Commonly Misunderstood Passages: Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God

This is the second post in a series on commonly misunderstood Bible passages. Previously I discussed Psalm 46.10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” You can read that here. It is important Christians strive to rightly handle God’s word (2 Tim. 2.15). Where God has spoken, it is important we listen carefully. It is also important we do not put words into God’s mouth. We do not have the authority to add to his word or to take away from it. This series is meant to help us to handle God’s word with the respect it deserves. My goal is to deepen our understanding of God and his word by examining it closely on its own terms. Today we will look closer at Micah 6.8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” This is a very popular passage, yet its popularity is at least partly due to our misunderstanding it.

The Common Misunderstanding

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The final phrase of Micah 6.8, do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly, is seen everywhere today. I have seen it on mugs, t-shirts, posters, web graphics, and even bumper stickers. This is not surprising as the topic of justice, especially social justice, is very popular. Micah 6.8 is something of a rallying cry for Christians who identify with the social justice movement. Justice is something Christians should think more about, but they do so biblically. Micah 6.8 is often associated with the modern social justice movement. It tied into ideas like wealth and privilege distribution as well as many socialistic public policies. Is this what Micah 6.8 is really about? No, not even close.

The misunderstanding stems from confusing terms of mercy and justice found in this passage. One prominent pastor described this passage as a command to live justly. That’s fair enough, but he then argued that the following commands to “love mercy” and to “walk humbly with God” is how justice is accomplished. Here is the problem, is loving mercy a part of justice? I do not believe so. It should be obvious that Christians are to love mercy. We are people saved by mercy. Mercy is not the problem. The problem comes from how mercy and justice relate to one another.

Here is the root of the problem with how this passage is understood—it confuses mercy and justice. If mercy is a necessary part of justice, then mercy is something we are owed. If we are owed mercy, then it is not mercy at all. In the most basic sense justice is receiving what we are owed. Conversely, mercy is receiving good when we are not owed it. This distinction is not only important to preserve the meaning of the two terms, but it is also important for our understanding of the gospel.

If mercy is something we are owed, then we lose the gospel. The good news of Christ is that God has shown mercy through Christ. If God owed us salvation then salvation is not by grace. The gospel is so great because God gave us the exact opposite of what we deserved. He forgave those who deserved justice. The wonder is magnified because God also satisfied his justice by sending his Son to die in our place. At the cross mercy and justice meet. If we confuse mercy and justice, then we lose the glory of the gospel.

What Micah 6.8 Actually Means

The problem of getting to the right interpretation of Micah 6.8 is furthered by poor English translations. The phrase, “love mercy” is actually only one word in the Hebrew (hesed). This term is often translated as God’s steadfast love. It is a word used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the unique love God has for his people. God’s love is faithful and it lasts forever. This is the word we find often translated as “love mercy.” But that is not what the word means. The HCSB translation gets this right, “Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The idea is that God’s people act justly when they love and practice faithfulness to their covenant with Him. The context of Micah helps to further demonstrate that this passage has faithfulness in view, not mercy. This book is organized in such a way that God presents his case against Israel. They have broken the covenant and this is what led to their judgment. Immediately before Micah 6.8 God contrasts his own faithfulness with the unfaithfulness of Israel (6.3-4). Then he calls them to return to the covenant, but this return cannot come by mere sacrifice (6.6-7). What is needed is faithfulness to the covenant. This is why the word hesed is used. This word draws their attention to the faithful love God has poured out on them through the covenants. This word stands a call for them to return to the covenant and mirror God’s faithfulness. This is what just living looks like.

There is more to the context which also shows us this is about faithfulness and not mercy. In answering what they must do, God reminds them he has already told them what to do! Look again at the first part of verse eight, “Mankind, he has told what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you”. So he has told them, but where did he tell this? God here is pointing back to the terms of his covenant. So God then quotes from Deuteronomy 10.12, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”. Micah 6.8 quotes Deuteronomy 10.12 which is about faithfulness, not mercy. Micah 6.8 is a call to love God by being faithful to the covenant he established with Israel.

