5 Simple Ways to Disciple Your Children

The highest calling for every Christian parent is to raise their children to love and serve the Lord. Yet many Christian parents struggle to know how to actually accomplish this task. Unfortunately, this has led some to essentially leave it in the hands of the church to do for them. We bring our kids to Sunday School, midweek ministries, youth group, and summer camp, and then hope that everything turns out in the end. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things, and I would argue they are incredibly helpful assets in our task of discipleship. But Scripture calls parents to take a more active role in this process. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 states:

[6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)

These verses lay out at least two important principles. First, it is the job of parents to raise their children in the faith. It cannot be something we merely export out for others to do. Second, this is an ongoing, natural process. In the passage, we see parents interacting with their children over the natural course of a day. We also see that it is not a one-time conversation. Discipleship happens in the context of the parent-child relationship.

With this in mind, I offer a few practical suggestions to help in this regard.

(1) Read the Bible with your kids daily

The foundation of our faith is God’s Word, and children should be exposed to it at home as well as in church. Reading the Bible at home shows children that our faith is not something sectioned-off for Sunday mornings but rather fills our entire lives. In our house, we have formed the habit of reading the Bible at dinner time, since everyone is gathered together already. There is no need for adding another meeting to the day. We simply read a section, ask a question or two, and leave it at that. Sometimes there is little engagement, and other times it goes really well. I don’t worry much about the results from day to day, since establishing the priority of Bible reading and reflection is itself a worthy goal.

(2) Pray with your kids

No surprise here. Most Christian parents already pray with their children regularly. But if this is not yet a habit you have formed, start today. Praying with your children is incredibly valuable. You can do this at bedtime with younger children every day. Once kids are a bit older and are no longer being tucked in at night, it may be harder to find opportunities, but don’t let that deter you from finding a way anyways.

One thing we forget about praying is that it is an opportunity to show kids what a relationship with God looks like. Children naturally pray for things they want, like a new toy or nice weather on the weekend. That’s perfectly fine, but we want their prayers to mature over time. We can do this by modelling what spiritually mature prayers can sound like. When you pray with your children, incorporate things like:

  • giving thanks for the day
  • asking for growth and wisdom
  • praying for the salvation of friends and family
  • asking to grow through a hardship, rather than simply taking it away
  • asking for opportunities to serve others
  • praying that we would be more obedient to God

You can actually teach a lot of sound theology just by modelling in prayer. This will help our children move from prayers that are centred on their own will to prayers that are centred on God’s will.

(3) Ask for forgiveness

Parents sin just like kids do. When we lose our temper or fail to fulfill a promise, we should ask our children to forgive us. Don’t simply say “I’m sorry”. Also say, “I was wrong, please forgive me”. You might even want to pray together and ask for God’s forgiveness as well. When we fail to show transparency in our own sins, but demand our children do so, we are inadvertently teaching them that faith is a thing kids need but not adults. Admitting our own failures and showing our own need for a Saviour is authentic parenting and authentic Christian living.

(4) Serve with your children

There are a hundred different ways to serve others that can be both inside and outside the church. Sometimes we can divide the act of serving up too rigidly, so adults serve over here and children serve over there. Try to find ways to bring service together, whether that is raking the yard for an elderly neighbour or serving food for an outreach event.

(5) Work to be more joyful

Joy does not always come easily for parents. We are balancing a hundred different stressors at any given time, often feeling overwhelmed in our responsibilities and struggles in life. As such, sometimes we can put off a general vibe that Christians are miserable people who like to complain and be grumpy all the time. How much better would it be for our children if the most joyful people they knew were followers of Jesus! Wouldn’t that send a powerful message of its own? It does, but joy is not as natural as we’d like it to be. There are many different ways to fight for joy in life, including nurturing our own health—spiritually, physically, relationally, and otherwise. Some simple ways to start would be to watch less TV, read less news, put down the phone, and enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted. Showing our children that they are a delight to us is a winsome way to demonstrate that our experience of God’s love spills out into love for others.

What do you think? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

The Asian Problem

Let me explain the title of this post up front. The “Asian Problem” is a term I’m using NOT to describe any kind of issue I have with Asian people. Rather, it refers to the problem the Asian community in North America presents to the commonly accepted social justice narrative.

As I have explained many times before, the social justice narrative sees the world as people groups competing for social power. In North America, it is assumed, white people control the power. As a result, people of colour are to be considered oppressed minority groups who should be advocated for in order to achieve social justice. This is what the term “social justice” means in a nutshell.

However, there is a significant flaw that gets exposed in this over-simplified explanation of society: Asian success. Asians are technically a minority group and therefore should be considered as part of the oppressed group in society. Yet when various measurements are used to assess how people groups are doing in North America, Asians regularly rank at or near the top of the list. Examples like median household income and average SAT scores illustrate this point well.

As you can see, the claim that America is a white supremacist nation is undermined by the success of this non-white people group. It at least forces us to consider other possible explanations for this seeming anomaly, explanations which can deviate far enough from the social justice narrative that it might bring it into question altogether.

What is the response? Social justice and Critical Race Theory activists are now conveniently sliding Asians over from the oppressed column into the oppressor column. I have seen several instances where “white/Asian” is designated as the oppressor group rather than the traditional argument that simply accuses “whites” as being oppressors.

In other words, while the old model of social justice would pit white people verses people of colour, the new model pits white/Asian verses minority ethnic groups. It is almost certain that this new label of Asians being complicit in white supremacy, coupled with the origins of the Coronavirus, is what has created the hostility and violence we are witnessing against Asians in North America.

