Marxism and Its Critical Race Theory are Challenging the Church
Shepherds are leading the flock to the pack
As churches across the country reopen one of the prevailing issues dominating discussion is how the church should respond to the Marxist movement — and critical race theory (CRT), an offshoot of Marxist critical theory — exploiting tragedy in the streets and wrapping itself in the hurt of our nation’s history as a tool of political revolution. I’ve seen this handled gracefully and not so gracefully.
Carl Lentz is the senior pastor at Hillsong NYC and is more known than most because of his celebrity friends like Justin Bieber and controversial activists like Shaun King.
There was all sorts of Rachel Dolezal-esque controversy about King’s ethnicity; questions over inconsistencies regarding stories he’s told; he’s been repeatedly accused of financial impropriety with donations and treating the women who questioned him disrespectfully; has tried to smear me for supporting Second Amendment rights going so far as to comparing me to a mass murderer; he reportedly threatens critics with legal action; falsely accused a man of murdering a young black girl before the man later committed suicide; falsely accused a trooper of raping a woman before the trooper’s body cam footage discredited the story; believes the entire concept of police is racist, it’s a rather exhaustive list. Lentz has vociferously defended King on a host of these issues over the years:
Above: Lentz defends King against the race controversy.
Above: Lentz with a co-founder of the Marxist group Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi, who wrote of Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship: “In these last 17 years, we have witnessed the Bolivarian Revolution champion participatory democracy and construct a fair, transparent election system recognized as among the best in the world.” In 2011 dictator Hugo Chávez modified the slogan of his Bolivarian Revolution to “Socialist motherland and victory, we will live, and we will come out victorious.”
Above: In following the thread, Lentz appears to defend King against claims by (black) women who questioned where donation money was going.
I was surprised to find that even Bob Goff has praised King:
I write this to give background on Lentz’s recent accusation against the church as a whole. In the discussion below, which I’ve watched several times, Lentz claims that the church “might be one of the biggest propagators of racist ideology.”
Of the discussion, the premise presupposes that the issue is inequality alone, which has always been canonically addressed in the church. The issue Lentz refuses to acknowledge is that this is a political movement wrapped in the veneer of the struggle for equality. Lentz doesn’t acknowledge this issue, so how are we having this conversation in the church?
Lents was asked a loaded question 2:30 into the interview: “Why is the white church silent?” Instead of questioning the validity of a question that projects the very bigotry the point of the conversation is based on opposing, Lentz offers a shallow answer: “Because this stuff causes problems.”
Uh, what stuff?
Lentz then calls the church a “dirty house” and says that cleaning house is too difficult and “this is what happens with racism … the moment you start looking into this that’s when you realize, oh wow, this goes all the way to the top. This is in our church choir this is in our church administration. This is in the way we taught the Bible. And there are a lot of Christians who set out to clean house until they find out how close to home it might come.”
This is a pretty big indictment of the kingdom here. I don’t know what sort of churches Lentz attended in his life, but I’ve never walked through the doors of any church that espoused bigotry the likes of which Lentz is accusing them of doing here.
If Lentz took it half as seriously as he professes he would speak in concise, evidence-based answers, not vague verbal ramblings. Lentz explains that the same way homeowners shove things they don’t want guests to see “in that one room” of their house so, too, does the church accommodate racism and he accuses the church of doing so for decades “in the American church as far as I know.” Lentz says there are only two types of people:
“And so you’re faced with two types of people: People who genuinely want to be a part of the problem or people who are genuinely upset that they got caught. That’s the funny thing about racism. Some people are sorry right now because they’re racist and need to change, other people are sorry because they got caught being racist. They don’t wanna fix the problem they want to fix the optics of it.”
Lentz finally gets to his point at 4:09 in:
“I think in fact, it could be said that churches might be one of the biggest propagators of racist ideology in our country.”
Lentz says his “principle is valuing all people” and that through the practical you should be able to see evidence of this principle in action. So … is he not doing that? Basically all I get from the interview is that Lentz is admitting to be a giant racist who goes to racist churches and fellowships with other racist people. Because he isn’t pushing for a vague justice for racism (?) then he’s racist?
What am I missing here? These conversations (Lentz has had several on this issue, I’ve watched them all but this is the one lately making headlines due to the above soundbite) all center around Lentz excoriating himself and the church at-large and offering platitudes sprinkled with common phrases like “part of the problem, part of the solution,” etc. Lentz says he sees racism everywhere, all the time, on TV, in restaurants. (Compare his answers and behavior with those of the Gaines family who spoke concisely with Christian love and gracefully made clear points.) How did we go from a country that elected its first black president ahead of the oft-worshipped European nations to this? Every question begged the question and every answer intimated that any disagreement with any part of the discussion is itself racist. Lentz zealously embraces every far left talking point to an absurd degree. Lentz’s Hillsong co-founder, Brian Houston, has stated as much too, in a letter published in June.
This isn’t shepherding or witnessing. It’s gaslighting.
