Military battles are all about strategy and execution. One of the most common military strategies is known as the flank. If a fighting unit can flank its enemy in battle, it’s chances of winning that battle increase exponentially. This is because the opponent will face fire on its front as well as from its side. This is known as a crossfire. The maneuver, if executed correctly, can end a battle in short order. Another strategy that is vitally important to successful military campaigns is the gathering of information about the enemy’s strategy. This is usually accomplished through intelligence and in most cases involves spies. Being able to speak the language of the enemy and understanding a something about the cultural practices of the enemy go a long way in making for an effective spy. These two military analogies will serve as good illustrations for what is presently taking place in the American Evangelical Churches, most of which are SBC, many of which are PCA. We not only have spies in the communities, we are a good way into being flanked by the enemy.
Recently, The Gospel Coalition sent out an announcement by way of Twitter entitled, “Derrida, Foucault, and the Bible.” The course seeks to provide an overview of the work of these two philosophers as well as “Establish a way of thinking about the Bible that helps you bring it into conversation with philosophical ideas in an authentic and rigorous way.” In addition to this, a new book will be released later this year with the title, “Can White People Be Saved?” The first couple of sentences in the description of this book read as follows: “No one is born white. But while there is no biological basis for a white race, whiteness is real. What’s more, whiteness as a way of being in the world has been parasitically joined to Christianity, and this is the ground of many of our problems today. It is time to redouble the efforts of the church and its institutions to muster well-informed, gospel-based initiatives to fight racialized injustice and overcome the heresy of whiteness.” I should point out that a review of the contributors to this book uncovers a relationship with Derrida’s philosophy as well. Having studied philosophy as part of my apologetics training, I have to admit that I find it extremely fascinating that any evangelical leader or organization would consider the philosophies of Foucault or Derrida valuable Christian reading. I had to think more deeply about what was going on here. After months of conflating social justice with biblical justice, and of creating ungodly division through the racial reconciliation movement, and then the #MeToo overthrow of Complementarianism, the gay Christian Revoice conference of the PCA, and finally the over-stepping of boundaries by the churches on immigration policy, we now shift gears as this movement introduces these old pagan philosophers as new heroes and their philosophies as if they are epiphanies. Please know that I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am not saying all the men leading this movement are behind the curtain cooking up this strategy with pain-staking deliberateness. That said, I am also not saying they are not, either. But to say confidently that no such strategy is in anyway in place, to me, seems implausible. I don’t believe in coincidence. One this is sure, Satan has a strategy even if those who are carrying it out are unaware of their role in it. Paul told the Ephesian believers: Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:11) There is certainly a strategy at play. What exactly is going on? The purpose of the rest of this post is to try and help you connect the dots between the old hermeneutic of Liberal Protestantism and the hermeneutic of those modern evangelicals, so-called, who are to one degree or another, pushing the above agenda. It is a package deal and there is an underlying hermeneutic that serves as a basis for current challenges to age-old doctrines (complementarianism) and the introduction of new ones (racial reconciliation and gay Christianity).
The best weapon the church has at her disposal for defending the truth is the truth itself. The Scriptures are self-attesting, sufficient, our final authority for faith and practice. But those Scriptures are also self-interpreting. The frontal assault against the Scriptures aimed at evangelicals over the years has proven to be ineffective with only small successes here and there. A second attack has been aimed at the sufficiency of Scripture. This has produced more fruit but still has not delivered the desired results. There is a bottom line for the enemy and I will get to that soon enough. The old enemy of liberalism is back to attacking the Scripture in the area of hermeneutics. The act of communicating comes with intentionality. God intended something very specific when he communicated to us by way of the divine revelation that is Scripture. In short, when God spoke, he intended that we understand what he had to say. It is here that Satan spends most of his time strategizing against the people of God. And it is here that Christian leaders must spend energy and effort ensuring that God’s people are equipped with an accurate understanding of the truth that sets us free. And it is here that a theme has emerged among some evangelical leaders and that them is hermeneutical at its core. This brings me to Derrida and Foucault and their role in this strategy.
