Christians and Culture – What is culture?

Christians and Culture - What is culture?

 

By design mankind is a cultural creature.

It is not who we are as much as it is what we do.

We talk about culture a lot… But, what is it?

“We must stand against the culture!”

“We must not involve ourselves in the culture!”

“Christians must engage cultural issues!”

“Christians must not get entangled in cultural issues!”

Most don’t have a clear understanding of what culture is. Most people view culture as a thing – an ‘it’. We assume we know what we’re talking about. Furthermore, when we have discussions or debates, we may not even agree on the definition of the word ‘culture’. Different people have different notions about what culture is. I spent my college years studying culture (anthropology) and I know how difficult it can be to attempt to fully understand it. Let me take a shot.

Culture is distinctly human. Animals do not create culture. It can be complex and confusing. So, let’s try to understand it.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines culture as the following: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization; the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.(link)

While that definition is helpful, it does not answer the question, “Where does culture come from?” The Bible states God made humans in his image (Genesis 1:27). Bearing our Creator’s image, we humans create and inhabit culture. That is important to know as a first principle. Every human is creating and shaping culture just by living life in this world. The biblical narrative is set within cultures over history (Jewish, Egyptian, Roman, Pagan, etc). By God’s design mankind is a cultural creature. It is not who we are as much as it is what we do. It is impossible for a human not to be a cultural creature. So, let’s explore a little further.

If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish.” John Stonestreet once told a group of students (“A Practical Guide to Culture”, Stonestreet & Kunkle). Fish don’t know they are wet – it is the environment in which they live. Given, most analogies eventually break down. However, the fish – water analogy is a useful illustration.

Culture is “the environment we live in and think is normal” says Stonestreet. We understand it points to the fact that we’re assuming something about reality – a baseline, if you will. “This is the world and reality as we understand it” is the assumption that all people operate from and shape their lives around without even being aware.

So, what the heck is Culture?

I’m going to distill a few ideas found in Stonestreet and Kunkle’s book, “A Practical Guide to Culture” to help us. I definitely recommend reading it.

Let’s begin with what culture is NOT:

Culture is not creation (nature, plants, animals, humans, water, rocks, the sky, etc).

“Culture doesn’t just refer to all the bad stuff humans do.” (Stonestreet / Kunkle)

People are NOT culture.

“People make culture and are, in turn shaped by culture, but equating them with culture is wrong and can even be dangerous. If we see people as culture and culture as the enemy, we’ll likely see people as the enemy and confuse their bad ideas with evil intentions… Culture is NOT people, culture is what people do.” (Stonestreet / Kunkle)

So, what then is culture?

Culture comes from the Latin word cultura, meaning “agriculture” (plowing, tilling, etc).

“Culture is what humans do (activity) in the world: build, invent, create, tear down, compose, replace, embellish, engineer, assume, dismiss, emphasize, etc.” (Stonestreet / Kunkle)

“Culture is what humans make of the world,” says Andy Crouch

Ken Myers (All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes)
“It’s not a person. It’s not even an institution, like the church or the state or the family. It is instead a dynamic pattern, an ever-changing matrix of objects, artifacts, sounds, institutions, philosophies, fashions, enthusiasms, myths, prejudices, relationships, attitudes, tastes, rituals, habits, colors, and loves, all embodied in individual people, in groups and collectives and associations of people (many of whom do not know they are associated), in books, in buildings, in the use of time and space, in wars, in jokes, and in food.” (Stonestreet / Kunkle)

Culture is a kind of fabric produced by human activity.

Cultural forces shape our thoughts and behaviors without us even being aware.

Culture is created and cultivated for good or evil.

Everything we do or say, and the ideas we think impact culture.

Culture is a gift from God to be stewarded for goodness and his glory.

Attempting to “avoid culture” invites negative culture to fill the void.

Culture is powerful.

Culture isn’t a thing, Culture just is…..

