A Blurry Lens

Critical Theory is a blurry lens from which to view the world. It is not simply a matter of being imperfect or misguided. It is a fundamentally and irretrievably flawed worldview that permeates many tangential theories. Theories such as Critical Gender Theory, Critical Legal Theory, Critical Economic Theory, and Critical Race Theory. They are defective in their attempts to understand the world or offer any real hope. They are, as their name suggests, critical.

Given the increasing adoption of Critical Theory in the larger culture, Christian’s must ask these questions:

  • What is Critical Theory?
  • How am I to understand it from a Biblical Worldview?
  • Are there any aspects of it that can be helpful?
  • What should I be cautious of ?
  • How should I move forward in light of it?

In an effort to better understand Critical Theory, it may be helpful to analyze one of its tangential theories: Critical Race Theory (CRT). In his recent article published for the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Dr. Adam Day conducted a “Biblical Analysis of Critical Race Theory.” He interacts with Jemar Tisby’s bestselling book The Color of Compromise while seeking to define and biblically critique CRT. In the interest of making this accessible and applicational, let me offer some of his observations below:

Cautions for the Church

  • Beware of the Redefinition of Racism: CRT has come to redefine racism as “prejudice plus power” instead of “prejudice based on skin color.”
  • Beware of the Power Dynamic: A tenet of Postmodernism and CRT holds that “all relationships are about power.” Instead of power being one of many dynamics that can bring about differences and disparity, it is seen as the only explanation for those differences.
  • Beware of the Guilt Trip: There is an “assumed guilt on the part of all white American Christians.” In this view, the modern presence of racism is connected with seventeen century racism irrespective of the different ways they are manifested. There is no acknowledgement that “racisim may have diminshed over time” or have been “ameliorated” in any way. Further, there is an assumption of “Christian complicity” by saying that “Nowadays, all the American church needs to do in terms of compromise is cooperate with already established and racially unequal social systems.”
  • Beware of the Lens: Day writes, “The particular danger of Tisby’s claims is that everything is viewed through the lens of race. Race does not account for every inequality nor is it the explanation for every difference–gender, socio-economic status, religion, and many other features combine to explain the many complexities of historical and social dynamics.”

Moving Forward

In the concluding portions of his article subtitled “How Then Shall We Live?”, Day offers several principles for moving forward in a world that has embraced CRT. He suggests:

  • Believe True Narratives: We are called to be a people characterized by truth. A people who speak the truth in love and refrain from bearing false witness. According to Day, one practical implication of this is “Christians must wait to respond to events in our world until we know what the facts are.” Too often, we are prone to arriving at a conclusion and offering a subsequent opinion with little known about the facts.
  • Seek True Explanations: Not every inequality is the function of racism or a power dynamic. CRT advocates the notion that inequality of outcome is the evidence of systemic injustice. But as Thaddeus Williams notes, “different people with different priorities making different choices will experience different outcomes.” Day goes on to say, “When we repeat an incorrect narrative or argue every unequal outcome is systemic injustice, it actually undermines our efforts at true justice.”
  • Avoid Broad Statements: One of the greatest arguments against racism is the imago dei. When we see people as made in the image of God, we appreciate their uniqueness, dignity, and value. Broad statements often undermine that uniqueness. To say that “all white people are guilty of racism is actually racist because it indicts people solely on the basis of their skin color.”
  • Admit When We Are Wrong: Our current culture tends toward outrage as we often only interact with those who carry our positions. We assume the worst, operate in the extremes, and live in a “perpetual echo chamber.” As Christians, we should be willing to hear the petitions of our neighbors and consider them fairly. We should be willing to admit when we have been wrong and move forward seeking to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. But above all, we should be people who pursue the truth. Because as Williams notes, “truth is the decisive factor between doing justice and thinking we are.”

Day concludes by noting that CRT has pointed to some “under-evaluated aspects of race.” He admits that CRT “highlights the fact that institutions and systems can promote racism and racial inequalities” and that it can serve as a “useful, though limited, analytical tool.” But he asks the question that is most prescient for the Christian: “Does utilizing this tool add anything that we not already obtain from a Christian Worldview?”

In his view, and in my own, “the answer seems to be no.”