Who is Jacques Derrida?
Derrida is the French philosopher who brought us the philosophy known as deconstructionism. Deconstructive postmodernism finds its seedlings in the soil of phenomenology, structuralism, Heidegger, and Nietzsche. It is not my intention to get into the technical aspects of deconstructionism. My aim is to give you the big rocks of this philosophy so that you might gain some understanding of Derrida’s role in this new strategy. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as neutrality and this is especially the case where human philosophies are concerned, and this is even more pronounced where philosophy of language is the subject. In other words, there were numerous contributing beliefs that led Derrida to the place where he landed and none of those beliefs were neutral where Christian belief is concerned.
With Derrida’s deconstructive postmodernism comes the collapse of all dogmatic theological claims. A communicated message (to include all of Scripture) like a letter, never simply arrives at the address to which it was posted. Derrida says that Criticism traditionally seeks to establish the authorized meaning of the text, the original meaning placed in the text by the author. Deconstruction consists in putting this authority ‘out of joint’. Deconstruction stands over again the idea of an authoritative, fixed meaning in the text. There is no such thing as an authorized authorially intended meaning in the text, in the sign or the thing signified. Everything is always in flux. What Derrida’s project seeks to do is to undo metaphysical versions of theology that seek to think God as supreme “Being.” Kevin Vanhoozer is helpful; What Derrida denies is that there is any presence, any kind of being or determinate reality outside the play of signs. There is no original ground or “home” of meaning, nothing beyond particular and contingent language systems, and therefore nothing to keep meaning centered, stable, and determinate. The Christian has to ask what the consequences for Derrida’s deconstructionism are for the sacred Scripture. What hope can God have for establishing a text that preserves his truth to all nations throughout every generation? The consequences that Derrida’s deconstructive postmodernism are indeed fatal for Christian doctrine. This is why any suggestion of bringing Derrida’s views into the Church should be met with stern opposition. Hopefully, you are beginning to see how incorporating Derrida into any strategy designed to bring the historic position crashing down might make sense. But this is only one tactic among many others.
Who is Michael Foucault?
Foucault is another philosopher being mentioned by these so-called evangelical leaders. Perhaps it would be good to signify them as the liberal-Marxist evangelicals, or LME for short. Foucault is a French philosopher also prominent in the area of philosophy of language. Foucault’s theories are concerned with the relationship between power and knowledge. He is interested in influence, manipulation, and control.
Foucault argues that interpreters may want to believe in a rational presence who controls textual meaning, but such a belief is dishonest if not idolatrous. The author is a stopgap figure invented by interpreters frightened by the prospect of endless meaning. The author is, therefore, the ideological figure by which one masks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning. The author is an idea whose use is no longer required.
Foucault’s earliest writings focused on psychology and developed within the frameworks of Marxism and existential phenomenology. He thought that bodies of knowledge are tied to systems of social control. Foucault’s work carried with it an explicit ethical component displayed in his works, “The Use of Pleasure” and. “The Care of the Self” which aimed at the liberation of human beings from contingent conceptual constraints masked as unsurpassable a priori limits and the adumbration of alternative forms of existence. One does not have to read far before realizing that Foucault was not only interested in the relationship between knowledge and power, but more to the point, he was interested in the kind of power that freed men from the bondage of restraint, sexual restraint being only one of many. In other words, Foucault was after a power of his own. He wanted the kind of power that pulled human beings out of the dungeon of sexual restraint that he blamed on the Victorian age. Foucault was an open sadomasochist who was notorious for his sexual deviance. In fact, on June 25th, 1984, it Foucault’s sexual deviance caught up with him and he died from complications due to the HIV virus. Christians would be well-served to start paying closer attention to the direction that some leaders in the evangelical churches desire to take them. How can an evangelical pastor, theologian, or scholar be taken seriously after positing the idea that a man like Foucault has something valuable to add to Christian thought?
What is the Hermeneutic of Liberation Theology?
For several months now the Liberal-Marxist Evangelical movement has pushed an agenda that has focused on themes that have much in common with a hermeneutic of liberation. As the man who is credited with this hermeneutic, Gustavo Guierrez said in his own words: The theology of liberation offers us not so much a new theme for reflection as a new way to do theology. Theology as critical reflection on historical praxis. The hermeneutic of liberation theology reads the Scripture from the underside as its proponents call it. In other words, it reads the Scripture while standing in the shoes of the various oppressed and marginalized groups. It begins with the poor, the outcast, the female, the black, the homosexual and it looks at Scripture as if Scripture was written specifically from their personal vantage point. In other words, rather than beginning with the doxological purpose of Scripture at the highest level, and rather than examining each text through a doxological-redemptive lens, placing the text in his historical, cultural setting, examining the linguistics, grammar, language, and theological frame, the hermeneutic of liberation begins with the man, the individual, and works from there. To put it simply, Liberation Theology drives the hermeneutic rather than allowing the hermeneutic to inform and correct the theology. As Grant Osborne observes, “By the very nature of language the Bible’s univocal truths are couched in analogical language, that is, the absolute truths of Scripture were encased in the human languages and cultures of the ancient Hebrews and Greeks, and we must understand those cultures in order to interpret texts properly.”
Bridging the gap between the foundational meaning of the ancient author and its contemporary relevance can be challenging and at a minimum it demands effort. Too often we confuse clarity with simplicity or worse, easy. To say that Scripture is clear is not the same thing as saying that it is easy to interpret.
So, where does this all leave us? How do we connect the dots? The efforts to convince white Christians that they have guilty of being racists, over-privileged Americans who are not doing enough to help the marginalized have been relentless. This applies as well to the idea that there is an epidemic of abuse toward women in the churches, that the church must insist on the most liberal immigration laws, that gay Christianity is now a thing, and that women must be permitted positions of leadership within the church. Can you see the theme? The oppressed and marginalized as defined by Liberation Theologies are pounding on the evangelical church: black liberation theology; feminist liberation theology; gay liberation theology; poor liberation theology.
In order for the Liberal-Evangelical Movement to effect change, it is now calling on others for help. Jacques Derrida will provide the tools necessary to question, challenge, and deconstruct whatever traditional, historical, dogmatic doctrines of Scripture there is that stands in the way. Michael Foucault will help them on two fronts: first, he will blame the oppression of homosexuals on man-made Victorian age philosophies. He will claim that whatever doctrines and practices these folks do not like are actually the products of a religious will to power by the majority of Christians, white Christians who happen to be privileged. These tyrants have whitewashed Christianity with their white supremacy and have made Christianity a “white-man” religion. Second, he will use knowledge, so-called to throw off these shackles and assist the movement as it seeks to take control on mainstream evangelicalism. With the help of Derrida and Foucault as well as the spies who have espoused a form of liberation theology secretly, the flank of mainstream evangelicalism is well underway. All is not lost, however. There are a number of men who are on the front lines and who, with the help of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God will not allow the flank to see completion.
If you are attracted to these ideas being put forth by the Liberal-Evangelical Movement, I would encourage you to hit the pause button.
The racial reconciliation movement ignores the work of the cross, the power of the gospel, and requires that you harbor grudges and hatred in your heart. It focuses on man and uses the illegitimate criterion of melanin to do so.
The #MeToo movement ignores the order of creation from the very beginning and dares to challenge the historic interpretation of Scripture on the role of women in the home and in the church. It focuses on the demands of women who want to impose cultural attitudes on the church.
There can be no such thing as a gay Christian. There can only be Christians who used to be gay or gay people who are not Christians.
At last check, the United States had one of the most liberal immigration policies in the world, allowing over one million people to enter the country legally. For Christians to criticize the civil authorities for doing what is within their right to do brings shame, reproach, and blasphemy on the name of Christ.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:12–13.