Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Cynical Theories That Should Concern The Christian Leader.

Written by: on February 18, 2023

Critical Theory has become a buzzword common in politics and social justice academic talks and even found its way to the school curriculum, yet only a few know its sources. James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose have delved into this topic. They have tried to demystify it in their book, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity – And How This Harms Everybody.[1] This is a matter of great concern o parents who are sending their children to public schools and o pastors who do not seems to understand its sources. I must confess that the book, however, is not an easy read as it goes deeper into the critical theories and is not easy for someone new to the topic. Some of the things highlighted in the book are some of the impacts of the essential theories, like questioning or challenging things that have always existed and are common usage.  “Have you heard that language is violent and that science is sexist? Have you read that certain people shouldn’t practice yoga or cook Chinese food? Or been told that being obese is healthy, that there is no such thing as biological sex, or that only white people can be racist? Are you confused by these ideas, and do you wonder how they have managed so quickly to challenge the very logic of Western society?”[2]

Much progress has been made over the years, and man is generally in a much better place in many respects. A reasonable person today would agree that for many of the earth’s inhabitants, we are better than how humanity was hundreds of years ago. People are freer, healthier, wealthier, and less hungry. Life spans have increased, and fewer people are killed in wars. A combination of liberalism, conservatism, and capitalism is to thank for this. It was, therefore, a big shock in 2020 o witness the spectacle of cities that were besieged by rioters with businesses aflame and rampant rooting; black-clad anarchists setting aside parts of downtown and declaring the “sovereign zones;” police departments being surrounded by angry mobs; and the scourge of wokeness and cancel culture running rampant; one is left to wonder how modern civilization has degenerated to such a low extent. Lindsay’s and pluckrose’s books have come at the right time to explain just how this has happened. It is a book that sheds light on the modern social justice movement, particularly the Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Lindsay and Pluckrose have done a great job providing a detailed overview and coherent critique of the postmodern theory, clearly showing its roots and objectives. They explain how critical theory has become the philosophical framework that underwrites many subjects like gender studies, queer studies, women’s studies,  fat studies, postcolonial studies, disability studies, and critical race theory (CRT). The authors further say that CRT is an integral component of the postmodernism ideology, a form of neo-Marxist thinking that first featured in the 1960s at the Frankfurt School, specifically with the postmodern critical analysis of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida.[3]

The book, Cynical Theories states that two core principles underlie the CRT: the postmodern knowledge principle, which is radical skepticism about whether objective knowledge or truth is obtainable and a commitment to cultural constructivism; and the postmodern political principle, which is a belief that society is formed of systems of power and hierarchies, which decide what can be known and how. Generally, Postmodernism is characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, relativism, and a general suspicion of reason. At its core is the belief in the oppressive nature of American society and the advocacy of identity politics, thus making it imperative for those oppressed to dismantle the entire system in the name of social justice. This belief that the American System is flawed at its core and should be dismantled was also mentioned by Shelby Steele in Shame, a book we read in the Fall semester of 2021. Steele writes about how the US today is highly polarized politically due to its past sins.[4]  The political right and left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps preventing progress. Steele faults the “new liberalism” of subsequent decades and not the 1960s liberalism identification of America’s mistakes where they believe that American systems are fundamentally flawed and should be dismantled. On the other hand, the political right or the Conservatives advocate for freedom through true equality that gives equal opportunities and a conducive environment for all to thrive regardless of race or other criteria.[5]

Lindsay and Pluckrose reveal that some of postmodernism’s core beliefs include: “Language can be literal violence, all men are sexist, all white people are racist, sex is not biological, denial of gender identity is killing people, the wish to remedy disability and obesity is hateful, and everything needs to be decolonized.” These beliefs were not in the public domain just a few years ago. Still, several events in 2020 seem to have provided an avenue for the critical theories to come o the fore and dominate political and social justice academics talks and found their way into the school curriculum. These matters should concern us as Christian leaders because they affect society, and we should be in a position to educate the believers that God has placed under our leadership. While these issues are more pronounced in the Western Hemisphere and very insignificant in my Kenyan context, I cannot personally ignore what is happening because we have many ministry partners in the Western Hemisphere and an office in the US.


[1] Lindsay, James and Pluckrose, Helen. Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race,  Gender, and Identity. (Durham, NC, USA. Pitchstone Publishing, 2020).

[2] Ibid….

[3] a). Bennington, Geoffrey and Derrida, Jacques. Jacques Derrida (Religion and Postmodernism Series). (Chicago, IL, USA. University of Chicago Press, 1999).

b).   Walshaw, M. Mike Foucault. In: Alternative Theoretical Frameworks for Mathematics Education Research. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-33961-0_3 (2016).

[4] Steele, Shelby. Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country, (New York: Basic Books, 2015).

[5] Ibid,….

About the Author


Mary Kamau

Christ follower, Mother of 3 Biological children and one Foster daughter, Wife, Pastor, Executive Director of Institutional Development and Strategy in Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.

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