If there is one thing that Woke Evangelicals hate, it’s being labeled a Marxist. This is a pattern for people who do not get their Marxism straight from Karl Marx, a pattern that is prevalent among those in the church who hitch this ideology to the gospel. Without a doubt, JD Greear is the most powerful Marxist in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Over the weekend, the woke Southern Baptists drafted the Statement on Justice Repentance and the SBC, although it is more of a letter than a resolution. He even went so far as to register a domain for it. After using Luke 4:18-19 as an attention grabber, the statement reads.
We affirm that the fullness of the gospel speaks to our need for salvation as individual sinners as well as addresses the brokenness of the world by working to see the Kingdom of God advanced in this life with full assurance that the Kingdom will one day come in full.
No. We don’t. As Christians, our need for salvation is in no way, shape, or form remotely equivocal to the need to address the brokenness of the world. The gospel exists to provide sinners God’s mercy from God’s wrath. The gospel does not exist fix the brokenness of the world. Already, the woke statement is professing heresy by redefining the scope of the gospel. This also professes a postmillennial eschatology, which I do not subscribe to, but this does not constitute heresy. However, it does not bode well for unity to premise an argument under what appears to be a minority position on endtimes.
We are all sinners in need of God’s grace, and as such, justice is something that tends to elude us. We often allow preconceptions and opinions to cloud our judgment. True justice is exemplified by hearts, lives, and actions staying in line with God’s vision for the world through the Gospel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we pursue Jesus’ vision as expressed in Luke 4, understanding that the fullness of this vision will come to pass upon His return and the establishment of a New Heaven and New Earth. We eagerly anticipate this day.
Note: I am writing this as I am reading it, and was correct that Greear is invoking eschatological language to set up his argument on how we ought to behave. The problem with this framework for an argument is that eschatology is a highly contentious topic, so for these woke Baptists to use his view of eschatology to interpret Scripture is eisegesis. He is using his own presuppositions to interpret Luke 4:18-19. So let us turn to the text.
14 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
They cites Luke 4:18-19 without citing the proceeding and succeeding verses where Jesus explains why he quoted Isaiah. The prophesy that the woke Baptists say is a vision we need to pursue, Jesus says is already fulfilled. Why would we pursue this prophesy? As ones who are not the Messiah, it would be blasphemous to declare that our actions are working towards a “vision” that is in a Messianic prophesy.
The Southern Baptist Convention was founded with injustice towards African slaves at its very core. The SBC was founded, in large part, so that white southern slave-holding Christians could appoint and support missionaries while continuing to hold their slaves in chains. This historical reality is neither disputed, nor can it be ignored.
The statement continues with a revisionist history of the SBC. Slavery may be an injustice, but it is not necessarily one that the Bible mandates Christians end. Paul writes to Philemon, lauding his character (Philemon 4-8). This is despite the fact that Philemon owned at least one slave. It’s not politically correct to say this, but the original Southern Baptist Convention was theologically correct to assert that owning slaves in a system they inherited does not disqualify one from missions. This editorial of history relies on modern sensibilities not Scripture to make a moral argument.
Yet in the current moment, we see attempts to downplay this historical reality. Many people deny the existence of systemic injustice as a reality. Many who recognize systemic injustices are labeled as “Marxists,” “Liberals,” and “Critical Race Theorists,” even though they are theologically orthodox and believe in the total sufficiency of Scripture.
While God desires us to continue growing in the area of racial justice, the actions of some in the SBC appear to be more concerned with political maneuvering than working to present a vibrant, gospel-loving, racially and culturally diverse vision. While some progress has occurred, some recent events have left many brothers and sisters of color feeling betrayed and wondering if the SBC is committed to racial reconciliation.
What framework is one using to assert that their is systemic injustice? A Marxist framework or a Biblical one? The statement asserts that one can sign a faith statement and use Critical Theory (Cultural Marxism) without a contradiction. But the Marxism is heavy because the rest of this letter fetishizes power dynamics. It asserts that those who stand in the way of Critical Theory’s infiltration in the church are merely concerned with protecting their (white) power.
Further, we stand firmly in opposition to any movement in the SBC that seeks to distract from racial reconciliation through the gospel and that denies the reality of systemic injustice. To deny systemic injustice would be to ignore the effects that sin has on both individuals, societies, and institutions.
We believe God is calling us to repentance as individuals and as a convention of churches, but our hearts have grown cold to His call, continuing to fight for money, institutions, and influence.
This is legalism. It is adding the fight against “systemic injustices” to the gospel. Note: he never defines what these are nor gives and example. JD Greear also writes a response to the woke letter.
We recognize that though worldly philosophies like Critical Race Theory arise from worldviews in direct conflict with our own, there are often things we can learn from questions raised and observations made. These are things we can discuss openly and learn together. As we do, we remain committed to judging all things by the Scriptures and bringing every thought captive to Christ. We must not default to labeling believers who parse certain questions differently “Marxist” or “racist.” This uncharitable spirit is not only intellectually lazy, it is a sin against the body of Christ. Great Commission Baptists can remain united around the inerrancy, supremacy, and sufficiency of the Scriptures, even as we vigorously discuss the helpfulness and applicability of various insights.
JD Greear asserts that Critical Race Theory can be used as an analytical tool, even though Critical Race Theory is a branch of Cultural Marxism. And if we look at recent condemnations of Critical Race Theory, such as JD Greear and Tony Evan’s, their condemnations of this ideology seem to include its use by the church. As a Christian, trying to fit Critical Race Theory into the Bible is a mark of a false teacher. There is no such thing as a Marxist Christian. JD Greear wants churches to use Marxist ideology. This makes JD Greear a Marxist. It is not intellectually lazy to label him as such. It is however intellectually lazy, no anti-intellectual, to not define terms or provide evidence to back claims.