Conclusion

So how do we live out justice? We do so by loving God, keeping his commands, and following his covenant with us. This is what Micah 6.8 is about. It is a call to obey the moral commands of God and honor his covenant.

When we understand Micah 6.8 correctly we do not end up confusing justice and mercy. While mercy is a wonderful reality, it is not a requirement of the gospel it is not an outworking of justice. Rather just living is found in faithful obedience to God.

Commonly Misunderstood Verses: Be Still, and Know that I am God

Misunderstanding the bible is nothing new. This confusion is only magnified in today’s world of memes and one-liners on social media. Single verses are often elevated to popularity because they fit some preconceived agenda we want to advance. So a verse grows in popularity with no thought given to the actual context of the passage. For those who hold a high view of scripture, this trend is alarming. It shows an utter disrespect for God’s Word fueled by laziness. We need to approach the Bible on its terms. If the Bible is God’s Word (it is), then it should be handled better by those who want to live by it. What God actually meant by his words are far more important than how what we want them to mean.

Over the coming weeks, I will be writing on several popular passages which mean something far different then how they are commonly understood. Let’s start with the first part of Psalm 46.10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This passage has become a Christian cliché as it appears on everything from bumper stickers to social media feeds.

The Common Misunderstanding

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When you read Psalm 46.10 you probably think of being physically quiet before God, of slowing down your frantic pace, and finding time to read your Bible. This passage commonly brings to mind serene landscapes and the idea of finding rest and peace before God. What do you Christian need to do? Be still and know. They need to rest in who God is. Basically, we need to let go and let God handle our problems. There is a lot of truth to us needing to quiet ourselves before God and to prioritize spending time in prayer and the reading of his Word. Nonetheless, this is not what the passage means. Not even close.

What Psalm 46.10 Actually Means

Psalm 46 is actually about war. It starts with the great promise that God is the refuge of his people, where they can find protection from the raging of the world (46.1-3). It then shows us the nations raging against God and his people (46.6) before moving to God’s response of bringing destruction on the earth and the nations (46.8-9).

The context of verse 10 is war. The setting is a battlefield. In this war, God protects his people and brings the nations into submission. Psalm 46.10 is God entering the battlefield of the raging nations and defeating them by his voice. When God says “Be still, and know that I am God,” this is not directed at God’s people, but at the nations. It is directed at the enemies of God. It is a royal command of the King of Kings and by that command, he brings desolations upon his opponents. Be still and know is the battle-cry of the LORD directed at his enemies, not an encouragement for believers to find rest in God. It is God entering the war and claiming victory by the power of his voice. The HCSB translation helps us to see this, “Stop your fighting—and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” So Psalm 46.10 is about God defeating the nations and about him being exalted by all of creation.

Why It Matters

We have a tendency to sand off the sharp edges of God to make him more palatable. Psalm 46.10 reminds us God rules and he conquers. There is coming a day when he will enter the battlefield and he will conquer simply by speaking. The nations will be stilled, and left speechless. They will know that the LORD is God. In fact, this is fulfilled in Revelation 19.15-21 where Jesus descends and slays the nations of the world by a sword that comes out of his mouth. He defeats the nations by speaking, just as we are told will happen in Psalm 46.10. Christians need to remember the Lord rules and he is a conquering king. His is so great that the strongest nations will be defeated by his mere speech. On that day every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is what Psalm 46.10 is about.

Revelation 7 Isn't About Diversity, It's About God

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The vision of the great multitude in Revelation 7.9-12 is one of the most vivid images in all of Scripture. It is also commonly used as an argument for the inherent praiseworthiness of diversity. Well-meaning preachers use this text as a battering-ram to argue that if your church is not diverse enough, then it is less than it should be.

There are several problems with using Revelation 7.9-12 to make this argument. First, Revelation 7 is not the only place we find such a diverse group in this book. There are several other places in the book where we find such a group and in these instances, it is not a positive. This demonstrates the mere appearance of a diverse group says nothing about diversity’s inherent worth.  Second, Revelation 7 isn’t primarily about diversity. It’s about Jesus. It’s about God. We must remember that. 

If we turn this passage into a statement about diversity we miss the point. We make this passage about us instead of God. It is as if we've entered the throne room of God and built an altar to ourselves. Focusing on the diversity of the human crowd shifts the focus, and praise, from the glory of God to the supposed glory of mankind. It is idolatry. Idolatry in the very presence of God.    

If we desire to understand the point of this vision, then we need to understand it in both its immediate context and the context of the entire book. Revelation 7.9-12 reads (emphasis added): 

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

It is true that the great multitude found here is very diverse, but this is not the point. This group tells us the point of this vision—Salvation belongs to God and to the Lamb. It is this truth, not a praise of diversity, which leads to the triumphant exalting of God we find in Revelation. It shouldn't surprise us the main idea of this passage is the greatness of God, not the greatness of human diversity. God is inherently good and praiseworthy. The same cannot be said about diversity. 

What makes this great multitude special? The passage tells us that as well. The answer isn't diversity. It is not the demographics of the group that makes them special. It is not as if God is trying to meet some modern quota system. If that is how God saves, then who we are contributes to salvation. At least some would be saved because of their own merits. Such thinking is nonsense. 

What makes this group special is what they have in common—the blood of the Lamb, “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7.14b).  The stress is not on mankind at all. It is all about the wondrous work of Christ. The greatness of the multitude is found in the greatness of their savior.

The main point of Revelation 7 is clear—God saves a people through the death of Christ. If we approach this passage in an attempt to show the praiseworthiness of the modern conception of diversity, then we end up doing violence to this text and to the glory of God. Revelation 7 reveals the glory of God. Not the glory of mankind. Not the glory of diversity.

Yet this group from every nation does say something about who God is. It reveals something important about his character. 

Why We Misunderstand Revelation 7

One reason we misread Revelation 7 is we have assumed diversity is inherently a moral good. To be clear, diversity can be a good thing. It can also be a bad thing. Whether it is good or bad has nothing to do with it being diverse. To put it another way, diversity is morally neutral on its own.

 For example, there are churches today who have left the faith, but who are diverse by our standards (the same can also be said of some churches which lack diversity). The fact one is diverse, or not, is not necessarily a moral good or evil. The diversity, or lack thereof, is beside the point. What matters is if we have been saved through the blood of the Lamb. A church being diverse will not save it. A church lacking diversity will not save it. 

“But Levi,” you may ask, “The redeemed people of Revelation are diverse, doesn’t that mean God loves diversity?” This is a necessary question. The answer is, "No." That is not at all what Revelation is getting at. If the mere appearance of a diverse group in Heaven means God loves diversity, then we run into major problems in the rest of the book as we encounter another equally diverse group who is following the Beast. 

Revelation 7 isn't the only place in the book where we find such diversity in a group. There is an equally diverse group in Revelation who are opposed to God, under the influence of Satan, and whom God judges. It is striking because John uses almost identical language to describe the diversity of this group as he does in Revelation 7. This is obviously intentional as it  demonstrates the composition of a group has nothing to do with why they are saved or not.  

Revelation 13.7-8 says of the beast, “Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” 

The language here echoes the language used to describe the saints found in Revelation 7. The difference is this diverse group is following the Beast This group experiences the horrific judgments of God found in Revelation. If we interpret the diversity found Revelation 7 to mean God loves diversity then we must conclude Satan loves it as well because of Revelation 13. But this would again miss the point. It’s not the people which are the dividing line, but the Lamb who was slain. 

It doesn’t get any better such interpretation in Revelation 17.15 as we follow this group, “And the angel said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.’” The prostitute thrives on diversity as well. As go throughout the book it is this diverse group which Jesus destroys at the final battle (Rev. 19.19-21; 20.8-10).

If Revelation 7 means God loves diversity, then it would follow Revelation 19-20 means God hates diversity. If Revelation 7 means diversity is always morally good, then Revelation 13, 17, 19, and 20 would mean that it is morally evil. Revelation isn't being contradictory. Revelation isn't the problem. Our interpretation that is problematic. 

Far too many of us approach these texts with an agenda and in the process, we pervert their clear meaning. While it is true Heaven is a diverse place, so is Hell. Perhaps these passages aren't really about the value of diversity at all.  

