One of our great problems in the church today is that we have forgotten some of the basics when it comes to giving an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15). Unbelievers, created as they are in the image of God, have a deep desire to be rational and human, and yet unbelief is fundamentally and profoundly an irrational project. You cannot simultaneously be a creature fashioned in the image of God, with inherent dignity, and also the end product of so many millennia of mindless and blind evolution. This is a central part of the reason why unbelievers oscillate between such stark contraries the way they do. What they are is at war with what they claim they are.
The fact that we live in a generation that has apparently gone mad all together does not negate or erase this truth, but rather throws it in high relief. The current woke spasm is actually an irrational fusion of radical relativism, on the one hand, and inflamed levels of moralistic indignation on the other. And so it is that Christians are lectured for believing that there is such a thing as objective morality, and it turns out that we are quite immoral for believing this.
The whole thing reminds me of George Carlin’s old joke about coming from a really rough neighborhood. How rough was it? His neighborhood was so rough that the Unitarians burned a question mark on his lawn.
Radical Accusation in a World Without Guilt
On the one hand, there are supposed to be no absolute standards overarching all of us. On the other hand, if you are a cis-hetero white guy, you are in possession of a profound guilt that never ends. You stand accused and condemned, and don’t you dare try to wiggle out of it. Try to wrap your head around this message. There are no such things as the Ten Commandments, and yet you have to go to Hell anyway.
Slavery. Jim Crow. The legacy of slavery. Oppression. Micro-aggressions all day long. Colonialism. The patriarchy. Rape. White supremacy. Euro-centrism. Epistemic violence. Red-lining. The male gaze. Totalizing metanarratives. Shingles. Hives. Lactose intolerance.
But all of these so-called crimes should be tied up in a tight little bundle, handed back to our relativistic accuser, and then this simple question should be posed to him. Why should I care?
Given the ethical relativism that permeates this whole inane project, where is all this righteous indignation coming from? So we are accused of benefiting from an oppressive cabal of white supremacists, and way too many conservative Christians try to deny that this is what they are doing. And that denial can be true enough and all, but that is not how this foolishness needs to be answered. It needs to be answered with why should I care?
Assuming a Christian universe, wicked oppression does really matter because God will judge it, along with all other sins, at the last day. But in the cosmos that this critical whiner says we live in, there is absolutely no reason for condemning any of it. It just is. The Middle Passage was horrendous, and so the natural question should be “horrendous by what standard?”
What we are dealing with is towering rage for no particular reason. If morality is absolute, then there is a God, and we will all answer to Him. If there is not a God, then the deconstruction of all our customs, our morality, and our mores can proceed apace, and the perpetually aggrieved need to told to put a sock in it. There is no objective morality, and yet you want me to feel bad about something you call “oppression?” Poor baby.
That is like asking me to feel bad because the crystals in Saturn’s rings are bumping into each other. That is like asking me to feel bad because some white bacteria is getting more nutrition that the darker bacteria is, and it is heart-rending when we listen to the wronged bacteria bleat.
It is like trying to get the United Nations to condemn the genocide because some ten-year-old boys found a huge ant hill and poured a gallon of gasoline on it.
And here is where the oscillation becomes quite visible. On the one hand, Critical Theory has torn everything down, deconstructed everything, interrogated all the norms, and busted all the wealthy white guys running the show. Got that? Western Civ in shambles. And then, the accuser turns on you and tries to get you to act as though all the ethical truisms you learned in your Southern Baptist Sunday School when you were a kid are somehow (and quite mysteriously) still true.
But according to Critical Theorists, for us to claim there is an objective moral standard that over-arches the entire human race, placing obligations on us all, is the whitest thing that ever was. They have deconstructed all of that. But then they still expect you to have some residue of it left in your white little heart so that they can guilt you on the basis of it. That is what they are appealing to when they expect you to feel bad about somebody oppressing somebody. But why on earth should I care about any of that? Why? Who says?
And here is where their whole shambolic epistemology staggers off the sidewalk and lies down in the gutter.
If conservative white Christians today are supposed to feel guilty, guilty, guilty over what their white ancestors did back in the day, then this means that objective morality does exist and Critical Theory is false. And that means we must seek out the true nature and extent of this objective morality, and conform ourselves to that. And because such a morality is an expression of the nature and character of God, as revealed in Scripture and embedded in the nature of things, it applies equally to whites, blacks and browns. It is just as bad for a black man to be full of rage as it is for a white man to be. It is just as bad for a white man to vote for Joe Biden as for a black man to do it.
