What Would You Say?

Is Critical Theory Biblical?


Joseph Backholm

You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Since God cares about the oppressed, Christians should embrace critical theory, because its trying to eliminate oppression too.”

What would you say?

Critical theory is one way our culture attempts to explain and confront power structures.

Some Christians have embraced it as well. But what is it?

To understand critical theory, we need to understand it’s two primary claims.

First, everyone can be divided into two groups: those who have power and those who don’t.

Second, those who have power always oppress those who don’t.

But how do we know who the oppressed and who the oppressors are? According to critical theory, the categories of oppressor and oppressed are based on your group identity. Things like race, gender, religion, immigration status, income, sexual orientation, and gender identity determine whether we are oppressed or one of the oppressors.

Of course, someone might be part of an oppressed group in one way but one of the oppressors in another way. That’s where the concept of intersectionality comes in. Intersectionality seeks to measure someone’s level of oppression based on how these group identities intersect in someone’s life. For example, a black man is less oppressed than a black woman, who is less oppressed than a black lesbian.

In critical theory, the degree to which you are oppressed determines your level of moral authority. The more categories of oppression someone identifies with, the more moral authority they have.

As a result, the experience and perspective of a gay, black , woman is more valuable than the experience and perspective of a straight white man, regardless of what they have to say.

In the same way, the more oppressed someone is, the less moral responsibility they have for their actions. Those who aren’t part of oppressed groups—straight, white, men—gain moral authority by surrendering to those who have it—the oppressed. This is called being “woke.”

Some people claim that since Jesus cares about oppression, critical theory and intersectionality should be embraced by Christians. But critical theory and intersectionality are not consistent with Christianity, and here are three reasons why.

First, critical theory offers a different view of humanity than Christianity.

Second, critical theory offers a different view of sin than Christianity.

Third, critical theory offers a different view of salvation than Christianity.


Click on the video to hear the entire conversation, or go to WhatWouldYouSay.org to see more like it.


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