We live in strange times. COVID-19. Racial tension. Socio-economic and political upheaval. A president who likes to tweet.
Our nation has not experienced days this strange since World War I and the years that followed.
I see many comparisons between our current situation and the years between 1918 (the “Spanish” flu pandemic) and 1928 (the stock market crash). Global pandemic. Check. Racism and racial tension. Check. Economic Stress. Check. A rise in nationalism. Check. The presidential tweets are new. Those were strange times. These are strange times … in similar ways.
Strange times lead to distrust and disagreements on important matters … even among friends. When people experience cultural upheaval, they can develop suspicions and wrong ideas about others … even their friends. Upheaval breeds fear and fear leads to outlandish accusations regarding intent, motives, and beliefs. Hence the provocative title.
No, I have not been called a Marxist (at least not to my face). However, many people with whom I share certain ideas regarding racial reconciliation have been called Marxists. For the record, I am not a Marxist. I was raised as an anti-Marxist. But at some point, I decided that I should probably read “The Communist Manifesto.” I purchased a nice hard-bound copy, read it, and rejected the ideas I encountered. So when I say I am not a Marxist, the statement is based on first-hand knowledge of ideas found in this important, but flawed, Marxist publication.
Feeling some need to state that I am not a Marxist led me to think about several other things which should be obvious, but need to be said in this emotionally charged time.
1. Racism is a Sin which Deserves Special Attention
Most people believe that racism is wrong … and among Christians, most believe that racism is a sin. But it seems like some believers don’t think this specific sin deserves our special attention. If racism is in the church (and it is) then the sin of racism must be addressed … specifically and explicitly. I could share verse after verse to prove that racism is a sin that should be stamped out, I only need to appeal to Gen. 1:27-29. How can we share the Gospel if we cannot boldly proclaim that Black people are created in the image of God? Racism speaks against some of God’s first words about and to mankind, so this sin deserves our attention. Now is the time.
2. Don’t Be Surprised by Unexpected Allies
On the issue of systemic racism and racial reconciliation, I do have unexpected allies … and some of them hold to extreme Marxist ideas. We agree that there is a racism problem in America and that fixing the problem is a worthy goal. But we didn’t recognize the problem in the same way. My ideas came from Scripture and theological conviction rather than a socio-economic philosophy. I would argue that even those who do not know God recognize that racism is wrong because of the Imago Dei.
About 20 years ago I had a political conversation with someone I respected. This person passionately shared his stance on a certain issue. I agreed with him that his stance was biblical. A short time later, an influential activist proclaimed his thoughts on the subject. Although my friend and this activist were from different races, different political ideologies, and held different views on the Bible, they agreed on this one stance. That is until my friend heard of the activist’s stance … magically, my friend changed his view. Though my friend had arrived at his view by studying the Bible, he could not bear the thought of agreeing with the activist. He chose to be wrong rather than be on the side of this unexpected ally.
It seems that something similar is happening during the recent calls for racial reconciliation. Because some of the louder proponents hold to or are influenced by Marxist ideas, some Christians consider all proponents of reconciliation to be Marxists. Not only will they not use their voices to speak against racism, they are actively accusing conservative, biblical Christians of being Marxist because their views overlap in some way with these unexpected allies.
False worldviews can intersect or overlap with Truth at various points. People with false worldviews can sometimes identify unjust actions even if they cannot say why the actions are unjust. I believe justice is rooted in God’s character and can only be understood through the person of Christ and God’s Word. An accidental overlap does not render a false worldview TRUE any more than it could render the TRUTH false.
I do believe that as Christians, we must proclaim the Truth of Jesus Christ — God’s Word is how we know racism is a sin. Eventually, our belief that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, will come between us and our unexpected secular allies. But we are not standing up for Black lives to fit into the culture or to be accepted. We are calling out racism because racism is wrong.
3. Don’t Be Surprised by Unexpected Foes
We should not be surprised that some of our fellow believers have different opinions about important things. Differences of opinion and disagreements are as old as the church. Differences can center on Scriptural interpretation, politics, social problems, or any number of issues.
Seeing unexpected foes on racial reconciliation has been difficult for me. There have been varying degrees of opposition to calls for racial reconciliation. Some deny the widespread, systemic nature of racism while others choose silience on racism in order to emphasize other issues. I can no longer reconcile silence about racism with the Gospel. Some are not joining the calls for racial reconciliation due to extreme caution regarding the Marxist ideas that fuel secular calls for reconciliation. Though I disagree with many of their assumptions, I am thankful for those believers who are sounding the alarm against cultural Marxism. I am surprised by the angry and accusative tone some of them are using to express their disagreements and warnings to fellow believers. Hurling “Woke”* or “culture Marxist” (as curses) at your brother or sister in Christ is not godly.
*Some Christians do claim this term and they have every right to do so. However, using the term as an curse against those who have not claimed it degrades both those who have claimed the term and those who have not.