Summary: There is an ideological civil war taking place in the United States, and in western civilization overall. This is a battle that displays itself along political lines, social lines, academic lines, and along religious lines.
Proverbs 21:15 "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers."
There is an ideological civil war taking place in the United States, and in western civilization overall. This is a battle that displays itself along political lines, social lines, academic lines, and along religious lines. This ideological civil war is most pronounced in the partisan political battles between left and right, though it also displays itself in other ways. Specifically, the battle for the soul of the church is a front in this battle, among many other fronts like media, academia, culture, and the sciences.
In the church we see the same divide developing across the normal lines, left vs right. We see both sides attempting to push their political views in the church, and this is causing a polarization. What happens in the culture we see mimic itself in the churches. We see struggles in denominations between high and low views of scriptures, between biblical marriage and gay marriage, between social justice and traditional justice causes. We see people in the church wanting to step behind and advocate for one party or the other. In these struggles, we must always be asking ourselves, "But what is biblical?" The timeless word of God has a word for every situation we face.
In the various movements of the churches in western civilization, we've seen a growing divide along fairly partisan lines. There is a growing polarization, and it shows itself on social media, and in decisions by the leadership of various movements. We see traditional evangelical theology and liberal theology vying for dominance.
The evangelical church has in recent times re-embraced one of it's founding concepts of justice advocacy; but it's a new ideology, that they call "social justice." And this social justice has increasingly become a concern to biblical Christians who seek to live out true justice.
Only certain causes seem to come to the surface in this new social justice ideology. It centers around issues like human trafficking, gender inequality, white privilege, institutional racism, immigration, LGBTQ advocacy, refugee advocacy, wealth inequality issues, intersectionality, and multi-culturalism/inter-culturalism.
Historically in the evangelical church, justice causes had included topics like biblical marriage support, pro-life advocacy, fighting homelessness, fighting hunger, caring for orphans and widows, human trafficking, Christian education, fighting poverty, and dealing with other evils of the times.
The new social justice causes have increasingly caused concerns with many in the church. The concerns are rooted in that many of these ideologies are not properly grounded in traditional Christian beliefs, but actually come out of the secular university system, and tend to be rooted in thinkers like Karl Marx, Herbert Marcuse, and Max Horkheimer. These thinkers come out of ideologies that tend to be rather anti-Christian, and based around an ideology that views the social structure as a constant battle between the powerful and the powerless. We should be very careful as a Christian movement when embracing ideologies like critical theory, group identity, and class warfare. I'm sure many of us have not given it a great deal of thought, so let's get into it a bit.
Let's identify some terms. Critical theory is the idea that people are enslaved in various forms by society. Therefore the fundamental reality of society is that of a constant battle between the haves and the have nots. The chief goal then is to set people free from oppressive societal structures that perpetuate oppression.
But is this actually true? It's debatable. There are elements within the scriptures that tell us of our need to advocate for the powerless. Such as Proverbs 31:8-9 "Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Yet in Proverbs we also see Proverbs 28:5 "Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely." So it's hard to believe that a secular social theory like critical theory could be useful for us as Christians.
But fundamentally, is society a struggle between the powerful and the powerless? Think of the United States, a country where people rise and fall largely based on their merits. A place where someone like Martin Luther King Jr. can lead a movement to bring about justice for the oppressed. A society where a poor kid like Abraham Lincoln can become president. A society where a Dinesh D'Souza or a Barack Obama, or a Clarence Thomas or a Morgan Freeman can rise to be influential leaders.
Our society is considered a democratic republic. For many, it's hard to see it as an oppressive power structure of racism and bigotry. There may be individual examples of racism and bigotry, and those should be addressed. But there isn't a great of evidence to suggest it's systemic. The United States is a meritocracy, where we rise and fall based on our merits and how hard we work, not based on oppressive structures. Of course if oppressive structures do exist, they ought to be rooted out.