Since humans naturally create culture, this begs the question: What kind of culture are we creating? 

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

The Gift of Thought – Developing a Theology of Thinking

The Gift of Thought - Cultivating a Theology of Thinking

What do you spend your time thinking about?
What is the purpose of thinking?
What ought we think about?

Recently, I was a guest on Shanda Fulbright’s “Her Faith Inspires” podcast. She was doing research for a lesson for her Gen Z children and kids from her community. Shanda wanted to explore the difference between learning ‘how to think’ vs. being taught ‘what to think’. Through the wizardry of Google or some other search engine, she stumbled upon my blog post from 2013 entitled “How to Think vs What to Think” (read my post here…). Shanda reached out to me to discuss the topic on her podcast (listen here…).

After the podcast aired, I decided that it would be good to explore a little further and share some reflections. We will not explore the deep theological implications at this point but I will attempt to cultivate the theological soil a bit.

Addressing the modern problem – What to Think

Let me begin by stating the obvious. In our high-speed, Google, wikipedia, YouTube, social media, soundbite world – we Moderns have lost the art and skill of deep thinking and reflection. We have traded wisdom and understanding for quick information and convenience. We can tell you the what and how of a matter, but we can’t tell you why of the same matter. 

We have delegated our problems (healthcare, political, financial, cultural, educational, ecclesiastical, etc.) to experts to solve them for us. The result? We are now bombarded by technical experts who offer pragmatic (often political) solutions to modern problems. Since we have delegated thinking to technocrats and think tanks, we end up being forced or coerced into accepting their authority, conditions and uniformity – one size fits all solutions. Their solutions rarely solve the problems they claim to be solving. In fact, in most instances the experts we’ve put in charge end up creating more problems. Their excuse is, “Well, this particular problem is very complex. We need more funding or more political power or a little more of your freedoms then, we can come up with a total solution for all problems.” Mind you, this is all being said by experts who were never taught how to think in school or at home – just what to think. They are simply doing what they were trained to do. And they are telling us what to think as well. Our finest universities are producing tens of thousands of these what-to-thinkers every year. Critical thinking, wisdom and discernment have been discarded.

Recovering our ability to think – How to Think

Man is a thinking being because we are created in the image of a thinking God. We have the ability to reflect and go beyond cognitive exercises of remembering, comprehending and understanding. We can think in the abstract or the concrete. We can remember and we can imagine. Our minds can be disordered and chaotic one moment and tranquil and well-ordered the next. We can have disturbing, evil thoughts or contented, beautiful and good thoughts. We share the universal language of logic and reason with all mankind. The human mind is powerful!

Thinking is something we all do all the time. Thought is a very human activity. The ability to think is good.

From the imaginations of men like Tolkien, we enjoy realms of Hobbits, Elves and Wizards on quests to vanquish evil. The mind of Steve Jobs created iPhones that would seem like wizardry to the inhabitants of Middle Earth or the Renaissance. All manner of ideas, solutions, laws, cures, machines, stories and artifacts emerge from the minds of men and women throughout the ages. Thought has created the greatest feats and the worst terrors of men. Our ability to think is fascinating and extraordinary. Let’s consider a few questions for a moment:

  • What do you spend your time thinking about?
  • What is the purpose of thinking?
  • What ought we think about?

Our thoughts shape our lives, relationships, culture and our future.

The gift-nature of thought

Have you ever considered your ability to think as a gift from God? God created the world and infused it with meaning. He then created humans in his own likeness and gave us the ability to apprehend reality – the world as it actually exists. God gave his image-bearers the ability to think and understand His reality (albeit distorted by sin). At the same time, He gave humans imagination and creativity. All of which are housed in the mind.

The Bible speaks about the mind. It also teaches us how to think and how we ought to think. Therefore, there is a purpose (telos) to thinking. That purpose is something worth exploring.

