Tag Archives: oppression

My Kingdom Is Not of This World

Heavenly Image Rapture Left Behind

Many Christians say that Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) and cultural marxism pose the greatest ideological threat to the gospel in our day. They may be right. Others fear that the spread of these ideas will lead to full-blown socialism in our nation.

Another concern some Christians share is that these ideas have infiltrated the Church thus diluting or even destroying its ability to proclaim the truth of the gospel.

This raises some interesting questions:

  • Are today’s false doctrines any more dangerous than those faced by previous generations?
  • Has Satan come up with a new strategy or has he merely recycled old lies?
  • Is our battle against flesh and blood (politicians, leftists and deceived church leaders) or is our battle “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms?”

Those sounding the alarm correctly surmise that we are responsible to fight for truth and to proclaim a biblical gospel. But whom do we fight and how do we wage war?

Suppose the heretofore unthinkable happens and the United States slips into the evil of socialism/marxism. Is the Kingdom of God threatened by an economic system?

Let’s keep these questions in mind as we look at the threat posed by cultural Marxism.

Critical Theory

Ideas such as social justice, identity politics, radical feminism, intersectionality, classism and white privilege fall under the umbrella of critical theory. Neil Shenvi (a Christian apologist) defines critical theory this way—“Critical theory is an ideology that divides the world into oppressed groups and their oppressors and aims to liberate the oppressed.”1

The oppressed groups are not confined to economic status as in traditional marxism or Liberation Theology. Women are also oppressed, as are people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Lots of people are oppressed, and of course, the only people left to play the role of oppressor are white males, especially Christian white males.

So how is the gospel threatened? The most common response I have read is that social justice warriors confuse justice and mercy, two concepts that are very clear and very distinct in the Bible. Sinners deserve justice for their sin, but God in his mercy “gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” SJWs affirm a different idea—that somehow the oppressed deserve mercy in the same way they deserve justice, that they are two sides of the same coin. If that be the case, then we deserve our salvation.

My first reaction to reading Shenvi’s definition of critical theory was to recall Jesus’ words in Luke 4:18–19:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Indeed, this passage refers to both spiritual and literal freedom, poverty, blindness, and oppression. But critical theory ignores the spiritual component. Jesus sets us free from sin’s oppression and Satan. Critical theory doesn’t see sin as the problem or Christ as the solution because it focuses on real and imagined oppression by other people. They proclaim moral superiority over their oppressors and exhibit a hubris that excludes them from the moral requirements that the Bible applies equally to every human. It perpetuates Satan’s lie that someone else (perhaps even God) is withholding something from us.

Thus, critical theory doesn’t allow us to identify with Adam so that Christ, the second Adam can free us. Instead, we must belong to an oppressed group (or repent of our wrongs as a member of an oppressor group) and fight for liberation. The gospel is unnecessary as critical theorists virtue signal their way into hell. Tragic.

Critical theory ups the ante on post-modernism’s disdain for objective truth by claiming objective truth acts only as a cover for the evil perpetrated by oppressors. Subjective experiences trump objective facts.2 So, in critical theory, Satan’s lie —“has God said” takes on a form that refuses to consider any appeal to the Bible.

At Odds With the Gospel

We are either in Adam or in Christ. We are lost or we are found. We travel the road to destruction or we travel the road to eternal life. These are the only two identities that matter. Critical theory ignores the gospel and divides people into two groups—the oppressed and their oppressors. In the worldview of critical theory there is neither room for good in the oppressor group nor evil in the oppressed group. But our identity (and certainly our virtue) does not lie in our gender, skin color or oppressed status.

Christians are commanded “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Critical theory promotes strife and conflict between groups while denying that we are all born into the same sinking boat. It is contrary to Christianity because the Bible teaches we are all separated from God by our sin, and need a solution that can only be provided by God. They don’t need Jesus or his gospel because they have substituted oppression for sin as mankind’s biggest problem. And, they believe they can solve the problem themselves.

Critical theory is at odds with Christianity because it makes distinctions between people that the Bible doesn’t consider as important as the distinction between those in Adam and those in Christ:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29

So those who are alarmed are correct – we have to preach the true gospel. To do so requires us to identify and reject any false gospel.

Will the Social Justice Movement Lead to Socialism?

The Social Justice Movement is currently a hot topic in the Church. You may have heard the phrase “Woke Church.” It refers to churches and their members who embrace the idea that racism and injustice are systemic in America. For some, righting this wrong becomes the main mission of the church instead of preaching the gospel.

For secular critical theorists and SJWs to reach their objectives, the existing power structures must be overturned. Thus, many people fear that this ideology will lead to socialism. The social justice movement is more likely to result in socialism than simple class warfare because so many more people can be incited to rise up against the status quo.

Marxism and socialism destroy individual freedom and private ownership of the means of production. Thus they undermine biblical principles of reaping what you sow and stewardship. Capitalism must have freedom and private ownership in order to operate so it preserves them.

