Does it seem to you that you woke up one morning and overnight the world had turned upside down? Definitions of life and its most basic elements had changed and continued to evolve. Truth became a depository for personal opinion, and some truths are negotiable, relative, or discarded because they are despised. After years of working in leadership positions with several ministries, I found myself constantly asking, “Is Christ enough in a woke ‘Christian’ environment?”
I was perplexed. The ministerial leaders surrounding me did not seem concerned. God was being replaced with the idol of diversity. So, I started asking questions about Critical Race Theory (CRT), intersectionality, wokeness, Diversity-Equality-Inclusion (DEI) programs, and other issues surrounding race, racism, oppression, and the proper biblical response.
Critical Race Theory is one of many subsets that fall under Critical Theory. Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay write in Cynical Theories, “Critical Race Theory holds that race is a social construct that was created to maintain white privilege and white supremacy.”[i]
For context, “Theorists” are secular sources that promote Critical Theory and/or its subsets. It encompasses a much larger conversation than race. Subsets can include Critical Social Justice (CSJ), Critical Gender Theory (CGT), as well as CRT, and many other categories. Intersectionality is a legal tool that has been adopted by many Theory subsets and is now used to categorize the degree to which a person has experienced oppression based upon aspects of his or her identity.
Wokeness is best described by Owen Strachan of his book Christianity and Wokeness.
“What is wokeness? Wokeness is, as we have noted, a mindset, a mood, and a set of principles and beliefs. It takes different forms; CRT is woke, intersectionality is woke and belief systems that make use of the concepts and framework of these ideologies are woke, whether wittingly or unwittingly.”[ii]
The formal subset of CRT was founded in the 1970s, but terms and ideologies have been evolving since then. Diversity-Equality-Inclusivity programs began over the past ten-to-thirty years with a foothold in the legal and academic spheres. DEI programs have slowly extended into other fields, institutions, and the workplace. We’ll start with the question: Do DEI principles align with Scripture? If not, why not?
Diversity is Biblical
The Bible speaks of diverse people groups and establishes that God made each person uniquely. His Word refers to differing ethnic groups and nations, but it never groups people of one skin color into race, which is a more recent social construct created by humans to identify people groups by physical characteristics and skin color. If diversity instruction is based upon the unbiblical but broadly accepted concept of race, believers run into the problem of discussing diversity using concepts not found in Scripture.
Of course, “race” cannot be ignored as it is a word and concept used by society. Christians must be able to navigate the conversation of race and diversity. However, in a conversation on diversity, it is important to note that “race” is not a biblical label. In “Christian woke” circles, biblical concern for justice and alleviating oppression is ascribed to these artificially constructed groups of people, who happen to be a certain skin color or those that culture defines as oppressed. But Scripture makes no correlation between those identified as oppressed and those categorized according to skin color or physical traits. In fact, Scripture never says that all “persons of color” are oppressed or that all whites are privileged.
On the contrary, Ephesians 2:15-16 says, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two [referring to the ethnic groups of Jews and Gentiles], thus making peace, and in one body…”
We are told that America has always viewed persons of color as lesser human beings and whites as better. It is taught as a fact that this distinction has automatically placed burdens upon all minorities while assessing certain privileges to whites that alleviate the demands of life.
Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, is a standard resource in the canon of CRT, DEI, and Intersectionality education. She asserts:
“[A] positive white identity is an impossible goal. White people do not exist outside of the system of white supremacy. … Rather, I strive to be ‘less white.’ To be less white is to be less racially oppressive.”
When any of this is rebutted or questioned by white people, they are accused of experiencing “white fragility”. Lest you think this condition of fragility means they are deserving of empathy; it is viewed as something “to get over”.
This becomes a Gospel issue because it hints that God was wrong in making white people or that His plan went awry in different ways for different racial groups, presuming different plans of salvation are needed for each. The new and unbiblical definitions lead to a works-based religion or worldview, discourage true hope, and “would have us correct Jesus in His dying breath at Calvary.”[iii]
If whites live in a permanently irredeemable state, then it makes sense for theorists/activists to preach works for the alleviation of wrongdoing (sin). If these concepts are conflated into Gospel issues, then Christ’s death alone is not the answer, and works are needed, but the resulting salvation is fraudulent and empty.
