Is there an Insidious Disease of Christian Privilege?

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

2 Peter 2:1-3 ~

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron

1 Timothy 4:1-2 ~

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 ~

Brandan Robertson appears to be one of many progressive Christians who are attempting to preach a form of Christianity that is based on deconstruction of one’s faith. Christian deconstruction appears to be defined as: 

Strictly speaking, Christian deconstruction is critiquing deeply held beliefs of one’s faith, particularly within evangelical circles. In popularity, Christian deconstruction requires untangling the ideas and practices keeping one’s faith together up to this point while also uncovering any unhealthy baggage.

Another way of understanding this profound movement comes from Anchors Away blog

Christian deconstruction challenges the truth of God, the Bible, and the moral value system that God institutes through the scriptures that has resulted in thousands leaving their Christian faith.

And: 

 … deconstruction has become a fad that is taking the Christian world by storm. Can you blame them? Though there are many reasons for this exodus, they all seem to have a few things in common: They have questions about their faith that have gone unanswered; misbehaving Christians are causing them to stumble; most pastors and youth workers are not teaching and making relevant the truth of the Scriptures to their lives; and others leave because they cannot reconcile the idea of a good God allowing suffering.

What appears to be a revolutionary way of embracing the teachings of Christ, living according to those principles and truths, the example of how Christ ministered among his contemporaries of the first century seems to embrace a more social justice worldview and perspective. Yet are people engaged in this revolutionary movement seducing people from the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? reinterpreting what Christ taught to fit their own perspectives, worldviews, and ideas?  The scriptures are quite clear and specific that we are not only to beware of false teachers – but we are also to contend for the faith and to warn others of these individuals who establish themselves in the congregation of the faithful and leading them astray. It is the disease of false teaching and seducing spirits of individuals like Brandan Robertson that are leading people into a false gospel. Denying the very foundations of what Christ taught

Is there a Disease of Christian Privilege? 

Brandan Robertson write an article titled – The Disease of Christian Privilege – where he appears to argue for the progressive movement and deconstruction of the Christian Faith that is based on White Privilege. And what is Robertson’s point? 

It’s for this reason that this new series is so important for us. To hear other perspectives and worldviews. To hear the ways that our Christian privilege has impacted the lives of people of other faiths. To dispel the lies that Christian Privilege perpetuates that anyone who isn’t a Christian is not Christ-like, is wicked, or demonic.

He argues for a revolutionary way of understanding (what he perceives) to be a different Christ than what modern Christianity teaches. For him, it appears that modern Christians have established a different type of Christ than what one may find in the First Century. This other Christ appears to fit in with the concept of white privilege and therefore attribute to modern day Christian privilege that denies the social justice ideology of Christ.  

Robertson begins his argument with the following statement: 

In our current cultural climate, there has been a lot of talk about “Privilege”. A lot of folks have been forced to examine the ways that our society has been built to favor a certain type of people at the expense of others. 

There is nothing disagreeable with this. We appear to be in a cultural crossroads of assessing, evaluating, and questioning our values, beliefs, and personal identity. While this is a good thing – there is also potential harm. Each one of us ought to always examine our life, our beliefs, our perceptions, and understand our own personal limitations, weaknesses, and bias and prejudices. It is how we come to understand, critically examine, and properly think about what is important and what is not important for each one of us.

There is a problem with the initial statement. Robertson follows up in the next paragraph with the heart and core of what type of privilege is being discussed:

We often hear talk about “White Privilege” – it’s the reality that Western Culture was designed by white, European, straight, men, in order to function on their behalf, make their lives easier and better, give them advantage in the race towards power, wealth, and success.

This idea – cultural shift and conversation – appears to rest on the following perspective:

White privilege is a concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that white people have over non-white people. It is something that is pervasive throughout society and exists in all of the major systems and institutions that operate society, as well as on an interpersonal level.

Very Well Mind – What is White Privilege?

Again, it is true that we all ought to examine ourselves. Socrates is quoted as saying that an unexamined life is one that is not worth living (from Plato’s Apology) If we are not willing to examine our lives, our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, perspectives, worldviews, and how we are processing and interpreting information – then we most likely may continue operating under a form of confirmation bias. And it is a challenging task because we do not want to admit that there are some limitations, strongly held bias and prejudicial thoughts, and the motivations and behaviors associated with those thoughts. All of which centers on our own personal values and beliefs.

However, the opposite is just as true because the concept of White Privilege is based on preconceived notions and beliefs – bias and prejudicial understandings and viewpoints. And that is the heart of the issue most are not entertaining or discussing. There appears to be a lack of intellectual integrity associated with the possibility that such terminology and language may be used pejoratively to shame, guilt, condemn, and criticize a person because of their own ethnicity – in this case – individuals who are white and of European decent. And not just any person – men specifically.

The other issue to address is making assertions without any sound or reasonable support for those assertions. Without any supporting information – one is left to wonder if the individual writing this content is merely stating their own prejudicial and bias viewpoint and passing it off as fact. And therein lies the danger. Lacking critical thinking skills and buying into such philosophy – a person runs the danger (and harm) of falling victim to deception and manipulation. The danger and harm are turning from the established absolute truth of who Jesus Christ is, what he taught, and how to live our lives accordingly. Instead, entertaining the teachings of those seducing individuals away from the faith and message of the Gospel of Christ.

Robertson continues his teaching:

And as we examine white privilege, we discover that the way the system was set up to benefit white people was by marginalizing, abusing, and manipulating people of other races, religions, ethnicities, and genders to be used to uphold white men’s standard of living, preventing folks that were not white from climbing the ladder of success, wealth, power, and fundamental equality.

Again, an apparent statement without any sound or reasonable support for such assertion. It appears to be more of a polemic opinion against a select group of individuals to bring into question, doubt, and engaged in doing the very same thing the statement makes accusation of. We want to ask the following questions:

  • How are people being marginalized?
  • What abuse is being referenced?
  • How are other people of other races, genders, religions, and ethnicities being manipulated? Where are they used to uphold the White Men’s standard of living?
  • How are people who are not white being prevented from climbing the ladder of success? inability to attain wealth, power, and fundamental equality?

