‘If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ (Psalm 11:3).
How should Christians respond to ‘wokeness’ (a word I am using to signify, rather loosely, the cultural expression of ‘critical theory’ and ‘cultural Marxism’)? This relatively new way of thinking is flooding society, and is a threat to the secular culture spawned by the Enlightenment as well as to the church.
In the face of wokeness, atheists are rising to defend science and rationality while Christians are fighting back against threats (or perceived threats) to Christian liberties and doctrine.
Christians should rightly be concerned, though we need to be sure we are defending the gospel, not Enlightenment culture, and we may also ask: is everything in wokeness a threat, or unwelcome?
Understanding the new ways of thinking is not easy. Helpful historical surveys and analyses have been provided by the late Melvin Tinker (That Hideous Strength: A Deeper Look at How the West Was Lost, EP 2020) and Sharon James (The Lies We Are Told, The Truth We Must Hold, Christian Focus 2022).
Here, I shall limit myself to identifying some of its building blocks as a system of thought and try to show how they hang together.
Where is truth to be found?
Let’s begin in familiar territory: relativism. Imagine there’s no truth. Or if there is, that it cannot be accessed. In particular, there is no big story that explains reality – that is, there’s no ‘metanarrative’. Any attempt to construct one is regarded as oppressive and to be rejected.