Diversity is biblical, but the term “race” is not. One must be careful not to attribute unbiblical concepts to diversity, or else the efforts might quickly pervert the true Gospel.
Equity is Biblical
For starters, the Just Thinking podcast has a thorough write up on biblical equity. For our purposes, let’s start with a working definition. The Oxford Dictionary defines “equity” as “the quality of being fair and impartial”. This definition of equity is consistent with biblical use.
“Fair and impartial” does not presume that life will be perfect, but that we should advocate for equal and impartial treatment. We all have different gifts and abilities which affect the economic realities of life. And yet, our American culture uses the term “equity” to mean “equality of outcome guaranteed”, according to Strachan[iv], and too often that’s achieved by treating different groups with partiality.
These definitions are vastly different. The Bible never teaches that we will all end up with the same number of earthly belongings. And, truly, it would be impossible to keep redistributing earthly belongings to try to keep up with cultural equity. This is what culture teaches, but this is not what God intended. However, in the halls of academia, on the playing fields of major sporting associations, in the world’s boardrooms, and splashed all over all popular media, equity plays out as partial treatment. If this is true, who decides what circumstances are equitable in America? Academic scholars and DEI activists now populate task forces to assess what is equitable for institutions, organizations, workplaces, and society, doing so by means of partiality, not impartiality, by fallible man and not wise and perfect God.
Inclusion is Biblical
God tells us to love all people. Jesus reached out to tax collectors, prostitutes, and those society considered unlovable. Christ invites all people to Him and extends forgiveness without discrimination, so they may join the family of God.
Inclusion is a biblical concept. As New Testament believers, we know all things must align with the Gospel the way the Bible presents it, not according to the new, works-based gospel of woke-ism.
In worldly terms, however, inclusion means accepting all behaviors and identities, including those not grounded in biblical truth. This makes the world’s manner of inclusion unbiblical, but for a growing population that increasingly feels marginalized, it’s a very compelling definition and becoming more popular by the day.
According to Theory scholars, inclusion is now the idea of accepting all people and behaviors as they see themselves. You can define yourself however you desire. There is no need for scientific evidence to support your definition. One manifestation in this context allows society to create new labels and change the biblical text that God created man and woman.
If we accept CRT proponents’ definitions and concepts, then we concede that God’s Word is not inerrant and that He is no longer perfect. If we accept these concepts of Theory and wokeness, Christ would no longer be eligible to be the perfect, blameless sacrifice for our sins. We would have no hope of salvation.
Biblical inclusion, as exemplified by Christ is pictured as adoption adopted into God’s family as His children. We join His family through our identity with Christ, God’s Son, taking on His Sonship as our own, passing through suffering and death in His humanity. And all of that is regardless of our experience of inclusion in this world.
So, is DEI Biblical?
It depends on what definitions you accept as Truth. If you begin with a presupposition that the Bible is God’s Word and therefore true, DEI could be biblical. But the definitions for DEI created by society go against biblical Truth. DEI as understood by culture is not biblical.
If DEI is not biblical, is it ethical to teach DEI in Christian settings? I do not encourage the use of woke terminology, but I do see how it is necessary to use the terms to educate and engage in cultural conversations. I believe when Truth is on the line it is detrimental and destructive to link God’s inerrant Word to these anti-biblical ideas. Many Christians also find difficulty interacting in organizations, businesses, or institutions that maintain DEI departments because they become focused on numbers and make hiring decisions or develop human resources protocol based on skin color or gender rather than skill or character. God never focuses on a person’s skin color. He looks at hearts.
What is the Ethical Response to Diversity, as Defined by the Bible?
I recommend this two-fold response:
- Educate Christians and seekers desiring to learn
- Respond biblically
The Church and Christian ministries need to address anti-biblical concepts and definitions. If the body of Christ is to be informed, live biblically, and recognize Truth, then there must be clear education about Theory and wokeness.
Education often starts with establishing our own set of presuppositions and challenging learners to root out any weaknesses. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Do I really want to know Truth?
- If I believe God and His Word are absolute Truth and inerrant, how do I respond to cultural messages that do not align with Scripture?
- Am I angry that God’s Word seems hard at times or that I may need to check sources that I have previously trusted against Scripture?
- It is biblical to test and approve leaders and their messages—is what I’m hearing or reading aligning with Scripture?