*Photo by Josh Calabrese


Technology and the Christian

“Does an ax exalt itself above the one who chops with it? Does a saw magnify itself above the one who saws with it? It would be like a rod waving the ones who liftit! It would be like a staff lifting the one who isn’t wood!” – Isaiah 10:15 (CSB)

To paraphrase Isaiah:  Are you using technology or is technology using you?

There are occasions when it is good and right to consider topics that impact life.  And in today’s sermon at King’s Church we had the opportunity to think through the issue of technology biblically. To ask the question how does a Christian utilize technology? 

After defining what we mean by technology and examining its positive and negative impacts, I presented a biblical understanding of technology and offered questions to ask and principles to apply. Here are the two questions to ask:

Question 1:  How does this technology Advance God’s Kingdom?

Question 2:  How does this technology Impact Life?

The Christian must evaluate whether, on the whole, God’s Kingdom is Advanced by a particular technology.  While some technologies have advanced God’s Kingdom, their negative impacts outweigh their positive.  And if we are honest, they advance the kingdom of darkness more than the kingdom of light.

Several interrelated questions must be considered when measuring technology’s impact.   Questions like:  How can it be misused? What are the risks?  Do those risks make it unwise or dangerous?  Is it unwise for adults?  Is it unwise for children? What about for people without training?  How about for people with no self-discipline?  A Christian intent on honoring God with their lives will think thru these questions when developing and utilizing various technologies.

The issue of technology is a wisdom issue.  The answers are often found in asking the right questions and employing the right principles.  Proverbs 1:7 reminds us “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” And that beginning is not simply a starting line for wisdom, but the boundaries in which to live the Christian life.  Here are six wisdom principles to help in engaging technology biblically:

Principle 1 – Ask God for Wisdom

Principle 2 – Do all things for God’s Glory

Principle 3 – Set a Daily Limit

Principle 4 – Have a Daily Device Free Hour

Principle 5 – Love People and Use Things

Principle 6 – Regularly Fast

The Christian that commits to asking these questions and applying these principles will master their tools.  Technology will be an axe in their hand.  Christian flourishing—that is life and life abundant—comes by way of wisdom.  And wisdom teaches us that Technology is not neutral:  It is a tool for good or a weapon for evil.

Several Resources were utilized and cited in the sermon “Biblical Technology:  A Christian’s Guide to Utilizing Technology.”  Here are the more prominent resources:

Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family
Daniel Heimbach, Fundamental Christian Ethics
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
Tony Reinke, God, Technology, and the Christian Life
Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You
Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation

*Photo Credit: Todd Quackenbush

The Veteran’s Pain: Reflections on the Afghan Withdrawal

*Photo by Mohammad Rahmani

The past few days have featured chaos in Afghanistan.  Coinciding with the US withdrawal, threats of Taliban violence have prompted an exodus from their sitting President, along with thousands of others.  Missionaries are fearful for their lives and women fear for their safety.  In many respects, the scenes depicted in news outlets portray images making one wonder if an American presence was ever really there?

After a few days of praying thru the many emotions, I feel compelled to offer some thoughts on Afghanistan.  

The Fighting Men & Women

Only the person who’s been in combat can fully appreciate what it means to be at war. There is a point in your deployment when you stop fighting for “Uncle Sam and Grandma’s apple pie” and you start fighting simply for the right to come home. All of the political rhetoric and the “red-white-and-blue” is good enough to get you to take an oath.  But what gets you home is the person fighting alongside you, and the hope of returning to your family.  It becomes less about the cause, and more about your people.

Winning a War

What does it even mean to win a war? Does anybody win a war? There may be victories won. But when we fight, on some level, everyone loses.  Sometimes it’s a very necessary fight—but check your ideas of winning at the door.  You may win certain battles, but nobody comes out unscathed. Nobody comes out untouched. This isn’t paintball.  This isn’t Call-of-Duty.  This is something entirely different.  Nobody returns from a deployment the same as they departed. 

I don’t know that anyone was ever going to win in Afghanistan—as in “white flag surrender of our enemies” type of win. They’ll be no peace treaties signed in Versailles or on the deck of a navy ship.  The Russians couldn’t do it in a decade and we haven’t done it in two. 

