’ve been a little hesitant over the past few months to discuss Critical Race Theory and Marxism. Primarily because there is so much misinformation and ignorance regarding these ideologies, both in the world and in the Body of Christ. I’m reluctant to delve into things that are going to stay at a superficial level of argument, especially online. Secondarily because with the tensions and emotions of these past few months, I felt it was better to listen and observe first, without coming in critically too quickly. As I have said before, in such times, deep compassion has to be the underpinning motivation of all that is said and done.
To those who have seriously studied Marxism and its offshoots (socialism, communism, and CRT), what is happening today is nothing new. Intersectionality, Race Theory (including Black Lives Matter and Liberation Theology), LGBTQ movements, Feminism (including the Me Too movement), the new Class wars like Occupy, are just the latest descendants of a century-and-a-half old train of thought. The narrative and language that is commonly used in main stream conversation, as well as even in the Church, have come from a predominantly Marxist worldview.
I’ll say it plainly: the Marxist worldview is completely antithetical to the Biblical world view. The Marxist worldview, I can concede, can make observations that are true, and even observations that were previously undiscovered or ignored. However, observations come down to data sets, and interpreting data is the function of worldview. The short of a Marxist worldview is this: The world and history is divided into two classes, the oppressed and the oppressor; and it is incumbent of the oppressed to overthrow the oppressor. This can be applied endlessly to classes of wealth, women and the patriarchy, POC and white establishment, etc.
Here is where the Bible cuts in with force: the only division that we see in Scripture are those in Adam, and those in Christ (1 Cor. 15:44-49).
The Church was meant to be the shining beacon of unity and love to the broken and divided world that in Him “there is no distinction between Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female” (Gal. 3:28). In other words, there is no distinction with regards to race, wealth class, or gender. The world is expected to divide along these lines, but the Bible attributes that division to the sin nature of those in Adam, not as a fundamental worldview like Marxism would.
The Christian also understands that there are power imbalances, and that those in power have frequently abused those under their power. This is not new. This has happened virtually in every circumstance and setting of power throughout history. This is not an attribute of Whiteness, Men, or the Wealthy, as contemporary Marxists would claim. This is an attribute of fallen humanity in possession of power. To every example of “oppressor power,” there is a counter example. Colonialism and racial cleansing was not a solely European doing—just take a look at the era of Imperial Japan. The Christian worldview expects this to be true: sin nature bears sin as its fruit, and this is amplified when fallen men and women possess power.
With the Biblical worldview there is a Christian imperative—we aren’t simply bystanders in history, as fallen as the world might be. The Bible is also clear that the Church is to be as salt and light in the world, and to disciple the nations in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Where injustice and unrighteousness exists, we are to challenge it with moral force and prophetic clarity. This is why almost every justice movement in the history of the West was led by Christians. Furthermore, the greatest imperative of the Christian is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, which is in essence to make light-bearers out of fallen image-bearers in every tribe and tongue. This more than anything will produce by its fruit the salting and lighting of the world.
Marxism and its offshoots not only has a fundamental worldview, but a fundamental imperative. That is, the oppressed are to overthrow the oppressors (whoever they are deemed to be): i.e., revolution. This is the path to enlightened and equitable civilization. Like Christianity, Marxism presents an explanation of human suffering and prescribes a solution. However, this world view and solution are fundamentally different. Historically, these revolutions have been dangerous and futile in human happiness. Ideas are not developed nor do they play out in a vacuum—ideas have consequences. The last century has been a global experiment in the outplaying of Marxist ideology, with devastating consequences for the world.
There has been a fairly interesting reception, particularly the Christian world, to this influx of Marxist ideology. Many in the Church have freely given themselves to a degree of Liberation Theology and subscribed to movements like Black Live Matters, Occupy, or Me Too. I understand why. Not only are these ideologies seductive, they attract sympathy. Without righteous voices making clear sounds (or silenced), these movements have been presented as the only alternative to perceived injustice.
Furthermore, very few of these present day movements have been clear with their goals on the onset, so confusion and/or deception is to be expected. The rallying cry to stand with Black Americans who as a people group experienced incredible, historic pain; or to stand with women who had been abused or harassed—THESE ARE VERY NOBLE GOALS. But we have to ask: what is the end point of these movements? And we see some measures of the radical notions of “overthrow”: defunding the police, silencing free speech, violence in the streets, deconstructing the nuclear family, and proliferating the abomination of abortion. It’s become self-evident that many of these movements (without a doubt at the organizational level) will not be satisfied.
I say with full faith that some leader or some ministry could rally around Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Occupy, or other pop-movements with the purest of intentions. I also say with full conviction that they are at best deceived or ignorant, or worst, in full agreement with false ideologies. I do believe it is immature and dangerous to say (as many do): "Call me a Marxist, I don't care. I still stand with X Y Z cause." This is folly. Agreement with a worldview is agreement with its imperative. There can be no reconciliation of race, gender, or class in the Marxist worldview and imperative; there can only be revolution. And Christians, above all, have been given the ministry of reconciliation. (And let's live it and prove it. Lack of action on the church's part is part of the root problem).
