Seven Points Of Clarification

All language is contextual. As I discuss how the Gospel speaks to social dynamics, the language sometimes crosses over with other ideologies. Despite the fluidity of language, God’s truths remain.

However, I now see another ‘quiet exodus’ from the first one mentioned in the article. Some who fled Evangelicalism for the principles of CRT and Intersectionality found the waters bitter and self-contradicting. I’m now observing a handful of Christians from all ethnicities who have become disaffected with CRT and Intersectionality. While these saints still admit that there are social problems that only the Gospel can heal, they now realize the ‘solutions’ that Critical Theory propose are bankrupt; they cannot bring life. They want biblical approaches to local and global social ills that employ the Gospel, its affirmation of life, and the transformation that it alone can accomplish. I find this greatly encouraging.

 

I have a decades long history of helping the Body of Christ navigate the particular concerns of minorities. Most of my ministry has been done through publishing, speaking, teaching, and one-on-one discipleship of young men.

Because I serve a minority population, much of my work has involved addressing the unique challenges that such communities face. One such example is defending the Christian faith against the accusation that “Christianity is a ‘tool of oppression.’”

This defense has involved engaging people who have looked for answers in counterfeit teachings, often disguised in theological language – teaching on the bankruptcy of these ideologies when compared to the biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ. The genuine Gospel that answers these ideologies is the robust and transformative message found in the Scripture along with all its implications, not the anemic or privatized version that emanates from some quarters of contemporary American Christianity. This was the basis for a book I wrote decades ago, Free at Last?.

In my ministry career, I have used non-traditional terminology to reach those unfamiliar with traditional theological and biblical terms. I have used these words according to their classic dictionary definitions. At other times, I strove to clearly define the words I used in biblical terms.

Unfortunately, language is fluid and co-optable. Some of these terms I once relied on have become associated with modern aberrant ‘theologies’ and secular ideologies.

Lest these linguistic shifts cause confusion about my worldview or my intended framework, let me state clearly and unequivocally where I stand on several contemporary issues.

I. Beliefs

Regarding my beliefs, I firmly stand with the Bible as the Word of God. I believe and teach that it is infallible and inerrant (in its original manuscripts).

Second, my worldview is solely derived from the Scriptures. I therefore reject Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory (CRT), today’s Intersectionality, Totalitarianism, Ethnocentrism, Secularism, as well as Marxism and all its applications, as antithetical to a biblical worldview and to the Gospel of Christ.

By common grace, these ideologies may give us slight insights on issues we face today, but the ultimate remedies they propose reflect a profound ignorance about sinful human nature at best. They focus on mere symptoms while ignoring the disease, prescribing a remedy that history proves is just as destructive as the disease itself.

Third, I believe that only the Word of God and the transformative Gospel of Jesus Christ gets to the root of the problem by addressing the disease itself – mankind’s core corruption.

Finally, I am unapologetically a follower of Christ. I am also, in God’s sovereignty, an African American man who has lived the majority of life in the 20th Century. I believe according to Acts 17:26 that this is the culture, time and place God has given me to do His Kingdom work, and thus I see it as a gift from Him imbued with purpose. That purpose has been to explore His work in the world from a particular non-dominant cultural point of view.

II. Social Religions

The ideologies I discuss in this post are historically known to bring destruction. We have seen their effects on societies during the 20th Century, and into the 21st.

Even today, we can see these “social religions” doing what they do historically – curve in on themselves with increasingly narrow performative ‘orthodoxies.’ They create ever smaller circles of those considered ‘authentic’ – adherents who represent the truest version of their secular piety. They belittle those who do not perform the corresponding rites properly, and damn those who reject the ideology altogether.

Since 2015, my wife and I have spoken against these dogmas when we see them manifest in our own circles. We have seen some wander down paths that, consciously or unconsciously, justified the use of ideologies like Critical Theory, or uncritically glorified and affirmed writers who did the same such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, James Cone and others.

