Strachen angers some with call for Matthew 18 discipline for churches that promote ‘wokeness’

"A Southern Baptist theologian in Kansas City, Missouri, is under fire from some pastors and Christian academics for recommending Matthew 18 discipline for those who 'teach and promote wokeness.'" - CPost

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TylerR's picture

Editor

We need to stick to biblical categories, here. We also need to rely on real understanding of what's happening in the West in the past few years. I am not convinced Founders, Strachen, the G3 crowd (et al) are accurately representing their opponents. That doesn't mean they're wrong. I just fear they're imputing motives to brothers and sisters that are incorrect; tarring Christians who have with genuine concerns with a broad brush as though they're Marxists.

In other words, this is more complicated than saying (1) you're either a faithful, conservative Christian who agrees with me on this, or (2) you're a woke Communist. I know we like to operate in a world of strict binaries when it comes to theological positions, but there it is.

There is something going on here, something deeper than this issue. I believe it comes down to framing. Two people can have identical concerns and very similar convictions, but if their framing is different then their approach is completely different. I again offer up this small bit of analysis from Tara Burton's new book Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless Age:

Even the institutionalization of white evangelicalism in the past few decades—bolstered since the late 1970s by evangelicals’ alliance with the Republican Party—is rooted in narratives not of ecumenism but of cultural resistance ... the sense of meaning and purpose these evangelical organizations provide their adherents remains the narrative of the brave underdog, valiantly fighting against the encroaching forces of post-1960s secularism.

I think this really goes to the heart of the issue. I have decided that, on many issues, I'm a centrist. I don't feel ready to start writing and speaking dogmatically about things I really haven't studied for myself. I also think things are a bit more complicated than some Christians like to believe. I say all this, even as I share Strachen's concerns about critical theory (etc.). I increasingly feel "homeless" because I like to read a bit before I respond or blindly forward analysis from other people. Before social media, we used to do this more often.

So, in the past several months I have read five books on various aspects of race in America. I have an introduction to critical race theory written by its own academics I plan to begin reviewing in writing, chapter by chapter. I've read The Communist Manifesto and have obtained a reader of Marxist philosophy from a Communist publishing house. I have also obtained two works specifically on post-modernism I plan to read, as well. I'm not sure theologians and academics can really speak authoritatively on "wokeness" until they've done some homework. Strachen is a smart guy. I hope he's done his homework.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

I am not convinced Founders, Strachen, the G3 crowd (et al) are accurately representing their opponents.

TL;DR - they don't and haven't done so for a while.  That's what the cine-doc trailer ruckus was largely about.

That doesn't mean they're wrong.

No, they are right in some ways but overreach and sweeping generalizations are the order of the day here.

I just fear they're imputing motives to brothers and sisters that are incorrect; tarring Christians who have with genuine concerns with a broad brush as though they're Marxists.

Yup.

I don't have a problem with church disciplining the 'woke' - I just want to know what the actual Biblical command is that is being violated and whether or not the first two steps of individualized confrontation (not sweeping diatribes via Facebook, Patreon, Twitter, or what have you) have been done.  If Owen is going to start and end his church discipline with expulsion, he isn't practicing church discipline, he's abusing his authority as a minister of the Gospel, and that's a big deal.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

josh p's picture

One wonders if there would be enough to "convict" in a trial. I basically agree with Tyler. In the last several years, I've read a fair amount about communism and socialism. I'm still not prepared to denounce people as cultural marxists without doing a lot more research. Plus I agree with Hayek that the republicans are just "socialist light" :). 

Andrew K's picture

Tyler, before you read too deeply into Marxism and Critical Theory, give this a read.  https://quillette.com/2020/09/28/analyst-of-totalitarianism-reading-simo...

Then go for it.

Here's a key quotation: 

One general conclusion from reading Leys is that although totalitarian movements are immensely dangerous, that doesn’t mean we should give the theories behind them much intellectual weight. Leys quoted the Chinese saying coined by the philosopher Jacques Maritain: “Never take stupidity too seriously.” There was no point arguing economics with a Red Guard, or theology with one of Cornelisz’s murderous thugs. These movements were about power in the service of mad millenarian aims, and they were only defeated with countervailing force. Fighting totalitarianism takes organization and a coordinated response, not theory. And it takes adults who have a moral compass.

So yes, know the theory. But remember that on the ground, theory doesn't always matter very much.

I remember from reading Leys myself him detailing how Mao would read a chapter of The Communist Manifesto in the evening (for the first time!), then teach it to his men in the morning. 

The theory wasn't the point. The power was.