Christianity & Marxism Are Simply Incompatible
In the last two months, “Black Lives Matter” has become a term of major contention. It’s gotten more media coverage than the 2020 election, Donald Trump, and even the ongoing pandemic, which continues to spread rapidly in the United States. You may see the slogan in people’s windows, written on the ground, hanging up in storefronts, and “hashtagged” on Twitter. Protests around the country have centered their voices around this simple assertion, seeking justice and reform for the sake of our black and brown brothers and sisters in the United States. However, the sentence is not merely a slogan, but represents a much larger organization and agenda. Theologian Al Mohler wrote a helpful piece recently, commending readers to appreciate and affirm the term “Black lives matter” while warning of the ideological underpinnings of the “BLM” organization, which he claims is “grounded in a destructive Marxist ideology.”
Mohler writes, “'Black lives matter,' taken as a sentence, is profoundly true. God made every human being in his image, which means every life on the planet, at every stage, . Every human being possesses full human dignity, and by extension, full human rights.” He goes on to affirm the importance of sometimes singling out a certain people group in order to shed light on social injustice, such as would be appropriate in the days of Nazi Germany when Jews were treated as sub-human.
Black lives matter because all lives matter, and it’s important to assert this. But today, Black Lives Matter as a political movement is pushing a radical agenda, one that folks like Martin Luther King Jr. might be somewhat baffled by. King, a deeply committed Christian (a fact many contemporary racial activists seem to ignore) thought that the United States was founded on good values but was in dire need of correction. However, according to the Black Lives Matter site, the “western” way of life should be radically reimagined: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another.” Reading through more of these tenets makes it clear that political and economic power are the primary goals to be sought out, not merely equality and justice under the law. The founders of the Black Lives Matter movement are self-described as being “trained” in Marxist, postmodern thinking and fail to mention the great legacy of the Black church and its many examples of faithful and resistant people in the midst of racial discrimination.
Jordan Peterson, world-renowned author of the bestselling 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos shared his thoughts in a lecture, now posted on YouTube, on the radical differences between Christianity and Marxism after reflecting on a woman’s claim online that she was a “Christian Marxist.” Peterson is well known for his rejection of Marxist ideology and believes a postmodern rendition of the 19th century philosopher’s ideas are becoming increasingly dominant in the academy and western culture. He remarks in the lecture that Marxism is a materialistic worldview in which material wellbeing is the ultimate good. Out of this framework comes the concept of government not only protecting one’s negative rights (life, liberty, and property) but also providing positive benefits (welfare, reparations, health insurance, etc.). Studies show, however, that personal wealth has little contribution to overall happiness and quality of life; when basic needs are met, having extra doesn’t tend to make much of a difference. Material wellbeing is a good, but it’s not everything. Also, the existence of a supportive community, especially when tied to a good church, goes a long way in ensuring everyone is being taken care of. Governmnent has less of a role, incentivizing neighbors to actually act like neighbors. Christianity, in contrast to Marxism, sees the ultimate good as a relationship with the Transcendent, as reconciliation with God, and through this, reconciliation with one another, regardless of race, class, sex, personal past, etc. Marxism tends to categorize people according to their group identity; Christianity, according to the love God has for each individual person. Marxism divides people up as either “oppressors” or “victims,” while Christianity acknowledges that everyone is sinful and in need of redemption while at the same time championing the cause of the oppressed.
Which worldview is better? Which one really leads to peace and a just society? Martin Luther King, Jr. believed the gospel provided the way for racial reconciliation, because it was first and foremost our relationship to God that needed correction. Marxism and its unfortunate bedfellow of postmodernism call for mere power exchanges—kicking out the oppressor so a new regime can take its place. Let’s not be fooled into thinking this will change much of anything and not harm many in the process.