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The evangelical world has been rocked by Critical Race Theory and wokeness in general. The Southern Baptist Convention is the latest victim, with pastors under fire from their flock and insurgents trying to oust national leadership.
Political journalists often frame this as a pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump fight, but most believers are trying to balance the teaching of Scripture and preaching the cause du jour. The culture war has attacked the church for decades, it’s obvious that congregations would debate the best way forward.
Though I left evangelicalism for the Eastern Orthodox church a few years ago, I catch the latest news from friends and social media. Most evangelical stories these days are less about saving souls than internecine battles between the woke and unwoke.
Some parishioners complain their pastor is too MAGA. Another pastor spends Sundays pushing CRT. Should our assembly focus more on social justice or structural racism?
It seems churches should talk more about God than either, which I admit is old-fashioned. But you can’t bring politics to the pulpit and be shocked when the faithful divide into Red and Blue camps. To restore unity, perhaps clergy can focus on the only thing Christians supposedly agree on: the truth of Christ.
I swam the Bosporus, not over politics, but a creeping worldliness found at the last few churches we attended. Between the “business leader summits” and moralistic therapeutic deism, God was pushed to the margins.
Christian wokeness is different from self-help pop Christianity, but they’re poisoned fruit from the same rotten tree. Both focus on this world over the next.
Everyone, believer and atheist alike, bows to some god. If you prefer, think of it as the lodestar that guides your life. It might be career, morality, health, social approval, or politics. If your lodestar isn’t God, it will be some earthly matter.
Look at it as a cart and horse. If God is the horse (forgive any equine-themed blasphemy), He will lead your career, morality, health, social approval, and politics where He wants them to go.
If a career is the horse, faith is packed somewhere in the cart to be taken out occasionally when it doesn’t interfere with business goals. If personal health is the horse, let’s shut down churches because worship is secondary to avoiding Covid. Then you’ll justify the lockdown by conforming your faith to the viral threat. Sure, the Bible says we should gather together regularly and celebrate communion, but ignore that and claim “loving your neighbor” means wearing two masks while watching services on your iPad.
Many believers treat wokeness the same way. One group asks how they can conform the church to CRT; the other asks how (or if) CRT can be conformed to Christ. If wokeness, social approval, or politics is your horse, your faith drifts wherever they lead. Over time, it’s reshaped in their image.
Ultimately, God is the Judge. If He isn’t your lodestar, you’ll flip that by using some worldly standard to judge Him. That won’t work out so well.
It leads people into a thicket of errors. We need to grow our church; how can I conform the Bible to celebrate this week’s popular cause? I know BLM’s founders are atheists; how can I adapt my religious beliefs to achieve their ends? I accept structural racism; how do I reverse-engineer the church to bow before this Ibram X. Kendi idol?
In each of these cases, you judge Christianity by the standards of the world and find it wanting. It won’t be long before you leave entirely. Your new god is also a jealous god.
Someone warned of this problem long ago:
Now it is not what is pleasing to God or the Church that is good, but what is “progressive,” “liberal,” revolutionary; that which is “right-leaning” is the concatenation of all evils. “It is in agreement with Marx!” – this is the highest praise for any teaching, for any opinion. Even holy Christian doctrine is assessed on the basis of this new standard. Thus, all of Christianity’s fundamental teaching concerning the personal struggle of repentance and humility is cast aside, while only some sort of “social teaching” is taken up and given consideration, and in it only that which one can reinterpret in a liberal-revolutionary way is approved.
…However, there are no few people who have already adopted the new worldview, who have already bowed down before the new idols, yet nevertheless have not for some reason left the Church entirely. Such people are constantly passing judgment on Christianity, on the Church. They pass judgment not as ones taught by the Church, but as ones who would teach it; they wish to “correct” the Church’s understanding of Christianity, replacing it with their own, in which the teaching of Christ is shown to bear a remarkable resemblance to all the most recent teachings and actions of the godless…
This was written by a seminary professor named Hilarion Troitsky a few years before the Bolsheviks transformed “Holy Russia” into the Soviet Union. A few years later, they sent him to a former monastery the socialists had converted into a prison camp. In 1929, he died in the gulag.
Critical Race Theory is Marxism, as its creators proudly proclaim. Of course, it’s dividing the Church; that’s its goal. And if you judge Christianity by the standard of CRT, you’re placing the cart before the horse. God is not your lodestar. More bluntly, your new god is Marx.Published in