These are honest questions that ought to be asked in this type of discussion. It is an open approach to dialogue to gain insight and understanding. Merely making statements for the sake of appeasing an audience and not presenting any sound and reasonable support for such assertion falls short of intellectual integrity and speaks to one’s credibility and authority. It calls into question whether or not Robertson is being transparent and honest in his teachings – or merely misrepresenting for the sole purpose of leading people astray.

Robertson continues his thoughts on the subject of privilege, and specifically on white male privilege:

While our culture is slowly working to destroy those systems of privilege, the reality is that our culture is still set up in ways that are beneficial to white people. That give white people an advantage over people of color in just about every aspect of life.

What we really want to understand is that the progressive movement of deconstruction is a core ideology of Marxist philosophy. It is the principle foundation of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

It is a formulated weaponization to undermine existing institutions that was formulated and invented of the Marxist Frankfort School of the 1930’s. Today, the sociological movement is to utilize a Marxist or neo-Marxist understanding to radically shift cultural identity, understanding, and addressing problematic social injustices that appear to be threats. According to American Thinker contributing writer E. M. Cadwaladr – Deconstructing Marxist Critical Theory we read:

In our deconstruction of this leftist tool, let’s begin with an examination of the promise Marxism has always made though never achieved. While the language of the promise has changed from “emancipation” and “liberation” to “social justice” over the years, the basic sales pitch behind all leftist proselytism has remained consistent – the promotion of a better and fairer society. Well, who wouldn’t want that? Any decent person, given a choice between a fair society and an unfair one, all else being equal, prefers a fair one. For many reasons, I believe that the Marxist formulation is naive and problematic, but for the sake of argument, let’s just accept the leftist claim as it stands: their goal is to build a better and fairer society.

Cadwaladr continues his assessment and observation:

In the pursuit of a better and fairer society, critical theory comes with one colossal rub. If we accept that such a society can exist, one of the characteristics it has to possess is at least some degree of stability. Implicit in “better and fairer” must be the notion that most improvements made become permanent. A utopia poised to blow itself apart at the end of one perfectly blissful generation of certainly clashes with the left’s new buzzword: “sustainability”. Moreover, even the most rabid leftist will admit, if pressed, that change is not always good. For them to believe that white colonizers wickedly oppressed the non-whites of the world, leftist have to imagine some better condition non-whites were living in prior to the colonization. In other words, they have to admit that conditions can get worse in history – that history isn’t rigged by nature to automatically make things better. Their argument against conservatism, if they have one, has to be that things can be deliberately improved – not simply blowing up the status quo inevitably leads to an improvement. The indiscriminate destruction of the status quo, however, is precisely what critical theory was designed to accomplish.

Emphasis mine

In other words, when individuals like Robertson discuss the white privilege – they are not discussing deconstruction. They are referring to the act and behavior of destroying established thoughts, institutions, beliefs, and values associated with any form of white male privilege that appears to disfavor those of other faiths, ethnicities, gender identity, sexual orientation, and cultural influence.

And this is the core of Robertson’s message – to destroy the prevailing understanding and belief of who Christ is, what his mission entailed, and the teachings and spiritual truths he established. This becomes evident as we continue to critically examine his article and perception on how there is a Disease of Christian Privilege in our culture and society today.

So, what is Brandan Robertson Talking about?

As we look at how Robertson’s expounds upon his perception of white privilege – we find that he sees it as an infectious disease needing to be irradicated from present cultural influence. And it is exactly how he presents the nature of Christian privilege in today’s culture and social understanding – an infectious belief system that is a disease heavily influenced by white male privilege:

So, when we talk about privilege, this is what we’re talking about.

In the same way that the insidious disease of white privilege has infected our culture, it is also true that Christian privilege has infected us as well.

Emphasis mine

He expounds on what he is referring to:

Did you realize that nearly every aspect of our society is built to favor a Christian perspective? From the ordering of days of the week, to the holidays our government observes, the words on our money and monuments, to the very laws that govern us – all of them rely on and favor a Christian perspective

Here, again, we see a statement with no sound or reasonable evidence to support its claim. It is merely an overgeneralization without any significant merit or credibility to its claim. No reasonable explanation of how our society is built to favor a Christian perspective. In fact, for the past couple of decades there is an aggressive and militant movement to deny the fundamental right of religious freedom and its free expression thereof associated with Christian worship and belief. This is evident by the Human Rights Campaign and the Freedom from Religion Foundation to destroy the ability of those who hold to Christian values, tenets and beliefs while preaching and proclaiming diversity, freethinking, and equality.

Robertson further expounds on what he defines as an insidious disease on modern culture and society as it pertains to Christian privilege:

In fact, many Christians take pride in declaring that we are a “Christian nation” or that very least a nation founded upon “Judeo-Christian values”. We love knowing that the language and influence of Christianity is favored in this country, believing that God is glorified what a nation and the world is “Christianized”.

This rests upon the recent idea and movement that the inspiration of the Constitution of the United States, the freedom, liberty, and pursuit of happiness it espouses, all that the founding fathers stood for had no influence from divine inspiration and to create a society of self-governed people.

However, Robertson is not done in his polemic argument against White Christianity:

On one hand, you may think, this is exactly what Jesus wanted right? To convert the world to Christianity and therefore, create a world built on a Christian rhythm and way of seeing and being?

Or you may think that having a nation that honors Christianity above all other perspectives is just a minor detail that doesn’t really effect much for anyone.

But think for a second about growing up in another religious worldview – be it Judiasm, or Wicca, or Islam, or Bahai. None of those worldviews rely on our calendar, our holidays, our language, or our laws.

Imagine what it is like to live in a society where it is hard to get off work or school to celebrate a holy observance. Or when your faith dictates that you pray at a certain points in the day, but your work doesn’t provide a space to do that. Or when your faith has been stigmatized as dangerous or demonic by powerbrokers in society – this aspect of your life that is so important to you is now demonized by the powerful forces you to hide or suppress it.

