What we’re watching occur is Christian leaders unknowingly take on the language and mentality of Marxism in the name of compassion. What do I mean?
Karl Marx was a German philosopher who wrote The Communist Manifesto.
Marx hated capitalism, despised the idea of personal property, and taught that in order to have a “fair” society, the rich/bourgeoisie should be required by the government to surrender their capital for the sake of the proletariat/poor.
Then, everyone would have what they need, there would be no class structure, no hierarchy, and everyone would live in peace and harmony. He viewed the world through the lens of the “oppressed” vs. the “oppressor” and believed that once everyone had the same rights, the same amount of money, the same resources, the same everything, there would be no more oppression.
Sounds great, right?
Many 20th century leaders throughout the world thought so, too. His ideas, along with those of Engels, Lenin, and others, were implemented in Eastern Europe, North Korea, the USSR, Cambodia, Cuba, China and elsewhere.
If you know anything about history at all, you know that everywhere—everywhere— Marx’s ideas (Marxism) have been implemented, the result has been suffering, starvation and slaughter.
Just a little research can tell you about Stalin’s gulags, Pol Pot’s killing fields, Mao’s mass murder, Castro’s treatment of political dissidents, North Korea’s internment camps… the list goes on.
Every single one of these regimes came to power with the promise of liberation from oppression and a guarantee of resources like education and healthcare. It’s true they delivered on some of these promises even in the midst of their brutality. China “eradicated poverty” through the Great Leap Forward…at the expense of 45 million lives. Cuba improved the literacy rate… while executing dissidents.
Marx’s communism has, time and again, proven to be a total disaster with a high human cost. Why? Because communism is impossible without tyranny. People do not voluntarily give up their property to strangers (unless empowered by the Holy Spirit like in Acts 4:32!). It must be forced. You must continually stifle success and reward failure to maintain unconditional equality.
That goes against human nature. People are naturally driven to own private property & provide for themselves. Read Nothing to Envy and learn about how North Koreans, only ever having experienced communism, became illegal entrepreneurs in a time of famine. Supply/demand is innate.
Thus compliance must be forced. Owning private property becomes a crime. Private economic exchange becomes a crime. The individual can have no power—economic or otherwise—that threatens the state, or else communism can’t be maintained.
That means no free speech. No freedom of religion (people cannot defer to an authority higher than the state). Even familial relations are discouraged (look up Khmer Rouge’s recruitment of children). There is certainly no right to bear arms.
People are subject to the power of the government for provision and protection. But, what do we see from all governments everywhere that have too much power? Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There has never been a communist government that is not authoritarian. And there has never been an authoritarian government that has treated its citizens with compassion.
This is the irony of Marxism: in the name of ridding the world of oppression, it creates more oppression. It doesn’t get rid of the hierarchy Marx said he so loathed. In every place where his ideas have been implemented, there are still elites. The elites are usually those whose families have political connections, meaning that most people are left out without a single chance of upward mobility.
Now, you would think that an ideology so obviously destructive would have died by now, but it hasn’t. It is revived again and again by academics, who truly continue to uphold society’s worst ideas. As Thomas Sowell says, communism/socialism “in general has a record of failure so blatant only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” “Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”
Unfortunately there are Marxists in our halls of power as we speak. One ran for president twice. They may not outright call themselves communists, but their ideas are similar—take from the bourgeoisie and give to the proletariat so that everyone is equal.
Like every Marxist who has ever lived, they claim this time it’s different. This time it’s the “much softer” socialism. In fact, it’s “Democratic socialism,” so it’s even better. But, it’s still Marxism. It cannot be achieved without a huge centralized government and the diminishment of individual liberty and right to property. It is its nature.
You cannot find a socialist or communist government anywhere throughout history that allows freedom of religion or speech or parental rights. They do not exist.
What does that have to do with what’s going on right now?
While there are many people who are genuinely seeking racial reconciliation, understanding, and peace, there is, unfortunately, a far-left force exploiting that sincere aim to create a Marxist revolution.
That is why antifa (“anti-fascists:” fascists are people communists often claim to be fighting against and yet are strikingly similar to) is there—to both literally and figuratively burn down American institutions, which they view as “oppressors.” If they truly cared about black lives, do you think they would be destroying/encouraging the destruction of their communities?
The sincere advocacy for the equal treatment of black people has, in various ways and for several decades now, been hijacked by far-left, socialist/communist/Marxist activists of all races who are capitalizing (irony!) on legitimate grievances by our black fellow Americans to push for the implementation of their ideology.
That is why you increasingly hear, in conjunction with conversations about racial equality, anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism, anti-Western rhetoric. For many, it’s all tied together with the Marxist dichotomy of the “oppressed vs. the oppressor.”
This collectivist lens through which these activists see the world forces them to categorize people based on their skin color, socioeconomic class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. to determine who is on the side of the oppressed, and who is on the side of the oppressor.
The straight, white, Christian male is the utmost of the oppressors from this perspective. The farther away someone is from that description, the more “oppressed” they are assumed to be. This can also be described as intersectionality.
As you can see, Marxism is not just political or economic. It is social and cultural. You may have heard of “Cultural Marxism.” If not, I highly recommend Voddie Baucham’s video on the topic on YouTube.
