In the midst of his recent observations on the current controversy in the Anglican Church in North America (Do read it.), Rod Dreher drops a little note that the Bishop of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO) Todd Hunter once “issued a guidance praising Critical Race Theory.” Click on Dreher’s link and you get vol. VII of “Current Issues Facing Clergy”, an occasional communication to C4SO from Hunter. Oddly, unlike some other volumes, no signature is attached to this one, but it is clear this went out with his approval at the very least.
And in this one, Hunter responds to concerns about Critical Theory (CT) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) with an utter lack of critical thinking and basic fairness. He begins by smearing people concerned about Critical Race Theory in the church as “name calling and thinking the worst of people’s motivations,” likening them to those who accused Martin Luther King of being a Communist.
Critical Race Theory on the other hand “is simply trying to understand the hidden, underlying issues of race (or other forms of injustice) that go beyond the individual and express themselves structurally.” He even compares it favorably to missionaries seeking to understand cultures with “an open devotion to Jesus Christ and the neighbors he has given us to love.”
This tendentiousness continues. He portrays those concerned about CRT in the church as “utterly out of touch with the concerns of our African American brothers and sisters.” Someone tell Voddie Baucham that. (Last I’ve heard, he is doing well after heart surgery, by the way. Thanks be to God.) Then later:
I believe that charges of CRT leveled at “the Evangelical (or Woke) Left” are shallow, wrongly aimed, misleading and distracting. The truth is that rather than being seduced by an alleged “woke movement,” our brothers and sisters are simply seeking to do what Jesus Himself asks of us: to remain awake and alert to the movement of the kingdom of God against the darkness of this world.
“No woke church stuff going on here! And anyone saying so is being shallow and misleading and other bad things! Now have I told you how much I like Critical Theory?”
Hunter pretty much tells us just that when he gets to defining Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory. But he performs his definitions by playing with the word “critical” in such a “shallow” way that it begs the question of intellectual dishonesty. He first defines “critical thinking” in a non-controversial way. Then he defines Critical Theory, strenuously trying to make it non-controversial as well:
Critical theory is a multidisciplinary, theoretical and provisionally held constellation of attempts to discern, understand, theorize and critically expose the existence and meaning of observable patterns of cultural harm. In this sense, it encompasses both science and activism, seeking to both understand and to transform. Critical theorists seek to get beneath the surface of social life, digging beneath what shows up in polls and various studies. They desire to reveal the hidden assumptions—especially of power—that keep human beings from a full and true understanding of how the world is actually currently working.
This fatuous definition leaves out so much of import, it is akin to defining sulfuric acid as a pretty liquid. Among the dominant traits of CT Hunter convenient leaves out is its vilification of “whiteness” and of America as well as the inherent racism of Critical Theory. But it gets worse. Then comes his definition of Critical Race Theory:
This is the attempt to use the tools of Critical Theory to understand deep issues of race. A simple way to put it is this: CRT seeks to reveal the racial work that still needs to be done after the Civil Rights Movement and the legislation that flowed from it. Yes, progress was made, but profound underlying issues still exist. Color still makes a difference in manifold ways. Discrimination and various forms of inequality still exist in America.
He then immediately states (emphasis mine):
Such a statement seems utterly uncontroversial to me. It is not an attack on persons, churches or a nation. It can and should be the basis for growth and health, helping America and the Church to live into her fullest dream.
Yes, you read that right, but read it again. Here we have an ACNA bishop endorsing Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory. Yes, he does so by defining CRT down to something insipid and almost infantile. If read in woodenly literal way, Hunter is endorsing as somehow “the basis for growth and health, helping America and the Church to live into her fullest dream” the contention that “profound underlying issues still exist. Color still makes a difference in manifold ways. Discrimination and various forms of inequality still exist in America.” We can argue about to what extent that contention is true, but I agree; that is indeed relatively uncontroversial. But it should not be conflated with CRT nor used to endorse the same.
Hunter becomes more clear in his endorsement of CRT when he adds:
A solid way forward is to recall that all truth is God’s truth. If the lens of Critical Race Theory helps to truthfully identify underlying assumptions and structures that are otherwise hidden, isn’t that a gift, and the possible basis for healing and justice?
Some “gift”! A “gift” that is not healing the church and society but tearing it apart. If CRT is “a gift” then it should be emphatically rejected and returned. CT and CRT are toxic. One need only look at what is going on in our society with cancel culture, attacks on free speech, anti-white racism, the utter corruption of education and much more to see that. Not to mention CT making idols of manifold identities, including sexual identities, a present problem in ACNA, in case you didn’t notice. But do read and listen to Neil Shenvi, James Lindsay, Voddie Baucham, and Rod Dreher among others for what Critical Theory really is. Or for that matter, if you can stomach the toxicity, sample Ibram X. Kendi, Kyle J. Howard, or Robin “White Fragility” DiAngelo.
See for yourself that Critical Theory, along with Critical Race Theory, is hardly what Todd Hunter says it is and should not be endorsed by any Christian leader. Become informed about Critical Theory. Perhaps you will become as alarmed as I am that ACNA has a bishop who rather uncritically endorses Critical Theory and leads a large diocese that reflects that.