The issue with this assessment is that it is not based on a reality of how people of different faiths are protected from discrimination. Well – except for Christians. The reality is that there is more privileges afforded to people of the Jewish faith, Islamic Faith, and other religious belief system in order to allow them to express and worship according to their own religious beliefs. Yet, when it comes to affording Christians the very right and privilege to freely worship and express their beliefs – it is suddenly oppressed, denied, or suppressed. This occurs within the workplace, within the school rooms, and within operating and owning a business. It does not mean that people of other faiths have experienced some level of discrimination – however, much of the discrimination, persecution, and suppression of one’s religious viewpoints is singularly against those who are Christians – and more specifically – White Christians.

However, this does not stop Robertson from considering his own bias and prejudicial perception:

Not only do we as Christian’s benefit from Christian privilege, [but we’re also actually] proud of it. We tout it as a victory. The more that culture becomes “Christianized” the more we’ve accomplished our mission.

What’s stunning is that this is the furthest thing from what Jesus taught, hoped for, or embodied.

And here is where Robertson deviates from what scripture reveals about who Christ is and what Christ taught. He does this in order to present a different Christ that apparently preached a different means of living and embracing life. Doing so, he appears to actually engage in bearing false witness and lack any credibility and authority to rest upon actual scripture to support his supposed understanding of Christ and his teachings.

Misunderstanding the Great Commission of Jesus Christ

Robertson appears to appeal to the great commission found in Matthew 28:16-20:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

What does Robertson say Christ called his disciples to do?

Jesus never called for his disciples to Christianize culture. To make every aspect of culture about Christianity, and to marginalize and minimize those who were not Christian.

He didn’t even call us to convert everyone to a new religion called Christianity – that’s not what the Great Commission is all about.

No, Jesus called us to go into the world and proclaim good news – news of liberating love for everyone – and to make disciples, or in other words, invite people to follow the example of Jesus. To emulate the life Jesus lived and work to create the world he dreamed of

And did you know that you can do that without ever making someone a Christian? In fact, did you realize that when Jesus told his disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel, there was no such thing as Christianity – it didn’t exist. He wasn’t telling them to make people Christian.

He also wasn’t clearly telling them to make people Jewish – we find that out in the Book of Acts.

He was not asking them to ask anyone to convert from their religion, or their culture, or their social setting. Rather, he invited everyone in every culture and context to embrace a path of self-sacrificial love for the good of their friends, neighbors and enemies.

It appears to sound good – solid and appears to have some merit of truth. The problem is that when Christ sent out the disciples to preach the Gospel (good news) they were to go unto those of the Jewish faith. It was not until Acts when Christ commissioned the gospel to be preached among the Gentiles – and then the calling of Paul as an apostle to the Gentile Christians. And while it is true there was no reference to the disciples being called “Christians” (until Acts) – the calling of the disciples involved something that Robertson tends to forget:

  1. To Make Disciples – μαθητής, οῦ, ὁ – matthetes (math-ay-tes’) => A disciple, a learner, a pupil: Properly, a learner, a disciple; a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require. And who did Christ say were true disciples? Matthew 16:24-26 shares what Christ means by disciple: “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For wat will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” And in order for us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow after him, we must be born again: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Christ continues, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” While Robertson initially appears to understand what Christ was instructing his disciples to do, he misses the point that Christ taught the disciples that those who truly are willing to become disciples are to experience a spiritual awakening and be willing to deny themselves of all things and to take up their cross and follow Him.
  2. Baptizing them: When a person experiences a spiritual awakening, they are called to repentance. Desire a willingness to change and commit themselves over to following Christ. The New Testament speaks directly to the ordinance of baptism and the significance and importance it holds. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, the people were pricked in their hearts and asked: What shall we do to be saved? In response, Peter instructed that they need to: (1) Repent of their sins; (2) Believe on Jesus Christ; (3) Be baptized for the remission of their sins; and (4) receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Apostle Paul gives a profound understanding of the purpose of baptism in Romans 6. In this pericope, he remarks that those who are baptized unto Christ are now to consider themselves dead to sin, dead to their former self. This includes any previously held belief, identity, and values. It includes previously held religious viewpoints. Instead, those who are baptized are to consider themselves servants of righteousness: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:12).
  3. Teaching them all that I have commanded you – What was it that Christ taught the disciples? What were they to teach others who were Jews (and then subsequently those of the Gentile nations)? Essentially the two great commandments: To love God and to love others. To love God means that we put away any idols that may intrude on our devotion, loyalty, and faith in God. Things that may get in the way of our following after Christ. It is to mean that, as the Apostle Paul writs in Romans 12 that we are to give over to the transformation and renewing of our mind. Greek for transforming is metamorphoo – μεταμορφόω – and is the term we use for metamorphosis. It essentially means that we allow the teachings of Christ transform, or change our inner sense of reality. In other words, the Apostle Paul writes that we are to be changing our inner sense of perspective, inner reality through the renewing of our mind so that we are able to prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. We are not to be conformed to this world or its understanding. The teachings of Christ are transformative, are renewing, and generate within us our ability to do the will of God. It is literally a call to conversion from our old way of thinking, believing, and living in order to adopt and live according to new values, beliefs, and ideas.

While the idea of a Christian religion did not exist during the life of Christ, and that He and the disciples were Jewish – following the traditions, teachings, and festivals of the Jewish religion – Christ proclaimed to be much more than a teacher. He was the promised Messiah that would come to liberate and redeem humanity from sin and death. To bring about the plan of Salvation whereby God’s desire to and will is to bring to pass humanity’s eternal life and immortality (Moses 1:36).

And yes, he did call forth that we follow a path that required sacrifice, a path that is established on love – it also required that we convert from our old ways, our old beliefs, shift from our old values and traditions. To say that Christ did not call forth one to be converted and born again is to deny the heart and core message of the Gospel.