Diversity has nothing to with why these two groups exist and are separated. The distinction is theological. God sees all of mankind in one of two fundamental groups.  The first group are those under the old Adam (Rom. 5.12-14). This group is diverse as we would count it, but they are uniform in how God sees them—sinners and rebels. The second group are those under the new Adam, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5.15-21). This group is also diverse. But this group has been saved by grace through faith in Christ.  They are not saved to show the goodness of diversity. Rather their salvation displays the glory of the Lamb who was slain. One of these groups is outside of Christ and one is found in him. The dividing line is Christ crucified, not diversity. The glory belongs to Christ, not diversity.  

So What Does this Diversity Tell us About God?

Primarily, these two groups reveal something about the character of God.  When we see people from every tribe, nation, and tongue both redeemed and damned it displays that salvation belongs to God. He saves whom he wills to save. Salvation is all about grace. It has nothing to do with who we are, but it has everything to do with who God is. These passages reveal the character of God. They reveal the biblical truth that God is impartial in both salvation and in judgment.  

God does not save according to who someone is. He saves by his impartial grace. He judges according to his impartial justice. The impartiality of God is affirmed throughout Scripture (Deut. 10.17, Rom. 2.11, Col. 3.25, Jas. 2.1, Jas. 3.17). God administers grace and judgment impartially, with no respect for who the individual is. Salvation belongs to him alone. 

When we read Revelation 7 what we see is a picture of the impartial God who owns salvation and who has the right to judge. What we see is a group of people who God impartially chooses from every tribe and nation. If we go to this passage and make the heart of it about modern diversity, then we not only miss the point, but we actually end up saying the exact opposite of what the passage, Revelation, and the rest of Scripture says about God and salvation. 

Revelation displays the glory of the all-powerful God who both judges and saves impartially. He does not save us because we are white or black. Rich or poor. Male or female. He saves us because of who he is. God’s justice is not about who we are, rather he administers justice impartiality according to his universal standards.  This why we have diverse groups in Revelation being both saved and damned. It has nothing to do with the value of diversity. Rather, Revelation shows the glory of God in his impartiality. Salvation belongs to him alone, judgment belongs to him alone, and he alone is worthy to accomplish such things. 

This reality should free us from the worship of modern diversity. Diversity is neither good by itself, nor bad by itself. But impartiality in judgment and in grace are wonderful because they reflect the character of Almighty God. We should be thankful for this. For if there were some standard about who we are which causes God to save us, then we would all be damned. Praise be to God because salvation belongs to the Father and to the Lamb. In him, people all around the world are saved because of who he is, not because of who we are. Revelation 7 praises the glory of God in salvation alone, not the supposed glory of modern diversity. 
 

Book Review: Confessions of a Food Catholic

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Doug Wilson’s Confessions of a Food Catholic is a helpful counterpoint to the current food hysteria. You can find it in the church library and I strongly encourage you to read it carefully. Whether or not you will agree with the conclusion, this book is worthy of your consideration. Wilson offers a wide-ranging critique of the multi-billion dollar fad of avoiding certain types of food. These fads, Wilson argues, amount to new food laws. Food laws are appealing, as they have been throughout history, because food consumption offers people the illusion of control. Food laws are nothing new. 

Enter Wilson, who argues for a universal approach to food. By calling himself a food catholic, he means all food is acceptable and clean for the Christian (catholic means universal). He warns Christians must avoid the legalism and self-righteousness which commonly accompanies the new food laws. Wilson doesn't care if someone eats mostly organic food or mostly processed food. He does care why you have made those decisions.   

This book is a great read, full of biblical wisdom and clever wit. For example, Wilson’s dedication of the book reads, “This book is dedicated to all those at church dinners who I noticed didn’t have enough protein on their plates and who tried to cover it up by noticing I didn’t have enough greens on mine.” This is a sample of the piercing wit you will find in this book.