Unfortunately, it’s also become theological. Liberation Theology and Critical Race Theory, both of which attempt to centralize “oppressed vs. oppressor” in our reading of Scripture rather than the gospel of Jesus, are colored by Marxism.
James H. Cone, known as the founder of Black Liberation Theology, said this in his book For My People: “the Christian faith does not possess in its nature the means for analyzing the structure of capitalism. Marxism as a tool of social analysis can disclose the gap between appearance and reality, and thereby help Christians to see how things really are.”
Interestingly, in 1997, Cone said this: “I still regard Jesus Christ today as the chief focus of my perspective on God but not to the exclusion of other religious perspectives… As Malcolm X put it: ‘I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion’.”
This should not surprise us. Marxism as a political and economic philosophy has never worked, and Marxism as a theological framework doesn’t work, either. It inevitably leads to agnosticism, as it prioritizes a worldly lens through which to see the world rather than a biblical one.
It is why BLM itself, while upholding Liberation Theology, does not, according to its own statements of belief, support the biblical definition of family, gender, etc. It is why you will hear “woke” so-called theologians tell their listeners to “divest of their whiteness” rather than to repent from sin and believe in Jesus. When anything other than the gospel becomes the center of your philosophy or theology, all truth is skewed.
While oppression and injustice exist and God cares about these things immensely (as should we), God does not primarily categorize humanity as oppressed vs. oppressor. We are either dead in sin or alive in Christ (Ephesians 2). We are either enemies of God or reconciled to Him (Romans 5:10).
THIS is our chief problem, no matter our skin color: our souls live forever, and will go to one of two places. Our only justification, the only way to be declared righteous, will be our “advocate… Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn 2:1). Whoever believes in this Jesus will be justified, forgiven and granted eternal life (Jn 3:16-21, Eph. 2:1-10).
Any kind of theology that doesn’t make this is its central, utmost purpose is blasphemy. Reconciliation to God isn’t part of the gospel; it is the gospel. Does that mean reconciliation to others? Absolutely (2 Peter 3:14). Does that mean looking at talking about injustice and advocating on behalf of the oppressed? Yes.
But here’s what the church needs to realize: while it is good and necessary to talk about all forms of hate and sin, but individual and institutional, we have to be careful not to let our language or the resources we promote or solutions we advocate for resemble Marxism.
If the primary, central, continual message of the books you’re promoting, the videos you’re putting out, the posts you’re writing and the people you’re elevating—who are all claiming to have solutions to racism —is not that the dead must be made alive in Christ, but rather that people need to check their privilege and dismantle Western civilization, you are doing an eternal disservice to your church and your audiences. This is Marxist language, not biblical language. (That does not mean we can never learn from secular people or people of other faiths. I simply mean we should be careful offering unbiblical prescriptions.)
Because, again, God does not categorize the world primarily by oppressed vs. the oppressor. Or the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat. Or white vs. black. It is the dead vs. the alive.
Marxism and Christianity cannot go hand in hand, because the gospel cannot be co-opted by earthly narratives. There is a reason why every government that has implemented Marxism makes the destruction of the free worship of Jesus one of its first targets.
Stop stealing talking points, language, and prescriptions from the world, Church. Preach the gospel. Show people how to share the gospel, and, yes, live that out. I have no problem with talking about political solutions—I have now suggested several. I of course believe the gospel must inform how we treat people and the work we do to help the “least of these.”
But if the solutions you are promoting are Marxist/socialist in nature, you are advocating for a society of suffering. I am not claiming the perfection of capitalism (although it is by far the most equitable economic system thus far discovered) or ignoring the real sins of Western civ/ America. We should learn about and from all of these. What a gracious gift God has given us in providing us with written history.
And, most importantly, if the gospel is in the periphery in your messages right now, in the books you are suggesting, in the voices you’re “lifting up,” you are solving nothing. There will be neither vertical nor horizontal reconciliation.
I love how C.S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity:
“What [God] cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind or quality–the kind of creatures He intended us to be–creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add ‘and related to one another in a certain way’, because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another.”
As I said earlier this week, many pastors are demonstrating the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” Christian-style right now. You are willing to preach the gospel on Sundays to your mostly white congregants, but when you turn to your black brothers and sisters, you offer only pity.
While sympathy and compassion are crucial, if you care about souls, your focus must be the fact that everyone, black, white and brown, will all stand before our Creator to give account one day. Period. There are no exceptions to that rule. God is not going to ask whether or not someone was on the side of the “oppressed” or “oppressor” on Earth.
Pastors–are you making sure your churches are ready for that moment?
It’s always worrisome when the church starts to sound more like the world than the other way around. Cultural Christianity is sounding more righteous than in years past, because secularism is itself becoming a religion and thus has adopted its own religious code by using Christian language. Watch out for this.
The burdens of Marxism are heavy and its yoke difficult. The burdens of Jesus are light and his yoke easy.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind soul and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Read your Bible, pray, serve, obey.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:7-10
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:12-13
Laura Maxwell does not necessarily agree with all the information and conclusions presented by guest articles or friends on her blog, TV or radio interviews she speaks on, or on her own podcasts.
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