What does the Bible say about how we should think? While I don’t possess the theological knowledge to bring a “theology of thinking” into its fullest grandeur (that may be a task for another), I can simply try to grasp at the basics here. But, a theology of thinking is something every Christian ought to seek to develop.

Together as fellow pilgrims, we can recover and cultivate the wonderful gift of thought. We can center our thought life on God’s Word and ask Him to bring a fuller vision of Himself and the world he created to light – as we glory in Him.

1. Below are some passages to help us think.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge…” (Proverbs 22:7)

2. The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes help shape the our thoughts and hearts. They are filled with practical wisdom for every day living. They help us develop critical thinking skills and act as a guide to cultivating moral and honorable lives.

3. Books that I’ve found help me think.

  • Knowing God – J.I. Packer
  • The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer
  • Why You Think the Way You Do – Glenn Sunshine

“What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?”

(J.I. Packer)

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

Podcast: “Her Faith Inspires” hosted by Shanda Fulbright w/ Guest Lance Cashion

Podcast: Her Faith Inspires with Shanda Fulbright & guest Lance Cashion

There’s a difference between knowing how to think versus being told what to think. But how do you know the difference?

Last month I had the privilege of being a guest on Shanda Fulbright’s Her Faith Inspires Podcast. We had a fantastic conversation. I definitely recommend adding her podcast to your list.

Link: Episode 91 “Do you know how to think or are you being told what to think?” With Lance Cashion

Summary from Shanda’s Episode Page:
There’s a difference between knowing how to think versus being told what to think. But how do you know the difference? We also discuss brainwashing, freethinking, and what the Bible says about trading your mind to think correctly.

For additional context, here is a link to my original blog post from 2013 here…

Please check out Shanda Fulbright’s website here…

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Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.

Do you know your role in the story of which you inhabit?

We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Do you know your role in this world?

What are your responsibilities and opportunities in this cultural moment?

Where do I start in the square inch God has placed me?

If you are redeemed in Christ, then you inhabit the greatest story ever told. The Gospel is not limited to the way of salvation. It is bigger than that. Yes, your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is important. But, the Gospel I believe is not the Gospel of Lance. It’s not about me. Neither is the Gospel about you. Our salvation is not the end game nor is it the over-arching theme of the Bible. Jesus Christ proclaimed the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’

Michael Craven said, “The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement (payment) for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

J.I. Packer said, “The Gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us… Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is and understand the salvation from sin.”

The bad news is that our modern American gospel is man-centered not a God-centered Gospel. A God-centered Gospel is indeed Good News. There are two competing gospels, the gospel of the world vs the Gospel of the Kingdom. The former leads to death and destruction the latter leads to eternal life and human flourishing.

“Calling is at the heart of scripture.” – Os Guiness

God calls us, moreover, God invites us to inhabit His story. “When Christians see everything as calling from the Lord, we realize the dynamism of our faith” (Os Guiness). As we respond and enter into the overarching story of all of history, we go about setting things right in the world. In other words, we bring order to the disorder we find in our time and place.

“The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.” – The Colson Center

A Unifying Vision:
As Christians, we must cultivate a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal to bring ALL things under the Lordship of Christ as co-reagents of His Kingdom – redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live.

We are witnesses to the ‘in-breaking’ rule and reign of Jesus Christ into history as we redeem and restore that which God has placed in our care. We beseech the lost world to be “reconciled to God” in Christ Jesus as we take our place in His great story.

As Christians, we are transformed through Christ. We are commanded to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with a lost world. We are also given another command called the Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate. “The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen. 2:15).” (9Marks) We create good, true and beautiful culture that transforms the world and the story we inhabit.

The late Chuck Colson said,Transformed lives transform lives – transformed lives transform culture.

We live in an extraordinary moment in history. We have an extraordinary God. We inhabit an extraordinary story. You Were Made For This Time and Place.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Author’s note: The piece I’ve written above are deeper reflections of my experience and what I’ve learned through the Colson Fellows program over the last two years. “Gain wisdom, live faithfully and act courageously.”

