Woke Catholics and Baptists; True Christianity
According to Wikipedia: “Woke (/ˈwoʊk/ WOHK) is an English adjective meaning “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination” that originated in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). Beginning in the 2010s, it came to encompass a broader awareness of social inequalities such as sexism, and has also been used as shorthand for left-wing ideas involving identity politics and social justice, such as the notion of white privilege and slavery reparations for African Americans”.
One of my regular viewing habits is to watch Remnant TV, a Catholic channel, and in particular the ramblings of its main presenter, Michael Matt, whose profound insights I value. The latest of these is titled: “WOKE CATHOLICS: Cancelling the 10 Commandments”. The accompanying blurb reads: “BREAKING: Pope Francis plants another tree and gets all hot and bothered over climate change again. In this episode of The Remnant Underground, Michael J. Matt discusses the cancellation of Christianity in America, especially on Catholic college campuses. Last month, Michael was disinvited to speak at the Catholic university from which several members of his own family – including his father – have graduated. Michael Matt and Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire were both disinvited lest they should offend the LBGTQ+ community at St. Thomas University. Once one of the national jewels of Catholic higher learning in America, St. Thomas will evidently block anyone from defending the moral teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on campus. And this is not just a Catholic issue. As the Church swaps out ‘saving the planet’ for ‘saving souls’, George Soros is tweeting out progress reports on what his Foundation is doing to help de-Christianize America and any other country that bases its criminal justice system on the Ten Commandments of God. What’s happening at Catholic universities right now is the death knell of Christian society worldwide, which is why Michael offers an impassioned call to resist this Christophobic reset”.
It struck me that wokeism in the church is not just a Catholic issue, and in recent years this has overtaken things like pre-destination and freewill, baptism: infant or believers, whether or not one can lose one’s salvation, whether or not hell is a real place, what must one do in order to be saved, what to make out of speaking in tongues, and a plethora of doctrines that have divided Catholics and Protestants as issues that get Christians worked up and divided over. For example, I have lamented more than once in the recent past over what I believe to be a fact, as I observe from at the other end of the ecclesiological spectrum, and that is the majority of Baptist churches in my city, Southend, have gone woke, for they seem to be more preoccupied with woke issues like LBGT+ inclusion, Black Lives Matter and Climate Change than preaching the Gospel (“And when he is come, he (the Holy Spirit) will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” John 16:8).
But before I draw lessons and make conclusions, I think it helpful for me to discuss some of my own journey, detailed in my “Outside the Camp” book so people know where I am coming from. As a young Christian, being influenced by the Plymouth Brethren, it became clear that my PB elders often took the view that other denominations were to be avoided, if possible, as being unsound. The Anglicans were barely tolerated and as for the Catholics, they were beyond the pale. If PB members did leave the PBs, the closest match to what they were used to tended to be the Baptists and, if more daring, the Charismatics. Move on several years after seeing more of the world and hob knobbing with folk from the various denominations, after a career as a software engineer, I became a community worker and concerned with issues like social exclusion.
The Almighty indeed as has a sense of humour as it meant that I rubbed shoulders with folk of all faiths and none, in order to find ways to benefit community, and I had to come to terms with many of the issues that concern today’s woke Christians. While, looking back, I recognise social justice, caring for the poor, vulnerable, marginalised etc. were good things, I regret some of my naivety, especially as I was to later reflect: Christians expended a lot of effort accommodating and not upsetting the anti-Christian woke brigade, a sentiment (it seemed to me) that was rarely reciprocated.
But Michael Matt is correct with the concerns he raises and I have little doubt, if he were to cross over to the Baptists, he would be saying much the same things. As an amusing anecdote, when I did a course in Victorian religion, one of my lecturers, having identified the tree main religious factions at that time were Catholics, Liberals and Evangelicals (which these days might include Baptists) made the point on different days of the week two of these would gang up against the third depending on the issue. There is of course nothing new under the sun, as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us, and today this Baptist would concur with that Catholic over the matter of wokeism in the church. All a bit sad of course given Jesus prayed (John 17) for his followers to be one. But John also pointed out that Jesus was also full of grace and truth (1:14) and, whatever woke Christian leaders may think, it is His example we should follow.