This is not particularly unique to Asians, as other successful (if you measure success in terms of things like wealth) minority groups have been accused of aiding the system of white supremacy. The technical term for this is “brown complicity”, the idea that non-white minorities actually strengthen the system of white supremacy they exist in by living according to its conditions. Put differently, instead of fighting to overturn the system, minorities can flourish inside the system of white supremacy if they play by its rules. Thus, people can still be technically a minority race while incurring the same hostility that white supremacy receives because they are considered to be a part of that system. This hostility can come in the forms of rogue street violence or in policies like the ones many colleges and universities have in place, which intentionally discriminate against Asians by docking their test scores while bumping up ones from other minorities in an effort to create more equitable admissions.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because it is yet another example of why the group identity mechanisms inside the social justice formula are inherently broken, hostile, and destructive. It does not represent a Christian way of thinking or even a rational, objective, secular way of thinking. The over-obsessive nature we have with racial and group identities in North America is tearing apart our nations and communities, and it is the responsibility of level-headed citizens (and followers of Jesus in particular) to refuse to play the game. We must offer a different approach moving forward, one that builds justice on individual guilt or innocence and shows care and concern for others, regardless of their group identity. This is the very reason Jesus selects a Jew and Samaritan in his parable known as “The Good Samaritan”. It is precisely because these people groups despised each other; yet Jesus called on his followers to show kindness to others who are unlike ourselves. Our world could sure use a healthy dose of that right now.

Math is Racist? Math is Too Objective? An Explanation

For people not familiar with Marxist Social Justice initiatives all across Western civilization, the idea that math is racist or too objective sounds incomprehensible. They may be tempted to dismiss it as some sort of joke gone wrong, or the musings of a lunatic that no one really listens to. Think again. The attack on math is real and growing. It is part of a larger phenomena taking place that is coming to a school district near you. Or, perhaps, it is already there and you just don’t know it.

The attack on math is one consequence of the application of Critical Race Theory. If this is a new term or idea to you, take a few minutes and read my analysis of it here. But without going over everything again, the fundamental premise of Critical Race Theory is that racism is the default position of society and can only be removed through active anti-racist efforts. It is important to know that racism, from a CRT perspective, is “systemic”. This means it is not primarily about an individual being racist, but rather the systems and structures of a society perpetuating racist ideals. One might think that systemic racism has been more-or-less dismantled when things like slavery, voting restrictions, segregation, and redlining were formally made illegal practices. This is a mistaken assumption. CRT advocates do not believe that system racism died when racist policies were undone; rather, they believe that systemic racism changed shape and continues on in more covert ways through our societal norms and values. A few quotes to illustrate:

“Racism, like other forms of oppression, is not only a personal ideology based on racial prejudice, but a system involving cultural messages and institutional policies and practices as well as the beliefs and actions of individuals” – Beverly Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids…, (p. 7)

“One of the key contributions of critical theorists concerns the production of knowledge…. These scholars argue that a key element of social injustice involves the claim that particular knowledge is objective, neutral, and universal. An approach based on critical theory calls into question the idea that objectivity is desirable or even possible. The term used to describe this way of thinking about knowledge is that knowledge is socially constructed. When we refer to knowledge as socially constructed we mean that knowledge is reflective of the values and interests of those who produce it.” – Is Everyone Really Equal? (p. 29)

“The acceptance of an academic-achievement gap is just the latest method of reinforcing the oldest racist idea: Black intellectual inferiority. The idea of an achievement gap means there is a disparity in academic performance between groups of students; implicit in this idea is that academic achievement as measured by statistical instruments like test scores and dropout rates is the only form of academic ‘achievement’… Remember, to believe in a racial hierarchy is to believe in a racist idea. The idea of an achievement gap between the races – with Whites and Asians at the top and Blacks and Latinx at the bottom- creates a racial hierarchy, with its implication that the racial gap in test scores means something is wrong with the Black and Latinx test takers and not the tests. From the beginning, the tests not the people, have always been the racial problem.” How to Be An Anti-Racist (p. 101-102)

Here we see some of the root ideas of race and subjectivity in math coming to fruition. The logical flow might look something like this:

  1. The West has racist (ie. White Supremacist) values woven into every corner of society
  2. These values include high regard for objectivity, right/wrong solutions, and rigid academic scoring
  3. Math highly values these elements
  4. Therefore, math has systemic racism embedded into it

Another line of logic would include:

  1. Western Society values high marks, rewarding them with good scholarships and high-paying jobs
  2. White and Asian students, on average, score highest in mathematics
  3. As a result, black and other minority students miss out on these opportunity paths to success
  4. Therefore, the valuing of math/high marks as a society is racist

Again, lest you think that this is some fringe idea that is not taken seriously, consider that there are whole organizations dedicated to restructuring math to be less objective and more inclusive of other cultural norms. It was recently reported that the Bill Gates Foundation donated $1 million to support this cause.

Another illustration of how these ideas are gaining traction is an article written by Kareem Carr, a biostatistics Ph.D. student at Harvard University, which was published on the website Popular Mechanics, defending the premise that 2 + 2 can equal 5. I don’t want to get too far into the holes in his theory (most of which are simply category conflations), but the point is that these ideas are more mainstream than you think.

I would conclude that the issue here actually has nothing to do with math. The focus on math as racist or objective is a diversion from the real issue. The real issue is Critical Race Theory, which posits that every corner of society has racism embedded within it, and it is our job to dig deep enough to uncover it for all to see. The problem here is the flaw of CRT’s fundamental starting point. Simply put, not everything contains racism. That is a faulty premise and one that, if accepted, turns people into those on a witch hunt for hidden racism in every aspect of culture. Sometimes, to look for something is to see things that aren’t there. No one denies that racism is still an issue in our world. But to assume that is pervades society from top to bottom is an unprovable assumption that is flawed at best and damaging at worst.

