I don’t need to tell you, dear reader, that we’re surrounded on the right hand and the left. I don’t need to tell you that the Marxists have been playing the long game through the institutions. You’re now well acquainted with the fault line in evangelicalism, having read Voddie Bauchum’s latest book. And if by chance you have not read Fault Lines, then you may not have committed the unpardonable sin, but you’ve committed a sin right up next to the unpardonable sin. So, repent ye and get a copy. So most of us know that things are bad out there in the world and in here in the church. But we are a good handful of years into this mess now, and we should be asking the following question, “Have we learned our lesson?”
I recall joining Voddie in 2019 at a Founders Conference in which he addressed Cultural Marxism. That message is available on youtube and has nearly one million views. Following that jugernaut of a conference message, came the cinedoc By What Standard that Tom Ascol and I produced. That documentary details major problems in the evangelical world and the infamous resolution 9 from the SBC that resolved to use Critical Race Theory and Instersectionality as an analytical tool. Along this fault line, we must throw in the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel from 2018 that has over 17,000 signers. It was a dizzying few years. And here is the trouble as I see it. I don’t think that we have learned our lesson. “What do you mean?” you ask. I will tell you.
Through the last few tumultuous years that we have been living through, I recall thinking multiple times that our problems were deeper than they appeared. I found several people offering superficial analysis and superficial solutions. Some of these insights and recommendations were not bad. In fact, most of them were not bad. But they dealt with the upper crust of the unsavory pie. The main approach that has been taken, and hear me, I believe that these are the good guys, is the approach of “preach the gospel” and “vote right.” And yes, I say amen to both of those things, early and often, and let us not grow weary in doing either.
While we are on this point, let me head of a likely reaction from the Christ Against Culture sector of evangelicaldom. Someone is going to say, “Preaching the gospel is not superficial. It is the very core of our hope and reformation.” I agree. The gospel is the core. But when you have men uttering the right words while at the same time rewriting the dictionary, you will be left with no gospel at all. And to miss the rewriting of the dictionary while going on about “gospel, gospel, gospel” is to be superficial. This kind of superficiality goes hand in glove with the superficiality of trusting in man. This kind of superficiality leads one to think top down reformation works and it smells of high pragmatism.
Here’s a point to chew on. A bunch of evangelicals were preaching the gospel and voting right before we got into this hot mess. That is what shocked so many of us on the right side of Voddie’s Fault Line. There was a bunch of men asking, “How did this happen to these guys?” And while we have superficially answered that question, I don’t think we have sufficiently answered that question. Something deeply subversive has been at work among us. And the Apostle Paul says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
What makes things even more interesting is that several of the people on the wrong side of the evangelical fault line have now come out quite clearly renouncing Critical Race Theory and Instersectionality. They didn’t vote for Joe Biden and don’t recommend it. And if you went to their Sunday worship, you would hear the gospel of a crucified and risen Christ.
I think that puts the evangelical community, and more specifically the reformed evangelical community, in quite a pickle. I’m not saying that the woke problem is behind us. There were plenty of leaders who were swept away in it. And you can still see the rot among us. The PCA looks to be normalizing and accepting Side B Christianity. Wheaton is clearly unwell with its center for the study of sex and gender identity. And the Southern Baptists still have their women preachers, not to mention women sitting on all sorts of boards with theological authority over male teachers. But the game is changing. The good guys have made a lot of noise. And much of the reformed evangelical intelligentsia have responded by tamping down the wokeness. But where does that leave us?
It leaves us having healed the wound lightly. We are not going to move in the right direction without acknowledging that the nonsense which has come about over the last four years or so was nonsense that the evangelical world helped produce. It was not merely a matter of letting the ocean water get in the boat. American Christinaity, yea even Calvinistic American Christianity set the climate in the greenhouse that produced the vile weeds. And some would now go snip the weed and think that we have rectified the situation. Others go a bit further and pull up the weed by the root (and that most certainly needs to be done). But they do so without adjusting the climate in the green house. And you know what comes next. More weeds, bigger weeds, seven more demons more wicked than intersectionality.
What are the essential lessons we have failed to learn? The following warrants further development. But here is a quick list. We should have learned what it means that Jesus Christ is Lord of all: your church, and the one across the street, the libarary and your city council, the CDC, your home on Lakeview Drive, and the neighbor’s home across the street. We should have learned that we are the church militant not the church melee. The American Protestant Church is so schismatic, we’re like a muddled jello salad spiced with tobasco. We get hot in all the wrong places while finding a way to remain squishy throughout. We should have learned what is captured in the simple phrase all of Christ for all of life. And learning that lesson would involve turning in repentance from our subtle gnosticism that leaves us unsure what to do with physical blessings.
We should have learned that you will have God’s law or man’s law, and any attempt to establish civil law apart from the revelation of the Triune God is the epitome of folly and high rebellion against the Creator. We needed to learn the nature of the kingdom of God and what it means that it is coming on earth as it in heaven. We needed to learn that a full-speed classical Christian education is of the utmost necessity should we raise the coming generation to be the damaging arrows that they are. We should have learned that worship is warfare, a genuine communion with heaven in which God thunders forth his word and kingdom on earth. We should have leaned what it means to be fathers and mothers, trusting God for his generational promises to our seed.
There is still time to learn these lessons. But, there is a fair amount of temptation at the moment to avoid learning them and opt for an exchange of beaurocats and platitudes about gospel-faithfulness. The way forward is much harder than that. And it will require us to stop fiddling around with the praise of man, and call upon Yahweh to send the rain.