Ideas Have Consequences

Bonus Episode-Stand: Christianity vs. Critical Theory

September 14, 2023 Disciple Nations Alliance
Ideas Have Consequences
Bonus Episode-Stand: Christianity vs. Critical Theory
Show Notes Transcript

Let's dissect the entanglement of Marxism, Critical Theory, and the biblical worldview. For this bonus discussion, we want to explain what this new social justice movement has to do with our commission to disciple the nations.  We delve into how the worldview ideas in this movement contrast with the biblical understanding of power, humanity, and forgiveness and how each of us can continue to hold these biblical definitions and, in so doing, disciple our nations. 



Luke Allen:

Hi friends, welcome back to. Ideas have Consequences. This is a bonus episode to our discussion that we just had with Pastor John Benzinger. That episode just came out and this is just a debrief discussion of that. So if you haven't listened to that episode yet, we would highly recommend that you go back and listen to that. It's a great discussion. I learned a bunch. I know we all enjoyed it and during this time we just wanted to debrief about.

Luke Allen:

Just sometimes, with these episodes and these guests that come on, the topics that we talk about can seem somewhat disconnected from our overall movement and our overall mission here at the Disciple Nations Alliance. But we invite these guests on. We talk about these ideas. Ideas have consequences because every world, the biblical world view, applies to everything. So we just wanted to take a little bit of time to unpack the episode for those of you who have listened to it, and discuss the connection between what we're talking about with John Benzinger, with critical race theory, the new social justice movement, marxism, so forth, and what that has to do with the biblical world view. So what did you guys think? What were some of your first takeaways from the discussion? What were your highlights from that?

Dwight Vogt:

John is passionate. Yeah, no, my internet connection was bad so I didn't say anything, but I was just fascinated to listen to him and to understand how much he has thought, and thought so deeply, in terms of the gospel and its application, and how it connects, or doesn't connect, to CRT theory. It's fascinating.

Scott Allen:

Yeah, no, I thought the same thing, that I thought John did a good job of framing the discussion of critical race theory more broadly within this same basic set of ideas that have been around now for over 200 years, that go back to Karl Marx and the people that led up to his way of thinking, his ideology, and that we are still wrestling with these really profoundly destructive ideas, but kind of in a new way.

Scott Allen:

In a sense, the first iteration of Marxist ideology, that those ideas that had such horrible consequences for nations around the world, that kind of spent itself and played itself out with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. But then there was a reboot in the 1950s. Social theorists, the Frankfurt School and other social theorists, Antonio Gramsci they essentially kind of reconfigured Marxism to account for some of the weaknesses of the first version 1.0, if you will, that is still playing out today. In fact, in some ways isn't just playing out, it's really in some ways at a peak right now and that's why we feel like we're in such revolutionary times and, as John said, it's because we really are. I mean, we're really in the midst of a social cultural revolution in the West and in countries around the world that are influenced by these ideas. So I thought he did a really nice job of explaining that broader picture.

Dwight Vogt:

Scott, why don't you help us out what's the CRT worldview in a nutshell?

Scott Allen:

Yeah, in a nutshell, it's rooted in atheism. So, again, the people that were the kind of the creative originators of these ideas people like Karl Marx, of course, and others were what I would call hard atheists, you know, but they weren't nihilists in the sense that they had no hope. There was a hope, they wanted to create a kind of a utopian heaven on earth, but in their worldview there is no God, there is no ultimate truth, objective truth. Everything devolves into power. So in their worldview, power is really fundamental, and in their worldview, power is always negative. And this just to contrast that with the biblical worldview. The biblical worldview also has a lot to say about power and authority. All of it resides with God, you know, but it's not, you know, in a fallen world, power is corrupted and is used negatively, but it's not uniformly negative by any means, because God is powerful and he's good, and Jesus brings that goodness and power together. And so there's that.

Scott Allen:

I think another key piece of this ideology is just the way it views human beings. We're not image bearers of God, we're actually, in this worldview, we're socially determined creatures, meaning that the groups that we belong to and these would be largely, at least for this current iteration, groups based on things like skin color, sex, male, female or gender. You know gender expression. So the you know any of those groups really define you. Those things define you. Again, to contrast that with the biblical worldview, we would say that, you know, groups are communities, if you will. They do influence us, no question about it. And God and God made us for groups and communities. We're a part, we're social beings, so we agree with that. But they don't, those groups don't define us, right? Ultimately, we're defined as image bearers of God. You know that. That's ultimately what defines us as unique individuals that are created by God in his image. We're shaped by groups. We're not defined by them.

Scott Allen:

And then you know, the last and the key piece for this ideology is that it's going to pit all of these groups against one another. It's going to make a claim that you know that all of these groups can be kind of divided into two categories oppressors and oppressed. And the oppressors have worked to kind of jigger society and the systems of society in such a way that they are advantaged at the expense of people that are oppressed, the victims of oppression. There's some truth to there again, right? You know, biblically, I think, what this does, is it just? It carries that to you know. It carries that to some kind of you know extreme that becomes unreal, you know. So, for example, what do I mean by that? So if you're skin color is brown or black, you are oppressed, kind of, regardless of whatever your circumstances in life are. You could be Barack Obama's children and have gone to the best prep schools and Ivy League schools, and yet you're still going to be considered oppressed because of things like skin color.

Scott Allen:

So the Bible would say, yeah, victimization and oppression is real. It doesn't have anything to do with those categories. It has to do with actual circumstances that you've faced. For example, I always use the example of the parable of the good Samaritan. The man who was beaten up and left to die on the side of the road was a victim. Okay, not because of skin color or gender or anything like that, but because of the fact that he was beaten up and left to die. So we need to be concerned about these issues, but not in the way that they're defined with this ideology. It's a revolutionary ideology in that it wants to create a kind of utopian heaven on earth, and it does that by tearing down what it views as oppressive structures in order to kind of usher in this utopian future or with a utopian society. And that's what makes this ideology so destructive and so deadly. There's never been a set of ideas more deadly than these Marxist rooted ideas Never. I mean Nazism isn't even doesn't even come close to the death and the destruction wrought by these ideas.

Scott Allen:

Oh, just the body count. I mean just how many people have been imprisoned and killed around the world in places like the USSR and China and North Korea. It far surpasses what happened. I mean, I'm not minimizing what happened in World War II and the concentration camps, but and I just say all that because ideas have consequences and these are really deadly ideas, really destructive ideas. They destroy relationships, they divide and they ultimately, will you know, lead to violence and as John said in this, so anyways, that's, that's it in a nutshell. It's these are. These are ideas that we should all be familiar with.

Scott Allen:

But if most people are like myself, I kind of discredited these ideas after the 80s. I kind of thought, after it looked like the wall had fallen down Berlin, I thought they'd played themselves out, it wasn't relevant, except on the margins and places like Venezuela or Cuba. And what I didn't see Intel recently was that it was kind of like a two part movie and you know we were at the end of the part one. But now this whole you know kind of part two comes into play and we're having to deal with kind of the resurrection of the evil villain all over again in a different form.

Luke Allen:

So yeah, I mean so. We're the Disciple Nations Alliance. What does Marxism have to do with our call and our Greek mission to go and make disciples of all nations?

Scott Allen:

Yeah, well, I mean, I think ultimately and I want to hear your thoughts on this too, dwight but ultimately our call, our mission as Christians is to bring you know. It's encapsulated in that prayer. You know the Lord's prayer. You know your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We're to bring the rule and the rain in the you know, here on earth as it exists in heaven, not in our own strength or our own power. Through the power of God and through the power of His Holy Spirit, we're to see positive change. We're to work for that, and that comes through the truth, through living out the truth in not just our personal lives or our spiritual lives, but in every area. Part of what that means is that you have to identify and you have to counter these really powerful lies that are so destructive at any given time. That's part of what it means.

Scott Allen:

To live out the truth is to speak truthfully and kind of prophetically against whatever ideology happens to be out there at any given time that's destroying people and destroying lives. So you know, our motive in this is to see nations prosper and flourish, recognizing, of course, that none of this is going to be completed in any kind of fulfilled way until Jesus comes back again. But until then, we have our work to do and I think part of that work is, yeah, this is speaking out against these false and deadly ideologies. We talk about it in our core teaching in a session called the ABCs of culture. So if you're a part of the DNA, you're new to the DNA. I would encourage you to go to our Coremdeo basics course and you can pay special attention to the ABCs of culture, where we talk about demonic or satanic lies and how those are used to destroy Dwight, what are your thoughts on that?

Dwight Vogt:

Yeah, as I was listening to John, I kept thinking why is Satan Cause I? My sense is that that this movement is growing. You use the word peak, but I think it continues to gain strength and power. And and I think of this in terms of our audience being outside the U?

Dwight Vogt:

S and and the impact of CRT, like in Chile or in Uruguay or in Zambia even and I don't know the expression of it there, but it seems like there's a movement to push it everywhere. And then I asked myself why? Why is Satan so keen on this? What is it in his agenda? Cause we struggle not against flesh and blood. Ultimately, we struggle against these principalities and powers in high places. We struggle against the source of our adversary himself. Cause, you know Satan. I'm thinking what, what's, what's he got, what, what's this, what's this do for him?

Dwight Vogt:

And the first thought I came to was well, it's anti God you know it's it, it, um, you know it denies Christ, it's anti Christ, but also it wants to replace God. When I think of China, when I think of Russia, when I think of any totalitarian regime that wants control over the entire population, over every individual, it's to replace God. We will be your provider, we will be your knowledge. We know, we know all the medical stuff. Just trust us and basically, you get a new sovereign. You're no longer under God, you're under your state, you're under the state or whatever controlling government you have and I think that's the other one you alluded to, scott which, just it creates division, which creates conflict, which creates bloodshed.

Scott Allen:

Yeah, there's there's nothing in the ideology that that there's no ground at all for unity. There's not unity between people Because we're not defined as human beings with something that we have in common. In that respect, we're defined by our groups. I I always go back to this, um, this image in my mind is there was uh, this is several years ago now, but there was this group of students that confronted a professor at Yale university and they had surrounded him and were threatening him, using you know the most vile language and screaming at this professor.

Scott Allen:

And at one point in that exchange, um, you know the uh, the professor, who was trying to be quite reasonable and try to understand, and he was trying to kind of diffuse the situation. You know, he said I want to talk about what we have in common. He was trying to build commonality and common bridge with these folks, these young students, and a black student got right up in his face in a really threatening way and he says, he said, um, your experience and my experience will never connect. And those words really hit me. I thought, because he's black and the professor was white, there there's nothing that can connect them, there's nothing that they have in common.

Scott Allen:

And I thought if that's what you believe about human nature, let's say, then all you're going to be is divided. You can't even talk with each other, you know, because you just can't relate to each other. You have completely different experiences and I thought that kind of captured a real essence of this ideology. Whereas and that's so deadly right I mean, if you just get in these camps that are isolated and then you begin to kind of question the other side and say you've gained the system at my expense, right, all that's going wrong with me and my life and my group, it's because of you, right? These are. Once you start thinking that way, you're going to end in not only conflict but quite likely bloodshed, you know.

Dwight Vogt:

And we know that because it has.

Scott Allen:

I mean we've seen this play out in the world.

Dwight Vogt:

Right, Go ahead yeah, yeah, I was watching a documentary last week on Northern Ireland and that's exactly what happened between the Protestants and Catholics. They moved way beyond. You're a human and I'm a human too. I hate you. There's no way we have anything in common. And eventually, anger could lead to violence. That's right.

Scott Allen:

And there's no basis for forgiveness either, you know you've harmed me, I need to forgive you.

Scott Allen:

There's no. You know, forgiveness is such a biblical idea. It's so deeply biblical because God himself, right, sends his own son not to condemn us, but to forgive us and pay the price for our sins on the cross, and then we're commanded right to forgive others. And it's such a deeply biblical idea. But this ideology has none of that exists. In this ideology there is no forgiveness, it's just retribution. It's just I'm going to get you back, you're going to pay you know, that's all there is.

Dwight Vogt:

There's no room for the cross.

Scott Allen:

That's right.

Dwight Vogt:

I think I thought the other. The third thing that comes comes to mind why is Satan so into this CRT worldview and you mentioned this in the podcast at one point and that's because it undermines, I think, the essence of what it means to be human, which is I am a unique individual. Call to be fruitful, call to have dominion, call to be creative, call to express myself in this world and actually exchange fruitfulness with you. I produce, you produce, we create. And if you look at societies that are oppressive, that gets shut down. You dress the same, you work the same, you don't choose your career, the government chooses your career for you, all of that gets suppressed. So in your book, you talk about this idea of freedom and authority.

Dwight Vogt:

Well, freedom, ultimately, is the freedom to be you and to say what you think and to do what you're called to do and to express your gifts that God has given you. That just gets. Crt has no room for that.

Scott Allen:

No, no room. No, I love what our mutual friend, elizabeth Human says about the promise of every child, which is the promise of every human being. Right, they're born with a purpose and a destiny and a place in God's story. In other words, god uses people to fulfill his plans in history. This incredible power and potential that we have as children of God, as image bearers of God. And, yeah, this ideology strips all of that away and it doesn't see you as shaping history, but you're a victim of it, right, you're a victim of what other people have done, and so you have very little agency, right, very little ability to change things, other than figure out a way of getting back at that group that's supposedly harmed you and tearing them down.