I will go one step further. Critical Race Theory, because it does not deal with demonstrable acts of racism, can promote actual racism. Inherent in CRT is a set of assumptions about entire people groups that are tantamount to discrimination. Consider the amount of effort gone to defining aspects of white culture that are then applied wholesale to white people. Or conversely, not applied to people of colour.

Are we thus saying that people of colour don’t value being self-reliant? Polite? Rational? Hard workers? Planners for the future? Hey, you said it, not me! It is these kinds of overly-simplistic, broad-brushed, negative stereotypes that Critical Race Theory actually accepts, endorses, and promotes that make it an unworthy system of thought.

Math is objective. It is in the very nature of mathematics. And the next time you drive over a bridge or fly in an airplane, I’m willing to bet you’ll be hoping the engineer who designed it believed in objective math, whether they were black or white or anything in between.

Back to the Garden: He Created Them Male and Female

We are living in strange times. With COVID-19, political unrest, racial tensions, big tech overreach, and mass globalization, there is always something in the news to garner our attention. Here I want to turn away from some of those things for a moment and focus on an issue that was at the forefront of our minds not that long ago: how we view gender as a society.

We know where the secular world stands on this issue. Gender, we are told, is a social construct. It is not an objective reality that we are born with, but rather an identity marker we choose for ourselves. The transgender phenomenon in particular has advanced this line of thinking into the mainstream of society, so much so that new president Joe Biden recently signed an executive order that would allow transgender athletes to participate in competitive sports with the gender of their choosing. He also lifted the ban on transgender people serving in the US military.

Perhaps even more strikingly, the New England Journal of Medicine, a highly respected medical publication, recently argued that it is time to stop assigning gender to newborn babies on birth certificates, stating that “Sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility, and they can be harmful for intersex and transgender people.”

Functionally, we have the mainstream culture, politics, and medicine moving together in the direction of a genderless society, all of it flying under the banner of “equality” and stopping “discrimination” and “hate speech”.

How should Christian believers respond to all of this?

A comprehensive overview of biblical sexuality is outside of the scope of this post. Nevertheless, there are some important things we should be doing as those who follow Christ.

The first thing we should do is love other people, including those who promote or embrace views of gender that we don’t agree with. It is important that we remember to love our neighbour and show them dignity and respect as image-bearers of God. The world may still slap us with the label of “hate”, but at least we should force them to do so in error, rather than rightly applying that designation because we truly do harbour hate in our hearts.

Does this mean that we should embrace or endorse a lifestyle that goes contrary to Scripture? Certainly not. One of the fundamental errors our modern culture makes it to equate love with affirmation. However, these two are not the same. It is entirely possible to love someone while not affirming something that they believe in. In fact, we do this with every single person we are in relationship with. There are things about them we don’t agree with, but love them anyways. Real love is greater than affirmation. We need not reject this principle.

Another thing we can do is express the biblical alternative to genderless confusion. Scripture is not silent on the issue of God’s design for human beings in regard to their gender. Genesis 1:27 states plainly, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Our design includes distinction. Men are not women, women are not men, and gender is not on a spectrum. We know that there are chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects that cause a small number of people to have some confusion regarding their gender, but this is what they are: abnormalities and birth defects. Such individuals require extra love and grace for their difficult circumstances. But this is far different than the modern argument that gender is purely a social construct. Biblically, it is not a social construct. Gender is innate. It is not something we choose or discover. It is a reality we acknowledge.

One of the most powerful things we can do as followers of Jesus is live out our own gender reality to show the beauty of God’s good design. When God made man and woman, he did so because it was “not good that the man should be alone”. Thus, he created a complementary partner so that the two could enjoy unity in their diversity. The distinctions between men and women are not meant to drive each other apart, but rather to bring each other together in harmony. To be sure, this is not a simple task, given that we are sinners who naturally gravitate to conflict with others. Yet the wisdom of God is displayed in his gendered humanity and our relationships to one another. As Christians, the way we live out this reality may be the most winsome thing we can do.

I’m not convinced we will turn the culture around on this issue. I’m not sure we are even called to do so. But as we live as citizens of God’s kingdom on earth, we can show the world a better way forward. Let our men be men, our women be women, and let us express the joy of living an identity that is gifted us by God, rather than one of our own creation.

I believe that to some extent the Church has abdicated its responsibility in this regard. I’m not talking about progressive churches who embrace and affirm the LGBT lifestyle. I’m talking about generally faithful believers who have gone soft on gender distinctions. Over the last 40 years or so, the Christian church has tried to push back on biblical gender roles and the distinctions between men and women in order to embrace a more egalitarian view of gender. Most of these believers, as I can tell, have tried to remain faithful to Scripture on issues like gay marriage or gender reassignment surgery. Yet they unintentionally undermine their own argument by flattening the genders as much as possible in every other scenario. On the one hand, they argue that there are no gender distinctions in Christ, but on the other they wish to hold to gender distinctions in real-world circumstances. I do not think this position is either faithful to Scripture or sustainable in the long haul. Egalitarian believers must be willing to say that men and women are not interchangeable because God created them distinct and different. This, fundamentally, would force them out of a true egalitarian position. Let it be so.

The Church must offer a unique voice in these conversations. We may be rejected, and that is fine. But we must accept the risk that the world will wrongly label us as haters for simply affirming the truth. Affirming the truth, after all, is the greatest act of love. Jesus himself, the most loving person who ever lived, came to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). He came “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). These are not opposites. We are not graceful sometimes and truthful other times. We are show grace and truth simultaneously at all times. The only way we can do that is by being compassionate to people and committed to truth. And, just like Jesus, we will be rejected for it.

The culture is leaving less and less room for cowardly Christians. The hostility towards what we believe and whom we follow is increasing, which means we have only two options: either we remain faithful in spite of persecution, or we compromise and deny the Lord who bought us. It’s time to make a choice. We need not be those who shove our views in people’s faces, but we do need to be those who will not accept the lies our culture tells us and instead show them the love and wisdom of our Creator in action.

Interview With Corey Miller of Ratio Christi

Today I had the pleasure of sitting down with Corey Miller, CEO of Ratio Christi. Ratio Christi is an international apologetics organization that specializes in outreach on school campuses.

In this interview, we discuss the unique nature of Ratio Christi, the need for intellectual and thoughtful evangelism, the challenges of reaching the next generation, and the rise of a social justice worldview among young people.

Visit ratiochristi.org for more.

Book You Should Buy: Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth

I don’t make a lot of book recommendations but I would like to recommend this one for your consideration. Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice by Professor Thaddeus Williams is a sound critique of the popular social justice movements from a biblical perspective. He distinguished between what he calls Social Justice A, which is a view of justice founded on Scriptural principles, and Social Justice B, which is founded on secular philosophies. Social Justice B is not only a phenomenon of secular culture, but it is increasingly being adopted by professing believers.

In my estimation, Williams is right that our diagnosis of social problems and our ability to address them rests first on assessing what is true. If we make false assumptions about the nature of truth, justice, inequality, sin, human nature, and the role of the church, then what we call “justice” will inevitably lead to actual injustice. In short, our pursuit of justice (an important biblical mandate) needs to be informed, shaped, and guided by the truth of God’s Word. Otherwise, we go off-course. I thought this book took a well-balanced approach to discussing these distinctions.

One aspect that makes this work unique is the inclusion of personal stories from twelve other contributors. Each one shares their experience of having a warped view of social justice originally to embracing a healthy and healing version that is shaped by the gospel. These stories add a personal element to the work that helps drive home the point that issues of social justice aren’t theoretical. They affect real people in the real world in real ways, for better or worse.

Here are some teaser quotes from the book. Consider purchasing a copy and digging in for yourself.


The problem is not with the quest for social justice. The problem is what happens when that quest is undertaken from a framework that is not compatible with the Bible. Today many Christians accept conclusions that are generated from [worldviews] with very different presuppositions about reality than those we find in Scripture. We shirk God’s commands and hurt his image-bearers when we unwittingly allow unbiblical worldview assumptions to shape our approach to justice.

The doctrine of human depravity swings like a wrecking ball, leveling any ideology that says, “My gender group, my ethnic group, my economic group makes me good, and their group is evil.”

Paul told the truth that being “in Christ Jesus” is a new identity that transcends other group identities.

Here are some clues that we may have been taken in by an anti-Spirit ideology: Instead of being love-filled, we’re easily offended, ever suspicious, and preoccupied with our own feelings. Instead of being filled with joy, we’re filled with rage and resentment, unable to forgive. Instead of striving for peace, we’re quarrelsome—dividing people into oppressed or oppressor groups instead of appreciating the image-bearer before us. Instead of having patience, we’re quickly triggered and slow to honestly weigh our opponents’ perspectives. Instead of being kind, we’re quick to trash others, assuming the worst of their motives. Instead of showing gentleness, we use condemning rhetoric and redefined words to intimidate others into our perspective. Instead of showing self-control, we blame our issues exclusively on others and their systems, not warring daily against the evil in our own hearts.

When we automatically assume damning explanations for unequal outcomes, we not only lock ourselves in a prison of never-ending rage but also dull our senses to the point that we will be useless for the sacred task of recognizing and resisting the real racism, real sexism, and other real vicious isms around us.

…if we don’t bother to distinguish between inequalities that come from sin and those that don’t, then we are well on our way not to a fictional dystopia but to repeating the bloodiest mistakes of modern history.

How would Christians ever show the tribalized world what real unity looks like if they got swept up in such a never-ending game of grievances—treating one another as exemplars of their ethnic groups rather than their shared identity in Christ?

The Tribes mindset trashes not only any meaningful relationship with that person but also any hope of meaningfully thinking about that person’s perspective. In short, it makes us both closed-hearted and closed-minded.

If we care about ending actual sexism, then we should welcome the question of how much of the gender pay gap can be laid at the feet of actual sexism. Otherwise, we aren’t fighting the real problem, but shadowboxing our own ideological projections. The extent to which we shadowbox our ideological projections of the problem is the extent to which we trivialize the victims of real sexism and racism. By diverting our finite injustice-fighting energies in every direction all at once, Tribes thinking unintentionally marginalizes the already marginalized.

…caring about justice requires a commitment to truth. We can no more separate truth from justice than we can subtract one side from a triangle and still consider it a triangle. The extent to which Tribes thinking predetermines answers to hard questions is the extent to which it obscures truth and unintentionally leaves more people broken.

Given the political polarization of our day, seeing our side as caring about others and the other side as cruel is easy and self-serving. But it is not so black-and-white. Often the left and right simply have different “others.” If we are shaped by Scripture instead of the culture wars, then we will not become the priests and Levites galloping past bodies on the side of the road. Christians should be known less as culture warriors and more as Good Samaritans who stop for battered neighbors, whether they are black, white, brown, male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor, old, young, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist, capitalist, socialist, Republican, Democrat, near, far, tall, short, or smaller than a peanut.

There is often a big difference between feelings and facts, between lived experience and objective reality. That difference matters, and we should take both seriously if we want our quest for justice to lead to real justice.

