• David Schrader, PhD., National Pastor

The Church – Weighed in the Balances and Found "Woke"


Perhaps you have heard the term “woke” being used in increasing frequency in the news, and social media. It currently means to be, “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”[1]


Now, there’s nothing wrong with being aware of racial injustice or oppression. After all, the Bible not only has a lot to say about oppression and injustice, but it instructs us on how to respond to it as well.


Unfortunately, after the George Floyd tragedy, the demand for social justice erupted into a frenzy of protests, some of which were violent. The church, in many circles, was eager to ride this cultural wave and adopted the narrative of black victimhood and oppression and began calling for racial reconciliation.


Churches no longer gathered to study the Bible but were told to become more ‘woke” and to study the authors of Critical Race Theory (CRT) such as DiAngelo, Tisby, Kendi, and Morrison. Church leaders even advised their congregations to abandon their whiteness, check their white privilege, and obtain understanding from uniquely ethnic perspectives.


While being “woke” may sound like a good thing, it’s the advocates of Critical Race Theory that are driving this secular resurgence and that makes it problematic for Christianity. Being “woke” according to CRT involves performing a list of works, in order to become and stay, “woke.” Conversely, not ascribing to the “woke” ideology, even if you do believe that racism exists, usually results in your being entirely vilified, canceled or fired.


Critical Race Theory, therefore, is not a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement. It is, in fact, a repudiation of it. To Critical Race theorists, Martin Luther King was both wrong and naïve. White Americans can never judge blacks by the content of their character. They can only judge them, always unfavorably – consciously or unconsciously, by the color of their skin.[2]


Under a “woke” version of Christianity infected by CRT, all White people are racist. But, ironically, even that view is racist itself. Yet, there are a growing number of voices within evangelical churches that are adopting this view. This view is generally expressed like this: All White people are racist.” “I am a racist.” “White people will never escape being racist.” “All white people need to repent of their white privilege, and the sins of racism, including those of their ancestors.” And, if you deny any of this is true – “that’s just your uncomfortable feelings of white fragility that you have to overcome.”

The thought that Whites hold the guilt of previous generations of racists/racism has prompted some pastors and leaders in America to call for a corporate repentance from what they call America’s original sin — racism. CRT tells people to repent, even if they haven’t personally participated in racism. But since they haven’t actively participated in racism, they don’t know what they are repenting over. And, repenting for sin you have never committed will never lead to long lasting, impactful heart change. It’s little wonder why John MacArthur calls CRT “the greatest threat” to the gospel in his lifetime.”[3]


“Woke Christianity” functions under the pseudo-Christian virtues of progress and tolerance. But this “progress” and “tolerance” is nothing more than a destructive 'liberal' Christian heresy and lie. Not only has Liberal academia been known to replace an anti-Christian mindset with Marxism and CRT, but now the church seems quick to embrace this woke madness as well.


The pernicious idea that God’s laws are subject to the winds of a prevailing culture has spread from politics, academia, the corporate media, and to many Christian churches and institutions.


The ascendency of “Catholic Joe Biden” to the White House produced a flurry of media commentary gushing over the promising future of “progressive” Christianity. The New York Times kicked things off with the claim that under Biden, “a different, more liberal Christianity” is on the rise, suggesting he “has elevated his own liberal Catholicism to the center of our national life.”[4]


An NBC op-ed rejoiced that the election of candidates like Marxist sympathizer Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Georgia, heralded a shift in American religious discourse toward social, racial, economic, and climate justice.[5] USA Today frets that naysaying white evangelicals and mainline Catholics would likely resist attempts to realign Christian norms to reflect Biden’s “equity”-based identity politics agenda that promotes access to abortion and LGBTQ legal preferences.[6]


These articles disingenuously pit abortion and sexual morality against poverty, racism, immigration, and the environment, juxtaposing a pesky group of anachronistic Christian “bigots” on the right with their “progressive” counterparts on the left. The message is clear: “conservative” Christianity is bad and must be vilified; while “liberal” Christianity is good and must be embraced.


But as Carina Benton rightly points out, “The division between conservative and liberal Christianity is only illusory. God’s laws, which flow from His perfect nature, are rational, immutable, and eternal. They don’t “evolve” and “adapt.” Christ’s message of repentance and redemption applies to all people and all nations and across all ages.[7]


Unfortunately, too many Christians have fallen for what Rod Dreher refers to in Live Not By Lies” as “the Myth of Progress.” This belief, central to Marxist ideology, maintains mankind is marching ever forward toward perfect wokeness, perfect liberty, equality, and solidarity, holding that those who get in the way are ignorant, backward, and bigoted.


Wrapped up in this myth is the equally destructive notion of “tolerance,” which — in the current context — requires one laud the doctrines and behaviors that radical ideologues approve of as moving society “forward”, while mercilessly condemning the beliefs, traditions, and standards that oppose it. [8] But as Dreher further explains, it’s when a biblical understanding of God is severed from the picture, that so-called “progress” toward the betterment of mankind becomes a descent into chaos, depravity, and darkness. [9]


Another factor enabling the “liberal” heresy to flourish is a weak grasp of Christian theology in churches. Recent surveys reveal alarming trends.The Cultural Research Center did a survey and discovered that at least a third of senior pastors in the United States believe one can earn a place in Heaven by simply being a good person. And the majority — 62% — possess a hybrid worldview known as Syncretism. In another survey, almost one-third of evangelical Christians agree with the heretical statement that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God,” and more than 40 percent believe the heretical idea that God accepts the worship of all religions. Only half of self-identified Christians believe that God is the basis of absolute moral truth, with only 37 and 43 percent of mainline Protestants and Catholics respectively holding this view.[10]


Things are similarly confused regarding morality. One in five evangelicals believes gender identity is a matter of choice.[11] More than half of Catholics say abortion should be legal in all or most cases[12], and more than 50 percent of Christians of all denominations think casual sex is sometimes or always acceptable.[13] And 40 percent of Catholics are more worried about climate change than they are about the persecution of Christians.[14]


Is it any wonder then, given this murky picture, why many Christians don’t bat an eye when CNN’s Don Lemon pontificates that “God is not about … hindering or judging people;”[15] or when Georgia’s Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock from Ebenezer Baptist Church teaches that, “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ”, and “whether you are Christian or not, that through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves”;[16] or again, when “antiracist” activist Ibram X. Kendi preaches that savior theology “breeds bigotry” and supports “racist ideals.”[17]


Yet it was Christ Himself that repeatedly rejected the “liberal” heresy of saving ourselves. What Christ demonstrated was that we must deny ourselves, carry our cross, obey God’s law, and conform to God’s will, even if this means yielding our comfort, desires, safety, and yes, even our very lives. This is the antithesis of “liberal” Christianity. The latter implies a passive and neutral deity who orders himself according to our personal definitions of reality. It promotes compromise, self-indulgence, and subjective “truth.” Such thinking vests both the individual and man-made institutions with exclusive authority – authority to approve moral codes and adjudicate conduct. But this strips Christ of his role as Judge and Redeemer.


In a sermon in 1947, Bishop Fulton Sheen decried the influence of liberal theology and prophesied the conflict of the future would be between “the God who became man” and “the man who makes himself God.”[18] While the former is grounded in the theology of the cross, the latter is based on the tyranny of individual will. Those battle lines have now been drawn and there’s no doubt which camp “liberal” and “woke” Christianity is in.


The rejection of God’s creation of man and woman in His image, the attribution of evil to “oppressor” races and social structures rather than original sin, and the affront to God our Creator by relativizing the butchering of around 1 million innocent babies in the womb each year in the United States alone, is an elevation of man over the cross.


This contempt for the cross is as old as the church itself. The second-century bishop and theologian, Ireneus wrote a treatise on the heretical Christian sects that had sprung up “like mushrooms out of the ground,” and were endangering Christian life. Whether they challenged our Lord’s divinity or questioned his humanity, these heresies, each preaching their own brand of “truth,” had this in common: blasphemy of the Creator and denial of salvation through the cross.


