Clarity and Precision
Two to three years ago, I was trying to decide where I would be attending seminary to train for work in the ministry. I looked at several institutions and saw many of them were replacing the sword of the Word of God with the rotting stick of worldly theories. Many would claim to be orthodox in their viewpoints and even “affirm” longstanding confessions of faith. However, they would not speak with clarity on the vital issues of our day. Seemingly, many theologians were “willing” to stand for the truth of Christ in every area except the point suffering onslaughts from attacks, thus taking no stand at all in the end. At that point in time, I saw a fracturing reformed and evangelical movement. Individuals like John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, and Voddie Baucham were on one side, while men such as Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and David Platt stood on the other side of the line.
In pursuing my online education for a graduate degree, it became difficult to find a solid online institution standing firm for truth. I happened to stumble across what was back then a little podcast called The City of God, which is now a bigger podcast called The Antithesis.1 It is hosted by Dr. Owen Strachan, who I quickly realized was unafraid to speak the truth on the biggest issues of our day. He moved with clarity in addressing everything from cultural to political to theological battles of our times. I began to read his books and found an immense wealth of knowledge. His newest book, Christianity and Wokeness is one of the foremost works on the subject. It is a theological book since Dr. Strachan examines the claims of wokeness as a system of thought, as a worldview, and contrasts these ideas with biblical truth. His work is also immensely practical in that he tackles some of the biggest issues, such as reparations and how we should view past slavery. In all of this, Dr. Strachan provides a clarifying and precise voice willing to speak the truth with courage, love, and humility.
Distinct From Biblical Christianity
Dr. Strachan points to the way 20th-century theologian J. Gresham Machen rejected liberal theology as not being Christian and a separate category of thought altogether.2 He then goes on and says the following:
“Like liberal Protestantism, which denied the historic truthfulness of the faith, supernatural miracles, and a sin-cleansing atonement for individual sinners, wokeness is not merely a different form of Christianity, a remixed version that fits fluidly with conservative evangelical faith. Built on Critical Race Theory (CRT), wokeness uses theological language and even the very system of Christian theology, albeit without any need for grace and God. Wokeness per Machen is thus in a “distinct category” from sound biblical doctrine. Wokeness, in the clearest terms, is not Christianity at all.”3
I greatly appreciate these insights here. Dr. Strachan is highlighting the truth that wokeness uses the Christian system theology yet departs from it at almost every turn. This movement speaks of justice, and yet it not only has a different foundation and definition for justice but also a different view as to how justice is to be applied. Wokeness and its proponents passionately seek reparations as part of the never-ending atonement for sin desired in their system.4 The atoning work of Jesus Christ received through faith alone in Christ alone is the true source of unity according to biblical Christianity (Colossians 3:11). In other words, individuals of different skin colors, nationalities, or anything else do not need to pay money to other people in order to atone for sins committed by their ancestors like woke thought believes. Instead, they need to be reconciled together in Christ and serve the Lord being unified together. Here we see wokeness and Christianity both speak of justice, yet they do not have the same definition, practice, or execution of justice in view.
The 4 Categories
One of the truly unique and helpful contributions of Dr. Strachan to this entire conversation is when he breaks down four unique responses from evangelicals to wokeness.5 First of all, there are those who are not woke, such as individuals like Dr. Strachan, I would also place myself in this camp. Secondly, there are individuals who are “confused and undecided” by everything going on in America. They do not understand what all is at play and need help to see the issues clearly. Third, we have the “engaged yet cautious pro-woke” who usually take actions like engaging popular social media hashtags. These individuals are influenced by the Christianized version of what the crowds are saying, as Dr. Strachan says. Lastly, Dr. Strachan outlines the “convinced and committed pro-woke.” This group of individuals promotes ideas impacted by Critical Race Theory. They are evangelizing other Christians to passionately embrace wokeness. Dr. Strachan pinpoints that these are the people who are spurring others to repent of “white supremacy” just because of the color of their own skin, not because of actual prejudice held against others.
