The Woman and the Pastor

I just read Revelation 12-18 this afternoon, and the identity of the woman in Revelation 17-18 suddenly makes so much more sense in light of the West’s complete moral collapse. Bostock v. Clayton County is the final domino in a chain that has made me now fully realize the scope of the task for faithful pastors in the 21st century.

To read people argue, in confident legal prose, that discrimination “because of … sex” and discrimination “because of … sexual orientation” are analgous is astonishing, in a deceptive way. You get so caught up in parsing the intent of the actors and considering the legal arguments that you forget just how morally bankrupt this discussion even is. There is no longer even a pretense of a foundation to anchor morality and ethics in the public square. As I wrote in my discussion of the Obergefell decision, once a culture dynamites its objective foundation for values all that’s left to anchor us to morality is inertia. 

Well, the inertia has indeed toppled the crumbling edifice with Bostock. The decision isn’t so awful, in and of itself. It’s awful because it signals that sanity has fallen. Once and for all, it has gone.

I knew this before, but I didn’t know it before.

The Church no longer has any common point of cultural contact left with the world. When the Church speaks the mystery of the faith to outsiders, it now speaks a foreign and hateful language. This means the Church’s job is not simply to explain the Christian faith to the world. It is that, but it’s more than that.

The Church’s task, more than ever, is now to explain and interpret reality to the world. God’s reality. This will take educated, well-read ministers who understand history in a deep and meaningful way.

  • Not in a social media meme kinda way.
  • Not in a “I watch Tucker on Fox, and he’s right!” kinda way.
  • Not in a “Watch Ben Shapiro DESTROY the libs” kinda way.

I mean real history. Real engagement with big ideas and big thinkers. A real sense of human history, and mistakes of the past. We’ll need pastors who understand culture. Who pay attention to what’s happening in the world and can interpret it for the Church and for the world. I’m actually thinking a graduate degree in liberal studies/humanities may be more important than a PhD.

Os Guinness has written that the West is a “cut-flower” civilization, in the sense that it’s like a withering flower ripped from the Christian worldview, slowly dying in a vase on the countertop.

No longer.

Now, the West is a dead flower civilization. Now, the Church must be the institution that stands in the gap, shakes it head sadly, and patiently and winsomely explains the facts of reality to a very confused world. 

Carl Trueman wrote a few days ago:

If Christians do not understand the wider context, then they will continue to underestimate the true depth of the cultural problem, be perplexed at the speed of apparent change, and be disturbed by new developments. And that will make it very hard to navigate this world as both good citizens and good stewards of the gospel.

Who is equal to this task? My goodness, who can be equal to this task? When I read the transcript of oral arguments from Bostock, I feel overwhelmed. What tortured combination of forces have combined to produce the kind of moral confusion and rebellion against God that we see in those pages? It’s too much. No one person is equipped to interpret this kind of madness for the Church.

I am more well-read than many pastors. That may be hubris, but I suspect not. I am overwhelmed by the task. I feel unequal to it. There’s so much!

The woman in Revelation 17-18 represents man in community apart from God. Like a chameleon, she’s taken many different forms over the years. But, she is organized society without God. In the West, she’s secular humanism. But, I know even as I write this that it’s not quite right. It’s a religion of sorts, but one I have trouble getting my arms around. It seems to combine a narcissism unique to this digital age, abysmal ignorance of just about everything, a “God as divine butler” theology among professing Christians, critical race theory, intersectionality, and hatred of God … all combined into one toxic casserole. I don’t know what to call it.

This is why I feel overwhelmed. I almost wish I were not so bookish, so I’d be content with memes on social media and wouldn’t appreciate the depth of the challenges that lay ahead. I do know, however, that the Lord destroys the woman in Revelation 18, and returns triumphantly in the next chapter. That’s nice!

May God help the Church in the 21st century in the West; especially its elders. Especially me.

