Tag Archives: Carl Trueman

Carl Trueman on Critical Theory, and J.K. Rowling as the Victim of Cancel Culture… and More on Race

Some helpful resources on the current cultural crisis….

Grove City College historian, Carl Trueman, has some great observations about the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, and her recent “fall from grace” from the explosively emerging “critical theory” crowd, sometimes called “cancel culture,” that grew up on her children’s books. Calling out people on social media appears to be the favored method of humiliation by the technological savvy among the “cancel culture.”

I blogged about the troublesome trend in my review of Douglas Murray’s book, The Madness of Crowds. Murray opened my mind to a lot of the madness going on in our culture today. Murray is not an evangelical Christian, but Carl Trueman is, and Trueman offers invaluable theological insight into the problem that Murray identifies. This quote from Trueman stands out to me: “in a world where critical theory increasingly drives how the world is conceptualized, today’s victim can very easily become tomorrow’s oppressor.” This split within the “LGBTQ” movement is indicative of the trend.

In a nutshell, as a tool, “critical theory” can indeed be useful, for correcting injustice. But as an ideology, “critical theory” is an intolerant religion, completely opposed to the Gospel of Jesus. But Trueman puts it better than I can.  I look forward to Trueman’s up and coming book on the topic of the “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.” In our troublesome times, Trueman’s Christian perspective is helpful for all of us.

A couple final thoughts, particularly on the race conversation…: It is becoming harder and harder to distinguish between legitimate cases of injustice and protest motivated by blinded rage. As a result, the temptation on one side is to play down legitimate concerns, and on the other, to wildly overreact. Related to the question of police brutality and racism, this essay by John McWhorter, an African-American intellectual, is highly recommended. McWhorter argues that while race is sometimes a component of police brutality, the issues involved are far more complex. This is the type of conversation needed today…..

Confused by how we all got into this mess, especially with race? Two helpful videos:  First, from Jemar Tisby, author of The Color of Compromise, on how racism adapts over time, and then Phil Vischer, of the Veggie Tales fame, giving some of the historical background, which has fueled the contemporary interest in “critical theory.”


Carl Trueman on Why I Am a Protestant

Carl Trueman, a professor of history at Grove City College, the alma matter of several of my Christian forefathers, has written a brief essay, explaining “Why I Am a Protestant,” particularly as it relates to our current cultural situation. Trueman sums up pretty much where I stand on the Protestant question. For a deeper look, may I suggest Kevin Vanhoozer’s work towards a “Mere Protestant” statement of faith, for a “A Reforming Catholic Confession.”

Nevertheless, I am quite fine with the Nicene-Constantinople Creed (sans the Filioque) and the Apostle’s Creed, too, as great summaries of what C.S. Lewis called, “Mere Christianity.”

OK. Trueman’s essay does have a wee bit of snark to it, but he does appeal to the recently sainted, John Henry Newman for support:

As the years go by, being a Protestant becomes easier and easier for me. Pope Francis is, after all, the gift that keeps on giving. What with his apparent desire to turn the Roman Catholic Church into a standard form of liberal Protestantism (but with a bit more color), his program is less than compelling to anyone who, to borrow a phrase from Newman, is deep in history.

However, Trueman is not soft on the problems of Protestantism:

The myriad magisteria of multitudes of parachurch ministries offer tin-pot spheres of influence for a plethora of popelets. And doctrinal orthodoxy is at a premium: A narrow focus on scriptural authority has led to a neglect of the catholic creedal dimensions of the faith. 

Trueman highlights why we need a truly more “Catholic” expression of faith today, in a world where secularism reigns supreme:

Reformation Day … brings the temptation of nostalgia… that it often looks to the wrong eras for guidance in the present. The real analogs to today are not found in the High Middle Ages or the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Reformation Protestantism occurred within the cultural context of Christendom. For all of the important differences between Luther and Leo X, Calvin and Trent, Catholics and Protestants shared a common assumption that some form of Christianity would provide the dominant culture…But that is not our world today. In modern society, few have time for Christianity of any flavor. The basic Christian context of our Reformation forefathers is long gone and, if not completely forgotten, utterly despised. We must look to an earlier time for help: Specifically, to the second and third centuries.

Sober words for sure. Read the whole essay here.

Bottom line: There are still some very good reasons to be Protestant. But in many ways, Protestants and Roman Catholics (along with Eastern Orthodox) have a lot more in common with one another, that is often given credit. Healing the gaps that exists between Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox will go a long towards enhancing the witness of the church in an increasingly secular world.


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