Skip to main content
A Word on the Rhetorical Tricks of CRT Apologetes

Earlier last week I received the good news that Timothy Brindle, a Presbyterian Christian rapper, came to reject various Critical Race Theory inspired ideas that he had previously thought were compatible with the Christian faith. I happily read the news on my friend's Facebook timeline. The reason for my happiness? To begin with, having rejected CRT's antiChristian concepts, Brindle could now correctly understand his relationship to God and others (specifically as regards the issues of justice, racism, and so on). CRT proponents are like the Pharisees in that they judge the actions and words of men according to an extrabiblical ethical standard that, in practice, is equal in authority to the Word of God. They pay lip service to the law of God, to the Word of God, but by their deeds they reveal what they truly believe: God's Word needs CRT in order to be properly understood, believed, and applied. Brindle could help shed light on how the truth is that without CRT man's duty before God is made abundantly clear in his revealed law. Timothy Brindle could also influence Black and Latino Reformed Christians to question the ideology which they perhaps have blended together with their understanding of Reformed ethics/Biblical ethics. There are, sadly, many who claim to be Reformed and yet adhere to concepts derived from CRT that are completely at odds with Christianity. It would be a blessing to see these brothers reject CRT and return to the truth, for the sake of their own spiritual well-being as well as that of the churches to which they belong.

As I rejoiced in my brother's rejection of CRT, I came across a comment from a professedly Christian proponent of CRT. And as is the case with nearly all CRT proponents within the visible church, this person began to give a reason for the hope of social transformation that is within him, taking jabs at Brindle (implying he was ignorant of what CRT actually is) and, no pun intended (?), whitewashing the antiChristian philosophical roots and fruit of CRT. In my paper “Is Critical Race Theory Anti-Christian? Yes” I explain how CRT apologists misrepresent the necessary presuppositional foundation of their theory, but I don't explain in much detail why they do this. I also don't lay out the rhetorical methodology they employ in order to achieve this goal. So in this short blog, I hope to explain these things as best I can. Rather than putting out fires here and there started in an endless exchange of comments online, I want to expose the cause of the fires – a deceptive rhetorical methodology sent out into discussions to set rationality and consistency on fire and burn the truth to the ground, with the same ideologically fueled arson currently destroying the West Coast and Pacific Northwest.

1. Whitewashing

Given that postmodernism is opposed to meta-structures, postmodernists will usually deny being postmodernists. This is because if they admit they can be objectively identified as members of a universal class/group – viz. Postmodern Thinkers – then they are implying that there are at least some metastructures that transcend specific historical, geographical, and ethnic limitations. And if that is the case, then postmodern critiques of metanarratives, universals, and the classical understanding of subjectivity are not nearly as radical as postmodernists say. If every postmodern thinker is merely a particular instance of the universal “Postmodern Thinker,” then postmodernism is ipso facto false. Put another way: The first rule of postmodernism is that you don’t talk about “Postmodernism.”

Like postmodernist thinkers, secular and professedly Christian proponents of CRT have a vested interest in not identifying CRT as a particular instance of a general class. The general class in question is “White Anglo & European Philosophy” (henceforth, WAP). For secular proponents of CRT, a denial that the theory owes its origin to WAP is a strategic maneuver. You see, if CRT owes its origin to WAP, and WAP is the intellectual embodiment of white supremacy, then it follows that CRT is merely another instance of white supremacist thinking. And if CRT is merely another instance of white supremacist thinking, then it follows that CRT doesn’t actually attack WAP and white supremacy, but instead reinforces WAP and white supremacy. This would mean that any promotion of CRT or its applied derivative concepts is a promotion of WAP/white supremacist thinking.

