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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.