As the impact of these ideologies on Christianity became deeper and wider ranging, we revamped our courses to speak out directly against them. As an academic, I do believe that these ideologies should be studied critically. But as a pastor in the seminary setting, I believe they should be studied against a proper biblical Christology and anthropology, with a full understanding of their deficiencies in producing anything close to a Kingdom agenda.

III. The Academy

Those who know our teaching well know of our disagreements with movements founded on CRT. Perhaps one of the clearest witnesses to the destructive potential of such ideologies is found in the “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Movement.“ The adverse experiences over the last ten years of secular-progressive professors who did not affirm the movement’s social orthodoxies serve as cautionary tales not only for the academy, but for the larger society as well.

I’ve seen the lines blur increasingly between disciplines and ideologies. Therefore, I’ve refined and qualified much of my language from my younger days, and have developed lectures that explain the principles and deficiencies of Marxism, CRT and today’s Intersectionality, as well as their effects throughout history and in American society.

Some students come to graduate programs from secular institutions having already, either knowingly or unknowingly, internalized the so-called “Equity and Inclusion Movement,” CRT, or having accepted so-called “Liberation Theologies” based on Marxist principles.

Many are surprised to find how impotent they are when, over the course of a semester, the biblical Gospel is held up against these ideologies.

Because of this, I am hopeful. I also believe we are experiencing an interesting turn. A New York Times article discussed the “Quiet Exodus” of Black Christians from predominantly White Evangelical churches, in search of cultural affirmation in solid, Bible-believing African American churches. Many of these exiting saints have found cultural affirmation and solid teaching, but have also learned that even culturally affirming churches are still flawed in some way. Such is the nature of our ongoing sanctification.

However, I now see another ‘quiet exodus’ from the first one mentioned in the article. Some who fled Evangelicalism for the principles of CRT and Intersectionality found the waters bitter and self-contradicting. I’m now observing a handful of Christians from all ethnicities who have become disaffected with CRT and Intersectionality. While these saints still admit that there are social problems that only the Gospel can heal, they now realize the ‘solutions’ that Critical Theory propose are bankrupt; they cannot bring life. They want biblical approaches to local and global social ills that employ the Gospel, its affirmation of life, and the transformation that it alone can accomplish. I find this greatly encouraging.

IV. Our Fallen World

There must be a way to discuss mankind’s propensity to dominate their fellow humans, and to discuss repeating historical patterns. Marxism, Communism, Islamism, et al, themselves produce deleterious social effects as they dehumanize and destroy lives around the world to this day.

Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and many others all have left clear evidence that once a balanced understanding of human depravity is removed from a worldview, violence against body and soul cannot be far behind.

People are broken sinners. Broken people make broken families. Broken families make broken communities. Broken communities make broken societies. Broken societies make broken systems. And broken systems keep people in bondage – physical, social, and spiritual. This is the reality of our fallen world. Furthermore, this reality is exacerbated by malevolent spiritual forces that surreptitiously manipulate these social ills (Ephesians 6:12).

Yet the genuine people of God have had life-giving responses displaying God’s intent for humanity based on His principles in order to indict the surrounding culture. God leaves such a witness through His people so that those in the surrounding community might “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

The true church, often in small numbers, has historically had some sort of Biblical response to dehumanizing totalitarian regimes, and she continues to respond today. The answer to these ills is, and always has been, the local Body of Christ and her continual transformation into Christ’s likeness through the biblical Gospel, applying the marks of the true Church. Sometimes her effects have been small scale and the redemption of a single life; other times the impact has been great on societies, and other times the effects have contributed to the downfall of entire totalitarian regimes.

Each social ill opens an opportunity for a response from the Body of Christ. Each age gives us actors and thinkers, great and small, to help articulate those responses and put them into practice – Corrie Ten Boom, John Newton, Alonzo and Althea Edmiston, Granville Sharpe, Maggie Walker, Alexander Solzhenytsin, Francis J. Grimké, and many others in history.

And certainly, I am the least among these, a vapor in man’s record. Indeed, history will eventually forget 99% of us living, publishing, and commenting today. But I trust that my God will not.

Read More