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What Do You Mean By That?

Last week my blog was about our “Post Truth Culture.” In that blog I called attention to the problem of “lazy Christians” believing and repeating stories, videos, words, or terms they hear without really taking the time to fact check, research and fully understand them. We hear the news, and even religious sources we trust use words and parrott them to others Like the term “Woke” for instance. 

Almost every Christian I know is against “woke ideas.” But when I ask people to define Woke, almost nobody can other than in general terms like “It’s like Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in our schools.” I'll often follow that comment up with, “Have you ever actually read a CRT curriculum, or do you know what schools in your state are actually using CRT?” I’ve never had anyone give me a yes answer to either! Woke has become a catch-all term for ideas conservatives, or some Christians do not like. 

Here’s my point. A few weeks ago my blog was about why Russell Moore believes so many young Christians are leaving the church. One reason he gives is evangelicals are perceived to be “against” more things than they are “for.” There are indeed ideas that Christians ought to oppose vigorously. But how we oppose them is just as important as being on the right side of an issue. So before you speak to others I’d advise doing these three things:

1. Know exactly what you’re talking about. Do your research. If you are going to use a term like Woke, what do you mean by that? Can you define it? Be specific. Is it your "woke" concern, or opposition to LGBTQ rights, LGBTQ education, CRT, or Black Lives Matter? And exactly what part of those ideas are you opposed to and why? Are there any ideas the opposition believes that you could support, or are you against everything they are for?

If you have different ideas take the time to understand exactly why you believe what you do so you can discuss them intelligently and biblically with others. I’ll often google a word or phrase I hear being used. Once I  have some level of understanding I’ll put what I believe about that idea in my own words, then practice saying them out loud so I’m prepared to articulate what I believe. 

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point! But I can guarantee every one of you has practiced your “sales pitch,” over something that you felt strongly about regarding what you were going to say to a group, a child, or spouse out loud so that you articulated exactly what you wanted to say. If you desire to be the “thought leader,” or patriarch in your family, or with your friends you’ll need to put more effort into it other than parroting a few talking points from a blog, or podcast. 

2. Have ready a more thoughtful positive alternative to an idea that you oppose. When I tell people I oppose CRT I try to explain what parts of CRT I'm generally fine with and why and what parts to do not agree with and why.

For example, I am for students having a better understanding of the history of racial injustice and how those events shape the worldviews of people of color even today. How can that not be a good thing? How can Christians not be concerned about justice? We study the Holocaust to better understand why Jewish people believe they need a country of their own. We ought to study the history of apartheid in South Africa to understand how generations of white Christians misunderstood the Bible and believed blacks did not deserve “love mercy, seek justice…” And we ought to study the genocide of and injustices toward Native Americans to understand the high rates of suicide and alcoholism in their communities.  Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. None of those ideas require me to feel guilty, but I ought to feel sad for the victims of these horrific injustices.

What I disagree with in some CRT curricula I’ve read is them going beyond teaching history, to editorializing on how the problems should be fixed. Reparations, freeing every black person (and white) in prison for non-violent drug offenses, expunging all criminal records to help ex-offenders get jobs, etc. In other words I do not object to understanding history as a fact. But proposing solutions isn't history. It's editorializing. The point is to be more precise about what you are both against and what you are for. Most people respect a thoughtful, rational argument even if they disagree with you. 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1

3. Treat those who oppose you with kindness. Look beyond the issue you’re discussing. When dealing with non-Christians what's more important, winning an argument over some social idea, or preserving a relationship to be able to win them to the Lord? Remember the mission. If I’m discussing these ideas with a non-Christian they have a completely different worldview than I do, so why needlessly offend them? If they ask what I believe I should never be embarrassed to tell them. But my primary mission is to stay in a relationship with them so I have the right to present them the gospel. 

“but be kind to everyone, able to teach…correcting his opponents with gentleness.” II Timothy 2:24

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for your wisdom and incite.

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