Now, I truly believe this contributes to the conversation around critical social justice is unique and one of the most valuable. I have not seen anyone break these distinctions down with the clarity Dr. Strachan provides. Personally, I am passionately anti-woke because I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and wokeness launches a full-on attack upon the Gospel. However, I have seen non-woke individuals attack other Christians who they thought were woke but were only confused. Instead of offering to help, they launched a full-on assault thinking the person was woke. We have to keep these categories that Dr. Strachan provides in mind when engaging others regarding this issue. If the person is merely confused, then we need to help them gain clarity through the Scripture. The elders should lovingly provide guidance to a soul needing assistance and love them by helping them learn. However, if an individual is passionately promoting woke thought, then we must rebuke them with the Scripture and exercise church discipline according to Matthew 18. We must rebuke the false teacher so that they might be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
A Blow Against “structural racism”
I believe I could write much more about the intricacies and excellent arguments provided in this work by Dr. Strachan. His handling of America’s past racism is brilliant. He gives profound insights about what the government should and should not do in its role. Many other areas are expounded upon in detail. However, I think another valuable contribution is how he explodes with dynamite force upon the notion of systemic or structural racism. He does clearly assert America exercised systemic racism in the past, meaning that laws (i.e. slavery and Jim Crow) which were racist had been exercised in society.6 He also says this:
“According to wokeness, we will never overcome our complicity in “systemic injustice” driven by “white supremacy.” Unlike in biblical salvation, we’ll never put our guilt behind us, its power crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6). No, “woke Christianity” tells us that we can only name our racism, oppose it by action, and continually lament it until we die.”7
Here is another vital quote on this subject:
“Yet wokeness dares tell us that even if a “white” person becomes a Christian, we are actually still condemned. There is fine print we apparently did not read. If we are “white” or benefit from the system of “whiteness,” we have an extra layer of sinful guilt that the Gospel does not innately overcome. We are guilty of complicity in “white supremacy,” whether “white” or not. Unless we are thoroughly antiracist, we are on the wrong side of history. As Christians, we may have thought it was enough to repent of our individual sins; it turns out it was not enough. Even after coming to faith, by not opposing “white privilege” and “white supremacy,” we have participated in ongoing injustice. We have done so not through intentional unjust words and deeds in some cases, but simply by virtue of being “white” (or by not opposing “whiteness” if we are not “white”). We therefore must repent of our participation in “systemic injustice,” a condition our conversion to Christ did not overcome.”8
In other words, if you are “white” and reject the notion of “whiteness” then you are a systemically racist individual even if you do not practice racist prejudice. Systemic racism, as promoted by the woke, seeks to assert there is some kind of “secret” racist white supremacy embedded in laws, policies, and other areas.9 So, systemic racism, as defined by wokeness, has nothing to do with pointing to a law that is actually discriminating on the basis of skin color (like former slave laws). Rather, it just assumes you are guilty of racism because of the color of your skin. Dr. Strachan’s handling of this issue and the way he shows it is incompatible with the Gospel message is a heavy dose of much-needed clarity for our day.
Why You Need To Read This Book
If you managed to stumble across this humble blog post, I hope that you have found it provided at least somewhat of an appetizer for Dr. Strachan’s book. I truly do think you need to read this work because it provides a theological critique of wokeness. Dr. Strachan not only analyzes the system of thought as a whole but also provides valuable information for you as you engage woke individuals. He calls for Christians to be people of intellectual depth and not those who are taken captive by the sloppy arguments of woke thought in such claims as structural racism.10 Dr. Strachan’s book will equip you with biblically deep argumentation for engaging this false system. Why should you read this book? In one word . . . clarity! Dr. Strachan provides clarity around these issues, and for that I am grateful for his service to the church of Jesus Christ. Indeed, woke thought will be defeated and forgotten, but the Gospel will continue to march forward to the eternal praise of our God!
Note: I am a member of the book launch team for this book. This is not an affiliate link, but if you would like to purchase the book you can do so here:
1 Check out the podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-antithesis/id1152518569
2 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 3.
3 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 3.
4 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 14.
5 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 47-50.
6 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 12.
7 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 86.
8 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 82.
9 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 214.
10 Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness, p. 115.