 

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Race Redeemed – We Are One

Race Redeemed - We Are One

Recovering biblical anthropology and the true meaning of race

The word and concept of ‘race’ has been distorted over the last 150 years.

Christians have adopted a concept of race that is completely antithetical to God’s definition in Scripture.

The consequences of this redefinition have been devastating to our societies, culture and Christian witness. When those who claim to uphold biblical truths and live by them adopt foreign man-centered definitions and concepts and then import them into their theology, massive worldview implications ensue. Ideas always have consequences and bad ideas have victims.

The Bible is clear, there is only ONE race – the human race.

Race, Not Races:
The Bible is also clear that the one human race takes on a variety of beautiful physical features and expressions. The Bible speaks of tongues, tribes, peoples and nations. It speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places. Like fields of flowers or oceans of fish, the world is full of the human race in all its fullness, variety, and beauty.

Nations – Ethnos:
Recovering the language and meaning of the truths rooted in scripture is extremely important. Words and meaning form and shape how we understand and interact with reality. The word ’Nations’ in the Bible comes from the Greek, “Ethnos” which is where we get the word ‘ethnicity’ and ‘ethnicities’. We are ONE race but many nations or ethnicities. That is the language of the Bible!

The Christian must understand that the modern concept of race does not find any foundational support in the Bible. ‘Race’ does not mean different ’nations’ or ‘ethnicities’ as modern Christians might assume. It actually is rooted in the (bad) idea that the human race is made up of many species of humans. We must ask, is that true? And what are the ramifications of a false premise or presupposition? How do meanings of words impact reality and our lives?

The language of the Bible is clear and unifying all humans are of one race. To argue otherwise is to introduce foreign secular sociological and anthropological concepts into biblical theology, sociology, and biblical anthropology. The consequence is that this importation of foreign concepts distort the meaning of the Bible and our worldview. This bad idea ends up creating moral confusion and division among people. We are witnessing this in this cultural moment.

Races – Samuel Morton, Scientific Racism and Craniometry:

“Samuel George Morton is often thought of as the originator of “American School” ethnography, a school of thought in antebellum American science that claimed the difference between humans was one of species rather than variety and is seen by some as the origin of scientific racism.

Morton argued against the single creation story of the Bible (monogenism) and instead supported a theory of multiple racial creations (polygenism). Morton claimed the Bible supported polygenism, and within working in a biblical framework his theory held that each race had been created separately and each was given specific, irrevocable characteristics.

Morton claimed that he could define the intellectual ability of a race by the skull capacity. A large volume meant a large brain and high intellectual capacity, and a small skull indicated a small brain and decreased intellectual capacity. He was reputed to hold the largest collection of skulls, on which he based his research. He claimed that each race had a separate origin, and that a descending order of intelligence could be discerned that placed Caucasians at the pinnacle and Negroes at the lowest point, with various other race groups in between.” (source)

 

“Morton was heavily influenced in his thinking by the 19th century practice of phrenology (the now abandoned field of study which used the shape of the skull to determine personality traits) and the theories of hereditarianism (a school of thought that saw heredity playing a major role in determining traits such as intelligence and personality) and polygenism (a school of thought that saw human races as created separately and unequal).” (source)

Morton’s theory had an influence on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin bought into Morton’s presupposition that some species of humans were superior to others. The ramifications of this type of thinking continues to be seen in our current day.

In the final analysis, the modern concept of ‘race (races)’ is divisive at its root. Even when people of goodwill speak of ‘races’ in a positive light, the term is divisive. Why? Because the modern concept of race was created to divide humans based on physical qualitative attributes. Everything that flows from the presupposition made by Morton and Darwin divides and destroys the unifying vision of one race established by God. Therefore, terms like racism, racist, etc. divide even when used to call out evil. Modern science has proven that there is NO scientific / genetic basis for different races (see National Geographic Article here)

Biblical Words – A Better Way:
In order to clear up confusion and bring unity, we must recover the language of the Bible. Words matter. Words and language are important to God so they must be important to us. After all, God’s primary revelation is His Word (the Bible). By design, human culture and society is structured around language. When language is confused or the meaning of words are distorted, chaos ensues.