In essence – what Robertson is denying is the efficacy of Christ’s infinite atonement and purpose of God’s will and desire for humanity to find redemption from the bondage of sin and death. It is in the perspective of progressive liberal and leftist ideology that Christ was more of a social justice warrior challenging the systemic oppression and liberating people to live according to their own understanding – only to embrace the idea of love and acceptance of one another. Denying the fact that Christ spoke clearly and with authority that unless one denies themselves their present identity – and are not born again, are not baptized, shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. No matter how they may live their lives. If they are not willing to change – only to adopt what sounds good – they are not following Christ. They are following their own understanding and construct of who they desire Christ to be.

And, unfortunately, Robertson does not stop there as he continues to push his idea and philosophy further:

Adoption without change

Robertson appears to promote this idea that one does not necessarily have to experience any significant change. Or one is able to adopt certain aspects of Christ’s teaching, use his life as an example to live one’s life without making any significant change in theirs. Here is how he states it:

Have you ever considered that many of the earliest followers of Jesus never converted from Judaism? They simply adapted Jesus’ teachings to their own religious teachings.

And throughout history, many various religions and cultures have also adopted Jesus’ teachings and example without ever becoming a Christian.

See, what I want you to hear this morning is that Jesus was not a Christian, God is not a Christian. And God doesn’t want everyone to become Christians.

That isn’t the point.

Christianity isn’t the best religion. It’s not the most correct religion. And I firmly believe that the earliest followers of Christ and Jesus Himself would have been horrified to have seen the religion that emerged in Jesus Name.

Followers of Jesus were called to follow Christ into their own culture, religion, or context, not to join a new religion.

The obvious reason that many of the early followers of Christ did not convert from Judaism is because they were Jewish. And it was not until Peter had a vision and then the call to go to the house of Cornelius and preach to Cornelius and all his household to where they were baptized into the Way (which was the original term of those who followed Christ).

What people, like Robertson, forgets is that while the disciples were going about preaching the Gospel – they encountered persecution by the Jewish leaders of the Pharisees and the Sadduccees (Saul being among them who had writs of arrest for many Christians). Peter was imprisoned numerous times. Not only were the early followers of Christ persecuted and oppressed by the First Century Jewish religious leaders – they also were oppressed and severely persecuted by the Roman Empire. To the point that many were put to death for their belief in Christ. To become a Christian in the First Centure meant that you have placed your life in jeopardy. Even Christ knew this:

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. … And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another …

Matthew 10:17-23; cf Matthew Chapter 10).

Even before this, Christ gave the sermon on the mount and towards the end of the Beatitudes he says – Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:10). Thus, to become a Christian in the First century (whether Jew or Gentile) meant persecution, suffering, and even death.

Infiltration of Heresy and False Teachings – Premise for an Apostasy

Now, if you are a casual student of scripture, specifically the New Testament, you will become aware of the numerous times the Apostles warned, counseled, and instructed people they wrote to regarding false teachings. And since the New Testament is predominantly letters written by the Apostle Paul – he constantly wrote to various Gentile Christian believers regarding how soon they were falling away. Some were being seduced into believing that part of the Gospel required that they observe circumcision in order to be considered the seed and children of Abraham by those who were Jewish members known as the Judiazers; or those Gentiles bringing with them their pagan rituals, beliefs, practices, and philosophies and adapting them within what the Gospel message is.

Beyond the First Century, and the Apostles, early Church Fathers constantly engaged in warning and combating the growing false teachers, teachings, philosophies, and other such heresies that became predominate. For instance, let us consider the Epistle to the Ephesians Ignatius wrote:

… for that ye all live according to truth, and that no heresy hath a home among you: nay, ye do not so much as listen to any one, if he speak of aught else save concerning Jesus Christ in truth. For some are wont of malicious guile to hawk about the Name, while they do certain other things unworthy of God. These men ye ought to shun, as wild-beasts; for they are mad dogs, biting by stealth; against whom ye ought to be on your guard, for they are hard to heal. … Let no one therefore deceive you, as indeed ye are not deceived, seeing that ye belong wholly to God. For when no lust is established in you, which hath power to torment you, then truly ye live after God. I devote myself for you, and I dedicate myself as an offering for the church of you Ephesians which is famous unto all the ages.

John Lightfoot: Apostolic Fathers – The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians (approximate dating, 60 years after the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – around 107-116 AD).

Ignatius continues:

But I have learned that certain persons passed through you from yonder, bringing evil doctrine; whom ye suffered not to sow seed in you, for ye stopped your ears, so that ye might not receive the seed sown by them; forasmuch as ye are stones of a temple, which were prepared beforehand for a building of God the Father, being hoisted up to the heights through the engine of Jesus Christ, which is the Cross, and using for a rope the Holy Spirit; while your faith is your windlass, and love is the way that leadeth up to God.

Ignatius further explains that the Ephesian Christians were not to be deceived because corrupters of houses shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And then there is the condemnation of those who corrupt the gospel with evil doctrine of God for which Jesus Christ was crucifiedshall go into the unquenchable fire. And not just those who preach false teachings – corrupting the doctrine of Christ and the message of the Gospel – those who also hearken unto the false teachers shall also share the same fate.

From a Latter-day Saint perspective, the apostasy of the First Century church occurred toward the end – or at the dawn of the Second Century. This is historically accurate due to the rise of various forms of Christianities that brought in various traditions and beliefs that were counter to what Christ and the first apostles taught. And one of the main competing movements were the various Gnostic Sects who produced their own set of scriptures (Nag Hammadi Library).

Bart De. Ehrman even researched and published a book titled Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We never Knew. Each claiming orthodoxy and tradition that rested upon who they understood Christ to be.

Therefore, having an accurate and historical understanding – of course one may come to the conclusion that people were called to follow Christ. However, to further claim that following Christ meant taking what he taught, his ministry and example and assimilating it into present culture, beliefs, religious practices, festivities, and the like was encouraged – delineates from the efficacy of Christ’s teachings and infinite atonement. It is because many people did assimilate much of the doctrine of Christ into their own cultural identity and understanding that we see a historical rise in false teachings that perverted the original message of the Gospel.