Does Jesus’ Kingdom Depend On an Economic System?

But herein lies a trap. Instead of defending the gospel, some Christians are tempted to spend much of their time defending capitalism rather than simply fighting against biblical heresy and the horrors of socialism.

Most Christians would probably agree with the statement that capitalism is better than socialism because evil men can do the least harm under capitalism. But is it really capitalism that restrains evil or is it individual freedom, the rule of law and the preservation property rights that cause a society to flourish?3 The fact that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom should alert us to the fact that capitalism’s prosperity may hinder the gospel as well. Capitalism may only encourage a weak faith. Jesus’ proclamation that the kingdom of heaven is more important to Christians than their material prosperity suggests that our priority must be to defend the gospel, not capitalism:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46

Let’s not promote capitalism (a system that preserves market freedom yet easily diverts us from God’s purposes) over God’s economy in which Christians steward their resources to promote the kingdom of God. Let’s defend freedom, property rights and the rule of law, but let’s not promote a capitalism that encourages and depends on debt and covetousness to enslave its participants.

And, let’s not make the same mistake as the critical theorists. They are not the enemy we must ultimately overcome. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

Let us remember this when the injurious treatment of others provokes us to revenge. Our natural disposition would lead us to direct all our exertions against the men themselves; but this foolish desire will be restrained by the consideration that the men who annoy us are nothing more than darts thrown by the hand of Satan. While we are employed in destroying those darts, we lay ourselves open to be wounded on all sides. To wrestle with flesh and blood will not only be useless, but highly pernicious. We must go straight to the enemy, who attacks and wounds us from his concealment, — who slays before he appears. (From Calvin’s commentary on Ephesians.)

This is a battle that we can’t win on our own. We must spend time praying before any encounter with the lies of Satan (including lies we believe unawares) and we must keep ourselves unstained by the world as we proclaim the truth. Christ will establish his church and his kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

But Isn’t Oppression a Problem the Church Should Address?

Yes! The Bible condemns oppression whether it occurs in ancient Israel, in America’s slave trade, in South Africa’s apartheid or in today’s society. Christians must defend the rights of the weak and vulnerable. We must soberly examine our society against Scripture and root out any evil practices (and laws that abet them) without compromising the main point of the gospel—we are all born sinners in need of Jesus Christ.

(To learn more about economic oppression in our modern world and the ways in which capitalism and socialism compete against God’s economy for the hearts and souls of humanity, look for my book, The Narrow Road, available on Amazon later this month.)


  1. Neil Shenvi, “Critical Theory Quotes” https://shenviapologetics.com/critical-theory-quotes/
  2. Neil Shenvi, “Christianity and Critical Theory” https://shenviapologetics.com/critical-theory-and-christianity-part-1/
  3. These three principles distinguish capitalism from socialism, but they don’t sufficiently define capitalism. These principles can exist outside of capitalism.


Does America Have An Incurable Wound? – Part 2

Micah denounced Israel not only for their sins against God in the form of idolatry, but also for their sins against each other. There is no doubt about their guilt, as it is God himself who testifies against Samaria and Jerusalem (Micah 1:2).

Israel Was Judged for its Oppression of the Weak

In both Israel and Judah, idolatry was accompanied by covetousness, fraud and oppression. Some, simply because they had the power to do so, made themselves rich by seizing the homes of their fellow-man, devastating families as they took their inheritance (Micah 2:1,2). Their punishment fit the crime as those in power saw their land and their children’s inheritance taken from them (Micah 2:4,5).

These kinds of practices were echoed on a very large-scale in the United States as big banks and Wall Street made huge fees selling packaged sub-prime mortgages to unsuspecting investors and then foreclosed on homes, often taking a family’s life savings in the process. Adding insult to injury, those who were guilty of these practices were rewarded with hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Israel’s Leaders Did Not Believe They Would Be Held Accountable

While false prophets proclaimed that disgrace would not overtake them they sought to silence Micah and other prophets of God (2:6). Not fearing judgment, sure that God would never do such a thing to his people (2:7; 3:11), they took comfort believing that God would keep his promises of salvation to the people of Israel all the while ignoring the promises of judgment for disobedience that were part of the conditional covenant with Moses (Deut. 28).

Meanwhile, in this atmosphere promoted by these false prophets, the rich in Israel were emboldened to evict widows from their houses and sell their children into slavery to finance their lifestyles (Micah 2:9; Amos 8:6). God does not tolerate those who perform or condone such wickedness: they will come to ruin as God evicts the evictors (Micah 2:10). But the warnings are ignored and visions of prosperity are just what the people want to hear (Micah 2:11; Jeremiah. 5:31).