Afghanistan is tribal and likes it that way.  A centralized government was going to be a 4 or 5 decade proposition, and even then, I’m not sure it would have stuck.  Further, I’m not sure that we ever solved the poppy problem.  How do you convince an Afghan farmer to grow something other than poppy?  It’s like trying to convince a NC tobacco farmer to grow something other than tobacco.  And after all, poppy is used to produce heroine.  Heroine is sold at great profits.  And those profits help to finance international terror networks.  We never had a great answer to that, and I’m not sure that there is one. 

However, if we define winning in terms of holding the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks accountable, then, in large part, we have done that.  If you define victory by the disruption of Al-Qaeda terrorist networks and by keeping the Taliban at bay for 20 years, we have done that.  If you define victory creating some measure of stability in a fledgling government, well, we did that.

The Frustration 

Much of the frustration simmering around our recent withdrawal comes as a result of the way that it was conducted.  Some special operations and intelligence capability needed to be left in country to retain the gains achieved over the last 20 years.  Some presence was needed to protect our Afghan partners that have provided intelligence and supported our efforts from within.  Some presence was needed to be left in country to protect the civilian population or at a minimum see to their safe and orderly evacuation.  If you ask why I assert such a presence was needed?  I give you the nightly news as exhibit A. 

I’m not advocating for a continued large-scale presence with no end-game in sight.  But the policy and military decisions made by our President and his appointed secretaries have been nothing less than a disaster.  And the reason many are disheartened include the giving back of the security and stability gains that had been achieved in the last 20 years.  The frustration centers around the very investment of their lives in a cause that seems to have been sent to the recycle bin based upon political calculations, rash decision making, and poor execution. 

The Pivot 

Let me pivot this conversation from a critique of the administration to a critique of my countrymen. I used to hear the phrase “America is at War”.  When I came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I actually found America to be at the Mall.  The Afghan issue centers around a decades long investment of human capital in a country only to have the gains achieved so quickly surrendered.  That’s where the veteran’s pain lies.  That’s where the pain lies for our Gold-star mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. 

But to my fellow Americans, you are doing the same thing.  

All of the investment in securing our freedoms has come at great cost—lives and limbs; sons and daughters; visible and hidden wounds.  All of that money, time, and life spent securing your freedoms only to have them surrendered in a year because you are living in fear. America is not at the mall.   America is shopping from home.  America is not taking the hill.  America is living in fear.  America is not fighting for freedom.  America is giving it away.  That’s where the veteran’s pain lies. 

The Ask 

I know it can be tiresome to head to your local polling station to cast your vote and wonder, “is this the best we can do? Are these really the best two candidates we can produce?”  But as we are seeing now, elections have consequences.  How we conduct elections is consequential.  Real lives are at stake— here and abroad.  Please vote, and do so with a sobriety tempered by reality and not social media.

As a Christian, I have a dual citizenship.  One as an American.  One as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.  There is no angst in my soul when I affirm my heavenly citizenship to take priority over my earthly citizenship. Yet, in both realms, I am not called to a spirit of fear.  I am called to life.  Life here and life eternally.   Living life well is the best way to honor the sacrifice of our servicemen and women. Living life in Christ is the best way to honor the ultimate sacrifice of King Jesus. 

The Invitation 

To those veterans who took the time to read this, please know you are loved.  You have accomplished your mission.  And should you ever need someone to talk to, please find me at pastor@kingschurchlv.com. 

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, the church is needed now more than ever—the time is short and the days are evil.  The church is needed to share the good news of Jesus and invite people to respond; to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  The church is needed to be the voice of Christ in a world that so desperately needs the hope he offers.  Pray for our leaders.  Pray for our missionaries in harm’s way.  Pray that we would be resolved to live out our faith in the dual spheres of our citizenship. 

And to those who have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Who have never believed that God did in Jesus, what you could not do on your own, let me invite you today to cry out to God and ask him to save you.  To save you from your sins. 

He can do that.  He will do that.  He did do that.  And when you do that—everything changes. 


Adam Mallette is the Lead Teaching Pastor of King’s Church in Las Vegas.  He served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps from 2002-2012. Adam is currently a PhD student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has earned a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma.