Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Salvation Army hasn't gone woke, but it faces that Danger

These views do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Salvation Army, it's employees, or partners. The views on this blog are solely of those making them, based on the teachings of the Bible, in the Spirit.

It seems like every church movement within the United States is facing internal struggles between biblical Christianity and worldly ideologies.  Some denominational battle grounds have included movements like Roman Catholicism, Methodism, the SBC, the Gospel Coalition, the UCC, the UMC, the ELCA, the church of the Nazarene, and of course The Salvation Army, to name a few. Many of the most biblically solid, evangelical movements have faced severe internal battles on the most basic Christian doctrines. 

Today we focus in on The Salvation Army, the movement of which I am a part. Recently the Salvation Army faced an onslaught by conservative media in regard to wokeness, exposed in The Salvation Army's controversial guide "Let's talk about Racism."  In the midst of the most important time of year, Christmas, during kettle season, the fundraising time of The Salvation Army, news stories by the dozens dropped from publications like The Daily Wire, The Washington Times, the Wallstreet Journal, and Fox News. 

The Salvation Army national commander issued several statements denying the allegation of wokeness having influence in The Salvation Army. And indicated The Salvation Army is and always has been politically neutral. That is of course how it should be. 

But I've seen the reality, and it's a bit more complicated. Has The Salvation Army "gone woke" as they say? The answer to that question is no. The doctrines of The Salvation Army are quite biblical. The position statements are generally valid. The vast majority of local officers and leaders hold biblical beliefs. But, have the seeds of "wokeness" been laid in The Salvation Army? The answer is yes. And if good men and women don't stand up against these ideologies, they will gain influence and eventually begin to dominate the church. 

That's how it goes with bad theology and bad ideas. They begin to make in roads, slowly but surely, and leaders in key positions, not wanting to risk their career advancements, refuse to confront these issues directly.  Those in roads become highways over time, materials begin being decimated, like the "Let's talk about Racism" guide in The Salvation Army, targeted internally to officers and soldiers, and soon more and more embrace those beliefs. Eventually, those beliefs become common place, they are written into the key doctrines and position statements of the organization, and the next generation coming up applies them to daily practice. 

So slowly, but surely over time an organization morphs from a biblical Christian movement, to a secular social justice movement, politically motivated, ideological radical, and completely departed from it's base beliefs.  We've seen those sort of transformations in their advanced stages in movements like the UMC, which is splitting fifty-fifty between woke LGBTQ churches and biblical churches. We see the UCC well down that road, the same with the ELCA. And now even the most conservative fundamentalist denominations like the SBC or the church of the Nazarene display increasingly weak knees and distortions in doctrine. 

So has The Salvation Army gone woke? No. But, we see many of the signs and seeds of such transformation taking place. We see equity and inclusion positions. We see special councils. We see "recommended reading lists" replete with ideological content. We see the language of critical race theory appearing more and more. We see conferences and events with activist teachers and professors. We see social justice departments and facilities and groups promoting increasingly politically left-leaning causes. We see voices of dissent quietly silenced. We see Facebook mobs attacking those who might disagree. And it is a dangerous situation. 

Is racism a legitimate concern that we face as the church? Of course. Should we fight against racism? Absolutely, on an individual basis as it appears. But the ideology of wokeness, of critical race theory makes many errors in regard to fighting racism. Briefly, it views the west, the USA as fundamentally racist, and in need of being torn down, because it's structures are built on racism itself. It regards all white people as inherently racist, and views any other cultural/ethnic group as incapable of racism, because racism is viewed as tied to power. It views ones skin color as the most fundamental definer of who you are. None of these viewpoints are particularly biblical, or necessarily factual based on statistics of our society. Indeed, viewing CRT, one's conclusion is that this ideology would almost certainly lead to greater divisions and more racism, not less. There's much more, but we don't have time here to get into it here. Dr. Neil Shenvi has done a great deal of research on CRT, I would recommend his works, as well as Voddie Baucham, and Prof Frank Turek. Here is a playlist to view to get started, click here.  

What we really need though, as a movement, in The Salvation Army, is a biblical alternative to CRT to fight racism in a biblical way. It won't do to simply sweep out CRT and replace it with nothing. We need a biblical Christian model to make use of and implement. 

But in conclusion today, The Salvation Army would be wise to deal directly with these ideological threats, and make sure that the promise to remain apolitical and without ideology be upheld firmly. It's encouraging that the "Let's talk about Racism" created by the ISJC was pulled for review. It's encouraging that we've stated firmly from national that we don't view all whites as racist. And let's be real, conservative media did run exceedingly misleading headlines, that TSA was demanding it's "white donors apologize for being racist." Simply false, and sad, that conservative media would distort and lie in a similar manner to left-leaning news. The hope of new media was to speak the truth, not distort. But we shouldn't lose sight of the reality that wokeness, CRT, and these ideologies do pose a legitimate threat. 

We had a chance early on to repent and turn from this path. But few were listening or paying attention.  Unfortunately it took a firestorm in the midst of kettle season from news media to get our attention. We'd best take careful notice, and decisive action to right our course before we become the architects of our own demise. 

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