This book reminds us the Bible says a lot about food. The problem is Christians go to online blogs, shoddy documentaries, and TV personalities instead of the Bible when they are shaping their view of food. One of the chief problems of the new phood pharisees (as Wilson calls them), is their unwillingness to bring their food laws before Scripture to be examined. This is a topic Christians desperately need to think through biblically. I attempted to so in a previous blog post found here

Wilson’s critique of the phood pharisee lifestyle can be broken down into five main points:  1. It’s a heart issue 2. It’s a love issue (no divisions) 3. It’s a discernment issue 4. It’s a holiness issue 5. It’s a God issue.

  1. It’s a heart issue. Wilson reminds us what we eat cannot defile us, but our heart attitudes can and often do defile us (Matt. 15.11). He reminds us there are lots of ways we can sin with food: gluttony, ungratefulness, food fights, etc. What is not sin is receiving food with thankfulness to the God who has provided it to us. There is nothing inherently wrong with things like gluten. There is also nothing inherently better about organic or natural. In fact, certain natural things can are deadly and there are certain practical advantages to modern farming methods (and drawbacks). God cares about the heart, not what we eat. People following the new food laws often spend so much time, energy and money following these arbitrary rules all-the-while the rest of their lives are in shambles. Wilson writes, “Thus we have a man who screams at his wife, but who drives a Prius with a smug look, a man who uses porn, but who fastidious about avoiding gluten…”  Wilson rightly reminds us that food is not our fundamental problem, our hearts are. We should straighten out our hearts first. Instead, people use the control of their diets as a substitute for true righteousness. 
  2. It’s a holiness issue. Our hearts are the problem. We are stained by our sin so look for a sense of personal holiness. God has made us in such a way as we know we need holiness and yet we cannot get it on our own. To solve this problem mankind constantly invent ways to convince ourselves we are good, or at least better than someone else. This can come by good works, being physically fit, going church, political views, and today by what we eat (or more precisely what we don’t eat). Wilson aims his criticisms at what he calls phood pharisees. These are people who think they are better than others because how or what they eat. He warns us of this troubling reality, “I see and hear expressions of moral superiority based on personal food choices on a regular basis, and such expressions are a true enemy of our souls. They are deadly.” If we are silly enough to place our moral standing in what we eat, it is a sign of how sick we are. This is the definition of a false gospel. Christians must be aware of the danger of finding our righteousness anywhere but in the person of Christ. 
  3. It’s a God issue. Wilson makes two observations on how the phood pharisees replace God with themselves. First, they claim to be all-knowing, or at least attempt to know it all about their food. To be able to eat rightly one know everything that has happened to every bit of food which crosses their lips. Where did it come from? How did it get here? Was it ever exposed to something unnatural? The problem is there is no way we know all of that for certain. If you think you do, then you are being delusional. Second, they are trying to be all-powerful. They are trying to control something outside of their control—how long they will live. God has fixed our days from the foundation of the world. Now, of course, we must take care of ourselves, but there is no diet which will give you eternal life. This replacement of God is seen best in Christians being unwilling to submit themselves to what God actually says about food. 
  4. It’s a discernment issue. Many people on the phood pharisee bandwagon are simply not exercising basic discernment and critical thinking skills. They are being steered. One common critique of normal food is that is run by evil corporations who are profiting off of unethical food production methods. Wilson retorts, “Who do you think is running the organic farms?” The same corporations. The only difference is now they get to charge 3 dollars for an apple. I wonder whose idea that was? The lack of basic discernment is shown as many converts to this way of life watch a sin documentary or read a book on it and never seek any counter-arguments. The Bible has a term for that, a fool. Of course, the steering of large populations concerning what they eat is nothing new. In generations past, parents were steered toward food which was fortified (unnaturally added) with vitamins and nutrients. Every mom worth anything made sure her kids ate fortified foods. Today, the opposite is supposedly true. Wilson wants us to acknowledge that we are being steered just like they were. And it is likely the next generation may look at our current food notions as just as silly. If we are not willing to entertain the possibility that we are being steered, then we probably are. Christians should exercise more discernment in life than this.
  5. It’s a love issue. One of the beautiful things about the New Covenant is that it destroys the food barriers between people, yet Christians today want to rebuild them. The Bible is clear, Christians should love others more than their preferences. The new food laws are disrupting our ability to have table fellowship. The Christian is to love their neighbor more than their diet. This means if you have food preferences, but you are at a friends house, eat what they provide. Do not insult them by bringing your own approved food. Love them more than your diet. Food should a cause to gather together and love one another, not a cause of division and strife. Food should unite us and cause us to give thanks to God for his provision. Food should not be a wedge dividing us from one another. Unfortunately, it has become just that as more and more people embrace the new food laws in an unhealthy way. 