And it is evil (not to mention incoherent) to propound an ethical system that blames one group of people for things their ancestors did three centuries ago while simultaneously exonerating another group of people for appalling things they are personally doing right this minute. And to really frost the tips of this bizarre hairdo, suppose you do this blaming and exonerating on the basis of holding up some color swatches you got from Sherwin Williams next to the two groups. But, oh well. That’s the kind of intellectual pudding you get when you derive your moral indignation cues from the Frankfurt School and the Sociology Department of Columbia University.
But now go the other way. If the relativism of Critical Theory is true, then that means there is no such thing as objective morality. At all. And if there is no such thing as objective morality, then why should I feel bad if some of my ancestors did not conform to it?
Suppose an advocate of Critical Race Theory comes up to me and shouts in my face that I had an ancestor who owned a plantation, and that he owned 200 slaves, that he occasionally had some of them whipped, and that my family is still benefiting from that profanation. Down to this day, we are still profiting from it. This is a hypothetical illustration, and is not actually the case. Please don’t hurt me.
So what should my response to this accusation be? It should be some kind of variation on so? The only question concerning this ancestor—since ethics are relative—is whether or not he got away with it. And because he died a wealthy old man ten years before the War, it appears that he did get away. Imagine there’s no Heaven, its so easy if you try.
Their Magic Balcony
These advocates of Theory—absolutely all of them, the men, the women, and the light brown eunuchs—have a marvelous tendency to exempt themselves from all their universal observations, criticisms and condemnations. They have this magic balcony from which they look down on every account of the world given by all the representatives of all the other worldviews. From this balcony, they look down on all of us toiling schlubs, and from that vantage they can see that everybody has a bald spot on the tops of their heads. Every mother’s son of us.
And then they look at one another with sly grins. They preen. They do a little Michael Jackson dance move, holding their respective crotches. They snap their suspenders. They don’t have a bald spot on the tops of their heads. No, sir.
But I have questions. This balcony of theirs, up there in the sky, what is it bolted to? And couldn’t they have raised the balcony a little higher, say by a mere fifteen feet, so that they could see the tops of their own heads? Would have saved us all a lot of trouble.
Ululo Ergo Sum
If we were to judge by recent headlines, these philosophasters and sophists who are running this particular con game appear to be getting away with it. And if the universe actually were the kind of place they claim, then there would be no problem with that—because there would be no such thing as sophistry, or sophists, for that matter.
But the universe is not like that, and God is going to judge all the thoughts and intents of all our hearts. And when that day arrives, when the sky is rolled up like a scroll, all our lame rationalizations are going to blow away like smoke in a gale
In the meantime, all of this is a scramble for identity and meaning, and it is reflective of a desperate father hunger. The kids in the streets causing all this mayhem have no idea who they are. They want to belong to something, they want to mean something, and pain and rage provide a temporary respite from their lives of meaningless emptiness. “I howl, therefore I am.”
The need of the hour is for Christians to stop catering to this nonsense. We must learn to respond with pure law and hot gospel. A believing articulation of pure law, straight from Mount Sinai, is our only alternative to the continued ministrations of these rage merchants. All they have for us is sheer law, hypocritical law, dirty law, degenerate law, and if we go that way, the only thing it equips us to do is to point a bony finger at others, screaming thou shalt not, as we go over the lip of the Abyss and into the Void.
So real guilt is not white, black or brown, but rather Adamic. Real guilt is not male or female. Our racial guilt really is the problem, but there is only one guilty race, and that would be Adam’s race. That is true racial guilt for you. God in His wisdom determined to liberate us from our racial guilt by liberating us from our race. He sent a new Adam, a new way of being human, in Jesus Christ. Christ took the guilt of His people, all the sin they had accumulated in their old way of being human, gathered it to Himself, and sank into the grave.
When He came back from the dead, He did not bring any of that sin with Him, which is what enables us to walk in newness of life. And in this era, during this time of confusion, an essential part of walking in newness of life is to take a good hard look at Critical Theory . . . and to be critical of it.