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The Suicide of the Church & the West

The Liberal exploitation of Guilt and how the Church is now compromised by its pietistic urge to self-flagellation.

“I fear that this burden upon my back will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into Tophet.” –Pilgrim’s Progress

“Guilt, and the feeling of guilt, are facts of the human situation. Christianity, the traditional religion of Western civilization, faces the reality of guilt, provides an adequate explanation for it, and offers a resolution of the anxiety to which it inevitably gives rise.” –James Burnham, Suicide of the West


Modern man feels guilty. Though, he does not know why since almost all have rejected or are ignorant of the Christian explanation—that we are in fact sinners and need salvation. Popular culture, political leaders and medical authorities do everything in their respective powers to eliminate, or at least medicate away, this feeling of guilt. Every urge is legitimized. Every desire is valorized. Yet still, something troubles man and woman.

So, why not exploit it? That is, in fact, what liberal elites do.[1]

The Suicide of the Church is the Suicide of the West

As James Burnham noted in the quote above, Christianity was the religion of Western Civilization. It was a bulwark against the encroachment of radical atomization. That bulwark collapsed. Now self-esteem or respect for one’s identity is the organizing principle of political society.

As political scientist Francis Fukuyama explains, “A liberal society increasingly came to be understood not just as a political order that protected certain minimal individual rights, but rather as one that actively encouraged the full actualization of the inner self.”[2]

This is the legacy of Rousseau.

It is also now the organizing principle of many evangelical churches. The church has succumbed to the culture. The salt has lost its savor.

How Elites Hide Behind Systemic Racism

Hannah Arendt observed, “When all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits.” This is how systemic racism functions—it labels everyone (of one racial group) as guilty and that eliminates the need for placing specific responsibility on liberalism for its failures. White privilege and systemic racism obviates the need to examine how entitlement programs destroyed the black family. White privilege and systemic racism eliminate the need to stigmatize specific cases of racism among the Elites. Instead, this allows the burden of guilt for racist policies of the past to be shared between the Elites (who ruled) and the rest of society who simply toiled in obscurity.

This is a specific gambit of all Critical Social Justice. It is why Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor and a leader in The Gospel Coalition and the Southern Baptist Convention, blamed all white people for the political assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Notice that he blames all white people and not specific leaders—this places the burden of repentance just as much on the 19th century illiterate hillbilly as racist elites like President Woodrow Wilson.

He writes, “I know Dr. King’s life was much greater than his death. I understand that his death gives us opportunity to reflect on his legacy. But it also gives opportunity to reflect on that twist in our soul that rose up and killed him. It gives opportunity to repent of the things some have with too much pride too often refused to admit is there. My white neighbors and Christian brethren can start by at least saying their parents and grandparents and this country are complicit in murdering a man who only preached love and justice.”

All our parents and grandparents were complicit in Dr. King’s murder? All white people should repent for the sins of their parents and grandparents? This hardly seems like the message of Christ and His Gospel.

While this is a tool of the Elite to escape its responsibility for generations of bad policy, why are Evangelicals adopting the same message and pointing this venom at the conservatives sitting in the pew?

Manipulation. And manipulation yields grift and power.

One of the best examples of the Social Justice grift is Dr. Walter Strickland’s UnifiED. This is an organization that provides diversity and multicultural training to Christian organizations and schools. This organization recently partnered with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) to provide this dangerous training to K-12 Christian schools. (See more: ACSI partners with Critical Race Theory promoter.) For a fee, UnifiEd will train you via the latest and best analytical tools of racial identity politics suitably synthesized with Biblical sounding platitudes.

The Social Justice Gospel

“Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk they drew near to a very miry slough, that was in the midst of the plain; and they, being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Despond. Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.” –Pilgrim’s Progress

There have been various attempts to deal with guilt. The church and its denominations have answered the question of guilt by pointing at the Cross.

In contrast, Critical Social Justice and Wokeness take a different approach. Much has been written on how the Woke Social Justice Movement is a Cult or new religion. Examples include: The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness by New Discourses, Wokeness is a Hateful Religion by Phil Johnson, Wokeness is a New Religion and Christians are Converting En Masse by P&P, Wokeness is a Religion by American Thinker, The New Religion Of The Woke Left Is A Faith Without Atonement by the Federalist.

All of that is true. However, it is best to view Wokeness as a Christian heresy rather than an entirely new system. Some including Michael O’Fallon have noted the Augustian construct of Wokeness.

Another common view is that Woke Social Justice is only a repackaged version of the “Seeker-sensitive Movement.” However, this is only partly true. It is a branding or re-branding of Christianity to something acceptable to the culture—and it is much more.

Part of it is a dialectical synthesis of Christianity into a heresy that demands of its congregants Social Justice–and by that Social Justice is meant the progressive definitions of it, which is womb-to-the-tomb European-style social democratic welfare states.

This works because as Dr. Norman Geisler said, Neo-Marxism hybridizes with Christianity to from something entirely different.

Dr. Geisler, an architect of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, warned that Marxism proper and Neo-Marxist derivatives exploit elements within Christians. In other words, like a virus, it enters the cells of the church and co-opts the processes.

Or, as Dr. Geisler warned, “It also has a knack for infiltrating Christian worldviews, hybridizing with them, retooling and secularizing them. Marxism invariably drips the acid of criticism onto everything it touches. That’s part of the bargain.”

That is what we are facing: hybridized Christianity. It modifies truth and exploits it.

For example, contrast how Christianity deals with guilt with how a Woke Social Justice politician deals with guilt.

Each man is guilty merely by being a man, because the entire human race, in the person of its progenitor, committed a supreme crime. The exact content of this crime, or sin, is obscure; but its infinite measure is known from the fact that it was done in defiance of the Will of the infinite Being who is Creator at once of the world and of man himself. Every man is therefore born with this guilt; and, since it is infinite, neither any man nor all men together can, solely by their own efforts, wipe it out. God Himself, however, freely chose the only possible solution, if there was to be a solution: that He, the infinite Being, should Himself become incarnate as man, and sacrifice Himself, so that through this infinite sacrifice man, and men, might be redeemed from their infinite guilt…” James Burnham said in The Suicide of the West.

Notice what the heresy that Social Justice teaches in contrast.

As Sen. Raphael Warnock said, “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

That is not even close to Christianity. Man does not through good works save himself. Salvation is a gift of God.

What Warnock said is the Social Justice Gospel. But, why are such distortions effective? Again, James Burnham provides an answer from his 1964 book—secularization makes it easy for people (even many sitting in the pews) to be misled about the specific teachings of the Bible. He writes:

“This Christian doctrine does genuinely solve the problem of guilt; or at any rate, gives a framework, so long as it is believed, within which the problem in all its complexities becomes tractable to both understanding and emotion. Liberalism, however, is secular, secular at least in tendency and emphasis even when individual liberals are or regard themselves as Christians. Many liberals or liberal ancestors —of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, for example—have openly broken with Christianity. Many more continue to consider themselves Christians but have abandoned most of the orthodox dogma and doctrine, which they often reinterpret as myth, metaphor or symbol. Moreover, for most persons today, nonliberal as well as liberal, religious belief has become departmentalized, restricted in its influence on life and conduct, and relatively independent of political, economic and social views. But the Christian solution of the problem of guilt is valid only if the relevant Christian doctrine is true; and it can be psychologically effective only when the doctrine is believed, whether or not true, and believed not in a mere formal and atomistic way, as one truth among the many others, but integrally and totally, as pervading all of life and experience.”

A 21st Century Therapeutic Christianity

Burnham perceived the problem with contemporary American Christianity already in the early 1960s—people compartmentalized their faith. Thus, the problem of guilt lingers. Since everyone feels guilty and nobody accepts God’s forgiveness for actual sins, man finds other means of dealing with guilt.

Naturally, people search for reasons they feel guilty. Wealth inequality is one area where liberals point. (Despite the fact that increased wealth inequality seems to be a feature of liberalism itself, as Patrick J. Deneen explores in Why Liberalism Failed.)

It is the adoption, or acceptance, of this guilt without the Christian possibility of forgiveness that is the key to exploitation. It results in calls for reparations—or what some might find more familiar, the endless duty to purchase indulgences and engage in public acts of repentance. These acts include ritual diversity trainings and public acts of self-flagellation where one recognizes one’s white privilege.

It is of the endless guilt and no salvation Woke Social Justice Gospel, that Dr. James White said, “There is now, therefore, much condemnation in Critical Race Theory.”

Such a construct can be lucrative because it is perpetual. With the emphasis on the individual, it fits into modern culture’s narcissistic focus. Church becomes therapy. The therapeutic Christianity of Robert Schuler and Rick Warren provide examples cited by famed political scientist Francis Fukuyama in his book Identity.

As Fukuyama notes, “Rick Warren, whose Church Growth Movement has transformed many thousands of evangelical churches in recent decades, has put forth a similar therapeutic message. His trademarked Purpose Driven Life movement emphasizes the importance of pastors attending to the ‘felt needs’ of nonbelievers, deemphasizing traditional Christian doctrine in favor of an overtly psychological language.”[3]

This is an appeal to our modern Therapeutic Culture. Christopher Lasch saw the primacy of self-esteem in the modern state much earlier than most. However, even some evangelical thinkers have accused the culture of embracing a moralistic therapeutic deism—but in fact, is that not what the church now embraces?

By rejecting God’s providence in creating a church and constituting its members—the cultural idolaters demand that their church look like what they prefer rather than what God has given them. Is this racial quota system of today based on the whim of a pastor any different than history’s enforced segregation? Both are based upon a key assumption—melanin matters more than what God thinks.

The Suicide of the Church

The substitution of our feelings and our preferences in the place of God is the suicide of the church. In the case of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, the feelings and preferences substituted for God’s Word are of the Elite culture. It is a suicide pact—Evangelical Elites join with Secular Elites to promote these godless ideologies. The result is the collapse of the Church and any conservative political voice—in other words, the collapse of the Liberal democratic order.

Arising from the ashes of the collapse of the Church and the West is a new Woke Totalitarian system. The new system is only possible if the Church abandons, or is seduced away from its foundational truths.

That truth is, as the hymn records:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

If the burden never rolls away because the church substitutes works for the Gospel, the state is more than happy to slide in and offer its solutions to life’s guilt. Social programs, expanded entitlements, womb-to-the-tomb social welfare states offer ways to anaesthetize those bad feelings.

The pliable Evangelical Elites echo the Cultural Elites and offer those same progressive political solutions. These are “Gospel Issues™” declare the Court Evangelicals of the new Leftist regime. Yet, these are not real answers to the issues that plague the human soul.

Unless the church rejects the false Social Justice Gospel, the American Church and American political society will die. Yes, God preserves His remnant. However, the legacy of our time and especially our contemporary Evangelical Elites will be that America, the West and our churches fell on our watch. The American Experiment, liberty, and the freedom to proclaim orthodox Christianity will come to an end and be buried.  

Our story ends just as the Book of Genesis—in a coffin in Egypt.

And our descendants, unless we arise with a martial vigor before it is too late—will, like Israel, await an Exodus.

[1] In this essay I use liberal and liberalism not in the contemporary political sense but in the worldview sense. As such, liberalism is the moral and political philosophy arising out of the Enlightenment that values liberty and personal autonomy.

[2] Fukuyama, p. 92.

[3] Francis Fukuyama, Identity, p. 100.

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