Dwight Vogt:

I mean, that's kind of like your agency is limited to violence.

Scott Allen:

That's right.

Scott Allen:

And tearing down or deconstructing using their own language, their own language, is deconstructing or dismantling or this and that, right exactly. And I you know why. Why? What's the appeal of all this, dwight? And I think that for me the answer is if there is no God, there is no hope, right? And people that have no belief in God, they have no hope other than the hope that they themselves can make a better future or that the best and the brightest of them can somehow make a better future. And you know, you end up with these kind of human utopian schemes, always, right, if there is no God. You know we have to kind of figure this out on our own. And this just happens to be, you know, the kind of main set of ideas in the West for how we're going to fix this stuff. You know the fix, the world we're going to. We're going to usher in a better world by tearing down all these oppressive groups and by controlling people. Essentially, you know so.

Dwight Vogt:

Yeah, and my response to that was the you know, our, not my ancestors, because they didn't come that early in the US, but but the founders of the US said we want to create a utopian society as well. But it was. I will do it with my hands. I will do it under my fig tree, you know. I will build my house, whereas the CRT is more like no. You join a movement and that movement will will create the environment that will work for you.

Scott Allen:

So that's, right.

Dwight Vogt:

It's back to the state taking care of you, the state creating the utopia.

Scott Allen:

Yes, and those ideas were all very much present from the very beginning in Marxism. Karl Marx himself right the state is going to be our savior, not the individual. You know, the individual is just merely a part of this larger group called the state. And and it was revolutionary I mean, marx was a revolution in order for this perfect society to to come into play, the old society, the thing that went before, had to be torn down, root and branch, and that's what we're seeing now. The old has to be torn down, and that old in the West has a lot of Christian in it.

Scott Allen:

And this is the, this is the hostility to, to Christian ideas, right, that this ideology has it's. It is anti Christ. I like what you said, dwight. I mean, it is anti Christian, it's anti Christ. So then the question is just you know, why does this matter to us as Christians? You know, well, I think it. If you feel like your theology says, hey, it doesn't matter because things, you know, things are going to get worse and things are going to get more demonic and get destroyed and then we go to heaven, well then it probably doesn't matter to you. But that's not what we believe. You know, we believe that. I mean, yeah, things are going to get worse.

Scott Allen:

I would say that we use that parable of the wheat and the weeds a lot to describe kind of what we see coming up. But the weed is also growing and that's the. That's the truth and the goodness and the beauty of the kingdom of God. We need to be focused on that in our generation, our nation, in the nations around the world. We need to combat these things. I mean, ultimately, we leave it in God's hands. He's the one that's going to take out the weeds at the end and burn them. But but you know, we should be focused on the wheat and whatever. You know, weeds are preventing that wheat from growing and flourishing. We need to be concerned about Exactly.

Scott Allen:

Well, I think yeah, I think this will be. I think, you know, I hope people will really benefit from what Pastor John says. He's quite passionate. I think he sees things quite clearly and I think many people will probably struggle with just how you know how far he thinks we are. But I would encourage everyone to listen carefully and just you know kind of weigh and measure. You know his perspective.

Luke Allen:

So well, I appreciate the clarification. That was one of my takeaways is wow. He's passionate, like you know. It gets you a little nervous.

Luke Allen:

But then when you do what you guys are just doing and breaking it down is like these, this idea, marx's idea, the worst idea ever proposed to humanity.

Luke Allen:

It's destructive and it's not only, it's not only making us tribalistic, but when you, when you lose, when you become tribalistic in a pursuit of fairness, as you lose all you know, everything that's good that makes us humans, you know you lose beauty right away. If it's all about fairness, you don't have the diversity to go and pursue beauty and create new things like that. You lose goodness because all the goodness that you can do other people think is just because you're just trying to make amends for the other groups that maybe are oppressed or whatnot, and you obviously lose truth. That goes out the door right away. So when you get down to the roots of it, you know there's always worldviews vying for power, vying for acceptance, and our call to go and make disciples of nations is to go and promote a biblical worldview and we have to know that sometimes that's going to look offensive, sometimes that's going to look defensive, but we just need to do faithfully.

Scott Allen:

That's right.

Luke Allen:

Amen and yeah. On that note, we're going to wrap it up there. Thanks again for listening to the episode with John Benziger and thanks for listening to this. This little summary discussion here on ideas have consequences. We'll see you next week.