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There are 43 Comments

Joel Shaffer's picture

My beef with Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, James White, Tom Ascol, and etc... is because the consequences of their lack of knowledge, understanding, and discernment when it comes to CRT, CT, Intersectionality, and Cultural Marxism has created unnecessary witch hunts within conservative evangelicalism.   Because of their shallow understandings within the disciplines of intercultural/cultural studies, political philosophy, anthropology, and social ethics, they frequently create caricatures of CRT, CT, and Intersectionality. Again, let me reiterate that I reject the secular foundations of these theories. And I completely agree that the pastor's priority should be preaching the Word, Shepherding, and Prayer. But when these pastors create echo chamber conferences of ignorance to talk about Social Justice and these Secular Ideologies, or when they really don't know how to discern Resolution #9 of what is and isn't being said at the national SBC conference, or when they create video propaganda like their "By What Standard Video" which is a smorgasbord mix of truth, lies, and caricatures, it does more harm than good to the body of Christ.  But, if you point out their lack of Biblical discernment as I have above, they accuse you of abandoning the sufficiency of Scripture. 

Right now,  I've seen at least 10 Voddie videos on Social Justice, Cultural Marxism, and Ethnic Gnosticism posted by white conservative evangelicals show up on my newsfeed in response to all the racial unrest. That is why I singled him out, though it pained me because I like him in many other ways.  

TylerR's picture

Editor

Joel wrote:

My beef with Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, James White, Tom Ascol, and etc... is because the consequences of their lack of knowledge, understanding, and discernment when it comes to CRT, CT, Intersectionality, and Cultural Marxism has created unnecessary witch hunts within conservative evangelicalism. 

This is the main reason why I haven't ever referred to CRT as "cultural Marxism" or anything else. I have primers on each CRT and intersectionality, respectively, that I plan to read after I finish my current DMin class. I also have Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility I'm buying soon, I really need to understand the philosophical presuppositions of this madness before I put labels on it. I do consider it very dangerous, but I just won't use the Marxist label yet.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Mark_Smith's picture

CT is rooted in Marxism, with Marxism's dialectic of the battle between social classes being expanded to include race, sex, sexual identity et. al. Just because some Christians are borrowing the ideas of CRT/intersectionality does not mean the theories themselves are not rooted in pure humanism.

TylerR's picture

Editor

One reason why, while I think CRT is infinitely dangerous, I haven't used the Marxist label is because I actually haven't read Marx at all. I'd just be parroting others if I used the label without really understanding it. I did study study the Russian Revolution in 9th grade and also read Animal Farm, though ...

I don't believe I know enough to use the label Marxist without further study. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Mark_Smith's picture

Your caution is fair. I am no expert. In an undergraduate History of China class I wrote a paper on Chinese communism, and I read large portions of Das Capital and other writings to get the basics. Then I read other books on Marxism, even some writings of Mao Tse Tung. Crazy stuff.

The link between Critical Theory and Marxism isn't even a real question. It flat out is Marxism expanded. And the founder of CT flat out says so unapologetically. I don't get the opposition to the claim other than people ashamed of being labeled with the fact that the basis of CT (which was about sexism in Western culture) and then CRT is the class struggle idea of Marxism expanded to new classes of culture.

Cultural Marxism just means that the original dialectic of Marxism (Bourgeois v. the Proletariat) is replaced by more "authentic" cultural divisions like sex, race, sexual identity, and not just economic class.

WallyMorris's picture

For my undergrad degree in political science I took two classes on communism, one focusing on eastern Europe, the other focusing on China & the Soviet Union. Mark's comments are correct. The United States and western Europe have now modified and adapted Marxist theory to a more subtle and more acceptable approach in order to slowly get Americans to believe it, using genuine problems as a Trojan Horse to implement the social change Marxism wants. President Trump once said that America will never be a socialist nation. We have been on that path for several decades, accelerated by the New Deal and Great Society programs, continued with "stimulus checks", etc.

We need good Christian colleges and secular colleges (Hillsdale, for example) who understand the fundamental issues. Hillsdale's free courses are helpful. I wish BJU and other Christian colleges would provide some free resources like Hillsdale is doing. To what extent all of this will make much difference will depend somewhat on your beliefs about prophecy (pre-mill or post-mill, etc). Nevertheless we have to defend Biblical principles and know enough about current events to explain Biblical answers. Bible-believing churches are key.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Mark_Smith's picture

Now, I had never heard Baucham speak on this, so I hunted some videos down. I think I agree with him on the issues of cultural Marxism and ethnic gnosticism. That said, the traditional American culture and society get no "get out of jail free" pass just because the other side has gone ballistic with their claims. America is largely divided by race, and its a shame. We need to join and become one. That will take effort from both sides to come together. Even more, many whites are racist, and if not racist, are willfully ignorant about black issues.