For professedly Christian proponents of CRT, a denial of WAP is made because Scripture is very clear about philosophical speculations that have no root in Christ. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul writes –

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Christianity is opposed to philosophical reasoning that is not rooted in the Christian faith, as such intellectual meanderings are, from the onset, opposed to the truth. They aid fallen man in his rebellion, providing prima facie justification for his suppression of the truth in unrighteousness (cf. Rom 1:18-23). If the “Christian” proponents of CRT openly acknowledged the WAP origins of CRT, I think many Christians would be much more hesitant to treat CRT’s ideas as objective and objectively compatible with the truth of Scripture.

2. Hairsplitting

Deceptive teachers employ what I have come to call the general/specific dialectic, a rhetorical argumentative tactic used to avoid being held accountable for the content of their teaching. The dialectic is a rhetorical oscillation between explanatory generality and explanatory specificity when respectively avoiding interrogative specificity and interrogative generality. More to the point, when you intend to answer a question with a general explanation, and you do so but your interlocutor treats your response as if it were intended to be specific, and vice versa, he is engaging in this rhetorical oscillation between two opposed ways of explaining something, or giving an answer for some question.

In the case of CRT proponents, when they treat general criticisms of CRT as if they were intended to be, and failed at being, specific criticisms of CRT, they are engaging in hairsplitting, arguing from the specificity end of the general/specific dialectic. Here’s one example you’ll likely come across. CRT proponents not only deny the WAP origins of their belief system, but also seek to educate their opponents by identifying different political activists and revolutionary parties as the real source of CRT’s main ideas. This is deceptive, for when we say that CRT is rooted in WAP we are saying that CRT is inextricably rooted in WAP, and could not exist without it. We are not denying that there are specific persons and groups who helped contribute to the generation of CRT. Rather, we are denying that those particular persons did not derive their key ideas contributing to CRT from White Anglo-European Philosophers (i.e. WAP).

You see, while it is true that men like Martin Luther King Jr., Frantz Fanon, and W.E.B. DuBois produced writings with ideas that contributed to CRT’s production, it is equally true that their key ideas are derived from different WAP systems. Here is a brief rundown of the individuals I mentioned –

CRT Claimed Originator

Philosophical Source

Contributed Idea/s

1. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hegelianism

The eschatalogical liberation and equalization of all people, the development of the self and society through contradiction/conflict1

2. Frantz Fanon

Marxism, Freudianism

Self-alientation, dialectical materialism, psychoanalysis, repression2

3. W.E.B. DuBois

Marxism, Freudianism

Self-alienation, divided/double consciousness, material development of the self through the use, production, and procurement of material and social capital, unconscious motivation, repression3


The same can be said of the Black Panthers Party which is cited as having contributed to CRT. Huey P. Newton explicitly identified Friedrich Nietzsche’s notion of the will to power as being central to understanding the Party’s oft-repeated slogan “All power to the people.” Newton was an avid reader of philosophy, often discussing with his party members the ideas of not only Nietzsche but C.S. Peirce and Plato.4 Without WAP, in other words, even the contributions of the Black Panthers to CRT would not exist.

The CRT proponent who knows these things is, of course, splitting hairs about the specific mouthpiece through whom these ideas were disseminated, and upon whom CRT depended for its main ideas. Note that the issue of where these ideas came from is not a problem for anyone who understands that philosophers and activists and artists are interdependent, that many times they develop their ideas “in conversation” with one another. Moreover, note that this in no way takes away from the originality and brilliance of these thinkers and activists. Instead, dependence on WAP shows these thinkers to be part of the very philosophical tradition which CRT proponents have identified as the intellectual embodiment of white supremacy.5 Yet in an effort to avoid being dependent on WAP, however, some philosophically astute CRT proponents insinuate that the ideas voiced by King, Fanon, DuBois, and the Black Panthers were completely divorced from the history of philosophy. The strategic nature of this claim, as noted above, only serves to underscore the underlying problems with CRT.

