[And does it matter?]
The woke phenomenon is nearly ubiquitous thse days. Universities, businesses, and government agencies annually spend millions of dollars to promote wokeness, which, in those settings goes under the well-known DEI acronym: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Like the social justice movement from which it derives, the woke ideology is predicated on the idea that all inequality is the result of oppression, and that it can only be redressed by imposing an equality of outcomes via the use of state and institutional power.
What differentiates woke from social justice (and its 20th Century Marxian forerunner) does not so much reside in its central thesis. In a recent interview with Frontier Centre for Public Policy, David Leis, Professor Frances Widdowson points out that it is the totalitarian character of this ideology that distinguishes it from these earlier versions.
As pervasive as this metastasized variant of identity politics has now become, we can at least take comfort in the fact that the Church, with its two thousand years of religious and intellectual tradition is and will continue to be a bastion of reason and judicious thought against an ideology that will surely cause irreparable damage if it is not rigorously critiqued and contained.
But are churches embracing their prophetic vocation in these troubled times? That remains to be seen. The tragic reality is that too many churches have, for want of a better word, been colonized by the culture, and have found it infinitely more convenient and virtuous to jettison their prophetic voice altogether.
The mainline protestant churches became glorified social clubs decades ago. The current leader of the Catholic Church seems to be much more concerned with the dual “evils” of man-made climate change and capitalism than with reinserting Christian orthodoxy into the culture. As for the rest of the ecclesiastical rainbow, it is undeniably a mixed bag—with some churches aspiring to greater wokeness and others valiantly resisting this utopian ideology.
Since churches do not advertise their ideological leanings with colour-coded neon signs on their windows, here is a ten-point check list that should help readers determine the woke concentration of their congregation.
- Does your pastor regularly pepper his or her sermons and prayers with such expressions as social justice, systemic racism, diversity, inclusion, and equity?
- Does your church promote a culture of victimhood over a culture of responsibility?
- Are the congregants encouraged to seek forgiveness for alleged sins committed by deceased people against other deceased people a century or two ago?
- Does your church regularly exhort the congregation to acknowledge its collective guilt for sins committed against mother earth?
- Does your church call for a ban on natural gas and other fossil fuels with no regard whatsoever for the tragic consequences of such policies for the poor and the working class here and in developing countries?
- Does your church “gently” censor any attempt at raising the profile of the one hundred thousand babies terminated before birth every year in Canada?
- Does your church subtly devalue individual rights, liberty, and the free-market economy?
- Does your church rationalize a decline in attendance and donations as the price to pay for being “faithful”?
- Does your church measure its theological fitness in terms of how well it aligns with society’s dominant worldview?
- Does your church frequently appeal to the discernment of the community (otherwise known as “community hermeneutics”) rather than Scripture to justify its stand on morality?
If you answer yes to more than half of these questions, it is highly probable that your church is well on its way to woke country or may in fact have already taken residence there.
So, what if this is the case? Does it matter?
It matters a great deal, for the simple reason that with its fixation on identity politics and the subjective self, the woke ideology is fundamentally at odds with the biblical view of human nature and humanity’s relationship to God and the world.
A church that is woke is a church that is in full retreat from Christian orthodoxy, has abdicated its prophetic mandate, and has tragically ceased to be a voice for life, reason, and hope.
This article was first published by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy