Critical Race Theory and Social Justice are useful analytical tools.
“White Supremacy,” “Centeredness,” and “Fragility” are the monsters under all our beds.
Inequity is presented as proof of systemic racism.
Unending calls to repentance for America’s original sins of slavery and racism resound hourly and daily, week after week.
All of this and more has been picked up, embraced, and preached from pulpits and books and YouTube channels by prominent, popular, leading Evangelical Christians in recent years.
Everywhere you look these days, woke pastors, churches, and Christianity are front and center. But should Wokism be regarded by God’s people as a primary or secondary issue?
Unity in Christ
Many Christians are still grappling with what to make of it all.
Far more have barely even begun, hopeful as they are that this is a passing fancy and will all blow over soon enough. You’ll see.
But we know that Christians are called to a unity of mind and purpose in Christ.
Ephesians 4:1-6 tells us plainly.
“…Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
I bemoan how unity in Christ always means conservatives embracing liberal forays as valid. But can you tell me why calls for unity never seem to work in the opposite direction?
Undoubtedly, the kind of unity where liberals let go of their liberalism would be glorious. But forgive me for not holding my breath. Except by some transformative divine intervention in the hearts of stubborn, willful men, I do not see this happening in the near future. And I do not believe God will force this change on them so long as they do not want it.
But I do say we ought not ask conservative Christians to do still more of the never-ending soul-searching which our therapeutic age insists upon. I am tired of checking again and again for even the thinnest trace of selfish motives or conceit here. I am weary of the soul-crushing burden of proof being placed on us to explain why we prioritized Wokism too highly.
In Their Own Words
Perhaps it is not conservative Christians who mistakenly regarded Wokism as primary. Carefully consider the curious claims made by the likes of pastors Paul David Tripp, David Platt, and Tim Keller.
These men have been bold. But they have been too bold, and we are missing it.
Read and listen to Tripp, Platt, and Keller in their own words. Do they consider Woke ideology to be a primary issue, or a secondary matter about which Christian brothers and sisters can disagree agreeably and still have fellowship?
In a sermon from 2020 titled ‘Praying and Working for Justice: Racialization,’ David Platt famously said:
“We cannot truly worship God while we stay silent on injustice in all kinds of areas. And I know as a white pastor, I have blind spots, so I am part of the problem.”
In a blog post from 2018 titled ‘My Confession: Toward A More Balanced Gospel,’ Paul David Tripp wrote the following.
“By God’s grace, I have become deeply persuaded that we cannot celebrate the gospel of God’s grace without being a committed ambassador of the gospel of his justice as well.”
“By God’s patient grace, I am now convinced that I cannot be a voice for one without being a voice for the other. Sadly, I have preached grace and been silent in the face of injustice. The cross forbids me to close my eyes to any form of injustice, whether personal, corporate, governmental, ecclesiastical, or systemic.”
In a message from 2012 titled ‘Racism and Corporate Evil: A White Guy’s Perspective,’ Tim Keller made the following assertions.
“The whole structure of the gospel is based on corporate responsibility.”
“To me, the reason that I have been able to get beyond my individualism and start to think in terms of corporate responsibility is because of the gospel.”
“If you do not understand that, to some degree, Western people, and white people in particular do not realize to what degree they filter out all kinds of things the Bible says. They just do not see them or they resist them because of that individualism. It is not biblical. It is not gospel.”
By all means, take what these three and others are saying in context. Go back and listen to and read their entire messages. But when you do, really listen to what they are describing.
Whatever specific terms they do or do not use in their calls to action, they are affirming and proclaiming new doctrines. And these new doctrines are the product of trying to wed Woke ideology to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Platt says we are problematic because we are white. And we cannot worship God if we remain silent regarding alleged racial injustice.
Tripp says we cannot celebrate the gospel without committing ourselves to opposing systemic racism.
Keller says the reason we embrace traditional ideas of individual guilt and innocence is because of our whiteness. And if we truly understand the gospel, we will accept Woke notions of corporate responsibility. But if we resist those notions, we are unbiblical and do not understand or believe in the gospel.
A tragic number of pastors and congregants in American churches now regard Woke ideology as essential to Christian life and thought, and to our testimony, fellowship, and effective ministry. If they are in error to do so, it is not conservative Christians diligently correcting and reproving this false teaching in our midst who should be regarded as the divisive ones.
Take heed to what 1 Corinthians 14:7-8 says.
“If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?”
Placing the burden of proof on conservative Christians to explain why they made Wokism into a primary issue follows a line of reasoning where a distinct call to battle on a bugle is enough to damn the captains of a defending force, but not the generals of the attacking one.
The bravest of us strive to be clear and direct, and we endeavor to be helpful thereby. And this is only proper. Tripp, Platt, and Keller have been very bold in their preaching. It would not be seemly to be ambiguous or conciliatory in response to them.
And, again, we are not the ones who made Woke ideology a primary, central, necessary issue. The Woke crowd did that.
A reminder from Proverbs 18:17 is needful here.
“The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.”
We are surrounded in this therapeutic age with those who confuse thorough cross-examination for legalism or a lack of charity. But let us once again not forget to keep the primary things primary. And let us prefer unity over quibbling about secondary issues.
Most of the well-meaning Christian brothers and sisters who say such things do so in good faith with the best of intentions. They call for unity amidst the din of rhetorical battle genuinely believing we need to keep first things first. And not for no reason do they remind us of the Apostle Paul’s assurance that quarreling about words not only does no good, but also ruins the hearers.
Even so, sincerity and the best of intentions should not be an impediment to being clear, precise, or careful.
Besides pursuing unity in Christ amongst ourselves, God’s Word also calls us to rejoice in the truth, keep watch over our doctrine, and guard our hearts. And all Scripture is profitable for teaching, correction, reproof, and instruction unto righteousness that the man of God may be complete and equipped for every good work.
But this is another way of admitting that we are not complete and equipped without correction and reproof.
Teaching, correction, reproof, and instruction – if these are the ways we workmen are required to handle the truth of God’s Word, then it is right and proper to redirect stern, sober calls for unity and keeping primary things primary to the self-professed Christians who now align themselves with Wokism and insist we must all join them in that to prove we are real Christians.
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