Critical Theory and the Gospel

Jul 27, 2022 by

by Bradley G Green, American Reformer:


While Critical Theory as a school or tradition of thought is not new, it has come to some prominence in recent years. While there are numerous persons and writing with varied perspectives within this school or tradition, it is nonetheless possible to summarize the principles and convictions of Critical Theory in a general way.

This article will first summarize the key tenets of Critical Theory through an engagement with some of the seminal thinkers of Critical Theory. These key thinkers explored here are:  Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Walter Benjamin. These thinkers should provide a representative sample of the writings of Critical Theory.

I argue that if Christians are to respond fully and properly to Critical Theory, such a response must be rooted in a truly Christian biblical-theological framework. Such a Christian response will recognize that Critical Theory is in effect an alternative theology or religion, and that it is helpful to understand Critical Theory as just such an alternative theology or religion.

A truly Christian response to Critical Theory will show that it is not—ironically—critical enough. Christianity truly gets to the heart of the matter and actually is the most truly “critical,” in that the Christian message offers a true understanding of reality and what is wrong with the world, and likewise offers the true solution to the myriad challenges, problems, and sufferings experienced and seen in the world.

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