Meaning Matters – What do you mean by that?
If by ‘racism’ you mean ‘ethnic hatred’ or ‘ethnic prejudice’ then the Christian can ground a distorted concept of race in truth and bring it into the full light of God’s word. The Bible states, hatred of any kind is a sin equivalent to murder. We must understand that ‘racism’ as a modern concept is foreign to the Bible. The Christian must recover and redeem words – grounding them in the Christian worldview.

Moving Forward – Reordering Disorder
I’ve been attempting to use the language of the Bible to clarify conversations and public discourse. This is not been without difficultly because I have imbibed the language of modern culture as well. However, I have found that using biblical language like ‘ethnicity’, help people think clearly and move dialog into a unifying direction. The implication of biblical language clarifies things like ‘ethnic superiority’, ‘ethnic prejudice’, ‘ethnic bias’ and ‘ethnic hatred’ as all forms of the sin of hatred.  I stay away from using modern sociological constructs and language like ‘races’, ‘racial superiority’ and ‘racism’ because those words and concepts obscure the full meaning of what people are trying to communicate. Based on my background in anthropology, study of sociology and my analysis of culture, it is clear that many academic activists intentionally obscure meaning and redefine words. So, beware and be discerning.

The thinking Christian must understand that the fall and sin have disordered the world and culture. Then, we must reorder things back to God’s original vision (recovering and restoring)

Recovering A Biblical Anthropology and Meaning:
The Christian vision begins with a Biblical Anthropology of what it means to be human – what it means to be created in the image of God (image bearer) – what it means to be male and female – what it means to be a fallen (sinful) image bearer in a broken (sinful) world – what does it mean for every human being to have dignity and value. What would this world be like if every human looked the same – if no ethnicities existed?

By design, human beings search for meaning in life. When we attempt to create our own meaning or identity outside of God’s vision of human life, we end up creating massive problems individually and culturally. However, when we ground our identity in God’s design as His image-bearers, we see human flourishing. We experience unity in the diversity of individual image-bearers as one race – the human race.

Again, the Bible speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places ALL made in His image. Though we live in a broken world, we see God’s goodness and glory through frosted glass but we see it nonetheless reflected in the multifaceted human race of image-bearers.

Race is a unifying vision of all human beings – wrought by God and born of one womb.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” Acts 17:26

The Bible declares that all people of all ethnicities (nations) in all of history in every place on earth bear the image of God.

We are ONE race – the human race. That is the truth.

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

Are ‘Woke’ Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

Are Woke Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

“The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. What does this have to do with “woke” Christians?

Note to reader: There are those who serve as ‘tone police’ who will accuse me of being ‘mean’ or ‘not nice’ because a subjective view of my tone. I’m being terse in regard to this topic because someone must point out that sheep (Christians) are abusing other sheep. What is worse, some shepherds (leaders / pastors) are abusing their own sheep.

My point is, this ‘woke’ nonsense is trash. It has no place in the church – it’s time to put a stop to it. Christ did not spill his blood and lay down his life for his bride (church) to stand in the mirror (social media) and slap herself in the face. We have enough sin in our own lives and in our culture without intentionally creating more. I’m seeing longstanding relationships between Christians be destroyed by this divisive foolishness. I will confront and attack the ideas – not the individual. I humbly submit the following discourse to you for consideration. Come let us reason together and preserve the bond of peace.

