The Christological Heresy of Critical Theory

If critical theory is correct, the orthodox doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus Christ can no longer be maintained with any logical consistency.

Christian adherents to tenets of critical theory might respond that Jesus divested himself of privilege by identifying with the outcasts of his society (e.g., the Samaritan woman). And to be sure, we should rejoice in the numerous stories in which we see Jesus doing so. Yet we are left with the bare fact that, when he distributed power (the chief concern of critical theory), Jesus chose only Jewish men as the apostles who would go on to form the foundation of his church.

 

Critical theory locates the sin of oppression in systems rather than in individual acts. Consequently, it argues that guilt accrues to all who belong to an oppressive class, regardless of their personal intentions or actions, due to the benefits they receive from the oppression of minorities. To take a prominent example, white men in America are to be regarded as stained from birth with the sins of racism and misogyny by virtue of their (involuntary) participation in the two privileged categories of “white” and “men.” In order to be imputed with the guilt of these two sins, a white male need not actually perform any racist or misogynistic actions. All he must do is exist in a society that grants him privileges for his ethnicity and gender. Therefore, he relates to members of other groups (minorities and women) with a vacuum of moral authority that requires him to humble himself, repent, and seek atonement and absolution from them. This is the basic framework by which sin, guilt, and justification are understood through the lens of critical theory.

If critical theory is correct, the orthodox doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus Christ can no longer be maintained with any logical consistency. Jesus was born into the world as a male child and grew up to be a man in a male-dominated society. Not only was he a man, but he was a Jewish man living primarily among fellow Jews (whose relationships with Gentiles and Samaritans among them were frequently marked by tension and exclusion). One could argue that he experienced a number of privileges as a result of his ethnicity and gender, given the society in which he lived, and especially in comparison to women and ethnic minorities of Galilee or Judea.

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