Ireneus warned Christians against being led astray by unscrupulous players, “even as sheep are by wolves,” and urged them to avoid “an abyss of … blasphemy against Christ.” Because lies always contain a kernel of truth, they can be craftily packaged as “truer than truth itself.” This is why Satan has been referred to as “God’s Ape”: he mimics God to mislead humanity with lies. The closer the imitation of truth, the more effective the lie.[19]


This is the grave challenge facing Christians today. Even churches are exploiting biblical concepts like “sanctity of the individual” and “love of neighbor” to promote an array of highly woke and noxious ideologies.


The obsession with appearing progressive, woke and tolerant, exacerbated by a misunderstanding of Christian theology and morality, is leaving Christians vulnerable to a disordered faith that may be willing enough to embrace Christianity in name, but not in its self-denial, sacrifice, and salvation exemplified on His cross. It's time for the church to be woken from its wokeness.


 

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woke [2] James Lindsay, “What Is Critical Race Theory?” PragerU.com, https://www.prageru.com/video/what-is-critical-race-theory/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIq8mz0d3M8gIV1d7ICh3gIgguEAMYAiAAEgLTKPD_BwE, Apr 26, 2021. [3] John MacArthur, “Social Injustice and the Gospel,” Grace to You blog, August 13, 2018, https://www.gty.org/Iibrary/blog/Bl808l3 [4] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/23/opinion/biden-liberal-catholic.html [5] Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, “Trump fueled conservative Christian power. But with Biden and Warnock, that can change”, January 25, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-fueled-conservative-christian-power-biden-warnock-can-change-ncna1255461. [6] Maureen Groppe, “Why Joe Biden's faith-based 'equity' agenda is getting pushback from religious conservatives”, USA Today, February 4, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/02/04/bidens-faith-based-equity-agenda-counters-trumps-religious-freedom-protections/4376093001/. [7] Carina, Benton, “Why Woke Christianity Is The Greatest Threat To Christians Today”, June 4, 2021, https://thefederalist.com/2021/06/04/why-woke-christianity-is-the-greatest-threat-to-christians-today/. [8] Ibid. [9] Ibid. [10] The State of Theology, https://thestateoftheology.com [11] Ibid. [12] Dalia Fahmy, “Eight Key Findings About Catholics and Abortion”, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/20/8-key-findings-about-catholics-and-abortion/, The Pew Research Center, October 20, 2020. [13] Jeff Diamant, “Half of U.S. Christians say casual sex between consenting adults is sometimes or always acceptable”, The Pew Research Center, August 31, 2020. [14] Maclaughlin and Associates, Poll: U.S. Catholics More Worried About ‘Climate Change’ Than Christian Persecution https://mclaughlinonline.com/2018/03/05/breitbart-ma-poll-u-s-catholics-more-worried-about-climate-change-than-christian-persecution/ national File news, [15] Don Lemon, Resident Theologian At CNN, Declares ‘God Is Not About Judging People’, https://nationalfile.com/don-lemon-resident-theologian-at-cnn-declares-that-god-is-not-about-judging-people/ [16] Anugrah Kumar, “Warnock deletes tweet claiming people can save themselves, Easter transcends Jesus' resurrection”, https://www.christianpost.com/news/rev-warnock-claims-people-can-save-themselves-in-easter-tweet.html, The Christian Post, April 2, 2021. [17] Rod Dreher, “Antiracist, anti-Christian”, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/kendi-antiracist-antichristian-critical-race-theory/, The American Conservative, March 24, 2021. [18] Bishop Fulton Sheen, "Signs of Our Times": Ven. Fulton Sheen on Anti-Christ & Crisis in the Church & Society (1947), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhaCjUGamjk [19] Carina, Benton, “Why Woke Christianity Is The Greatest Threat To Christians Today”, June 4, 2021, https://thefederalist.com/2021/06/04/why-woke-christianity-is-the-greatest-threat-to-christians-today/.

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