has your church responded to the Black Lives Matter movement?  How have you responded?  What factors influence the way you and your church responded?  What holds you back from doing more?
  • (52) Libby talks about the introductory chapters written by theologians who are women or persons of color.  How would you describe the biases you have, considering how your identity has shaped your experiences and therefore how you read scripture and view the world?  For fun, write out how you would explain the biases and viewpoints your experiences have given you and how they impact the way you read and think about the Bible.  Read these descriptions aloud in a small group as a way to get to know one another.
  • (57) What might you have to unlearn to read the Bible more accurately?  When might we improperly silence ourselves because we fear that we may be biased?  When do we each need to be quiet to listen to the viewpoints of people who are not like us?  Whose voices have we each personally never considered listening to as it relates to how they view scripture or other matters?
  • (*) Going deeper: Notice that on the Antioch Podcast, white and male viewpoints are represented, but not dominant.  How might this impact the kinds of conversations they have?
  • (1:02) John Calvin, James Cone, and Katie Cannon.  What do you know about these three theologians, if anything?  Why do you think this is?  If you know one or two of them, but not the other(s), use the links in the show notes to further educate yourself.



YouTube Guilty Pleasure List:

Sorted Food

TBS Drop the Mic

Jokes Seth Can’t Tell



Calvin Seminary Scripture Study App

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, 2015

James H. Cone (1938-2018) – (Black) Theologian

Katie Cannon (1950-2018) – (Black, Womanist) Theologian



Critical Race Theory – Purdue Online Writing Lab: Critical Race Theory (1970s-present) –> GREAT BIBLIOGRAPHY HERE FOR STARTING AN IN-DEPTH READING ON THE SUBJECT.

President Trump Has Attacked Critical Race Theory. Here’s What to Know About the Intellectual Movement, Cady Lang, Time.com

On the Use and Abuse of Critical Race Theory in American Christianity by David French

5 Questions Christians Need to Ask About Critical Race Theory, Krish Kandiah, Premier Christianity

What Christians Get Wrong About Critical Race Theory, Nathan Luis Cartagena, Faithfully Magazine – Part 1 (with links to parts 2&3)