The poison of “wokeness” theology is finding more real estate in the Church – and Dr. Owen Strachan is calling for a line in the sand.
Strachan, a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and director for the Center of Public Theology, has come under fire for saying that those in the church who are teaching “wokeness” need church discipline.
For reference, the Cambridge English Dictionary defines wokeness as “a state of being aware, especially of social problems such as racism and inequality.” Advocates say they are only trying to help people understand and empathize with the plight of minorities and other oppressed groups.
However, to be “woke” is not just a creative, modern-day adjective with which to signal your concern and compassion for others. Wokeness is much more complex and insidious. Some even say it has the hallmarks of a religious cult, complete with identifying doctrines, sacred literature, and perhaps most concerning is the demands for adherents to confess and atone for the sin of being part of an “oppressive” group, especially those who are white and male.
James Lindsay, author of “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody,” defines wokeness as “a fusion of the critical theory school of neo-Marxism, which is a form of identity politics, and radical activism that has a very particular worldview that separates the world into liberationists versus oppressors or oppressed versus oppressors.”
Strachan, an outspoken critic of critical race theory and “wokeism,” has drawn criticism for a recent tweet in which he stated: “In churches and institutions, those who teach and promote wokeness — binding the conscience of people with new unbiblical laws — must face Matthew 18 discipline. The church has tolerated the spread of wokeness too long. It is time for a line in the sand.”
In churches and institutions, those who teach and promote wokeness–binding the conscience of people with new unbiblical laws–must face Matthew 18 discipline.
The church has tolerated the spread of wokeness too long.
It is time for a line in the sand. https://t.co/wnxRworJSm
— Owen Strachan (@ostrachan) October 10, 2020
The Christian Post quoted several pastors who took issue with Strachan’s comments. One pastor from Kentucky said these comments make it appear that Strachan is “an open and unrepentant champion of white supremacy.” Other pastors called his comments “depressing and hypocritical.”
Church discipline is a somewhat neglected doctrine of the Church. But it is necessary when standard accountability is met with stubbornness and a refusal to repent. If the Christian refuses to repent, you take one or two others with you. If the Christian still does not repent, they are brought before the church body and can then be temporarily removed from fellowship with the body. Once the Christian repents, they are then restored to fellowship with the church.
The theologian’s comments may be controversial to some, but they represent the growing divide over critical race theory and the issue of race within the church. Strachan is certainly correct that these ideas do bind the consciences of people with new unbiblical laws. Some woke teachers claim that all whites, including white Christians, have racist proclivities and are therefore guilty of sin. Many claim that whites should pay reparations or support legislative initiatives to combat supposed systemic racism.
Christianity never teaches that one’s skin color makes one more or less guilty of sin. There is no sin of whiteness found in the Bible. Scripture teaches us that people are responsible for their own sins, not the sins of any other person who happens to share their skin color. The Bible also teaches that we are one in the body of Christ. Sowing division in the body is a serious issue, and there is nothing more divisive than claiming that one group of Christians oppresses another group simply because of their respective skin colors.
In Galatians 1:6-8, Paul rebukes church leaders for forsaking the true gospel at the insistence of the Judaizers. The Judaizers were telling the Galatians that they needed to become Jews and observe the Law and all the rituals and festivals of the Old Covenant. Paul told them, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another.”
Paul had harsh words for those teaching this false gospel.
The gospel of critical race theory is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who teach in the Church are held to a high standard and teaching a divisive message that is in opposition to the message of Christ is certainly something to consider confronting a brother or sister about.
You can view the Falkirk Center Podcast discussion with Dr. Strachan here: