For many, the God of the Bible is dead, as the title page of Time Magazine said way back in 1966: “God is Dead.” Ridgley’s conclusions also challenge the church in its attempt to interact through cultural apologetics. How do we address—with the gospel—a culture that has lost its view of classic morals? We are in the situation of early Christianity, surrounded by pagan Rome, where citizens do not know the God of the Bible.
Many sociologists now speak about the arrival of the post-Christian era in both America and the West in general. Way back in 1976, Newsweek Magazine spoke of “the year of the evangelical.” But church attendance is down in America. Young people abandon any semblance of their childhood faith as soon as they set foot in a university. This is a great concern in our churches. The Wall Street Journal recently published an analysis of national sentiment over the past 25 years on:
- Religion: 62% in 1998 vs 39% today.
- Having kids: 59% in 1998 vs 30% today.
- Community involvement: 47% in 1998 vs 27% today.
- Patriotism: 70% in 1998 vs 38% today.
- The number of weddings: 40% lower in 2000 than in 1970
Star Parker, a black Christian intellectual gives similar figures and sees the sign of a “nation committing suicide.”
While 20th century unbelief was atheistic, religiosity is now everywhere, as astrology and occultism flourish in mainstream culture. Such an abandon of personal biblical faith has some obvious causes. Many universities, for instance, have become centers of Marxist training and/or Critical Race Theory, both of which are based on a godless post-modernism, generally called Wokism. George Floyd’s death affected major institutions—from federal agencies to Fortune 100 companies. Encouraged by the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, such organizations hastily pledged themselves to the new flag of Wokism. They gave multi-millions to groups like Black Lives Matter and promoted a revised version of morality preached through DEI—“diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Wokism’s leaders insist that America is fundamentally racist and they demand “antiracist discrimination” (a technical term used to discriminate against people identified as racist) to produce “racial equity.” This semi-religious ideology abhors “systemic racism,” “white supremacy,” “white privilege,” and “antiracism.” Racism in America today is, to a very significant degree, a manufactured problem, crafted by woke Leftists in order to overthrow the American way of life. Most major cities, many major companies, the educational system and the government’s policymaking apparatus all bow down together before the god of Wokism.
Few Christian students seem trained or qualified to know how to answer such powerful ideological opposition. Indeed, as we will note below, students have been deliberately trained into a Wokist viewpoint. The average four-year university now has more DEI officials on its staff than history professors. DEI offices have broadened the meaning of terms like “harassment” and “discrimination” not to promote a welcoming campus environment but to enforce a progressive ideology often proposed as a Marxian counter-revolution, determined by an ideologically driven progressivism.
Those who have lost faith in God need a new moral structure, which Wokism provides by playing on the sensitive conscience of American citizens, especially young Americans. They are told that white supremacy is just like the Marxist description of oppressing owners and oppressed workers. Now it is White oppressors and oppressed minorities—Blacks, women, illegal aliens, gays and trans individuals. Unlike biblical morality, this system does not include forgiveness. Whites remain guilty forever and blacks are doomed to be forever victims. In addition, there is no notion of original sin, no divine justice, and no atoning work of Christ to wash us clean. Alas, this is a false pagan morality in which God is absent. Such thinking has entered many churches under the appeal of moralism—see for instance, Lucas Miles’ Woke Jesus and A.D. Robles’ Social Justice Pharisees. Soon, I hope to treat this more thoroughly, but here I am focusing on the attack against students.
Professor Stanley Ridgley in his book Brutal Minds: Brainwashing in Our Universities, documents that university administrators in particular deliberately intend to undermine a student’s ability to engage in classical academic thinking and to inculcate in them a serious case of “religious” guilt. Ridgley seeks to show “how one of history’s great institutions—the American university—is undergoing an infiltration by an ‘army of mediocrities’ whose goal is to destroy the university as an institution of knowledge-creation and replace it as an authoritarian organ of ideology and propaganda.” Jesse Jackson’s 1987 rallying cry at Stanford University, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go,” springs to mind, since Western Civilization courses have truly disappeared.
The new ideology, now labeled as Wokism, is summed up in a vigorous and progressive political program, which has spread in recent years throughout the culture—in government administrations, businesses and educational facilities— via the prompting of “diversity officers” of DEI, “diversity, equity and inclusion.” In the wake of George Floyd’s death, companies scrambled to hire “chief diversity officers” who would apply DEI, which quickly imposed the new moral principles required by the progressive state. In 2018, fewer than half the companies in the S&P 500 employed a “chief diversity officer.” By 2022, under pressure from state regulations, three out four companies had created such a position. This is also the case in university administrations.
As an example of how far this goes, consider the following incident. In February 2023, Dennis Prager, a Jewish intellectual who promotes conservative values, was invited, along with Christian leader, Charlie Kirk (founder of Turning Point USA) to speak at Arizona State University (ASU) for a conference organized by Barrett College, the honors college of ASU. The conference was innocently entitled “Health, Wealth and Happiness.”