3. Concept Conflation

The practice of conflating concepts found in CRT literature with concepts found in the Scriptures is something that you will find when reading “Christian” CRT proponents. There are many places where this occurs, but I only want to underscore what seems to be the most obvious conflation of concepts. I am referring here to the conflation of Christianity’s Oppressor/Oppressed binary opposition and the Oppressor/Oppressed binary opposition found in CRT literature. I have come across more than a few CRT proponents who make the argument that their views are compatible with Scripture because they are merely seeking to “set at liberty those who are oppressed.”6 Yet the Scriptural Oppressor/Oppressed binary, in relation to the Gospel, has nothing to do with political oppression.

As John Calvin explains in his commentary on Luke 4:18 –

…we are here taught what is the design of the preaching of the Gospel, and what advantage it brings to us. We were altogether overwhelmed by every kind of evils: but there God cheers us by his life-giving light, to rescue us from the deep abyss of death, and to restore us to complete happiness. It tends, in no ordinary degree, to recommend the Gospel, that we obtain from it inestimable advantage. … we see who are invited by Christ, and made partakers of promised grace. They are persons, who are every way miserable, and destitute of all hope of salvation.

The oppressed who are in need of liberation are those who are oppressed by sin. John Gill notes that they

…are captives to sin, Satan, and the law; from which, there is only deliverance by him; who saves his people from their sins, redeems them from the law, and leads captivity captive; and which liberty and deliverance are preached and published in the Gospel, and by Christ the author of them

Thus, the liberation they need is spiritual, not socio-economic.

4. Bad Analogizing

CRT apologists will also indirectly deny the CRT origins of their beliefs by drawing a false analogy between their use of antiChristian philosophical categories and the use of Christianity-compatible philosophical categories in matters of systematic theology (e.g. using Aristotelian and Platonic terminology when discussing the doctrine of the Trinity). I wanted to mention this last because it hasn’t come up as often in my own discussions with “Christian” CRT advocates. Usually, the CRT proponent makes this bad analogy in an attempt to disguise CRT as an analytical tool congenial to the study of theology.

The problem is that CRT is not an abstract system of philosophy that deals with broad metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical questions. Rather, it is a way of thinking that goes out of its way to particularize, historicize, and relativize itself, the subjects and authors which it analyzes and/or re-tools to suit its own purposes. More plainly: Aristotelian and Platonic categories of being are general, abstract, and more akin to mathematical and logical categories which one can use to explain a host of particular, concrete phenomena, events, etc. Suggesting that the ideas foundational to CRT can function as abstract explanatory tools is absurd, seeing as CRT implicitly and, well, explicitly denies that knowledge is not relative to one’s gender, weight, eye color, skin color, height, history, genetic makeup, national origin, and so on and so on.

When the “Christian” proponent of CRT presents his apologetic for CRT, listen to the arguments he makes. He will likely employ the rhetorical trickery mentioned above, and likely expect you to not think twice about what he is doing. Prove him wrong, and do what the Lord Jesus commands –

“…be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”7


1 See Dumain, Ralph. “Martin Luther King, Jr. & G.W.F. Hegel,” The Audodidact Project, http://www.autodidactproject.org/my/hegel-mlk.html; Ansboro, John. “Martin Luther King’s Debt to Hegel,” in The Owl of Minerva, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Fall 1994), 98-100.

2 See Parris, LaRose T. “Frantz Fanon: Existentialist, Dialectician, and Revolutionary” in The Journal of Pan African Studies Vol.4, No.7 (November 2011),104-133.

3 See Du Bois, W.E.B. “Marxism and the Negro Problem,” in The Crisis Vol.40, No.5 (May 1933), 103-104.

4 See Caygill, Howard. “Philosophy and the Black Panthers,” in Radical Philosophy 179 (May/June 2013), 7-13.

5 See Sartwell, Crispin. “Western Philosophy as White Supremacism,” The Philosophical Salon, https://thephilosophicalsalon.com/western-philosophy-as-white-supremacism.

6 Luke 4:18b.

7 Matt 10:16b.

Comments