Today, progressive and leftist deconstruction of the Christian faith is a modern-day false teaching that is insidiously seducing and leading many individuals away from the truth and heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Misunderstanding Christian History to push a Progressive Agenda

Robertson continues to share his thoughts and perspectives on what he deems to be an insidious Christian Privilege disease in modern culture and society today:

But within the hundreds of years after Jesus and his disciples were gone, the followers of Jesus began to advocate for a certain set of religious practices, certain doctrines, certain hierarchal structures – they began to do exactly the opposite of what Jesus himself did – they created institutions of privilege and power.

They diluted the simple way of Jesus and created a religion that had very little to do with giving to the poor or loving your enemy, and more to do with appeasing God and paying one’s religious dues to an institution in exchange for salvation after death – something Jesus rarely talked about at all.

History of the Christian faith is much more complicated than what he appears to present. While there is historical precedence regarding some of what he is saying – the conclusion appears to beg the question: what was it that Jesus rarely talked about? And, furthermore, what does Robertson mean by one having to pay their religious dues to an institution in exchange for salvation after death? Is he referring to Christ rarely talking about eternal life? If this is the case, he is definitely not in line with scripture because Christ spoke predominately about who will and who will not partake in the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of Christ’s parables are all about the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Robertson further argues:

When Christianity was endorsed by Emperor Constantine and later made the official religion of the Empire – again, something that Jesus himself would have been enraged by – and the Christians were given power and privilege, they quickly abandoned the simple path of Jesus in exchange for the things of the world.

And for almost 1700 years, this new religion called Christianity grew and spread as a political, social, and religious force. The Christian Church – whether Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, or other- grew into powerful institutions and amassed quadrillions of dollars.

When you fail to present something of historic value – and attempt to pigeon-hole your own bias and prejudicial worldview – you are engaging in misleading people from the truth. What Robertson presents is not historically accurate.

The Roman Emperor Constantine united a fragmented and divisive Roman Empire. Under the reign of Diocletian and Maximian (305 AD), they handed over rulership of East and West. Under Diocletian, the rulership of the Eastern Roman Empire fell onto the shoulders of Galerius and Maximians son – Maximinus was Caesar to Galerius. The Western Roman Empire fell under the jurisdiction and authority of Constantius and Serverus served as his Caesar.

It was Constantine who inherited the Western Empire, due to his father’s death in 306 AD. It is when the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy began – Constantine securing victory and uniting under one Emperor:

  • War of Constantine and Maxentius and the liberation of the Southern parts of the Empire
  • The Battle of the Milvian Bridge – where Constantine received a vision of the Chi-Ro and promised victory if he marched under this symbol of the Christian Faith
  • War of Constantine and Licinius with the Edict of Milan and the final civil war and the liberation and end of Christian persecution within the Roman Empire

The Chi-Ro being the earliest symbol of Christian identity where the Greek Monogram of chi (X) and rho (P) were combined. These first two Greek letters represented Khristos Christ.

Another issue is that when you look at the historical records and accounts of Constantine the Great, he remained a Roman and a Pagan himself – only to be baptized by the sprinkling of water on his death bed by Eusebieus of Nicomedia. Not only did Constantine unite the Roman Empire, and ended the Christian persecution in the fourth century, he also called for the convention of Bishops and oversaw the council of Nicea. This was due to what is known as the Arian controversy that threatened to split the Roman Empire. This theological controversy was a disputation between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria and centered on the nature of Christ and homoouios.

While Robertson appears to not be too far off the historical reality of a universal apostasy of the original teachings of Christ – and the priesthood authority to administer thereof; he does appear to misrepresent and misinterpret the historical account for his own personal progressive agenda and deconstruction of faith.

Deconstructing an Elaborate Strawman Fallacy and Argument

When it comes to discussions, providing information, and engaging an audience – one may do well to ensure they are not employing any potential fallacies within their arguments. It is one thing to present facts, argue a point, and establishing support for claims and assertions. However, one loses intellectual integrity and credibility when they are unwilling to support their assertions, make overgeneralized statements, and utilize logical fallacies as a means to establish their perspective as the right one to accept.

Up to this point, Brandan Robertson appears to weave an intricate and elaborate strawman argument. A fallacy where he presents that is overstated, exaggerated, misinterpreted, and sometimes utilizing information that is taken out of context in order to appear to refute it with sound logic and reason. What is the position he has established that is the strawman? How Christian privilege is an insidious disease perpetuated by a history of White Privilege that threatens day culture and society and therefore needs to be deconstructed in a manner to adopt a new way of believing and living life.

He begins to move toward dismantling the presupposed position of Christian Privilege with the following assertion:

Christianity became the most powerful force in the world, and in a very real sense, even to this day, it still is.

Do you see the irony? The religion founded y a man who was murdered by the Empire for being opposed to the oppressive ways of the empire became a religion endorsed by the Empire.

False – Christ was the promised messiah that would come to bring redemption and salvation unto all of humanity. He proclaimed this numerous times in the Gospel accounts. Paul testified of this in his letters, and the Old Testament is filled with symbolism and messianic prophecy regarding the coming messiah.

While it is true that Christ opposed the false teachings and oppression under the Jewish religious leaders of his day – he fulfilled the ends of the Law as the sacrifice needed to break the bonds of sin and death. His death, burial, and resurrection testify unto humanity the reality of the power and infinite atonement available to all who are willing to come unto Christ and be perfected in him.

Neither was he a homeless itinerant teacher.

And granted that there is a history of oppression and continual marginalization of people – there is also historical precedence of those who have spoken out against the injustices of the established power and authority of such institutions. Whether they were kings, emperors, or even Presidents. The movement of translating the Bible into common language for all to read and study gave rise to the Gutenberg Press where the first common language Bible was published. The Protestant reformation under Martin Luther who nailed his 95 theses on the Catholic church door because of the selling of indulgences. Discovery of the New World and the movement to escape religious persecution and tyranny under a King that evoked a revolutionary war for independence whereby a new form of government was established.

Despite this evidence – we read the following assertion:

Church – this is our tradition. This is our reality. And yet we rarely think in this way. In fact, if you grew up in church, you were likely conditioned never to think like this. To in fact, oppose thinking.

This is a hasty generalization fallacy where Robertson appears to make a general statement of small portion of people who may have experienced something that now applies universally to an entire group of people.

Most people of the Christian faith are not opposed to any form of thinking. Any person who has any modicum of intellectual integrity actually has studied Church History, the impact and influence it has had on various different cultures and societies, and some of the harsh realities of how certain individuals of authority used their power to corrupt and oppress people. To say that people are conditioned to not think this way is akin to say that Christians, in general, appear to be ignorant of their own history and heritage.

Proclamation of False Teachings Availeth much

Now that Robertson provided a strawman argument, bridged his argument with bias and prejudicial understanding of Christian history, and then make a claim that Christians are taught not to think on such things – he appears to introduce false teachings.

The first of which is denying the reality and claim of Christ himself. He does this by stating:

You were taught that Jesus was the only way to God – which actually meant that Christianity is the only way to God – and told that if we didn’t make the world Christian, it’d go to hell in a hand-basket.

Putting aside the asinine and pedestrian appeal to emotion of this statement: Robertson appears to deny the statement Christ made:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me.

John 14:6, KJV – In response to Thomas question

In his conversation with Nicodemus – Christ said that unless a man is born again – he can in no way inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3). Another place, a rich young man came to him and asked how he is able to inherit eternal life. Upon this, Christ responded that the young man ought to keep the commandments. The young man replied that he had since his youth and then asked what he lacked The Savior replied:

…If thou wilt be perfect {complete}, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

cf. John 19:16-29

Upon hearing this, we read that the young man turned away from Christ and was sorrowful because of the wealth of his possessions. This prompted a question among the disciples as to who can be saved. The Savior responded that those who forsake worldly possessions, relationships, inheritances for his sake shall be blessed and inherit everlasting life.

In some instances, when a person comes into faith and decides to follow Christ – they may have to give up family. They may have to forsake certain employment ventures. They may need to sacrifice investments and money – that is ultimately between them and Christ. However, what we do know is that there is a cost to discipleship. And it requires us to give up those things which may come between us and Christ. It may require that we give up certain attitudes and behaviors. It may require that we give up living a certain way. It may require that we give up previous beliefs and worldviews – to including those that are of a religious nature we grew up with. Any person who is not humble enough to forsake things in their life to follow after Christ – they will have no part in the kingdom of heaven. This includes blessings that will be bestowed upon those who do make such sacrifices.

And finally, Christ proclaimed the following truth:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes on me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:35-40, ESV

When the Jews heard this, they grumbled and questioned what he said. In answering them, Jesus further stated:

Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me – not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. … This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

John 6:41-51, ESV

The entirety of John 6 is the Jews disputing among themselves. Grumbling at what Christ is saying and attempting to reason with him what they found to be a hard saying – or hard teaching. Eventually, many ended up turning away from Christ.

It is the absolute truth that Christ is the only way to eternal life. This is not something that is based on some systemic oppressive institution. It is Christ himself saying the simple truth – I am the way, the Truth, and the Life – no one can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven without believing on my name – being born again and denying themselves and taking up their cross and following after me. This is scripture. This is truth.

The second teaching appears to focus on electing political leaders. Robertson states:

We were taught that if we didn’t try to elect politicians and leaders who advocated for Christian values and ideals, that we were failing Jesus’ call to be faithful disciples.

This statement appears to have in mind the idea of Christian Nationalism. According to Christianity Today’s article – Paul D. Miller defines this as follows:

Christian nationalism is a political ideology about American identity. It is a set of policy prescriptions for what the nationalists believe the American government should do. It’s not drawn from the Bible. It draws political theory from secular philosophy and their own version of history as well. Andrew Whitehead and Sameul Perry … say Christian nationalism is a cultural framework, a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems.

The article continues describing how Christian nationalism advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life. And this is based on the belief that Christian nationalism believes that the American nation is defined by Christianity and that the Government should take steps to keep it that way to sustain and maintain our Christian heritage. Such advocacy of this movement focuses on how society ought to sustain and continue our identity as a Christian nation.

From this perspective, I agree that there is a seemingly harmful prescription of sustaining and maintaining America’s identity as a Christian nation. And it is no wonder that many individuals, like Brandan Robertson, are speaking out against such ideology. However, what tends to happen is the movement away from the heritage of American Patriotism.

In the Christian Chronicle: An International Newspaper for the Churches of Christ opinions editor Jeremie Beller writes on the difference between Patriotism and Nationalism. He shares his thoughts as follows:

Patriotism is a sense of respect, appreciation and preference for our country that comes through personal experience and heritage. It is the same sense of pride and preference felt by citizens of other lands. Those of us born in the U.S. and blessed to travel the country have a fondness for the unique beauty within our borders.

He continues his observation:

Patriotism is also a sense of pride for the good things in our nation: acknowledgement that “all men are created equal”, that opportunities to freely worship and our relatively peaceful and quiet lives. Given a choice, patriotism makes our country our preference.

Beller contrasts Patriotism with Christian nationalism as an ideology that creates a patriotic demand of discipleship:

Christian nationalism makes the preference of patriotism a demand of discipleship. It sees the American system (or any worldly system) and its power as the “last best hope for the world” and is willing to preserve it at all costs. Believing the American system is divinely inspired, nationalism plays by the traditional rules of kingdoms and power, with a slightly Christian twist.

What is Beller’s conclusion? Something that I believe many American Evangelical Christians, and those of the Latter-day Saint Christian faith, fail to understand. A true and pure Christian nation is contrary to the Gospel of Christ:

Nations are defined by borders, power and self-interest. The Kingdom of God is without borders, defined by self-denial and driven by mercy and forgiveness.

