Christ, His Gospel, and Ethnicity – Colossians 2-3

Perhaps partiality is not the driving factor, though. Assuming that there is no desire to foster a sense of ethnic favoritism among ethnic groups within the church, what is the stated motivation? The stated motivation is that a collective of voices is needed in order to break the power of systemic racism and overcome the tide of white privilege that pervades our culture, including even the churches in the West. Ethnic minorities are called upon the rise up with one collective voice, and to shout down the voice of any “white” man (or minority detractor) who does not join in supporting the accepted narrative.

What is the accepted narrative, though? The accepted narrative is that there are intangible, unquantifiable sins (e.g. white privilege and systemic racism) that naturally offset the balance of power within societies, institutions and, yes, even churches, and white Christians (those in power) must all own it, confess it, and enter into a perpetual life of public penance, or we are contributing to it. It must be observed, and outright stated that the definition of these sins are worldly. There is no such notion of sins in the Bible from which the Christian cannot even potentially repent (Jas. 1:13-15; 1 Cor. 10:13). Yet, it is impossible for any ethnicity, institution, society, or church to repent of such sins as are currently being defined and redefined under the aforementioned terms.

If these terms and definitions seem foreign to the biblical texts, it is because they are. Whence do they come, though? They have been smuggled into the church from the aforementioned worldly philosophy known as Critical Race Theory developed by neo-Marxists in the 1960s and 70s.

“As an outgrowth of the critical legal studies movement—an area of legal scholarship popularized in the 1970s that privileges economic and neo-Marxist understandings of structural barriers to equality—these early CRT scholars recognized that social, legal, and juridical apparatuses work in the interest of the dominant class and, therefore, serve to maintain existing social relations along racial and class lines,” (Lopez and Warren, “Introduction,” Critical Race Theory).

Behind these terms and embedded in many even Evangelical and “Reformed” articles on ethnicity today is the idea of power struggle. Marxism has always been about power struggles, and this new movement is no different. The main difference is terminology. Instead of power, the term privilege is used. In short, what we are seeing is a smuggling in of worldly philosophies in the name of combating sin.

What has been discovered and exploited by neo-Marxists, that had not quite been as well-defined in the early days with Marx and Engels, is the fact that there is power in the promulgation of the notion of perpetual, irreconcilable victimhood. Where there are victims, there is penance. Ironically, in the name of breaking down power structures, political and societal Marxism has always only accomplished the reinforcement and enhancement of them. Here, we arrive at our final text for consideration, and I will post it in full:

6Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. . .

18Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

20If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ 22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory,” (Col. 2:6-8, 18-23; 3:1-4; NASB).

Paul’s argumentation throughout the book of Colossians is masterful. He begins in Chapter 1 by setting before the eyes of his readers a high view of Christ and His gospel. In Chapter 2, he addresses what commentators have entitled the Colossian heresy, a strange morph of Greek and Jewish thought that resembled both the Gnosticism that would arise later in the first and second century and the Judaizer (or “circumcision party”) movement already present by Paul’s penning of Galatians. These heretics were seeking to address some very valid sin issues within the church culture of Colossae, and other “sins” that were really only violations of their manmade laws and philosophies.

Paul does not agree with the narrative of the Colossian heretics. He sees that they have used their special-knowledge religion to push forth a narrative that was binding the hearts and the minds of the Colossian church to laws that God had never given. He rightly roots the error in worldly philosophies and the traditions of men. He then offers the only real solution to sin within the body of Christ. He points to the throne and to the Lamb, not to the tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations. Having instructed them not to allow themselves to be taken captive by worldly philosophies and the traditions of men, he tells them in chapter three to set their minds of the things above where Christ is.

Conclusion

Do we still battle residual sin in our members? Certainly. However, we are not to be bound by the decrees of men in our definition of that sin. Nor are we to subsequently seek to adopt their extra-biblical solutions to sin, be they real or artificial sins. Paul gives us the final answer in Colossians 2-3: look to Christ! When men seek to define sin for us, we must require them to take us to the Bible and show it to us there. When men seek to show us the solution to sin, let them take us to Christ and to His cross. Everything else, everything we have been seeing from this heretical movement, is an adding to the cross. It must be recognized as the false gospel it is. It must be decried, rejected, rebuked, and declared accursed. Otherwise, it will continue to bring destruction upon the household of God in our day. I recognize that such a stand will not be easy for those who hold communion together with people and churches who preach this false gospel, but it is the stand that is demanded of us in God’s word. If we are to guard the sheep against the wolves, we must be willing to call out the wolves in our midst.

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