- It is helpful to read secular and Christian sources to frame the discussion—am I open to studying other perspectives?
- Have I read the works of DEI theorists and activists and compared them with Scripture?
- Am I open to facts and logic?
These questions should not be taken lightly or ignored by believers or by Christian leadership. When a leader or organization chooses to learn from or train others in sources from Theorists, and not merely to read to understand their arguments, the decision to promote worldly concepts over God’s Word has already been made. It’s not a strawman argument. The conscious opposition to Christianity is encoded in the construct of both CRT and Intersectionality. Christianity is considered oppressive, therefore its adherents are less deserving of a hearing or consideration because of their privileged status.
How will believers know what is the ethical response if the Church and Christian ministries are not brave enough to educate on anti-biblical messages and how they differ from the Truth? Opposing racism does not require accepting antiracism, a secular ideology created by Ibram X. Kendi[v]. It also does not require support of the phrase or organization, Black Lives Matter, which promotes LGBTQ+ identity and the destruction of the nuclear family.
Secondly, if diversity is biblical and racism is real, but CRT, wokeness, and DEI are problematic, how should the Church respond? Let’s speak the Truth and acknowledge facts, doing both from a biblical foundation. Scripture affirms many things regarding these issues, but it is necessary to distinguish what the text actually says (exegesis) rather than reading into it what we wish it would say (eisegesis). Simply attaching verses to worldly definitions and concepts is neither helpful nor biblical.
Racism is a sin issue. Believers need to willingly express this and not waiver when Theorists or their adherents demand we jump through cultural hoops to prove it. Let’s listen to others’ perspectives, but not at the expense of Truth. Just because someone feels oppressed, their perspective is not elevated above God’s Word. Believers should not feel required to support ideas and organizations that are not grounded in biblical principles.
Is it biblically ethical to create a department centered on DEI or antiracism if God does not focus on skin color? His Son has torn down the wall of hostility between God and man (on which side are all men, not just those of a certain color) and invites all to be adopted into His family (Ephesians 2:13-22).
Would it not be better to start with a program on Biblical Unity? After becoming familiar with DEI, false definitions, and biblical terms, we should focus on unity and adoption in Christ, building listening skills with a posture toward respect, and remembering that all people and their struggles matter equally.
I urge readers to invest time to learn about different ethnic groups and peoples because God made us all to be different. Speak the Truth and recognize facts. Research God’s Word for biblical responses to current issues. Make sure all you do is grounded in exegesis, not eisegesis. Be slow to speak, respond, and act. You don’t owe anyone an answer in a specific timeframe. Do not feel guilty that you want ample time to make sure your response is biblical. Ask questions and surround yourself with biblical mentors from different environments to make sure what you are hearing is grounded in God’s Word.
Where to Start?
For further reading on developing a biblical response to topics such as diversity or racism, these resources are highly recommended:
- Owen Strachan – Christianity and Wokeness. This is the most thorough biblical response. There are questions at end of each chapter allow this text to be used as group curriculum.
- Center for Biblical Unity (CFBU) – Social media presence and “Reconciled” curriculum. CFBU provides a beginner curriculum to understand “diversity”. There is a great web presence for educating and active response to biblical injustice.
- Voddie Baucham – Fault Lines and YouTube videos. Baucham provides facts and shares lived experience in his book; the videos are great biblical responses.
- Thaddeus Williams – Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth. This is a less controversial response, which includes individual stories.
- Virgil Walker/Darrell Harrison – Just Thinking Podcast. This is an exegetical podcast on current issues.[vi]
- Abraham Hamilton III – The Hamilton Corner Podcast. Hamilton is a Christian lawyer who gives biblical perspective and response to social justice issues.
[i] Pluckrose, Helen & James A. Lindsay. (2020). Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity. Pitchstone Publishing, Kindle page 1778.
[ii] DiAngelo, Robin. (Reprint Ed., 2018). White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Beacon Press., page 24, 149.
[iii] Strachan, Owen. (2021). Christianity & Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel— and the Way to Stop It. Salem Books., p. 81
[iv] Christianity and Wokeness, p. 127
[v] Kendi, Ibram X. (2019). How to be an Antiracist. One World.
[vi] Harrison, Darrell & Virgil Walker. EP# 103 | The Church of BLM. Just Thinking Podcast. Just Thinking Ministries. https://justthinking.me/103