With this said – and I do agree that there are many Christians in America that have bought into the political ideology of Christian nationalism – it seems that the statement ignores the reality that there are Christians who advocate a return to the American Spirit and Patriotism that made us the envy of all other nations. On the one hand you have the Christian nationalism advocation for a pure Christian nation (which is not going to happen). However, on the other hand, you have the Humanistic Nationalists that want to do away with, by means of deconstruction of American history, heritage, and freedom of religious liberty and speech that is found disagreeable, vying for political advocacy of socialism, Marxist ideology, and shaming those who are white. Essentially, the past decade has become a long standing and divisive Civil war of ideologies competing for prominence that has long suffocated the American Spirit and Patriotism that made us a great nation and a great people.

With this said – does this mean that Christians are not to advocate and vote for those who represent certain ideals, policies, and laws? The answer to this question is evidenced by the campaign and presidential run of Donald J. Trump. Regardless of where you sit on this issue – the reality is that there has been much censorship on the left and the right side of the political spectrum. The rise of the Cancel culture. Shaming people for political viewpoints and beliefs. Condemnation, name calling, and outright bullying.

True American freedom rests upon the right and privilege to vote for those political leaders and candidates who hold the same value and beliefs that the populace holds to. It is also to accept and embrace the majority votes of a political leader.

A Christian has just as much right to advocate and vote for a politician that wants to abolition abortion as an atheist has a right to vote for someone who wants to uphold Roe vs. Wade. That is the promised heritage of America. We have a right to vote. We have a say. And sometimes we simply have to accept that some are voted in that do not share our own personal beliefs and worldviews. Whether we are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Socialist, Communist, Pacifist, or any other religion, creed, or ethnicity. And just as we have the power and right to vote people in office, we have the right and privilege to vote them out of office.

Read my article: On the Proper Role of Government

Robertson concludes that we all become cogs in the wheel of Christian Privilege. Perpetuating a culture and world that favored Christianity above every other religion, creating a force that has raped and pillaged cultures, countries, and traditions around the world for thousands of years.

This appears to place blame of all human atrocity on Christianity. Sure, there is history where the Christian faith was abused for sole power and oppression by men in authority. However, Christianity is not the only religious or political ideology that has contributed to rape, pillage, and plunder of other cultures, people, countries, and traditions. It is mere false conclusion to make.

Robertson continues:

It’s for this reason that this new series is so important for us. To hear perspectives and worldviews. To hear the ways that our Christian privilege has impacted the lives of people of other faiths. To dispel the lies that Christian Privilege perpetuates that anyone who isn’t Christian is not Christ-like, is wicked, or demonic.

While there is a predominate belief within modern Christian thinking and teaching that those who are not born again will be judged and condemned – this statement over exaggerates and denies the nature of judgment and justice of God. Scripture is quite clear that all of humanity will stand before the Father and Christ and will give an account of their life. Those who are written in the book of Life and endured faithfully to the end and are part of the first resurrection will receive their reward. Those whose names are not written in the book of life and are part of the second resurrection will also stand and face judgment and be rewarded accordingly (see Revelation 20).

Floating on the River Denial

As we continue to examine Brandan Robinson’s treatise and pericope of Christian Privilege as this insidious disease, we find that he makes an astounding and obvious absurd statement:

See Church, I am not saying it’s bad to be a Christian. It’s not bad to belong to this new religion. It’s not bad to follow Jesus in this way. But if we are going to embrace our Christian identity, we must be willing to own the ways that we have failed to emulate Jesus, the ways we have brought death and destruction to the world, and be willing to work hard to destroy the root of Christian privilege in our own lives, churches, and world.

This is the heart of Christian deconstruction. This is what Robertson is advocating to people. True, he may be saying that being a Christian today is good – what he really is saying is that being a Christian today means to embrace a more progressive worldview and hold to a different idea of who Christ is – a preacher of social justice and advocate of overthrowing oppressive systems that create and maintain status quo systemic oppression. Because, if you are not deconstructing your faith in Christ, you were taught and brought up in believing – then you are the problem. A cog in an institution that perpetuates White Privilege, Christian Nationalism, and Christian privilege.

This is evidenced by the following statement:

And what is stunning is that in this moment of human history, where the Spirit of God is shining a light on all people who hold privilege and calling us to work to destroy the oppressive systems that endow us with such privilege, those at the top of all of these hierarchies are crying out unfair

This misses the true statement of what Christ said:

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed the name of the only Begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:18-21, KJV

The Spirit of God that is shining the light is to expose those things that are contrary to Christ and his teachings. The only call to destruction is our own beliefs, our own sense of identity. Again, it goes back to what Christ says – if a person is not willing to deny themselves and pick up their cross to follow him, they are not his disciples. This requires belief, it requires repentance. It requires humility and putting to death the natural man and the vain imaginations of our heart. Otherwise, we stand condemned already and shall perish.

And it is not those in an ivory tower of Christian Privilege and hierarchies decrying “unfair” it is the human nature at enmity with God crying out “it is not fair to condemn me.” How come? Because the Apostle Paul said:

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifested in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into image made to corruptible man … Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen

Romans 1:16-25, KJV

In his letter to the Church at Corinth – Paul writes this:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV

And it is when we get further into the Epistle to the Romans where the Apostle Paul teaches:

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:5-10, KJV

The credibility and authority of Scripture teaches us that either we are operating according to the dictates of our own vain imaginations and motivations of our own desires – or we are moved by the power and authority of the Spirit of God to where we put off the natural man and live according to the truth and righteousness of Christ. There is no wiggle room here. We either are of the world and obey the lusts thereof or are of Christ and willing to submit to the authority and will of the Father and walk in faithful obedience. Those who live according to the philosophies and seducing dictates of the world are the one’s decrying foul, unfair, this is wrong.