Register for live Zoominar – Tues Feb. 2nd 2021 at 7pm CT “Critical Race Theory & the Christian Vision

The one who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 2:10–11

Introduction:

Scriptural Foundation for Me and You

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

There is a powerful movement within the church in America that has taken captive many well-meaning Christians. Under the banners of Social Justice, Racial Justice, Anti-racism and a handful of other names a certain enclave within Western Christianity have taken upon themselves the roles of accuser, judge, jury and punisher for all of Christendom. I’ve written about this extensively here…

To be ‘woke’ and to ‘stay woke’ is to be ‘with it’ or ‘in the know’ and ‘on the right side of history’ in regard to certain current social issues – particularly related to ethnicity and sexual identity. In other words, being ‘woke’ is to reside on the moral high-ground on a popular social issue. Having attained moral superiority through a kind of social enlightenment, the woke Christian’s ‘ministry’ (or service) to other Christians is to publicly castigate and berate their brothers and sisters – usually on social media. This is coupled with a heavy dose of virtue-signaling. Imagine the Roman Colosseum but online and to top it off, Christians are essentially persecuting other Christians.

The Social Justician’s Ministry of Wokeness

The goal of woke ministry is to pound other Christians into submission for the hidden sin of being ‘un-woke’ which is code for racist, homophobic, white supremacist, etc. When challenged, woke leaders tell their victims (brothers and sisters in Christ), that “this is a Gospel issue that only REAL Christians understand.” When someone questions, challenges or refuses to submit to woke demands, they are typically purged, given the mark of racist or white supremacist or some other label – then exiled to purgatory. Excommunication is accomplished through de-friending on social media or ‘canceling.’ Salvation is found in continuous public penitence, self-flagellation and virtue-signaling in order meet the approval of the woke crowd that includes non-Christians who hate Christianity (ironic).

Little covens of ethnic gnostics meet together and engage in woke worship marked by churlish preaching, muckraking, struggle sessions and voyeuristic prayer. Of course, in the context of in-person interactions their behavior is replaced with a kindly smile and the good ole ‘How can I pray for you?’ After all, no one wants to lose their paycheck over this or appear to be ‘mean’, right?

Worshipping the Zeitgeist

Let’s get serious for a moment. All of this wokeness is nothing more than bowing to the spirit of the age (idolatry). Moreover, through deception, coercion, complicity, bad theology, false teaching or a combination of all of the above, some Christians have unintentionally replaced the God of the Bible with the god of the age – the Gospel of the Kingdom with the gospel of culture. Sadly some Christians have completely given themselves over to the woke orthodoxy and completely decimated relationships and destroyed their public witness. Due to the prevalence of social media, this backsliding has become high drama for everyone to see – including the unbelieving world. This should saddens us.

Moral Arrogance, Selective Outrage and Creating an Offense

The moral arrogance of some “Christians” who see fit to label their un-woke brothers and sisters in Christ as racists or white-supremacists or otherwise is staggering. Furthermore, it creates moral confusion in an already confusing cultural moment. Public shaming and virtue-signaling have become a past time for some and doctrine for others. In addition, this movement is marked by selective outrage. Meaning, you must express public moral outrage (emotion) about certain social issues sanctioned by woke orthodoxy. This behavior has the effect of binding the conscience of other Christians.

All of this is rooted in moral arrogance and takes shape in the expression of moralism (not to be confused with morality). What should grieve the community of all Christ-followers is that woke Christians create an offense where one does NOT exist. Then they publicly accuse their brethren of this newly created offense of public sin that requires public repentance. If the accused questions or does not meet the expectations of the woke Christian mob, everything attaches to the contrived offense. In other words, everything you do or say reinforces the offense – guilt is piled on to guilt. As a result, you will be shamed, guilted, cancelled, slandered and eventually purged.

It’s reminiscent of the cliquey “cool kids” or the “in-crowd” in middle school where the “not-so-cool” kids were purged from the lunch table or not invited to the cool kid parties. This is happening within the Church in America but it’s way more destructive and harmful.