Do arguments magically become true or false by putting them in someone else’s mouth? No. Writing off someone’s viewpoint because of their melanin levels makes us actual racists. Dismissing someone’s argument because of their gender makes us actual sexists. Silencing someone’s ideas because of their sexuality, their economic status, or any other quality of their lives rather than the quality of their ideas does not make us a voice of justice for the marginalized; it makes us actual bigots.

By downplaying the depth of human corruption, socialism becomes a counterfeit gospel. It relies on corrupt human authorities with no room for God’s heart-regenerating grace. Socialism seeks Christ’s kingdom, minus the Christ, and becomes a destructive parody of God’s shalom. The harder it tries to create heaven on earth, the more hell it unleashes, particularly on the poor whom Scripture commands us to love.

Gender distinctions are a gift from God to be celebrated, not obliterated. Men can’t simply replace women, or women replace men, without something exceedingly beautiful being lost. When we get swept up in Social Justice B, our understanding of sexuality comes less and less from Scripture and more and more from the ideological architects and ancestors of the sexual revolution.

Notice that “the gospel” is “of first importance.” And what is that gospel? It is the good news of free salvation by trusting in the sin-atoning death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. It shouldn’t surprise us that Paul understands the gospel this way, since he received it directly from Jesus. Unlike toppling social and economic systems through social activism, this good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ is what Jesus proclaims to poor in the red letters. It is what the earliest missionaries declare with astonishing saving results throughout the book of Acts. It is the same good news declared throughout the New Testament epistles.

On Censorship

It is no secret that social media platforms have taken serious steps in recent days to censor certain individuals. Then-president Donald Trump was the most obvious example, but since many others have complained of their accounts being deleted or warned by Facebook, Twitter, and others, for going against “community guidelines”. Of course, there is usually little or no explanation concerning what guidelines were broken specifically. In response, hundreds of thousands began to transition over to self-proclaimed free-speech app Parler, only to have both Google and Apple block it from their app stores, as well as Amazon remove it from their hosting servers, effectively scrubbing Parler from the internet.

Think long and hard about what this means. Many have claimed “these are private companies, so they can do whatever they want”. This is only partly true. Even private companies have some limitation for what they can choose to do under American law. But even if they are not breaking the law in these actions, it should be very concerning to people that a handful of companies effectively have the power to completely remove certain voices from the internet. Effectively, if Google, Apple, Amazon, and Twitter decide they want to shut down a particular viewpoint, they can do so in less than one day. That is a freakish amount of global power for only a few individuals to yield.

Again, many push back. “We’re talking about Trump here,” they proclaim, “and he tried to pull off a coup at the Capitol!” While this claim is debatable in and of itself, that is entirely to miss the point. Even if you feel social media should censor people for legitimate reasons…what happens when they begin to do so for illegitimate reasons? What is to stop them?

I myself have been temporarily banned from Facebook and Instagram for sharing blogs from the website you are currently reading. No reason was ever given as to why. I protested, asking for a reason, without ever getting a reply. Suddenly, and without explanation, I was reinstated a few weeks later. To this day I have no idea what I said that supposedly violated “community guidelines”, but I can assure you it had nothing to do with Qanon, election stealing, or any other currently acceptable reason.

I know many Christians who applauded the censoring of Trump and his followers. I can understand why, but I also would want to give them a grave warning: don’t cheer too loudly, because you will be next. Think about it. Satan, the god of this world, wants more than anything to silence the truth, censor the gospel, and control public conversation away from Scriptural ideals. The enemy is not social media giants themselves, but they can and will be used as tools for the enemy in spiritual warfare. This effort will not succeed in the long run, of course. We know God wins in the end. But it absolutely will be effective in the short-term, and make life more difficult for believers in the public square.

The Canadian government is currently doing its own social media crackdown. Trudeau has promised to clamp down on “offensive content and hate speech”, which includes “racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynist and homophobic views”. This may sound good—who would want those ideas promoted?—but keep in mind that the government does not understand Christian doctrine. Many biblical ideas can easily be construed to fit any one of those categories; indeed, the secular world claims that they do already. It is really not that hard to see that in the very near future churches will have their online services blocked, Christians removed from social media, and perhaps even Bible apps taken down under the guise of “hate speech”. None of this spells the end for the Church, but it will create a climate where following Jesus may go from being merely culturally odd to potentially inviting serious legal issues.

Free speech is an important value. It is not only important from a legal perspective, but also from a biblical one as well. Consider a few examples:

  • Proverbs 18:17 “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Part of discovering the truth comes from the free exchange of ideas. If we only hear one side of things and the other is censored, it is easier to be deceived.
  • Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Similarly, our understanding and growth becomes “sharpened” in part by being challenged by others. This includes their ideas.
  • Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” The Christian Golden Rule also applies to speech. If you do not wish to be censored, then you should not be keen to censor others.
  • Acts 17:16-34 In this passage, Paul had the freedom to proclaim the gospel in public because the culture of Athens welcomed the sharing of new ideas.

None of this is to argue that censorship is wrong in every circumstance. Things like explicit calls to violence or communication for illegal activity, such as human trafficking, are examples that come to mind where censorship is commended. But what we are seeing is more than that. We are seeing the squelching of ideas that don’t align with the status quo. As Christians, we ought to know that our ideas of truth fit that category. The Bible itself says that the gospel is offensive to the unbelieving world (Galatians 5:11). Christian doctrines like the existence of a Creator, moral standards for sexuality, distinction between men and women, damnation, and salvation through Christ alone are more than ancient relics of the past. They are unacceptable hinderances to an increasingly secular humanist future. Censorship is inevitable.

