It’s Time to Start Naming & Dividing From Woke Pastors

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Cities are being burned to the ground. Innocent people are being beaten to within an inch of their lives. Officers are being murdered and maimed while attempting to keep the peace. America is suffering from the most widespread race riots in the history of the country—if not the world. We’ve reached a critical point of extreme racial tension, and the evangelical Church has been woefully complicit—though not for the reasons you’ve been told. 

To understand the nature of our complicity as the Church, you must first understand the nature of the tension. 

Is it the tension of white people enslaving black people, forcing them into manual labor and sub-human service? Is it the tension of white people being allowed to vote for their representatives while black people are forced to live, apart from legal representation, with the consequences? Is it the tension of black people having fewer legal rights than white people, such that they are prevented from living their lives under full legal equality? Or is it the tension of black people having equal legal rights, but still living with the stigma from major American institutions that they are somehow inferior because of their skin color? 

No. Thank the Lord, all of that is in the past. What then is the tension?

It is the tension of pretending that all of that is not in the past. 

It is the tension of living in a world where black people have all the legal rights as white people (and then some!), and pretending that it’s no different from the world in which they had no legal rights at all. It is the tension of living in a world where every major American institution (from the Church, to the government, to the academy, to business, to the media, and even to Hollywood) bends over backwards to highlight the greatness and dignity of black people, and pretending that it’s no different than a world in which black people were universally scorned as sub-human by those same institutions. It is the tension of pretending that life for a black person in the America of 2020 is no different than in the America of 1620. 

It is the tension between reality and the narrative. 

A Disclaimer

Before I elaborate on what I mean, it is necessary to give a few disclaimers (in order to fend off the accusations which many will employ upon reading the last few paragraphs): I am not claiming that racism does not exist today. It does. I am not denying that widespread racism has existed in contemptible ways in this country’s history, or that our history of racism has had no lasting effects. It has, on both counts. I am not attempting to downplay the moral significance of actual racism (i.e., race-based partiality). It is a heinous sin against both God and man, and it deserves full and explicit righteous condemnation. I am not even denying the concept of systemic racism. I affirm that systemic racism—properly understood—is possible, and that it actually exists in America today. However, because I don’t twist the meaning of words, what I mean by systemic racism is not the same as what the Woke mean by it.1 That’s the sticky aspect of the woke lie: It seizes upon all these things I’ve affirmed about racism, and twists their meanings into something entirely different in order to give the impression that to deny Wokeism is to deny the above truths about racism. I am praying that as you read on, you will see that the two are quite different though. Even with all the above affirmed about racism, there is still a sharp tension between the woke narrative and the reality of the situation. 

The Woke Deception

We have a perfect example of this tension playing out in real time today: The killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent reaction. A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, held his knee to the neck of a black man, George Floyd, while Floyd was held down and surrounded by several other officers, posing no apparent threat. Inexplicably, Chauvin would not remove his knee in spite of repeated pleas from both Floyd and onlookers that he was going to kill Floyd. And Floyd soon died as a result. 

What is the narrative and what is the reality? The narrative is that Chauvin was motivated by racism. The reality is that we have no evidence to suggest such a motive (there is evidence that Chauvin and Floyd might have known each other, indicating this could have been personal; and there is also evidence that Chauvin may have a record of police brutality, indicating that he may just be a garden-variety scumbag, rather than a racist scumbag).

The narrative is that American culture and society is totally fine with white police officers arbitrarily killing black men. The reality is that every major American institution swiftly and categorically condemned the actions of Chauvin.

The narrative is that the justice system is inherently racist, and that justice is not being served (and likely will not be served) for George Floyd. The reality is that Chauvin was immediately reprimanded, fired, and then arrested and charged after necessary investigation.

The narrative is that this is “one more” example of a pattern of systemic racism throughout the country, wherein black men are being targeted and killed by police officers because of their skin color. The reality is that there is no evidence to indicate that black people are targeted for murder by the police because of their skin color.2 

At every step the narrative directly contradicts reality. 

And at every step the narrative artificially escalates racial tension and animosity. 

This narrative—this lie—is the driving cause behind the vast majority of racial tension in America. And the evangelical Church—to its shame—has worked with all its vainglorious and self-righteous might to strengthen and to spread that lie. 

How did such a twisted lie become so popular? It spread through the institutions by feeding off sympathy for past racial injustices, and by capitalizing on every apparent contemporary injustice—whether the incident was racially motivated or not, and whether the incident was even an injustice or not. The fancy academic word for the lie (since the academy is where such lies tend to gain a foothold) is Critical Race Theory, but you may know it more colloquially as “being woke.” 

Unfortunately, due to some fancy evasive maneuvers by a number of people in the evangelical Church over the last few years, many are under the impression that this lie of Critical Race Theory is exclusively an academic problem, reserved for ivory-tower pin-head intellectuals—and that it has nothing at all do with anything which we in the pews should worry our little heads about. 

But that’s a terrible mistake (and a potential lie, in itself). Anyone who knows how ideas function in society should know that you don’t have to explicitly ascribe to an ideology—let alone, to know what that ideology is called by those in academia—in order to be influenced by it, or to teach it to others. So, while there’s a decent amount of evidence that Christian scholars (who certainly should know better) have bought into aspects of actual Critical Race Theory3, there’s even more evidence that many ministry leaders at every level have implicitly bought into the major paradigm of Critical Race Theory—whether they’ve ever heard of it or not. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters when we’re evaluating a culture’s, or a Church’s, trajectory: Are we preaching and acting on lies? 

The unequivocal answer is: Yes

The evangelical church is currently filled to the brim with pastors, professors, authors, and bloggers who have bought into this lie which the academy (after adding quite a bit of nuance) would call Critical Race Theory, but which I am simply referring to as Wokeism

It is the absurdity which insinuates that the America in which many black athletes make millions of dollars a year is not significantly different than the America in which all black people were condemned to a life of slavery. 

It is the delusion which falsely and sloppily concludes racism as the primary cause behind any statistical disparity—without concern for investigating alternative causes (and is, in fact, often hostile toward the attempt to investigate alternative causes). 

It is the slander which follows the media in lock-step-obedience, to rush hastily into the assumption—apart from, and often prior to the evidence—that racism was the motive behind every controversial incident in which a black person was killed by a white police officer. 

It is the evasion which insists that the death of a black person by a white police officer is symptomatic of “systemic racism” in our country—in spite of the fact that every major institution (or “system”) will loudly and forcefully condemn that killing, while turning a blind eye to the same thing happening to a white person.4 

It is the cynical and demonic self-deception which bitterly chants “black lives matter” in an angry rage to a society which already and emphatically agrees.

Call it Critical Race Theory or call it Wokeism. Call it whatever you like, so long as you join me in condemning it for the lie that it is.

There is no justification for this lie. No rationale. No excuse.


Sinful Irrationality & Sinful Sentimentality

So how has it so handily worked itself through the Church? Answer: Through a combination of sinful sentimentality and sinful irrationality.5

The sinful irrationality is in the act of accepting the lie, itself. Everyone who accepts the lie fools themselves into thinking it’s true by rationalizing it with some irrational argument. How do we know the argument is irrational? Because it’s the sort of argument which the same person would reject as irrational if it were used on a different topic: Hasty generalizations, begging the question, abuse and cherry-picking of statistics, the evasion (or contempt) of evidence, liberal use of the genetic fallacy—these are all examples of the kinds of anti-rational arguments you’ll find after doing just a little scratching at the surface of this grand lie. 

And if you scratch enough, you’ll find that below the thin veneer of irrational arguments lies the dark rage of a sinful sentimentality—which is the real power, and motive, behind this grand woke lie.

This sinful sentimentality was put on vivid display last Sunday by a prominent pastor as he preached on the killing of George Floyd saying, “Weep with those who weep, rather than wondering if they should be weeping so much.” As AD Robles has recently pointed out, it is not difficult to see the absurdly anti-Biblical nature of this sentiment. All one has to do is read the preceding words in the text being cited, and see if they would be applied in the same way: “Rejoice with those who rejoice”—regardless of why they rejoice? 

If an actual white supremacist were rejoicing that George Floyd had been killed, should we join him in his rejoicing? If your answer is a shocked, “of course not!” (as it should be), then you will understand the blatant folly of commanding Christians to “weep with those who weep—regardless of why they are weeping.” We are not to rejoice with those who rejoice over sin and lies, and we are not to weep with those who weep as a result of their own sin and self-deception. If a woman is weeping (in repentance) over an abortion she had, we ought to weep with her. If she is weeping because of the legal restriction of abortion, we must not weep with her. To do so would be to affirm her sinful desire to kill more babies. 

Likewise, If someone (white or black) is weeping over the unjust killing of George Floyd, we absolutely ought to weep with them. If someone (white or black) is weeping because they have bought into the lie that America is overrun with systemic racism, and that the killing of George Floyd is “one more” example of that systemic racism, then we must not weep with them. To do so would be to affirm the great woke deception which is fanning the flames of so much racial tension in our culture. 

The instinct to sympathize with suffering before understanding the nature or cause of that suffering is the instinct to allow one’s emotions to blindly follow the emotions of others. It is the instinct to sacrifice objective truth, value, and morality on the altar of obscure emotionalism and subjective whim. It is a sinful sentimentality which can only result in being “tossed to and fro” by every wind of strong (or racial) sentiment, plunging one into the depths of every arbitrary and demonic lie which happens to tug at the right heart strings. 

Such sentimentality ought to be anathema among Christians. 

Instead, it has become characteristic of the evangelical landscape. 

As a result of this characteristic sentimentality, many pastors and leaders have employed the sinful irrationalities mentioned above, and have thus plunged themselves and their hearers into the dark deception of the woke lie. In the name of Christ, they spread lies, exaggerations, and unsubstantiated absurdities which serve to artificially foment deeper racial animosity. Instead of training God’s people to be a light of truth shining into the dark world of such lies, these pastors and teachers equip the saints to join the world as cynical ambassadors of darkness, spreading racial suspicion and division in the name of “Christian reconciliation.” They are dividing the Body, bowing to the world’s cultural idols, and shaming the Lord who bought them with His blood. It is past time to cut ourselves off from them in the name of holy integrity, while calling them to repentance. It is past time to name the deceivers6 in our midst, and to publicly correct their deceptions until they repent and correct those deceptions, lest the innocent sheep of the Church continue to be led astray by their lies.7  

Naming Names

Who are the woke deceivers in our midst? You may be surprised at just how systemic the problem has become. It is not just a “few bad apples” here and there, but official positions and communications released by very large ministries, in addition to the many bad apples. I’ll just list a few major recent examples below.

The Entire SBC: A Woke Denomination

One recent example was a statement released by the Southern Baptist Convention on the death of George Floyd, in which they insinuate that the incident was racially motivated (apart from citing any supporting evidence), linking it to the “long history of unequal justice in our country, going back to the grievous Jim Crow and slavery eras.” It’s bad enough to jump to the conclusion of racial motivations apart from any evidence. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we did have good reason to think the officer was motivated by racism. To take that single event (which received immediate and universal condemnation), and link it to an era in which black people were forced into segregation or slavery by official laws of the land is an absolutely outrageous action which could only seem appropriate in a mind deceived by this great woke lie. But this statement was not just released from the office of the President of the SBC. No. It was unanimously signed “by all SBC officers, entity heads and state convention executive directors.” Every leader in the SBC publicly endorsed this outrageous lie. And every one of them needs to be called to public—and official—repentance for it (i.e. repentance and retraction of the statement in the same manner in which it was originally issued). 

Reformed Theological Seminary: A Woke President

Reformed Theological Seminary, which is perhaps the next most influential circuit of seminaries in the evangelical world after those in the SBC, also treated the George Floyd incident as one of racial motivation, launching into lament over “the staggering amount of injustice against African Americans.” And not to be outdone by the SBC, the statement also evoked the supposed connection to “slavery, segregation, lynching, and injustice” from the past. This equally outrageous statement was released by Ligon Duncan, the President of Reformed Theological Seminary, and he must be called to publicly repent—on behalf of his seminary—for pushing such divisive lies and exaggerations in the name of that seminary. 

Bethlehem Baptist Church: A Woke Pastorate

I have a special place in my heart for Bethlehem Baptist Church (where John Piper used to preach). I was a member there for a few years while attending Bethlehem College & Seminary to finish my Bachelors degree. So, I was concerned for many members, and for the church overall, when Minneapolis became ground zero for this latest controversy with ensuing riots. I also wondered how Pastor Jason Meyer (Dr. Piper’s successor) would handle it, and I was severely disappointed when I listened to his message from last Sunday. His is the message I quoted above about “weeping with those who weep rather than wondering if they should be weeping.” But that wasn’t the worst part of his sermon. He went on not only to assume that the incident was racially motivated, and not only to tie it into Jim Crow and slavery such that he included the killing of George Floyd in the “400 years of oppression” that black people have had to endure, but he went on to insist that teaching this mindset needs to be “part of our discipleship” because “racism doesn’t go away; It goes underground.” In this impassioned sermon, Jason Meyer preached, as if on Biblical authority, virtually every irrational exaggeration, cynical deception, and paranoid delusion of the great woke lie. How any Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, man or woman of God could sit through that confused and divisive diatribe, without wanting to immediately raise serious concerns is beyond me. If the majority of elders and members at Bethlehem were not stirred to immediate action to warn Pastor Jason of the dangers he is teaching, then I fear Bethlehem Baptist Church—and the young school which I so loved—will soon be given over entirely to the enemy. All in the name of a false and deceptive form of “compassion.”

These are just some of the “names” I have seen that are worthy of public correction and public warning in the past few days. It is by no means exhaustive. Virtually every influential teacher in the evangelical world has fallen for this woke idol, to some degree or another, and to that degree, is leading our brothers and sisters in Christ astray. 

The process of identifying all of them, correcting them if they will be corrected, separating if they will not, and re-building as a Church is going to be arduous. But it must be done. In faithfulness to Christ, we can no longer turn a blind eye to our leaders, our brothers, and our sisters as they bow at the altar of this wicked and divisive woke idol. 

The Dividing

Let me be clear: I am not saying that we should count every professing Christian who has bought into these lies as an unbeliever. I’m saying that these lies need to be treated as the racially divisive and grossly irresponsible lies that they are. 

To provide a framework of how to do that, I would like to propose a thought experiment:

What if it was White Supremacy?

Imagine a whole movement of Christian pastors, teachers, and professors being caught up in an ideology which argued for or legitimized aspects of actual white supremacy, using Scripture and Christian theology to do so. It’s not entirely unfathomable. I’ve encountered seemingly plausible arguments for soft versions of white nationalism from Scripture coupled with seemingly plausible arguments for aspects of white supremacy from “science.” I emphasize seemingly because, as with the woke stuff, you need only think critically about the arguments for a few seconds before realizing how absurd they are. As with the woke lies, the real appeal is not in the arguments, but in the emotional itches being scratched. With the would-be white supremacists, it’s the emotional itch of a backlash against an overbearing and relativistic PC culture (combined with the obvious sins of arrogance and partiality). With Wokeism, it’s the emotional itch of wanting to seem compassionate at all costs. Both are sinful emotional itches. The only difference is that one tugs at heartstrings which are currently en vogue in our culture, and the other doesn’t. And that results in one sinful ideology being peddled by almost every Church leader, while the other sinful ideology is peddled by anonymous Twitter accounts. But imagine it was the other way around. Imagine that the sinful ideology of white supremacy was being peddled—both implicitly and explicitly, in overt and covert ways—by virtually all of our evangelical Church leaders (both intentionally and unintentionally), the way Wokeism is today. How would we respond? 

The speed and tenacity with which we would rightly want to divide ourselves from them and call them to repentance is the speed and tenacity with which we should do the same regarding this woke lie. 

How might that look? It would involve publicly warning other Christians about the teachers, pastors, seminaries, ministries, and denominations which have bought into the lie. It would mean drafting new ecumenical statements (with razor-sharp affirmations and denials) designed to clearly and unequivocally exclude and divide from every possible variation of the lie. It would mean engaging in ongoing and public campaigns—through print, audio, video, debate, conference messages, and all other mediums—to defame and discredit every version of the lie which might seem the least bit plausible to the unsuspecting young Christian. It would mean drawing as clear and distinct a line as possible, in as many ways as possible, to communicate to every Christian minister: “You are either with Christ on this side of the line, or you are against Him on the other. There is no middle ground here, and I will not allow the false pretense of ‘charity’ or ‘unity’ to lull me into believing that this line is unnecessary.” It would mean permanently and formally separating from every minister, ministry, and institution which refused to join us on the right side of that line, and then joyously continuing together in the work of spreading God’s eternal Kingdom.

This is just a first pass at the steps we need to begin preparing ourselves to make, and which I have already begun prayerfully preparing to make, myself. For the sake of the integrity of our Christian witness, and for the sake of any hope we might have at genuine racial reconciliation in the future, it is time to take a stand in faith and in obedience to Christ.



  1. For a system to be racist, there must be something about the system which actually discriminates based on race. Jim Crow laws and slavery are good examples of systemic racism in the past. Affirmative Action is a good example of systemic racism in the present. But the Woke want to redefine racism to mean statistical disparities in outcomes (regardless of the potential cause) and rely on innocent people to jump from statistical disparities to “covert racism” as the cause.
  2. There are many statistics which get brought in to support this idea, but we rarely have the data necessary to account for and accurately evaluate other possible factors, which makes statistical analysis a very poor indicator for determining something like racial motivation to begin with. Moreover, far more white people are killed by police in this country than black people, and once you start adjusting for other variables (e.g., demographics, crime rates, the nature of crimes in the area, etc..) you are necessarily honing in on local—as opposed to national or “systemic”—trends. It may very well be that there are scumbag police officers who really do target black people because of their skin color, but a commitment to Biblical truth and justice demands that we not conclude that apart from sufficient evidence. 
  3. See the notes on Matthew Hall, Jarvis Williams, and Curtis Woods in this related article:
  4. See these videos of Tony Timpa, or Daniel Shaver,which are similar in many respects to the videos of black men being killed by police which have sparked so much racial outrage over the past few years. The only difference is that these men were white, and so their deaths at the hands of police did not spur protests, and did not inspire “compassionate” pleas for communal lament from Christian ministers.
  5. This is the most charitable reading of the situation. Some may be motivated by cultural approval, fear of men, etc… But without speaking to motives, the least we can ascribe to these teachers is the negligence described here.
  6. I am leaving open the question of whether or not any of them are intentionally deceiving. The point here is that the result of their teaching is deceptive, regardless of their intentions.
  7. I am not calling for Matthew-18-style church discipline. That is specifically for private wrongs. Rather, I am calling for Book-of-Galations-style public correction and separation. There’s an important difference, and the Bible models both. See the below section on “The Dividing” for more elaboration.



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