Grounded in Judeo-Christian ethical systems, classical American theories of justice and equal treatment under the law are among the most profound judicial theories humanity has ever seen. Christian ethical systems argue that the government has the obligation to care for the poor and marginalized (which the Bible refers to as “righteousness”), as well as the obligation to be unbiased in the application of the law (which the Bible refers to as “impartiality”). We are to be both righteous, favoring the disadvantaged in the laws we establish, and impartial, favoring nobody in the application of our law.
This simple principle—good laws applied impartially—has produced some of the loftiest social results in human history, despite many imperfections. In fact, in many ways the great achievements in politics and jurisprudence that the world has seen are the results of this Christian theory of justice. After all, it was under Christian principles that such institutions as freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, the right to due process, the right to equal protection under the law, the rights of the people over those of the state, the right to equal access to public goods, and the like, have all flourished.
Christians were the ones who led in the establishment of the modern concept of human rights, of just war theory, of various abolitionist movements, of the women’s suffrage movement, of the Civil Rights movement, and of a hundred other institutions that have produced a better world.
“Christians were the ones who led in the establishment of the modern concept of human rights.”
Conversely, progressivism is currently rewriting classical theories of justice and equality using a variety of theories and terms. Ideological labels—when used by progressives—such as critical theory, intersectionality, social justice, and equity (instead of equality) all seek to undermine Christian and classical Western theories of justice and equality because progressivism, justice, and equality are pliable tools to be used in achieving power for various grievance groups.This simple principle—good laws applied impartially—has produced some of the loftiest social results in human history, despite many imperfections.
But by rejecting righteous laws applied impartially, progressivism is creating a world of injustice and inequality—with no chance of righting itself. The Marxist assumptions of progressivism divide people into identity groups, then pit them against each other in a hopeless war for justice and equity. And the number and exotic nature of these groups continues to expand: blacks, whites, Latinx, men, women, cis, gays, lesbians, transgender persons, gender queers, trans-feminines, femme queens, pangenders, agenders, androgynes, two-spirits—the list never seems to end.
This Marxist assumption that everyone belongs either to an oppressed class or an oppressor class results in several serious and unjust consequences. First, it is wrong to suggest that our primary identity is a group identity. Both Scripture and nature teach us that we are far more complicated than “white,” “black,” “female,” “hetero,” or whatever. To assign people to a class based solely on their skin color, their gender, or their desires is to imprison people in a caste system that keeps humanity perennially divided, that wrongly assigns guilt to mere skin color, that provides not a shred of grace, that offers little truth, and that puts forth virtually no hope.
“Progressivism is currently rewriting classical theories of justice and equality using a variety of theories and terms.”
Second, it places blame for the world’s ills only on a handful of people—those it deems the “oppressors.” When the wildly popular race theorist Robin DiAngelo asserts that “white identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy,” she ignores black racism, Asian racism, Middle Eastern racism, and the racism of a thousand people groups throughout history. Racism is not a function of “whiteness”; it is a function of fallen humanity. A few examples:
- The Burmese harass the Rohingyas.
- The Iranians discriminate against the Balochi.
- The Turks practice institutionalized racism against the Armenians.
- The mestizos of Bolivia look down on the Quechua.
- Anti-Semitism is common in Chile.
- The Pakistani people look down on the people of Bangladesh.
- The Bantu people of Congo mistreat the pygmies.
- Amhara elites of Ethiopia discriminate against the Afars.
- Race-based slavery is still practiced in Mauritania and Niger.
- Saudis often practice “tribe against tribe” discrimination.
- Ethnic Somalis stigmatize the Somali Bantu people, and on and on the list goes.
Demonizing one race under the pretense of justice and equality creates more injustice and inequality and conveniently ignores the intense injustice that others perpetrate—such as the racial genocide the Chinese government is currently committing against the Uyghurs as I write this paragraph.
“Demonizing one race under the pretense of justice and equality creates more injustice and inequality and conveniently ignores the intense injustice that others perpetrate.”
Further, to conceive of humanity in terms of class warfare is to reduce or even eliminate personal responsibility and sin. Where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for a form of justice in which people would be judged by the content of their character, progressives today argue that character is of little importance. What matters is your class identity and how many claims to victimhood your class can make.
When progressive author Ibram Kendi states that “racial discrimination is the sole cause of racial disparities in this country and in the world at large,” he ignores the complexities of life and traps people into inescapable classes of people. As writer Rod Dreher dryly notes, “A white Pentecostal man living on disability in a trailer park is an oppressor; a black lesbian Ivy League professor is oppressed.”
Now I am not making the argument that black Americans do not suffer injustice because of their race. They do. I want to be on record that I believe racial slights and injustices—especially against blacks—are both real and deeply embedded in America. I believe that America still has a long way to go in restoring injustices against black Americans. But I also want to say that the solution to injustice and inequality is not a different form of injustice and inequality. The solution is, to quote Dr. King again, “to end any form of racial injustice and inequality.”
“To conceive of humanity in terms of class warfare is to reduce or even eliminate personal responsibility and sin.”
Because Christians believe that people’s character matters, that justice and fairness should be blind, and that the law should be statutorily righteous and procedurally impartial, we stand in the way of progressivism. Progressives have a different social agenda than Christians, so we must be attacked. It’s really that simple.
 Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race(Boston: Beacon Press, 2018), 149–150.
 Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (New York: Bold Type Books, 2016), 11.
Excerpted from David Young’s Resilient: Standing Firm in a Hostile World (RENEW.org, 2023).