Our strategy for Christian ministry will need to adapt. In Ontario, where I live, lockdowns because of the coronavirus have forced churches to go online with their ministries. This works for the time being. But perhaps the online world will not be so welcoming for long. I seriously wonder if the typical North American style of church is a sustainable model for the future. My guess is that believers here will have to increasingly find other methods of effective Christian ministry. While Satan may mean this for evil, God means it for good. Perhaps this is the way our Lord is purging our churches of lukewarm faith, dulled desire for evangelism, and apathetic worship.

Jesus reminds us that anyone who desires to follow him must first count the cost. For many of us, that cost has been relatively minimal. Maybe that will change in the future. Only God knows for sure. Either way, it is a good reminder for us to get our hearts right before the Lord, re-establish ourselves as citizens of heaven free from the love of this world, and be prepared to meet any trials that may come with joy (James 1:2-4).

The Sin Beneath the Sin

I recently watched an interesting debate between two pastors on the topic of homosexuality and how Christianity views it. I didn’t really want to comment much on it here; I’d encourage you to go watch the 2-part series for yourself if you’re interested. But there was one line in particular that really caught my attention that I’d like to discuss briefly.

The pastor who was arguing that homosexuality is compatible with Christianity and the Bible said, around the 20:35 minute mark of part 1, that “In some way I can totally sign off on God designing sexuality, if I’m allowed to have my ways of thinking about it.” This one sentence, to me, was the most important sentence of the entire debate. Allow me to explain.

Christians have historically made a big deal out of certain sins, homosexuality being one of them, seemingly to the exclusion of other sins. I think this is one of the ways believers have erred in their faith. The problem is not calling sin what it is, but elevating certain sins over others. In doing so, it makes it appear that some people are really sinners while others are just kinda sinners. Naturally, we tend to be those who label ourselves only kinda sinners…how convenient!

However, I don’t think Scripture affords us this option. God’s Word declares that “there is none righteous; no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In this way, all people are in the same category: sinners who fall short of God’s moral standards for our lives. It is wrong to emphasize one person’s “falling short” over your own. We are all helpless sinners who need God’s forgiveness.

Moreover, Christians should seek that forgiveness with a sense of humility, not pride. Consider the parable Jesus tells in Luke 18:9-14, where one man boasts that he is better than others and yet is rejected by God, while another man throws himself at the feet of the Lord and humbly begs for mercy and receives it. It is a powerful reminder that our own sin has rendered us unacceptable in God’s sight and only his grace can change that fact. None of us are better than anyone else in the eyes of God.

It is a mistake, then, on the part of a believer to believe that *our* sin only separates us from God a little while *your* sin separates you from God a lot. The truth is that ALL sin separates us from God. This is because sin always has two layers. There is the expression of it, and there is the root of it. The expression of our sinfulness shows up in many ways, but the root of it is always the same: we want to be our own god.

When we sin, we are effectively saying to God, “I’m not going to live under your rule. I’m not going to let you call the shots. I’m going to do things my way, because I think my way is better than yours”. Back to the video debate, consider the subject of homosexuality. The issue isn’t really about homosexuality or any other sexual activity. The issue really is, “I want to define my own life, my own identity, and my own morality. I want to be my own god”. Or, to put it in the exact words one debater used, “I can totally sign off on God designing sexuality, if I’m allowed to have my ways of thinking about it.”

That last phrase is crucial. It is essentially declaring that we will submit to God so long as he agrees with us. God must affirm our way of thinking, and then we will follow him. Yet this is the polar opposite of how our relationship with God works. God is God; he calls the shots. He is the Creator, Designer, and Sustainer of life, and we fall into line with his way of ordering things, not the other way around. We are created in the image of God, but the root of sin is that we want to create a god in our own image.

Christianity does not really begin by discussing homosexuality or any other issue. It begins by knowing that we resist the rulership of God in our lives, and unless we are willing to submit to his authority, we are in sin. This resistance leads to two significant problems. The first is that it entrenches us in pride. We will forge our own way, determine our own life course, and operate according to our own personal ideals. The second problem is that it causes us to live outside of our created design. It would not be an issue for us to rebel against God if he were some tyrannical dictator who cared little about us. But it is an issue because he is a loving God and knows what is best for us. His designs are good and his ways are wise. Thus, to rebel against God and become our own god, we are alienating ourselves from the fullness of life that we were created to experience.

Don’t get too caught up in the details. The problem is always the same, and the solution is always the same. The problem is that we want to dethrone God and take his place. This is the essence of being a sinner. The solution is that we humbly seek his forgiveness, repent of our arrogant ways, and surrender our life to him. This is the essence of being redeemed. The gospel, the good news of Christianity, is that God never rejects anyone who comes to him in this way. His grace is a free gift to all who ask for it. Yet we must first be willing to lay aside our pride and give God his rightful place in our lives.

It does not matter what specific sins you commit personally. What matters is that underneath our sin is a hard heart that is resistant to God. That is our fundamental identity. But that reality can be changed by the grace of God, when we repent and believe in Jesus for salvation. Our sins are forgiven and our relationship to God is restored. We become a “new creation in Christ” and begin a new life with a new identity, no longer as sinners but as beloved children of God and members of his family. I pray that each person reading this would come to know that salvation.

What We Learned in 2020

It has been one crazy year.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe all that has taken place in just the last twelve months. We’ve had volatile elections, riots, murder hornets, celebrity scandals, big-tech censorship, and of course the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent challenges it has brought: lockdowns, mass distrust of media, government ineptitude, recession, and controversial vaccines.

One can’t help but wonder, what in the world is God doing?

In some ways, 2020 has been like every other year before it, only this time it was hooked up to a globe-sized bullhorn. The same dangers that mankind faced in 2020 were present in 2019 and the year before, and the year before, stretching back to the book of Genesis. As Scripture reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun. Humanity has always been stricken with illness, both of our body and our soul. We teeter on the fine line between life and death every moment of every day, long before COVID was even heard of. We are crushed under the weight of government corruption, burdened by racial unrest, and generally struggle to get along in a fallen world that is full of selfish sinners. In that sense, it is business as usual.

