by Mike Ratliff
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB)
If you have read even a small percentage of my posts then you know I focus a great deal on defining and presenting the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also focus on the Word of God as our source of God’s Truth, which is absolute. We also have defined faith and what God has done to save His people from their sins, which is the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, perfect life, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Sadly, beginning with Emperor Constantine, Christianity became a state religion, which soon split into East and West. Later during the Protestant Reformation, the Gospel of Justification by Faith alone was recovered, however, in those areas where Protestantism flourished, the Catholic religion was no longer the state religion, but the Protestant Religion replaced it. What I mean by “sadly” is that prior to Constantine the Christian religion was persecuted, but it was not a large state religion with big churches and large numbers of priests and whatnot. No, the churches were house churches for the most part, the preaching was done where it could be done, and discipleship was done as commanded in the Great commission (Matthew 28:16-20). However, after Christianity became a recognized religion, things changed and much of what was Biblical was lost being replaced with religiosity.
God is good. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His Church and there would be no power that could overpower it. When we see the mess here on Earth that is the visible church, we do not see the remnant that God sees, knows, and loves. That being said and with all that in our understanding, let us look at a couple of disturbing things in our time that are a great threat.
The first one is Black Liberation Theology. This was developed by the late James Cone in the 1960’s during the Black Power movement as a reaction to evangelical apathy on racial injustice. In his book, Black Theology and Black Power, James Cone explains how he formed his theology:
“For me, the burning theological question was, how can I reconcile Christianity and Black Power, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea of nonviolence and Malcom X’s by any means necessary philosophy? The writing of Black Theology and Black Power was the beginning of my search for a resolution of that dilemma.”
Cone obviously was not on the path of following Jesus command to make disciples was he? No, he was making prophets out of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. He was coming up with his own gospel. Black Liberation Theology is Martin Luther King Jr,’s social gospel and Malcolm X’s Black Nationalism in one. Black Liberation Theology exchanges the power of God for Black power. It exchanges the supremacy of Christ for Black supremacy. Black Liberation Theology is built on a foundation of bitterness and victimhood, with social justice as its chief cornerstone.
In James Cone’s theology, Black liberation from White oppression is the gospel. In his book, Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology, James Cone said:
“What else can the crucifixion mean except that God, the Holy One of Israel, became identified with the victims of oppression? What else can the resurrection mean except that God’s victory in Christ is the poor person’s victory over poverty? If theology does not take this seriously, how can it be worthy of the name Christian? If the church, the community out of which theology arises, does not make God’s liberation of the oppressed central in its mission and proclamation, how can it rest easy with a condemned criminal as the dominant symbol of its message?”
Well, there you have it. How can anyone say that Black Liberation Theology is Christian in any way, shape, or form?
The second threat is Woke Christianity. What is Woke Christianity? Many reformed Christians are adopting a form of Black Liberation Theology, a theology that borrows from James Cone and John Calvin, Martin Luther King Jr. and Martin Luther, a theology called Woke Christianity.
Woke Christianity is an attempt to reconcile Christianity with Black Lives Matter. It is a theology developed from Calvinism with an awareness for social justice. It makes liberation from perceived racial injustice a central message of the gospel. It suggests that a gospel that doesn’t address racial injustice is an unbalanced gospel. Woke Christianity is essentially a Calvinistic social gospel.
Unlike Black Liberation Theology, however, Woke Christianity maintains an otherwise orthodox theology. Black Liberation Theology rejects the inspiration and infallibility of scripture, Woke Christianity does not. Woke Christianity affirms the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, Black Liberation Theology does not. Black Liberation Theology suggests that Black people are uniquely favored by God, Woke Christianity does not. Woke Christianity rejects Malcolm X’s position that White people are White devils and inherently racist, Black Liberation Theology does not.
However, Woke Christianity embraces several concerning elements of Black Liberation Theology. For instance, Woke Christianity does not entirely reject James Cone’s position that Black people are in some ways, morally superior to White people. Woke Christianity subscribes to the ‘prejudice plus power’ definition of racism, suggesting that Black people cannot be racists.
Like Black Liberation Theology, Woke Christianity accepts W. E. B. Du Bois’ concept of double consciousness, a concept that teaches that Black people have an internal struggle between their perception of self in light of how others perceive them in a society that oppresses Black people. Therefore, Woke Christianity attempts to unify this double consciousness by identifying what it means to be Black and reformed, Woke and Christian. Too often, however, this concept leads Woke Christians into elevating culture over scripture.
Woke Christianity suggests that the culture is more enlightened on justice than scripture is. In fact, by definition, Woke Christianity is a type of Gnosticism, as it suggests that some Christians have become enlightened to a central message of the gospel that average Christians, particularly Black Christians aren’t privy to.
So, the message is clear: Black Christians who aren’t Woke are sleeping on the truth of Black liberation and racial justice. For that unpardonable sin against their skin, they stand condemned to a sunken place, a purgatory ghetto fit for coons and uncle toms. (Sorry, I got that from a black writer who was commenting on this and those are his words, not mine.)
If you genuinely believe that America is oppressing Black people today, it doesn’t change anything: Black Liberation Theology is still heresy, Woke Christianity is still harmful. This is because the gospel isn’t about liberation from oppression. Social justice isn’t a gospel-issue. Racial justice isn’t a central message of the gospel. And any theology that says otherwise is ashamed of the gospel.
The gospel doesn’t have political implications, not yet, anyway—not until Jesus returns to establish his throne in the New Jerusalem. Until then, Jesus’ kingdom is not from this world, if it were, his angels would fight to prevent every injustice in this world, including Jesus’ crucifixion. But for now, Jesus’ kingdom is not from this world.
The gospel doesn’t have political implications, not yet. But it has practical implications for us right now. The central message of the gospel is that Jesus Christ suffered death on the cross, and bearing our sins, he resurrected for our justification, so that if we would trust in him, we would be declared righteous by God, saved from condemnation, and sanctified for good works.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation from sin and liberation from hostility. And when we believe the gospel, we can obey God’s word, including its command that God’s people should hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the courts.
The gospel seems too foolish for an enlightened and Woke world. It seems too weak for Black power and Black Liberation. But we should not ashamed of the gospel. The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Soli Deo Gloria!