WHAT’S AT STAKE IS THE MISSIONS MOVEMENT
The underlying reason for this article was not to write about or expose Marxism. Much of this has been said better, and more in depth, from far more brilliant people than myself. What is at stake at the end of the day, and for me that is the MOST IMPORTANT, is the FUTURE OF THE MISSIONS MOVEMENT and the WORK OF THE GOSPEL.
I love America, I really do. I am convicted that any movement, doctrine, or cause built on any foundation of Marxism will be detrimental to the nation. But I’m not Anti-Marxist simply to be Pro-American or Pro-Nationalism. At the end of the day, as believers, what drives us can’t be simply love of country or love of Western Civilization. I am deeply concerned with the influx of Marxist thought into the nation and into the Church primarily in consideration of the global work of the Kingdom.
The Marxist framework views the work of Global Missions as, at best, an intrusion. To the modern-day Marxist, missions and evangelism is a demonstration of White Privilege, White Supremacy, Western Imperialism, onto ethnic minorities worldwide. This seems like extreme language, but I need only to point to the martyrdom of John Allen Chau in 2018. Within days of his last letter circulating, many questioned not only his wisdom, but also the Biblical worldview. Is it right for an American White Male to force his religious views upon natives of the Sentinel Islands? What kind of privilege is it, that this person would go to a people who would be unwillingly exposed to all kinds of Western diseases? Hearken all kinds of images of the worst stories of Manifest Destiny, 18th and 19th Century Colonialism, et al. I have read and heard it all here.
If the fundamental imperative of the Christian is to make disciples of and to disciple nations, we are in direct conflict with the fundamental worldview and imperative of Marxist Ideology. (Side note on Liberation Theology: cleverly, Marxist ideology has crept into the church in the form of Liberation Theology, which insidiously changes the very premises of the Gospel. In Liberation Theology, no longer is “sin” a “sin against God’s law,” but sin is “the oppressive actions of the oppressor against the oppressed.” Just recently, I read a post from a known black “Christian” leader that although he disagreed with another black leader, he would not disagree with them publicly or call them out because he is a committed “anti-racist.” The oppressed, it is implied, cannot “sin.” Repentance is redefined to be the “oppressor” repenting for his/her “sin” against the oppressed. Salvation then, is not deliverance from sin and death, it is deliverance from the oppressor. Thus, those who believe in Liberation Theology think that they can reconcile their worldview and imperative with both Marxism and the Bible. But this is heresy—this is “another gospel.”)
This might seem extreme for some, and it is true that I have used extreme examples. But we are at the extremes in our culture today, and it is a very alarming that what I have written is playing out in our culture right now. Those churches or ministries who are imbibing in the spirit of the age today, even with good intentions, will soon find that the fruit produced will inevitably be bad fruit. If you give any false ideology an inch, it will take a foot, and then it will take the whole thing. Jesus puts it this way: a little leaven, leavens the whole bread (Gal. 5:9).
What Ended The SVM
Here is my point. The Student Volunteer Missions Movement (SVM) took place within the greatest era of missions in human history up to that point in time. The SVM also had an end. What accelerated the death of the SVM was two demonic ideologies: (1) liberal theology (2) the social gospel.
Liberal theology swept the European church in the late 1800’s, and began to deny the central tenets of the Christian faith. Forget the virgin birth and the resurrection and the Gospel, they said, the only thing that matters is “Christ’s teachings of love.” In fact, the rallying cry of the liberal church was “God is love,” and that means “love your neighbor.” “LOVE WINS.” If you don’t see that same spirit behind the LGBTQ-acceptance and Critical Race Theory in ”church” movements, look again.
The Social Gospel took this further. They said: the primary objective of missions is not making disciples, it is helping people. It is the Church becoming the hands and feet, feeding the poor, elevating the oppressed. Now that is all good, but not without the exclusion of that actual imperative of Jesus to make disciples. So the eternal thrust of the Gospel was lost, replaced with temporary alleviations to human suffering. This, they argued, is the work of salvation. If you don’t see that same spirit behind the “outrage” against John Chau, behind Liberation Theology, then look again.
I am fervently, ceaselessly, praying for the greatest move of missions in history. I think there are many hindrances, and we need to point the fingers at ourselves first—the love of self, the American dream, lukewarmness, etc. There is a judgement internal that is first. But I also perceive, with others, a great external threat. The Marxist ideology that is coming in is not something that can be coddled, rethought for the church, or tolerated. It is an existential threat to the work of the Gospel and the worldview and thus Gospel imperative of a generation.
I said before, and I'll say again: Marxists can have true observations. Perhaps it is God who using Marxists right now to expose things that were hidden. But the same can be said of any false ideology—this is what common grace is all about. That is not the same as receiving the false ideologies themselves. This present wave of Marxist ideology and worldview must at every point be exposed, confronted, and destroyed. And Christians must make double the effort to provide and prove the solutions that Marxists suppose, in both the areas of temporal justice, and above all, eternity.