If I were to sum up what God has impressed upon me this year in one sentence, I would simply let Jesus speak for me:

“My kingdom is not of this world” – John 18:36

The challenges of this year have been a painful but helpful reminder that God’s kingdom is not yet arrived. Earth is not heaven, and never will be, until it’s triumphant King returns. Until then, we struggle on amidst worldly kingdoms with evil rulers, broken systems, and dreams that will never be realized on this side of eternity. Though I yearn for more, for a world at peace, well-organized, and united, it will never happen, because these yearnings find their origin in the kingdom of God. It is currently a heavenly reality, and a spiritual one, but not yet an earthly one. One day that will change.

Perhaps one of the great lessons we are to learn this year is the futility of placing our hope in the things of this world. We place our hope in rulers, in medicine, in policy, in money, in safety, in each other and in ourselves. None of these things can deliver on the expectations we place upon them. Yet we try nonetheless, only to be frustrated and angered when things don’t work out the way we demanded. Such is the reality of false hope: it is sure to disappoint.

As Christians, we know that our hope is in the Lord. But that does not mean we are immune to falling prey to worldly thinking. Often what we know to be true theologically is not realized in our own hearts. We know that God is our hope, but we like to keep a little spare bedroom in our hearts where other idols remain as invited guests. It is certain that one thing God is doing in 2020 is attempting to smash the idols we still cling to so that our hope lies fully in him. We would do well to stop resisting this important work of sanctification.

Fellow believers, we are not of this world. Our King is not of this world. Earth is not our home. We are strangers and aliens, exiles who are simply passing through. We live not for this life but for the life to come. Let the world crumble and fall as its foundation is being shaken. But may we, the Church, stand firm. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. God desires for that reality to take hold of you in a new way this year. Let it be so!

As we head into the new year, we know not how long our Lord will tarry. It seems apparent to me that human history is quickly marching towards the appointed end. Things will not remain as they are forever. The kingdoms of this world will be stripped away and the kingdom of heaven ushered in. If you find the circumstances of your life leading you to think “it shouldn’t be this way”, let that move you to saying with all your heart, “Come Lord Jesus!”

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has hit mainstream awareness ever since President Trump issued an executive order against teaching CRT through government-funded means. Until that point, CRT was mainly known only to those who have taken college and university courses in social studies. (Side note: I guarantee one of the first actions Joe Biden will likely take when sworn in is to overturn this order.) Nevertheless, CRT is a very specific thought-process that Christians need to be aware of not only because of the influence it is having in the culture (especially since the death of George Floyd and through Black Lives Matter) but also because it is being embraced by the Church. If you don’t know what CRT is yet, you will soon, and you likely have encountered it dozens of times already, especially if you use social media.

I had an exchange recently with someone who absolutely insisted that I did not really know what Critical Race Theory was. He was adamant that I was mischaracterizing CRT and that was because I was unfamiliar with the origins of CRT in the 1980’s by legal scholars. This is somewhat true. I am only vaguely familiar with the content of CRT from the 80’s. Yet I don’t really care, because we live in 2020, not 1980. CRT may have began one way but, as all ideas do, it has morphed over time. Though I’m not familiar with the legal end of things pre-2000, I am familiar with CRT in its mainstream modern form.

In this article, I want to define CRT for believers and lay out the basic tenets of this ideology. This is to help us understand and evaluate it in light of Scripture. As I will demonstrate, CRT is riddled with truth-claims that are alien to God’s Word. But before the analysis, first the definition.

Definition

This is how I define Critical Race Theory: It is an adapted-Marxist line of thought designed to critique racial dominance in culture and correct it by bringing about greater equity between races.

Sound confusing? Don’t worry, it is more understandable than you might think. Let me break it down by highlighting 8 core principles of Critical Race Theory.

1. People are divided into groups based on their racial identity.

A fundamental question of life is, Who am I? Critical Race Theory answers this question by placing great emphasis on your race. Such a great emphasis, in fact, that your race is more important than your uniqueness as an individual. This is extremely important to understand, because everything else flows from it. CRT is about broad-brush characterizations of entire races without consideration for personal differences between members of the same race.

2. One race is considered to be dominant in a culture, while the others are oppressed

Since our Western culture was founded by white people and remains predominantly white, CRT teaches that white people are oppressive, while other racial groups are oppressed. You may believe this line of thinking is far too simplistic, but CRT doesn’t budge. Regardless of other factors, including personal integrity, whites are oppressive and all other races are oppressed—end of story.

3. The dominant race retains its dominance through cultural systems and structures

While most people think of racism as words or actions done by individual people, CRT sees racism as systemic. The systems and structures of society are tools used to keep the dominant group in power. This is why there is so much emphasis today on the tearing down of Western culture; it simply follows logically if the premise is that the entire culture structurally imposes racist ideals.

4. Reality is best defined by the experience of the oppressed

Since white people are systematically advantaged in society, they become blind to their own privilege. From a CRT perspective, of course white people don’t think society is racist—because it isn’t racist towards them! Minority races, on the other hand, see more clearly the systemic racism that exists because they face it everyday. As a result, people of colour are considered to have a more authoritative take on these issues than whites do.

There is one exception to this rule, however. What happens if a person of colour rejects the idea that society is systemically racist towards them? Are they still considered to be an authority on this issue? Critical Race Theory has a convenient response. That person has either “internalized” their oppression, meaning they have simply made peace with it, or, worse, they are intentionally speaking that way in order to gain favour with whites. Either way, minority people are supposed to agree that culture is racist towards them.