It’s one thing to confess a moral failing in your life — and I will be the first to admit that I, like all others, am not perfect — the only true and perfect being to ever walk this earth was crucified, buried, and rose again. But the moral failing of bigotry? I have never in my life slurred someone or ever once thought that I had the power over God to measure the redeemable qualities of His children against things which they do not control. I have never viewed such attitude as anything other than a rebellion against God. If Lentz is confessing to this sin and accusing everyone of sharing in his sin because of skin color alone — is that not the exact same bigotry that he’s simultaneously condemning?
I have zero objection to those pastors or faith leaders who seek redemption for their own sin of bigotry, past or more recent. I also have zero issue with faith leaders who say simply that they’re sorry slavery ever existed in this world and destroyed so many — but we as Christians cannot justify bad decisions in the future by the pain of the past. We can’t seek atonement apart from God.
I’m Church of Christ, so I tend to pay close attention to when someone within the family, so to speak, speaks on this and other issues, which is how I came across this story. Full disclosure: I know Max Lucado having met him in person back when I interviewed him about his latest book for the TV program I hosted for The Blaze; I knew him before from his books, particularly the ones I read to my boys. I sought a greater understanding of his perspective on this issue so I reached out to him, he was gracious and we spoke privately at length. I will say that unlike others who seek counsel from activists, Lucado sought out our black churches and pastors for their insight. This quote from the piece linked above stood out to me. I found it to be one of the most profound statements made during this new period of unrest:
Stronger Together has been meeting regularly to find ways to bring the community together as the coronavirus pandemic drives people physically apart, said Dorian Williams, an organizer and Black pastor at Texas Christian Fellowship.
Williams’ prayer carried a message of forgiveness.
“Never in my life have I ever seen a white person say to me … that I’m sorry,” Williams said, pausing to hold back, then release tears. “That I’m sorry for what happened to your people and our ancestors were wrong.”
It is a “new day” for San Antonio, he said.
“We have to release [white people] from sins that you did not commit,” he said. “I know that’s unpopular, but God said: If you don’t forgive your brother, who you do see, how can you say you love me, who you don’t?”
If people can’t forgive each other, then God can’t forgive those people, he said.
“I’m not letting slavery send me to hell. No longer will I walk around being angry and bitter at white people that I don’t even know. I feel like I have a right as a Black man to be angry. It doesn’t mean that we’re not fighting for justice … [but] we are in bondage when you walk in anger.”
My pastor once said that good people are offended by racism. Good people are also offended at the sin of being falsely accused of racism. Racism exists, but as I’ve written, systemic racism does not. By playing into this and making such accusations against the entirety of the kingdom, is this not sinning? While sins of those before us in the past can affect us in the future, God is clear in Ezekiel 18 that each is accountable for their own sin, not for the sins of another. I don’t want to think that my or any shepherd would prey upon the charity of truly loving, Christian hearts in so disingenuous a manner all to promote a cleverly-disguised political movement, one that certain church leaders seem to champion, one that seeks influence within the church while spurning the very Biblical principles the church upholds.
Let me be clear: If people have such immorality in their hearts and are seeking forgiveness for their sin that should be encouraged — but — it is also a sin to dull the edge of their offense by accusing the entire body of Christ of sharing the same moral failing. And if they’re doing this to satiate the anti-family, pro-abortion Marxist political movement wrapping itself in the veneer of inequality that is currently sweeping the country? If so, such shepherds are telling their sheep that they’ve offended the wolves while leading their flocks to the packs.
During this lockdown as our youth struggled, as marriages crumbled, as depression rates soared and drug dependency, the state closed our churches that didn’t already do so voluntarily. At a time when fellowship was needed the most, our churches were closed. Fellowship online is not the same. Compounding this is the advance of an aggressive, Marxist movement shrouding itself in a veil of injustice to hide the true intent — honestly, it’s not even hidden. These political tenets are published online:
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).
“Economic justice” and reparations. This is part of the publicly available platform. Is it the church’s platform to achieve justice by spreading injustice? How do shepherds reconcile this with Isaiah 61:8-9?
Luke 18:8, in a parable Jesus told the disciples to illustrate persistent prayer:
“I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
How does forgiveness reconcile with reparations? While reading arguments for the issue I came across this brilliant dissent from Laura Baxter at The Federalist:
Christ spoke of forgiveness as the cancellation of a debt. Forgiveness means that when someone wrongs you, instead of trying to collect on that wrong, you forgive the debt. You act as if the person no longer owes you anything (Matthew 18:21-35).
Forgiveness is so important that Jesus commanded his followers to do it over and over and over, 77 times if necessary. If Sutton and the community of faith he represents have truly forgiven white Americans, why are they still acting as if something is owed? Why are they still trying to collect the debt?
If you are looking for atonement outside of Jesus Christ, you are not preaching the gospel.
“It’s all political,” writes Emery McClendon of Project 21.
Tell me, how do you achieve reconciliation outside of Christ? Especially to overcome differences so great that only the love for our Creator could guide us through? You can’t. By focusing so much on the theatrics of narrative optics, some shepherds are dodging the most important question at the expense of the church.
"My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.” - Marx
I’ve also discussed these issues in my last book, “Grace Canceled,” available here.