Last week, in my post on David and Bathsheba, I used an illustration to mark the difference between a Christian view of the antithesis, and a critical theory version of the antithesis—the one that is plaguing us all now.
As that illustration promises to be more than a little helpful to all of you guys—as I see it—I want to develop that idea a bit more. And because you have indulged me thus far, I think it only right that you continue reading. Newton’s first law, and all that.
The Illustration Again
The illustration contrasted the biblical division of righteousness and unrighteousness, which I represented with a vertical line, and the critical theory division of the two categories, which is defined by a horizontal line or lines.
The former means that the line between righteousness and unrighteousness runs from the top of every human society or organization to the very bottom of it, from the palaces to the slums, from the throne to the gutters. There is no privileged class of people as a class that is exempt from the law of God as the definition of righteousness. This is why the line has to be vertical—the law of God applies to all. As Solzhenitsyn put it: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.” And it is a vertical line, mark that.
But critical theorists—let’s call them commies for short—want the basic ethical division to separate classes of people as classes. One is always the oppressor class, and the other is always the oppressed. This line is drawn horizontally through human societies and, depending on what we are complaining about this time, it can be a division between rich and poor, male and female, white and non-white, straight and alphabetty, and so on. If you hit the intersectional jackpot, you can have multiple horizontal lines working on your behalf, and find yourself a black, poverty-stricken lesbian, which means you scored a victim-games hat trick.
By the same token, you might discover to your chagrin that no matter how many lottery tickets you buy at the woke 7-11, you always come up white, male, and heterosexual. And Scottish. In short, a white orc.
A Summary Evaluation
In the light of God’s Word, the difference between the two lines is no trifle. It is the difference between Christ and antichrist, good and evil, order and chaos, light and darkness, and a long line of other colliding ethical realities. The so-called ethical demands of critical theory are fueled by a toxic mix of crackling envy, aching lusts, and yearning conceits. These commandments of theirs did not come down to us from a fiery Sinai, but rather up from a clammy Tartarus. It was no Sermon on the Mount that brought us these moral imperatives they are always haranguing us with, but rather they have the empty authority of a chthonic and ghostly wailing from that deep and jagged chasm over there.
Now if you wouldn’t want to go down there, why on earth would you want to receive your moral instruction from there? But we live in a time when professed evangelicals are not only heaping up teachers who happen to tickle their ears for them on relatively minor issues, they have now gone way deeper (Rev. 2:24), and insist that their instructors be pandering authorities, irrational wise men, malicious sages, and chaogenous advisers.
Or, as my father would have put it, all of this condemnation and accusation jive—all of it—is straight from the Pit.
Those evangelical and Reformed teachers—woke, quasi-woke, and soft on woke—who are playing footsie with all this stuff are messing around with damnation, both for them and those foolish enough to listen to them. They are in danger of shipwrecking their faith (1 Tim. 1:19). In love with this present world, they are forsaking the apostolic way (2 Tim. 4:10). They are abandoning the faith, and following the teachings of demons, malevolent and deceptive spirits (1 Tim. 4:1). They believed for a bit, but when trouble arose they promptly fell away (Luke 8:13). They performed really well for a time, but one day the sow was in reflective mood and heard the mire calling (2 Pet. 2:20-22). They did not want to abide in Christ, and chose instead the attractions of being a withered branch (John 15:6). They saw the career possibilities in dog-piling onto the already heaped-up teachers, and so turned away from the truth to myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4). And when the blind lead the blind, they fall into a high profile platform and then, bound hand and foot, they are thrown into the conference circuit.
Incidentally, for those wondering how this kind of apostasy—and it is apostasy—can be consistent with a robust and Reformed view of the immutability—and it is immutable—of God’s decretal election, there is more on that here.
But back to our theme, born a half generation too late, these men are not taking to heart what Dylan could have taught them, which is that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.
So then, to the law and to the testimony (Is. 8:20) . . .
The Antithesis Itself
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:15 (KV)
There are three things we need to remember about this. The first is that God in His mercy, right after our first parents had sold ourselves into slavery to the devil, determined that our bondage there would be an unhappy one. There would be constant antipathy between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. There would be enmity, hostility. This is the antithesis, and it is the key to understanding all of human history. There would always be good guys and bad guys, the righteous side and the unrighteous side, white hats and black hats, the city of God and the city of man. That’s the first thing.
But the second thing to remember is that this hostility would be occurring in a broken and fallen world. This means that the clear fact of an antithesis would itself be subject to misunderstanding, misrepresentation, corruption, and so forth. One of the things we misunderstand is the nature of our misunderstandings.
And third, this means that the ineradicable antithesis has to be dealt with somehow. It cannot be serenely ignored by anyone. It must be factored in. Like gravity, it affects everything. And the various responses boil down to two. The first, that of operating by faith biblically in the light of this antithesis, will be dealt with below.
The second is the option of misplacing the antithesis.
Because God has spoken, there must be a line separating the righteous from the unrighteous. Misplacing the antithesis reassigns the line of demarcation, placing it between groups other than the seed of the woman and the seed of serpent. In the biblical world view, the seed of the woman are characterized by faith, and the seed of the serpent are characterized by idolatrous unbelief. The seed of the woman is Christ; the seed of the woman are all those who have faith in Him. The seed of the serpent are all those who embrace their lost estate through continued unbelief, and the wicked works that follow.
Misplacing the antithesis wants the foundational division to be separate races, or classes, or sexes, or tribes, or political factions, with “the wicked” being the other group, and the righteous being your own. Red-pilled guys in red hats can play this game also, and many do. More on this in a bit. If I had been born in another time, I would have said more on this anon.
Some have tried to deny the antithesis altogether, but these folks are immediately confronted with the problem of what to do with those who affirm it. When you stand up and loudly proclaim, “there are no binaries of opinion,” how do you handle the heckler who shouts, “yes, there are!”? The heckler doesn’t need to have a good argument. The mere fact that he is heckling is a good argument—because there he is, being both binary and opinionated. This is why the people who flat out deny the antithesis wind up having to trundle people off to reeducation camps, so as to shut them up. This is why, at the end of the day, denying the antithesis is just a variation on misplacing the antithesis. The basic division for them now is the unified voice of the people, on the one hand, and the unity-deniers, who are currently learning to cope with the Siberian winters.
The Vertical Line
One of the things I love about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is how true to this principle it is. On the one hand, there is a stark difference between the good guys and the bad guys. I mean, orcs are just plain bad. Which side represents the good guys is not hard to figure out. Correction—which side represents the good guys is not hard for the reader to figure out. Who struggles with it? Well, Saruman. And Denethor. And Boromir. They were with the good guys until the lines got blurry for them.
And others, for whom the issue never got genuinely blurry, were nevertheless severely tested. Who was tested by the ring of power, and passed the test? Well, Gandalf, and Faramir, and Elrond, and Sam, and Galadriel, and so on. The line is a vertical line, and it passed through every heart.
Another example of this can be found a little closer to home. In the Ashtown books, the Order of Brendan is the order that is entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining order in the world. And yet—compromise, corruption, mission drift, treachery—all were possible within the Order.
The Lord Himself chose the twelve, and one of them a devil. Peter denied the Lord in the hour of darkness. Gehazi, a servant of a godly prophet was struck with leprosy for his lying and greed. Demas ditched the apostle Paul out of love for the world. Joab was a dishonorable man serving David’s honorable cause, and Abner was an honorable man serving a dishonorable cause. Speaking of David, he was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he took the wife of one of his faithful warriors, and then had that warrior killed. Solomon loved the Lord, and yet sacrificed in the high places, and took strange women for wives. The Ephesians hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, and yet had fallen from their first love.
The line is a vertical one, and so it is not enough simply to be “on the right side.” There is a right side, visible to the world, and it really is the right side. But there is also a right and wrong way of being on the right side, visible only to God. So walk with Him, confess your sins, and surrender the outcome of everything to Him.
This structure is deeply offensive to those who want righteousness to be defined with horizontal lines. According to the scriptural metric, the individuals contained within various oppressed classes still have individual moral responsibility, and this hurts more than a few feelings. Those who are trying to impose horizontal-lineism are trying to approximate their own version of imputed righteousness, their own version of justification. But the Christian confesses that moral responsibility never goes away. The biblical doctrine of justification brings moral responsibility—faith without works is dead—but these secular forms of justification through class membership need to keep things simplistic. And so the biblical assessment of all this is deeply offensive. That is because we know that women can sin. Women can sin against men. POCs can sin. They can sin against whites. Victims can sin. Ukrainians can sin. Poor people can sin, and they can sin against rich people. The line is vertical, and runs through every human heart.
The Horizontal Line
Believers think the way outlined above because they heed the Word of God. They know that the new birth is everything. A true Jew is one who is one inwardly (Rom. 2:28-29 ).
So to understand the drawing of horizontal lines, we can flip the statement found in Samuel around. While God looks on the heart, man looks on the outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:17). We cannot read the heart, and so if we want to run everybody’s life in line with the tenets of totalitolerance, we are going to have to do it based on what we can see, which is outward conformity, or outward characteristics.
We cannot tell if someone’s motives are true, but we can tell if that person is white. We can tell if they are male. We can tell if they are wealthy. “Well, men, I think we have found our villains.”
The grid supplied by critical theory (commies) is that human history is characterized by a horizontal antithesis. On the top is the oppressor class, and on the bottom we find the oppressed. What the revolution must do is everything it can to destabilize the patriarchy, the man, the establishment, the powers that be. It must take up the cause of the downtrodden, the victimized, the oppressed. All the moral energy they can summon up is devoted to that task. They are operating in terms of the antithesis, but it is an antithesis which they in their rebellion have misplaced.
Now ten minutes of reflection should reveal that the people who think this way need to have a hidden eschatology, waiting in the wings for them. In classical Marxism, it was explicit—a time would come when the state just withered away. With many others of revolutionary mind, it is a deep faith in the creative powers of chaotic revolution itself. If we only burn down the corruption, then a new and delightful order will arise, Phoenix-like, out of the ashes. If we just vent our white hot rage long enough, and with enough sustained purity of thought, then that new order will be ushered in—rainbows, fluffy clouds, puppy farts, and all.
This eschatological deus ex machina move is necessary because if we just overthrow the oppressor in Ordinary World, and replace him with new management, is it not obvious that this new management will be the new oppressor in very short order? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. There was a time when the new oligarchs were themselves poor and downtrodden, were they not? So there must needs be an eschatological convulsion that just fixes everything . . . but there is no God. Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try.
An Exhortation to the Red-Pilled
The drunken monkeyshines of our woke elites are admittedly enough to exasperate virtually anybody. Your sainted Aunt Millie, a mild and gracious woman whose most vexed expression was “heavens to Betsy,” had she lived to see all these days, would have been provoked into using language usually heard from machinist mates on tramp steamers, in the midst of a particularly bad day. And so I do acknowledge the weight of the provocations. I do understand what is driving some people to buy pressed velvet 6′ by 8′ pictures of Trump riding on an eagle, an American flag in his left hand, and an AK-47 in his right. But still . . .
When young white straight men are continually harangued for their whiteness, and their straightness, and their men-ness, and are constantly told that they are the cancer of the cosmos, and that the world would be a better place if they all just went and filled up a bucket and stuck their collective head in it . . . well, certain things tend to follow. One of the things that happens is that these young men get angry, and do not see that this is a trick. It is a trap. It is a stratagem, a subterfuge, an inveiglement, a ploy, a gambit. Don’t do it. It is a machination; it is a ambuscade.
Because they do not see the trap, they react in the other direction. Told that whiteness is a cancerous disease, they react into the just-as-silly idea that whiteness is somehow a virtue. But no. They are not being tricked into denying their whiteness. They are being maneuvered into adopting the structure of their way of understanding the antithesis. They are being tempted to push the vertical line over in order to make it horizontal. If the lines are horizontal, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day which side of that line you are standing on—the whole thing is fruitless and stupid. As Sartre once put it in a moment of lucidity, without an infinite reference point, every finite point is absurd.
They are like a third grader arguing with a bully from the fifth grade, whose constant refrain is that “all third graders are stupid.” Provoked by his bullying, they are tempted to maintain, by way of contrast, that all third graders are wise, sagacious, prudent, courageous, and virtuous. And at the end of the day, they are standing there with a vision for the antithesis that is just as rebellious, incoherent, and silly as that possessed by the people currently running this clown world.
I have far more in common with Nigerian Anglican women who love Christ than I do with white conservative American men who don’t. The line is vertical, always vertical. We are Christians.