It is also worth noting that CRT is very narrative-based. Many CRT advocates don’t like to discuss facts, statistics, or other objective measures of society—unless they support the idea of systemic oppression. Otherwise, those who raise objections against CRT using objective data are considered to be using tools of oppression to conveniently dismiss the lived experience of the oppressed.

5. Double-standards are applied to the dominant group vs. the oppressed groups

Moral demands are different depending on your group identity. If you are in the dominant group (white), you should “check your privilege”, take the posture of a listener on these issues, and work to undo your internalized bias. If you are in an oppressed group (people of colour), you should assert yourself and fight for “your people”. It is also generally assumed that people of colour have freedom to “bend the rules” if needed, since, after all, the rules were created by white people, for white people. How can you play the game fairly if it has already been rigged against you?

6. Racial discrimination intersects and compounds with other forms of cultural oppression

Critical Race Theory is actually a branch of a wider ideology known as Critical Theory. Critical Theory brings together cultural oppression from many different areas of life, not just race. Thus, although all racial minorities are oppressed, that oppression is worsened if one is a woman (oppressed by men), homosexual (oppressed by heterosexuals), transgender (oppressed by cisgender), poor (oppressed by the rich), disabled (oppressed by able-bodied people), or any religion other than Christian. These layers of discrimination sometimes compound the suffering of oppressed groups. Thus, all discrimination must be fought against simultaneously.

7. Disparities between races are understood to be caused by discrimination

The proof that discrimination is real in society is the existence of disparities between racial groups. CRT implies that if discrimination in society were non-existent, all races would end up at the same place, having exactly the same degree of cultural influence, power, and resources. Thus, equity is the desired goal. “Equity” here means “equal outcomes”. Often, CRT proponents use the term “equality” instead of “equity”, but almost always they still mean “equal outcomes”.

8. Oppressors must be actively anti-racist and work with the oppressed for the common cause

The first six points define the problem. The seventh defines the end goal. This final point calls for action to go from one to the other. Undoing systemic racism is everyone’s responsibility, and thus the call to social justice is for all: both oppressors and the oppressed. This work will never be finished as long as racial disparities of any kind still exist in society.

What are we to make of this?

My original plan in this post was to go through point-by-point the various claims of Critical Race Theory and compare them against Scripture. There is a good place for that kind of thorough analysis. One would have to point out some of the following flaws:

  • Broad racial stereotyping is itself discriminatory and therefore sinful (James 2:2-4, Acts 10:34-35)
  • Claiming that all whites are oppressive is, at least in many cases, bearing false witness against your neighbour (Exodus 20:16)
  • Claiming that disparities prove discrimination lacks proper nuance, as there are many reasons for unequal outcomes for people, many of which do not constitute injustice (Proverbs 10:4, 12:11)
  • Race itself is not a biblical category; God considers mankind to be one race (Acts 17:26)
  • People are not morally responsible for the sinful actions of others that they had nothing to do with (Romans 2:6)
  • God considers double-standards to be sinful (Leviticus 19:15)
  • All people have inherent bias, including racial minorities; this sin is not unique to any group of people in particular (Romans 3:23)
  • Truth is not determined by one’s perceived experiences (John 17:17)
  • Racial harmony does not come through activism, but through unity in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29, Ephesians 2:14)

Among so many other things that could be mentioned, this last point is significant. Believers, in particular, need to reject Critical Race Theory because it presents a false path to racial unity. Racial unity does not come through racial stereotyping, dividing people in racial groups, casting around accusations, and demanding equity of outcome. Racial unity comes from our connection as family in Christ. Through Christ, we are individually redeemed of our sin and brought together as brothers and sisters under the care of our heavenly Father. Thus, through the gospel, we are reconciled—past tense. We may still need to learn to walk out our unity as a collection of people who differ from one another (in many more ways than just racially), yet our bond is already there, sealed by the blood of Christ. When we highlight racial division, especially in the Church, we are implying that the gospel is insufficient for this sin-caused problem. Such an attack on the power of the gospel is dangerous and need be denounced.

To illustrate the contrast between Critical Race Theory and unity in Christ: as I was writing this very article, one of our church members stopped by the church office to visit. This church member happens to be black. He came into my office and we chatted for several minutes. We talked about what is going on in each other’s lives, about work, about some of the struggles we each had been dealing with recently. We laughed at some of the stupid things I sometimes say on our church podcasts. Then we prayed together and he went on his way.

After he left, I returned to writing this article. I was struck by the contrast between how beautiful the harmony and brotherhood in Christ is verses the divisive, exhausting, and toxic culture placed between people of different races through Critical Race Theory. It was just so obvious to me how useless and nonsensical CRT is when people have such common ground as faith in Christ. He was not looking at me as someone who has hidden racial biases under the surface. I was not looking at him as someone I needed to confess my privilege to. We were just brothers, enjoying one another’s company and supporting and encouraging each other in the Lord.

Robin DiAngelo, who’s work perfectly exemplifies modern Critical Race Theory, says “Racism is always present in every cross-racial interaction. The question is not, ‘Is there racism?” but rather ‘How did racism manifest itself?'” Can you now see the kind of divisive poison CRT is, both in the Church and in society? Racism is real, but CRT elevates racism to a level where it infects every area of life. The Christian Church needs to reject this evil doctrine and instead elevate unity in Christ. Imagine how different the interaction between my friend and I would have been if we had allowed CRT to shape our thinking and our relationship. I am calling on my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord to stand up against CRT and refuse to allow it into the Church. There is already a battle being fought within many churches, denominations, and seminaries along these same lines. I hope and pray that the power of the gospel would not be cheapened or replaced by this disgusting alternative that has no place among the people of God.