If you try to discuss or debate, woke Christians typically assume the position of moral high ground above the particulars of the issues involved. They speak in high-minded sweeping generalities followed by a barrage of ad hominem attacks (name-calling) but refuse to engage the abstract or particulars. And they are never wrong on the issue. It’s repackaged Critical Theory that takes the form of legalism. I digress…

I will not slander other believers. . . . There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. Who am I to judge my neighbor?

James 4:11–12

[paraphrased]

Are Woke Christians Bearing False Witness or Worse?

Note: I am aware that I am a lowly sinner capable of great evil and I have broken God’s commands. So, I am not accusing others of committing sin that I have not committed my self. The posture of my heart is to look at this issue not from above or below others but on the level.

The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. The 9th Commandment expands on this and forbids lying about another image-bearer. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. If I label and/or accuse entire groups of people or individuals I don’t know as racists or white supremacists, I am accusing them of ethnic hatred (dubiously called racism). Jesus places hatred on equal ground as murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15). According to God, by pronouncing sweeping judgements of ethnic hatred on the brethren, I am accusing them of MURDER.

If you don’t recognize this dangerously thin spiritual ice, you need to think again my friend.

The Sixth Commandment says, “You shall not murder.” The Bible is clear that murder is a sin. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. In accusing people of ethnic hatred, I am judging them to be murderers. If I accuse people of implicit ethnic hatred based on their God-given ethnicity (skin color) or some other superficial or immutable factor without actual evidence of sin as defined by the Bible, I am guilty of lying (bearing false witness) against another image-bearer. Lying about someone can be my expression of hatred toward them. Therefore, I am potentially guilty of murder because (again) Jesus places hatred and murder in the same category.

Furthermore, when a Christian uses a public forum to infer or accuse someone of sin (ethic hatred), that Christian is guilty of slander. The Bible provides a prescription for dealing with public sin (Matthew 18:15-17)… it does not include social media.

Additionally, to the extent Christians are talking behind the backs of other image-bearers and making accusations, they are guilty of gossip. Gossip destroys unity and the Church ought to have zero tolerance policy. The most insidious example I’ve seen is what I call “gossip prayer.” This is where one Christian targets another Christian within the context of group prayer in order to slander them behind their backs. In doing this, the gossiper is dragging the rest of the group into sin by disguising his/her intersession as an address to the Heavenly Father. In a real spiritual sense, the gossiper is bringing a falsehood and slander of a spiritual sibling into the heavenly realms in the name of Jesus. Lest we forget God is Holy and dangerous – it says a lot about a lot about one’s condition if he/she believes God overlook a slanderous prayer. The Bible warns against making weaker believers stumble into sin AND throwing in our lot with those who would entice us to waylay someone else (Mark 9:42, Proverbs 1:10-18)

Finally, Jesus states that the Greatest Commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38). Biblically speaking, there is NO WAY a Christian can claim to keep and follow the Greatest Commandment while breaking the 9th and 6th Commandments.

“Woke Christianity” is a religion unto itself – rooted in pride and moral arrogance. It’s completely antithetical to Biblical faith and the Gospel of the Kingdom. It draws unknowing or weak Christians into a man-centered ‘reconciliation’ and false redemptive vision (social justice).

In conclusion, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This should be a ‘shot across the bow’ of our pride – a warning to be seriously heeded.

“He (Jesus) knew that a bundle of inflamed and virulent pride might as easily be garbed in rags and tatter as in ermine robes, and that haughtiness may as often be seen in a thatched cottage as in a turreted castle… It is possible for the poor to be proud of his poverty, for the devout to be proud of his piety, for the prayerful to be proud of his supplications, for the idolater to be proud of his obeisance, for the fasting to be proud of his fasts, for the donor to be proud of his gifts, the penitent to be proud of his penitence, for the lowly to be proud of his lowliness.

“The devil did grin, for his darling sin. Is the pride that apes humanity.”” (Coleridge)
FW. Boreham (The Heavenly Octaves)

“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“And a second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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