Untangling Critical Race Theory: What Christians Need to Know and Why It Matters, By Ed Uszynski
Untangling Critical Race Theory
  • Length: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: June 25, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0481
  • ISBN: 9781514004814

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What is Critical Race Theory?

It may be one of the most widely referenced issues of the day, but it's also one of the least understood. In its translation from the academic world to the general public, Critical Race Theory (CRT) has inaccurately become a catch-all term for anything related to race. But what does it actually mean, and how should Christians engage it?

Ed Uszynski—whose PhD in American culture studies navigated readings in Marxism, Critical Theory, and Critical Race Theory—carefully unpacks what critical race theorists seek to accomplish and what Christians can learn from them. Uszynski generously explores CRT's roots, context, and central tenets, revealing how its insights are used and distorted but also how they might benefit the church. With responsible answers to legitimate concerns, Uszynski goes beyond the surface to provide a reliable path of just discernment and cultural engagement.

"Ed's book is not only a responsible, fair, and honest evaluation of CRT and its Marxist roots, but it is also a model of what evangelical scholarship should look like. If you want an intellectually lazy approach to CRT that takes a binary—'CRT is evil!' or 'CRT is 100 percent true!'—then stick to your favorite partisan pundit to spoon feed you the 'truth.' But if you want an honest and responsible guide to help you think through the complexities of CRT and how it contributes to our understanding of race relations, then I cannot more highly recommend this book."

Preston Sprinkle, author and host of Theology in the Raw podcast, from the foreword

"This is one of the most important books I have read in recent years. . . . Understanding what gave rise to Critical Race Theory should put the spotlight on compassion and motivate followers of Christ to do what should have been done. Thank you, Ed, for calling us to be portraits of the solution."

Crawford Loritts, founder and president of Beyond Our Generation, from the foreword

"Critical Race Theory can be used as an excuse to not talk about race, racial divisions, or systemic racial disparities. But we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. That requires us to talk honestly about the history of race in our country and the church. Part of that conversation is an accurate understanding of CRT: what it is, what it is not, and what we can learn from it. I have yet to come across anyone who leads that conversation with the same level of background, gospel-centered truth, and wisdom as Ed. This book is a vital part of engaging in the work of racial justice and reconciliation."

Schelli Cronk, chief operating officer of Transform Minnesota

"If you have questions about Critical Race Theory, Marxism, or social justice, Untangling Critical Race Theory has approachable, relatable answers. Ed unpacks scholarly frameworks in understandable terms, with essential context from Scripture, history, and present-day culture. This book is far from a dense academic read, and I was pleasantly surprised I couldn't put it down! If you want advice for navigating conversations on these topics with grace and intelligence, you will devour this book. If you're concerned about progressive ideology infecting society, you need to read Untangling Critical Race Theory."

Brooke Hempell, researcher and host of Race and Redemption podcast

"As codirector of the Winsome Conviction Project, I can assure you there is nothing winsome about our current discussions of race. As soon as Critical Race Theory, white privilege, or systemic racism is uttered, walls go up and voices rise. While many books have been written on race and CRT, Dr. Uszynski—who I've known for over thirty years—is my most trusted source on how to have productive and honest conversations on difficult issues, especially race. Whether you agree or disagree with Dr. Uszynski, his insights will provoke, inspire, and help us communicate and not separate."

Tim Muehlhoff, professor of communication at Biola University and author of End the Stalemate: Move from Cancel Culture to Meaningful Conversations

"In recent years, few topics have delivered such heated opinions as Critical Race Theory. Still, many remain unclear of what it is, forming opinions based on popular catch phrases and political narratives. In Untangling Critical Race Theory, Ed Uszynski distills voluminous material to provide a truthful assessment of CRT that will both inform and challenge his readers. Specifically, Ed pleads for Christians who have dismissed CRT not only to reevaluate its contributions but also to understand why its concepts were developed in the first place. If you're looking for a theologically faithful, sociologically astute, and academically honest treatment of CRT, Uszynski's book is for you."

