Wokeness is not surprising. It is normal behavior for a world filled with sin. But when believers begin to cave to the culture and blow over in the wind of deviant doctrine, that can be surprising — mostly, disturbing.
If you’re not familiar with a baseline definition of “wokeness,” here is one from Owen Strachan who wrote Christianity and Wokeness (releasing July 20th):
“Wokeness is first and foremost a mindset…In the most specific terms, this means one sees the comprehensive inequity of our social order and strives to highlight power structures in society that stem from racial privilege. In intellectual terms, wokeness occurs when one embraces the system of thought…called Critical Race Theory. CRT teaches that all of societal life is structured along racial power dynamics.”
According to woke thought leaders, racism is the foundational basis for American structures and the country was completely designed for white people to rule. Based on what many woke leaders believe and teach, “Whiteness” and “white supremacy” now reign supreme in all facets of our society, and even if you have no links to racism, white supremacy, or the oppression of blacks, you are complicit if you are white. In a recent Time Magazine article by Savala Trepczynski, she explains why all white people are the problem and need to figure out the solution for their white supremacy themselves. Just don’t bother asking her how to start addressing the problem — she says:
“…it is white people (especially progressive white people) who are responsible for what happens now. Either they work to understand—and change—how white supremacy moves in and through their lives, hearts, minds, and spaces, or they decide they don’t have time, they’re too scared, they can’t deal with it, or, like Ms. Cooper, they linger in the fallacy that they could never be involved in a racist incident. Either they accept that they have inherited this house of white supremacy, built by their forebears and willed to them, and they are now responsible for paying the taxes on that inheritance, or the status quo continues. I hope they will become radicalized by this moment and begin to fight fiercely for racial justice; but more than that, I hope they start at home, in their own minds and hearts. As I tell my students: a white person rushing to do racial justice work without first understanding the impacts, uses, and deceptions of their own whiteness is like an untrained person rushing into the ER to help the nurses and doctors—therein probably lies more harm than good.
One thing though: don’t ask me how to start. That’s part of your work, too. The answers are all around you if you are willing to look and listen.”
This is not surprising when one considers the fact that much of the woke agenda comes from unbelievers trying to solve racial division through human theories. No believer should be shocked. Why would the unbelieving mind rely on anything except the unbeliever’s method to deal with what they believe to be the problem with our society?
But when countless Christians jump on the bandwagon of wokeness it is horribly problematic. Such double-mindedness is akin to being “tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). It is related to the pragmatism of past decades that has torn the church apart. What is pragmatism? In this context, it means to cave to whatever the culture is angry about and try to do what “works” to appease them and win them. It is abdicating our role as a beacon of Christ’s truth and bowing to the vile calling of the culture.
Some of this behavior by professing Christians is due to ignorance. That is fair to say. However, much of it is due to compromise. No matter where you stand, you must understand that wokeness is anti-Christ and anti-gospel. Therefore, it is anti-Christian.
For the believer, woke is broke. Here are five simple reasons why:
1. Cancel culture is graceless
Wokeness cancels anything or anyone that doesn’t bow to its ideology. How is that Christian? How is that grace? It’s graceless. Juan Riesco, a Christian deli owner in Chicago experienced this first-hand. Nini’s Deli went from being the top-ranked restaurant in Chicago on Yelp to running for his life. His deli was sponsored by Nike, celebrities wore his swag, and life for his family was everything that an American could dream of from a business standpoint. Then, his Christian faith, Biblical view of sexuality and gender, and failure to cave to the demands of the culture made him the favorite target of Black Lives Matter and they turned him into public enemy #1. But he was white, right? No. He was part of an immigrant family of Cuban, Mexican, and Lebanese descent. You can watch his full story here: Paint the Wall Black: The Story of Nini’s Deli.
Cancel culture preaches this: believe what we say to believe or else we will destroy your life.
Cancel culture plays God. Christianity pursues grace.
2. Victimization is self-righteous vengeance
Romans 12:19 declares, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.” But time and time again we see woke culture taking revenge into their hands. Black Lives Matter destroys cities and businesses of whites, and non-whites alike. Again, this is understandable at the very least because sinners are going to sin. Pagans will act like pagans. Heathens are going to act like heathens.
But when successful Christian influencers make themselves out to be victims because their ancestors were victims of the heinous sin of the slave trade, they begin to breed an attitude of self-righteous vengeance in a time where they have not even the slightest level of pain and oppression that their ancestors endured. They believe they are “owed” something in their own mind. Best-selling authors, driving Range Rovers, living in beautiful homes, leading thriving churches, writing freely, living freely, educating their children freely, enjoying countless measures of opportunity are somehow victims?
Hurt people hurt people. Carrying the offenses of the past into the present is little more than self-righteous vengeance. God will deal with the wickedness of the past. Many woke Christians demand vengeance now — taking matters into their own hands — like the culture.
3. The gospel message isn’t enough
To the woke mob, repentance isn’t enough. You must raise a fist. Preaching Christ is fine, but preaching Martin Luther King is better. The gospel of Jesus Christ that pours out grace upon sinners, showers mercy over the underserving, and washes away the past (2 Corinthians 5:17) is the anti-thesis to the gospel according to wokeness.
Wokeness breeds and needs a gospel that goes beyond Scripture so it can continue to heap guilt-tripping burdens onto the backs of people who must pay for the sins of their forefathers.
4. Wokeness is “hypocritical racism”
Any professing Christian who insists on making blanket statements regarding all white people is reversing the racism they claim is enacted against them. I don’t need to unpack this much further. This man with two medical degrees will do that just fine. Watch this:
5. Greed and exploitation are a growing theme
I can’t pretend to know every motive of every woke thought leader who professes to be a Christian, but professing Christians should have nothing to do with demands for reparations or leaders who feed “victim mentality” and division in order to get themselves rich. Some appear to be trying to cash in on guilting white people, giving the impression that there is no amount of reparations or repentance that can atone for the sins of the past. Is there any instance in which people “pay for the sins” of the past in the New Testament? Do the Jews pay the Gentiles money or vice versa? Does land get exchanged between Ephesian believers and those in Philippi or Corinth because a Gentile ancestor once held prejudice towards a Jew?
More than that, did this ever happen in the generations that followed?
When leaders like Eric Mason promote this sort of eisegetical interpretation and application from an Old Testament text, we can see how convenient woke dreams of land, gold, and glory become (“gold, Hallelujah!”). For Mason, he “feels God” when he’s cashing in on white guilt, and many are happy to capitulate to this sort of thinking if it means staying out of the cross-hairs of vengeance, hatred, reverse racism, and exploitation of America’s past.
Wokeness may promise a bounty of cultural approval, a small meal for a bottomless appetite of revenge, and some material assets. But like every wind of false doctrine blown in by the culture, woke is broke. It leads to spiritual bankruptcy in light of that which is eternal.