I highly recommend Wilson’s book to all Christians. Even if you end up disagreeing with him, this book will help you to think more biblically about the food fads of our day. Wilson affirms that as Christians we have the freedom to eat whatever we want. This means if you want to eat organic, then do it! If you want to be a vegan (but why would you?), then do it! But do not find any moral standing in your food choices. It is a preference, and that is all. Do not look down on others who eat differently. Do not cause separation with others over something as unimportant as food. Love God and love others more than your food choices. 

On Willful Blindness & Cultural Marxism

In my previous post, I mentioned the “willful blindness” of some evangelical leaders. I said I had some ideas as to why this was happening, but that I did not have the space to address it. I have since been asked to elaborate on these reasons. This is my humble attempt to do just that.

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First, by willful blindness, I am not suggesting nefarious intentions or lack of intelligence by all of these leaders. While there are surely people with bad intentions in every group, these are not the men I am addressing here. Willful blindness is a reference to the dismissive spirit I mentioned in the earlier post. By this, I mean the blatant refusal to even consider the possibility that cultural Marxism is influencing their thought processes and that this influence is a problem.

Why is it there are so many leaders being dismissive when biblical wisdom calls all of us to carefully consider the correction of mature believers? This concern has prompted my writing, not any belief that I have it all figured out. 

Also, considering the corrections others offer does not mean that all critiques we receive are true, or that we should accept them  all on the spot. But we should be humble enough to carefully consider these corrections in a spirit of humility before God and his word. 

This spirit is missing and that is alarming to me. So why is willful blindness so prevalent with this issue? Below are four reasons why I believe this issue has so much blindness accompanying it. Not all four reasons will be true for everyone in this discussion, but I see elements of each one of these in the movement as a whole.

  1.  Many of these people feel guilty. Guilty people are easier to manipulate. In fact, cultural Marxism thrives off of the feeling of guilt, but not only your guilt. It wants us to feel guilty about other people’s sins, especially people we are connected to via their grid of identity politics. Christians are particularly susceptible to this because we recognize guilt is real because God is a moral God. The problem with feeling guilty about other people’s sin is that it can make us self-righteous. It turns us into Pharisees. When we feel guilty about our own sin, it can humble us, but when we feel guilty about someone else’s sin we feel justified in our snobbish attitude toward them. "How can they not be enlightened like I am? They are not as woke as I am." In his message, Ligon Duncan asks for forgiveness for his own decade's long blindness toward racism. I believe him. I believe he wants to confess and repent of his personal sins. It is good to take personal responsibility when we have sinned. He feels some guilt for himself, but his words also allude to him feeling guilty for his predecessors. The problem is this, while guilt over real sin can be good, it is only good when it leads to real repentance and life (2 Cor. 7.10). Cultural Marxism appeals to Christians because it offers a pseudo-penance which deceives Christians into thinking they are actually repenting. But if our repentance is real, then we would be finding our healing and standing in the blood of Christ alone. Instead, this movement’s solutions to their guilt is found in advancing cultural Marxism, bigger government, warped views of justice, and warped views of diversity. There is no real healing there. There is no real forgiveness there. Culutral Marxism perpuates unending guilt as a way of controlling people. The gospel shows us our real guilt and then it is removed by the merits of Christ.  It is no surprise that the SBC is being run afoul by this perpetual guilt. Its origins are shameful and sinful. But it has long since repented of those sins. If that repentance was genuine, which I believe it was, then they are totally and finally forgiven. Christ’s blood is enough. Marxism will only enslave us more to our sin and guilt.  The command of Christ was to forgive seventy times seven, not to repent seventy times seven for the sins of others. If we actually care about real repentance, we would direct all sides to be practicing a disposition of forgiveness toward each other. Rather, in the mold of cultural Marxism, what is being promoted is guilt, divisions according to identity politics, and a never-ending penance which is as ineffective as the balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8.21-22) at healing our wounds. Brothers in Christ should be in a constant stance of wanting to forgive each other because we have been forgiven much. At the center of all of is the blood of Christ, not the ideology of Marx.  What I see in this movement is self-righteousness permeating our ranks. Self-righteousness always promotes blindness to our own sins and it magnifies the faults in others which may or may not actually exist (Matthew 7.1-5). When there is a log in our own eyes we are too blind to correct the faults of others. 
     