Eric Rivera, assistant professor of pastoral theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and lead pastor of The Brook Chicago

"I wish I had read this book fifteen years ago! In an era where Critical Race Theory is weaponized by both the secular left and the secular right, and demonized by many Christians, Ed Uszynski intellectually, lovingly, and biblically calls Christians to more. The research, accessibility, and nuance of this book make it extremely helpful for people who are willing to ask what we should accept and what we should reject in the CRT conversation, and what impact that can have in our churches and communities."

Jim Davis, pastor of Orlando Grace Church, coauthor of The Great Dechurching, and host of the As In Heaven podcast

"In many ways, this book feels like a bunch of my chats with Ed Uszynski over the last few years, helping me make sense of inaccessible academic theories reduced to acronyms, ill-informed assumptions, and the real meaning of 'woke.' More importantly, Ed has challenged me that as a believer and leader, I can't sit on the sidelines of this conversation. He humbly models what it looks like to engage the tension of our own souls while seeking to understand and move toward those who might process their story through a different lens."

Brian Goins, speaker, creative strategist, and author of Playing Hurt: A Guy's Strategy for Winning a Marriage

"What a refreshing, absolutely necessary read Ed Uszynski has given us in Untangling Critical Race Theory. As I lament the state of our country and its growing antagonism toward biblical Christianity, I can't help but blame the American church at large. If we were united as we should be around the undeniable social ramifications of the gospel, society would see biblical Christianity as the answer, not the problem, to our stubborn racial divide. If we as American Christians have one last gasp at true unity across racial lines, salvaging our public perception, and perhaps sparking revival, reading Untangling Critical Race Theory is a critical first step."

Chris Broussard, sports broadcaster and founder of the K.I.N.G. Movement

"With great skill and care, Ed Uszynski untangles Critical Race Theory with the nuance needed for this controversial topic. He does so by interacting directly with the theory and not merely through critics of it. Yet there is a clear demarcation about both the value and limits of this approach to public space, honoring what should be heard in this conversation as well as what is problematic. If you read one book on this topic, here it is. You may hear things you have thought about reflected on with wisdom in this deep dive into this topic."

Darrell Bock, executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center and senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary

"In this accessible yet thoughtful work, Dr. Ed Uszynski untangles fact from fiction about Critical Race Theory and settles the question of whether Christians (and anyone else) should accept or avoid it. With a rare combination of empathy, nuance and biblical fidelity, this book evaporates a haze of popular distortions about CRT, giving a fair assessment and presenting a way forward like never before. This work is a game-changer that brings clarity where there has been a lot of noise and confusion about the most controversial three letters of our time."

Rasool Berry, teaching pastor at The Bridge Church in Brooklyn, New York

"We hear 'Critical Race Theory' thrown around, and often in a negative light, but the vast majority of people have no real understanding of what these terms mean. Dr. Ed Uszynski is uniquely skilled and equipped to take this complex issue and make it accessible. Written with a deep love for God and the Bible, scholarly research, humility, and excellence, this timely book is one I highly recommend."

Vivian Mabuni, national speaker, podcast host, and author of Open Hands, Willing Heart

Read an Excerpt


Forewords by Preston Sprinkle and Crawford Loritts
Introduction: Why We Need Another Book on Race
1. A White Guy's Journey into Racial Controversy
2. What Do We Need to Understand About Marxism?
3. Thinking Critically About Critical Theory
4. Can a Christian Gain Anything from Critical Theory?
5. What Is Critical Race Theory, Really?
6. What Are Some Tenets of Critical Race Theory?
7. Why CRT Means Different Things to Different People
8. How Christians Get Race Wrong: Why CRT Isn't the Problem
9. Five Stumbling Blocks to Thinking Christianly About Race
10. Can CRT Be of Use?
11. Responding to Concerns About CRT, Part 1
12. Responding to Concerns About CRT, Part 2
13. Redeeming "Social Justice" from Injustice
14. Healing from the Persistence of White Supremacy
15. How Should We Then Live?
Epilogue: Seeing the World a Little Differently
Questions for Reflection and Discussion


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Ed Uszynski

Ed Uszynski (PhD, Bowling Green State University) has been a content specialist for Cru, Athletes in Action, and FamilyLife for over three decades. He also serves as a oneness and diversity consultant for church and parachurch organizations. He has written for a range of online platforms such as Desiring God, Mockingbird, and The Washington Times. He is a frequent speaker and podcaster on topics of race, sport culture, and marriage.