Prosperity Gospel and the Poor

Many religious leaders today preach a gospel of prosperity that not only believes God will not judge those who weary themselves to gain wealth (Proverb 23:4) but that God is obligated to make us wealthy if we have enough faith. They strip God of his sovereignty and make their faith sovereign (2 Peter 2:1). Devoid of any doctrine of suffering, their message appeals to those who would rather skip the experiences of the saints listed in Hebrews 11’s “hall of faith” (Hebrews 11:36-40) (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

They disparage the poor man for his lack of faith instead of showing compassion toward him. They deceive the poor to obtain their money (Titus 1:11) and are seemingly unaware that they will be judged for preaching to satisfy their greed (2 Peter 2:3,14,15). It is certainly not to our credit but to our shame that this false message has spread from its origins in the United States into many parts of the world.

Perhaps there are even American Christians who, believing we are somehow better than the rest of the world, think God will overlook our sins because he cannot do without America’s mission agencies, mega-churches and seminaries!

Israel’s Leaders Did Not Restrain Evil, but Instead Loved It

The leaders, who should have known better and who should have known what God expected of them, hated good and loved evil (Micah 3:1). Instead of restraining evil they devoured the poor for personal gain (Micah 3:2,3). When their fortunes turn for the worse they will cry out and not be heard (Micah 3:4; Proverbs 21:13).

The professional prophets waged war against those who wouldn’t pay for their prophecies but would tell those who paid them what they wanted to hear. Therefore these false prophets will not hear from God. In contrast, Micah, filled with the Holy Spirit, declared to the people their sin (Micah 3:5-8).

The leaders judged for a bribe and the prophets taught for a price, denying that disaster was near as they clung to their belief that God would never judge his people (Micah 3:11). But judgment from God would come (Micah 3:12).

Are we guilty when we place our faith in a free market economy to police itself as many are wont to do? When we say that there is too much regulation and we need to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit are we ignoring what God has to say about fallen humanity and its propensity to act wickedly? Christians should know better.

What difference is there between Israel’s leaders who judged for a bribe and our politicians who pander to special interest groups?

Israel’s Trial

Before getting into Israel’s trial, Micah devotes two chapters mainly to future hope and blessing – namely the coming kingdom of Messiah, perhaps to show that he is faithful even though his people are not. God will keep his promises even as he exacts judgment.

When God brings his case against them he again states they should have known better. God has shown Israel what is good – acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with him (Micah 6:8) (Deut 10:12). When God makes his case against Israel he emphasizes the kind of sins that, instead of helping his weaker neighbor, harms him – gaining wealth at the expense of others by employing wicked methods (6:10), using dishonest weights and scales to defraud him (v 11), and threatening those who challenged their ways (6:12).  But ill-gotten gain is not safe, and those who obtain it will be brought to ruin (6:13-16).

Does America Fit This Pattern?

Does any of this sound familiar? To many, the answer will be no. They will say that corruption and oppression is much worse in other nations and that the opposite is true in America – we coddle our poor with “entitlements”. Besides, many of the poor in America would be considered rich in some countries.

They will say everyone has opportunity to succeed if they try. They will say too many people have a victim mentality and are just envious of the rich.

So, according to this line of thinking, God was wrong. He didn’t need to include commandments for economic interaction in the law he gave to Moses. If only God had known about free markets! Now that we have them, we need not be concerned.

Let me ask this. Is it possible that America has gained its great wealth solely because its people work harder than the people of other nations and because of our freedoms? Is a nation’s wealth always a sign of God’s favor? Have all rich individuals in our nation gained their wealth because they worked harder, utilized their freedom of choice and were blessed by God accordingly? Of course not! It wasn’t true in Israel’s time either.

We cannot hide behind a belief that our economic system has somehow overcome the problem of human sin when it comes to gaining wealth. People will still take from each other through trickery and oppression and people will still be lazy. It seems we, as a nation, hold neither person accountable.

Perhaps the most important question to ask is this. Does the way our economic system operates indicate to us a dependence on God as protector and provider and judge of our behavior?

I think the answer is no.

What Is the Proper Christian Response?

Micah, seeing the fate that awaits his people, mourns for Samaria with weeping and wailing, going barefoot and naked, howling like a jackal and moaning like an owl (Micah 1:8,9). Indeed, the northern kingdom would go into exile under Sargon II in 721 B.C. Twenty years later, his successor, Sennacherib invaded Judah taking many captive with Jerusalem escaping only because of God’s miraculous intervention (2 Kings 19:35).

We don’t know for sure (as did Micah) that we have an incurable wound. Only God knows. But should we not recognize our sins and mourn for our nation?

As we see our nation’s moral and economic decline accelerate, should we not be praying for a return to God rather than for a return to prosperity? Shouldn’t we know better than to chase after riches? We too know what is good – to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.

Our task, as Christians living in America, is not to place our trust in our leaders, our economic system, our national ideals, our military or in American exceptionalism. If we have misplaced our trust, then our task is to stop digging broken cisterns and return to the wellspring of life (Jeremiah 2:13).