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Why Christians Should Not Go Woke

Christian organizations embrace wokeness at their own peril.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13

Now that the red kettles are out and the Salvation Army bells are ringing, perhaps it is time to discuss why people are not feeling inclined to drop in a twenty and say “Merry Christmas” this year. It is not because of inflation, nor is it a general bah-humbug attitude, but rather this curious lack of charity appears to stem from a growing belief among Christians that the church should not go woke. This sentiment is hardly isolated to the Salvation Army as more and more Christian entities travel through the wide and broad gate to wokeness.

The charity founded by William and Catherine Booth in 1865 should have seen the blowback coming when they announced earlier in 2021 an initiative called “Let’s Talk About Racism” to promote “courageous conversations.” The Salvation Army guide goes on to advocate that Christians “lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies…”


Red Kettle Infographic 12.4.21Repent, Ye White Christian!

The Army would have been wise to look at the remnants of a Washington, D.C. metropolitan mega-church to understand how traversing this broad road leads to destruction. McLean Bible Church stands as a shell of its former self, with thousands upon thousands fleeing to other houses of worship following its emphasis on so-called “woke theology.” McLean’s attendance is down some 30%, internecine fighting has erupted in lawsuits, and its senior pastor is openly accused of running the church with the aid of a heavy-handed “goon” squad. Going woke is not the only thing that has recently gone awry in this fellowship, but it is most often cited as the reason behind those who have decided to worship elsewhere. In short, McLean Bible Church has run into a brick wall of its own making.

Do not for a second believe the unholy mess the Salvation Army and McLean Bible find themselves in is about money, intolerance, or racism. No, no. Nor is it a backlash from closed-minded Christians. It is about theology and an accurate interpretation of what the Bible teaches. It is as old as Methuselah, as the saying goes, with a couple of millennia tacked on for good measure.

Paul and the Romans

In a book the great Apostle Paul penned to the Romans, he begins chapter 12, verse two with this phrase, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…” (NIV). Yet another translation says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world …” (NLT). In embracing wokeness, Christian organizations are doing the very thing Paul warned the Romans not to do.

Liberty Nation consulted someone who has written about Christian themes for decades to help us understand where these associations went wrong. Here is a portion of my discussion with author and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas:

Leesa K. Donner: Cal, it’s popular to be woke, so why shouldn’t Christians jump on that bandwagon?

Cal Thomas: It is natural – and that’s the problem – to curry favor, desire acceptance, and feel one’s life has meaning. But all of those are found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, not the favor of the world, which is passing away.

GettyImages-97066166 McLean Bible Church 2017

McLean Bible Church 2017 (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The The Washington Post via Getty Images)

LKD: The simple theology behind Critical Race Theory and its ideological kin, popularly called wokeness, tells us to pay up and apologize for one’s white privilege as a solution to fix racism. Why won’t that work?

CT: Ultimately, this is about virtue signaling by white people who “deserve” to be kept in a permanent cage of guilt – because of slavery – and be forced to pony up more tax dollars for programs that don’t work so the race hustlers can keep their political influence and get more money.

The problem isn’t racism, per se. The problem is sin, and unless it is dealt with on that level, there is no hope. Government can’t solve the problem. Race hustlers like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson won’t solve the problem. The culture doesn’t study success – and it should. It only explores poverty and failure. Answers can be found in examining successful black people who have overcome. Thomas Sowell and Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal are great on the subject, as is Clarence Thomas. What you study and promote, you get more of.

LKD: What upsets many Christians is the message sent by places like McLean Bible and the Salvation Army when they embrace CRT and become woke spokesmen. It seems like these folks have “wandered off the right road… (2 Peter 2:15a) (NLT)” as Peter says in his second epistle. Have the Salvation Army and others run afoul of Christianity’s original message, or am I missing something here?

CT: The first word in Salvation Army is “salvation.” That is the message William Booth wanted preached. The aid to the poor was not the end, as the “social” gospel claims.  This type of theology commonly known as “works salvation” is the belief that you can work your way into Heaven. Paul categorically denies this when he writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Rather, it was an effort to demonstrate God’s care for their physical needs so they might become aware of their greater spiritual need.

LKD: Churches and Christian organizations run into trouble when they begin to mirror the popular culture instead of standing firm with the original message of Christianity, which — as you say — is the message of salvation. So why do you think they do it?

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CT: The pressures on believers and the church have been great from the beginning. There was pressure from the Roman government. There was pressure from the religious authorities of Jesus’ day. There was pressure from those who would use faith as an instrument to make a profit. In our day, the cultural pressures to follow the ways of the world – to “go along to get along” – are strong. They are empowered by social media, cable networks, peer pressure – even in families when college students come home from liberal universities and accuse their parents of racism, destroying the planet, and homophobia. We must stand against this attempted invasion of the church, or what are we here for? As I once told Phil Donahue, “I don’t make the rules, Phil. If you have a problem with them, take it up with the Author.”

Full Circle

In world-speak, there are two ways to deal with a screw-up: either you embrace the mess you’ve made and dig in deeper or you try to walk it back as fast as you can. Thus far it seems MBC has chosen option one while the Salvation Army is vigorously trying to walk back its call to wokeness. This week, the Army asserted in a statement that its guide is merely a “voluntary resource” that has been unfairly criticized for providing “accurate information.” Perhaps blaming one’s detractors is not the best way to convey a sincere apology.

Just a thought, not a sermon.

Now, regarding the issue of how a Christian should deal with racism, the answer does not require long guides with position statements. It can be found in the one resource to which Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) can turn when they have a problem to solve; the Bible.

A quote from Matthew 7:13 began this article. It is worth noting that a simple yet profound answer to racism exists just one sentence above it – in verse 12. Jesus spoke it in the Sermon on the Mount: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

~ Read more from Leesa K. Donner.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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