Still, even worse, the church is divided. Why? Both blacks and whites have made separate camps.

WallyMorris's picture

Mark: "We need to join and become one" - That will never happen, although a nice-sounding statement. "One" under what belief and whose leadership? "One" for what purpose? Mankind did unite for one purpose to build the tower of Babel, but that didn't end well. Mankind will unite in the Tribulation, but that will not end well either. Race divisions are mostly sin divisions, and since people keep being born with sin natures, sin divisions will always be here. We keep giving people the gospel, the ultimate solution. Since secular society has rejected that answer, the problem will remain.

"Still, even worse, the church is divided. Why? Both blacks and whites have made separate camps." - If we're going to criticize churches composed mainly of one race (many reasons for that, not all sinful), then let's eliminate ALL denominations, labels, and even ethnic/race based holidays. All they do is highlight race and divisions and keep us form being "one". (somewhat sarcastic in that last sentence). There are people in all races who are racist, not just whites, Blacks can be just as racist as anyone else. I'm not interested in "black issues" or "white issues". I'm interested in one "issue": Christ and the gospel. People cannot meaningfully "come together" apart from Christ.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

josh p's picture

All of this reinforces my belief that pastors need to stay in their lane. I understand that they need answers for their congregation but they should be VERY wary about commenting too much. For the last several years I have read about economics and political philosophy pretty consistently and it is far more complex than watching a YouTube video can ever educate a person on. For example, pastors throw around the Hegelian Dialectic without having any clue what it’s all about. This all could be one more reason that it’s better that a man waits to pursue the ministry until he has a chance to get a really strong foundation (probably more than an average liberal arts education can give you). I’m not a pastor but it seems like the strain is enough without trying to become the church sage on cultural Marxism. Learn enough to give biblical responses yes but don’t go beyond your knowledge.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm not calling for someone to become an expert on everything. I'm just saying that, for example, if CRT is a problem you think it's important to understand, then it wouldn't kill you to read a CRT primer written by CRT advocates to understand what you're dealing with. That's all.

Do more than share Voddie videos on social media. Or Tucker Carlson videos. Or material from social media bots that target conservatives. Or from James White or Sovereign Nations. Just spend a little bit of time trying to understand the issue for yourself. It's not too much to ask.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Mark_Smith's picture

I always read primary sources. How many multicultural review sessions have you attended at a university? How many lectures by guest speakers? The White Fragility author spoke at our university. Listened. How many student sessions discussing the black experience?

Its old but Langston Hughes wrote some good stuff, even reviews of American history from a black perspective. He wrote plenty of short stories about the black experience too.

Joel Shaffer's picture

All of this reinforces my belief that pastors need to stay in their lane. I understand that they need answers for their congregation but they should be VERY wary about commenting too much. For the last several years I have read about economics and political philosophy pretty consistently and it is far more complex than watching a YouTube video can ever educate a person on. For example, pastors throw around the Hegelian Dialectic without having any clue what it’s all about. This all could be one more reason that it’s better that a man waits to pursue the ministry until he has a chance to get a really strong foundation (probably more than an average liberal arts education can give you). I’m not a pastor but it seems like the strain is enough without trying to become the church sage on cultural Marxism. Learn enough to give biblical responses yes but don’t go beyond your knowledge.

Completely agree, but I will take it even further Particularly, pastors, including Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, and the Founders Group, and more need to do a better job staying in their lanes. They are oversimplifying, mixing truth, half-truth, and no-truths to create caricatures of the actual thing. It is much more complex than they are portraying it to be. For instance, right now I have read 3/4ths of Patricia Collins and Sirma’s book, Intersectionality (Key Concepts). One of the main themes of the book is that intersectionality is an analytic tool. They explain that as an analytic tool, it can be used by those who don’t share their values, even by those who “use intersectionality as an analytic tool to justify social inequality” (p.40). After providing an example of how White Supremacist literature utilizes intersectionality reasoning and rhetoric, they declare, “Ironically, intersectionality as an analytic tool is deployed not as a tool for democratic inclusion, but rather to justify racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual segregation and subsequent social hierarchy” (p. 41).