  2. Evangelicals care far too much what the world thinks of them. We think by jumping on the bandwagons of our day we will be relevant and be able to reach the world with the gospel. I am all for reaching the world with the gospel, but we will never do that if we are an echo chamber for the progressives of our day. The hope of the gospel is fundamentally different than the rhetoric which permeates our culture. The church needs to spend far more time caring about what God thinks of us than caring about what the world thinks us. We also need to come to terms with the reality the world will never like Christianity. And in its dislike for us it will never represent us fairly. This has been true since the time of Christ and it remains true today. The best way to reach the world is not to look, think, speak, and feel just like they do. The best way to reach the world is not being tossed to and fro by every wind of their new doctrines. The best way to reach the world is the way of contrast. To show that we are different. That we are consecrated to God, not man. This means worldviews which are hostile to Christ must be thoroughly rejected. It means we must think, argue, and pursue justice in uniquely Christian ways. This is how we bring life to a dying world. 
     
  3. There is an evangelical elite who want to distance themselves from “those brothers.” In the wake of Trump’s election, the blame was laid at the feet of “white evangelicals.” Since then, many who fit that description have tried to distance themselves from anyone who would be viewed as unclean by the secular world. No eating with Trump-supporting tax collectors for these Christians. This is really a combination of the above two points: we feel guilty and we care about what the world thinks. So how do we remove the guilt? Prove we are not like those sinners Christians over there. We must prove we are better than those people. The problems here are many, but two will do for now. First, who’s standard of right and wrong are we operating by? Are we going to allow the relativistic world to enforce a moral code on us? Preposterous. Second, we would rather be seen as cool by the cool kids than to be seen with those who Christ has died for. Let that sink in. I do not think it is too much to say there is a snobbery in the evangelical leadership which looks down upon rank and file evangelicals. If they are not careful, evangelical leaders will see a backlash in their ranks similar to the one which ushered Trump into office. I recommend a close reading of 1 Corinthians 1-3 as a remedy to this way of thinking. Please note none of what I said either supports Trump or rebukes him. This is not the place for that. This is just an analysis of what his rise has meant for the evangelical movement.
     
  4. Some evangelical leaders think Marxism is a more biblical option. While this does not make up the majority of leaders I have referenced it does cover some of them. When listening to some evangelical leader's messages, when reading their books, and reading their tweets it is clear they believe Marxism is at least partially good. Some have openly written on it. The blindness to critiques about Marxism is precisely because they think it at least partially aligns with Christianity better than its alternatives. It is a remarkable claim, but it is no different than the claims made by liberation theologians and those who advanced the social gospel. I can remember sitting down for lunch with one of these leaders and listening to him explain his political ideology; it was openly bent toward cultural Marxism. I remember sitting in his class and reading the books he assigned. These books were not only unbiblical in their thinking, but they were progressive to the core. These books were not just counterpoint books for the class, but one of these authors was described as one of the teacher’s favorites. With a such an announcement, it became commonplace to see people reading this author all over campus and talking about how much they loved him too! It should be of no surprise that such individuals will not consider any critiques of cultural Marxism because they believe it is right, or at least more right than the alternatives.

All of this blindness reflects what I mentioned in my first post—a lack of humility before fellow Christians and Scripture. I will say it again—you reap what you sow. What is needed is more humility and more searching out of what Scripture says about these issues. We need to resist the temptation to be driven to and fro by the secular agendas of our day. If we can offer the clear contrast the gospel of Jesus Christ offers, then and only then, will we reach a dying world with the life Christ offers.