What’s more, one of their case study examples for how intersectionality can unintentionally take place is through the work of Nobel prize winning economist, Muhammad Yunus, who initiated and promoted microcredit lending in extreme poverty-stricken communities in Asia. (p.57-60) Yunus realized that the status-quo free-market capitalism was broken in these countries as they were marginalizing the poor from access to capital and wealth Banks wouldn’t loan them money to start cottage industry businesses because they were too high-risk, which left only the mob and loan sharks, whose unjust interest rates put them into debt and in servitude and made them even poorer. So Yunus created a bottom-up solution based on the gifts and assets of the poor in creating their own bank that was based on different principles. The bank was not trying to eliminate poverty, but rather organized poor people to fund one another in order to start businesses and create conditions to pull people out of poverty. It is owned by the poor people themselves. Yunus has spent over 30 years, through trial and error, creating a banking system that is owned by over 8 million people, most of which have been lifted out of extreme poverty. He explains, conventional banks, “go to the rich, I go to the poor, they go to men, I go to women, they go to the city center, I go to remote villages.” While Yunus did not have intersectionality in mind when he created his micro-lending projects, it did result in a form of intersectionality, which the authors are more than glad to share, despite Yunus utilizing free-market capitalism to overcome forms of oppression in free-market capitalism.

At the same time, these authors clearly have the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality at the forefront of ideology and aim their guns at the “oppressive” system of free-market capitalism. And It was quite evident that their view of social justice is much more in tune with socialism and/or Marxism. As they described different ways of how intersectionality functions from their secular worldview (which includes Critical Theory/Cultural Marxism and a smorgasbord of other postmodern ideologies), I honestly cannot see how this trainwreck of socio-political madness does not collapse on itself in 20 years or less. Because so much of their worldview hinges on identity politics, power dynamics, and where they have dismantled every form of binary thinking, including the moral categories of good and evil and ontological categories such as male/females, I don’t foresee the worldview shaped by Critical Theory/Intersectionality doing much more than cannibalizing itself to death. Furthermore, because this is a book that is more of an academic overview of how the concept of intersectionality is understood and deployed by scholars in a variety of fields, it also reveals how CT/ intersectional scholars and practitioners are power-playing and even attacking one another. One prominent feminist writer that the writers feature declares: Intersectionality is actually the opposite of socialism...Intersectionality, like identity politics before it...Here’s hoping that the infighting in-crowd of intersectionality disappear up their own intersection really soon, so the rest of us can resume creating a tolerant and united socialism” (p, 109).

I agree with Neil Shenvi’s summary of this primary book on intersectionality. “Although lowercase-“i” intersectionality can be used as a neutral, analytic tool, the slide into capital-“I” Intersectionality as a worldview is subtle, rapid, and dangerous. The distinction between the two is legitimate and important but is one that people may easily miss. Moreover, when the word ‘intersectionality’ is used in popular culture, it far more often refers to the worldview than to the tool. For that reason, Christian should be exceptionally careful and discerning in how they employ ‘intersectionality,’ mindful of the unbiblical ideologies in which the term may be embedded.”

Pastors such as Voddie and the conservative evangelical anti-social justice crowd should be deferring to Shenvi and his writing partner Pat Sawyer (who has a Ph.D in education and cultural studies and teaches at UNC Greensboro). Sawyer is a recognized scholar in the field of Critical Theory. I find it interesting that, despite Sawyer and Shenvi rejecting the foundational worldview of Critical Theory, Intersectionality, and etc… you don’t see them invited to speak at their echo chamber conferences (Founders, Sovereign, G3, and etc) The sloppy critiques from Baucham, Boice, Ascol, Buck, White, Harrison, MacArthur, and Johnson that lack nuances end up torpedoing their own credibility among people who actually study this stuff. And it also harms their gospel ministries in the broader community of education and scholarship.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I bought that book last year and plan to tackle it this Fall. This is exactly what I'm talking about. Don't let Voddie teach you about CRT, or Founders. Just read a primer written by advocates.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

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