Christian Persecution in America – It’s a Hoax Folks

Not only does Robertson appear to suffocate the idea of what true Christianity is all about – he moves into the arena of mockery and peddling false information. Here is how he presents his viewpoint:

I mean, haven’t you heard a lot of noise in the past decade about “Christian Persecution” in America?

Haven’t you heard preachers yelling about the attack on Christianity because people want to remove “God in We trust” from our money, stop requiring prayer in schools, or move a statue of the 10 commandments off a government property?

Don’t we hear a lot of “Christian Persecution”, but I bet that today is the first time that many of us have heard about Christian privilege.

I’d be funny if it wasn’t sad.

Because see, when the playing field becomes leveled, it feels like persecution to those who once held power.

When the mountains are lowered and the valleys are lifted, those on the mountain tops feel like what’s happening is unfair.

Equality feels unfair to those who benefited from oppression.

So let me be clear – there is no such thing as Christian Persecution in America. There is no place in this country where it is not beneficial to identify as a Christian, to go to church, or to celebrate Christian holidays.

No, there isn’t persecution, but there is a whole lot of Christian privilege

While Christians in America are not experiencing persecution on the level of frequency and intensity that Christians are experiencing in other countries – there is growing opposition and persecution that persists and increases within American society and culture. However, it is Robertson’s progressive deconstruction worldview that maintains a confirmation bias of not seeing how Christians in our culture and society are being persecuted.

Kevin Deyong writes for the Gospel Coalition to answer the question – Are Christians Persecuted in America? He writes:

I also understand why progressive Christians would say Christians in this country are not persecuted. Christians on the left are apt to see evangelicals as the meanies, not secularists. Progressive Christians hold to a narrative that blames conservatives for instigating the culture war and driving young people from the church. Persecution is not the problem; intransigence is. Progressives long for the day when—if we would just beat our fundamentalist spears into NPR pruning hooks—our churches would be full of Christian activists attuned to the sensitivities of our cultural despisers.

Deyoung further contends that while persecution is prominently associated with violent acts seen in other countries – there is also the type of persecution that Christ spoke of when he taught the sermon on the mount. This type of persecution involves slander, reviling, and enduring evil speech:

But there is reason to think dioko is not limited to these extreme acts of oppression. In Matthew 5:10, Jesus promises that those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will be blessed. Then in v. 11 he further explains what this persecution is like: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” It’s possible that reviling and persecuting and uttering evil are three distinct acts, but considering verse 11 flows out of verse 10, it’s better to see these as overlapping categories. When verse 12 says “for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you,” Jesus does not mean every prophet was killed, but rather that all the prophets were reviled and spoken against, and in this manner (or worse) they were persecuted. Persecution may mean being put to death (Matt. 10:21), but it can also refer to being “hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22).

And while there are rare occasions of Churches being target for vandalism, arson, and graffiti – there is preponderance of evidence that Christians in American society today are ridiculed, slandered, reviled, condemned, criticized, and shamed. In fact, the Greek term for revile means harsh speech, use of insulting bitter speech, tasteless statements, and mean-spirited words.

Josh Herrington contributed an article – Persecution of Christians in America? at Joshua’s Outpost blog writes to his readers that we may not want to refer to the idea that Christians are being persecuted today; however, that there is a shift toward where Christians in our culture and society are being discriminated against, harassed for our beliefs, and endure hurt feelings because of insults and derogatory and pejorative bitter language being used. Herrington writes:

While our freedoms are eroding daily, and while the cultural tide has turned in a decidedly hostile direction toward Christians and Judeo-Christian values, we are still blessed with the space to gather for worship and speak out in favor or against things based upon our biblical convictions.

And I tend to agree with what Herrington observes. And with the tidal shift of animosity toward Christians, there is an ever-increasing movement to perpetuate further discrimination, harassment, and continued reviling. And while American culture and society has yet to see a true full-blown epidemic of Christian persecution – we are to remain watchful, sounding the alarm of warning that continued and growing hatred toward Christian beliefs will ultimately lead to the dissolving of the liberty of freedom of Religion and free exercise thereof.

And it appears to begin with the deconstruction movement of progressive humanism and Marxist ideology. The first step being the denial of any harassment, discrimination, or slander against Christians.

Sadly, while we have yet to experience the level of persecution other Christians are undergoing in other parts of the world – one thing Robertson is accurate on. America has endured a rich heritage of freedom and liberty of Christian worship, expression, and belief. Something we may have taken quite advantage of and granted for. The time will come where people will rather abandon their faith when true fiery persecution comes. The question of whether one will stand firm in their faith and testimony of Christ and endure being imprisoned, put to death, or willing to deny Christ to save their life.

No – That is not the heartbeat of what it means to follow Christ

Moving away from the false notion that Christians are not being insulted, harassed, or reviled in our society today – Robertson appears to present his understanding of what it means to follow Christ. To be a disciple of Christ.

And as followers of Jesus, we are called to work hard to dismantle the systems and structures of Christian privilege.

To own the ways that society is bent in our favor, and work hard to help other religions to experience the same benefits we are afforded in this country.

This is literally the heart-beat of what it means to follow Jesus

First, and foremost, to be a Christian – to follow Christ – means we are willing to take upon ourselves the very name of Christ. Second, and just as important, we choose to be changed. To be perfected in Christ.

And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. And awaken, and arise from the dust … yea, put on they beautiful garments … and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father, which he hat made unto thee … may be fulfilled. Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then his grace is sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

Moroni 10:30-33

To become true followers of Christ, we put off our natural man. Another passage says this:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing’s of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Mosiah 3:19

This is contained in the messianic prophecy and speech of King Benjamin where he declares of the promised Messiah and the salvation and redemption of humanity through is infinite atonement. To truly follow Christ means:

  • We are to have faith in knowing and understanding who he is
  • Repent of our sins and seek forgiveness through the grace and mercy of God, our Heavenly Father
  • Willingness to take upon ourselves his name and put to death our natural man – all the desires, vain imaginations, perspectives, worldviews, values, et al and submit to His authority and will
  • To walk in covenantal relationship by being faithfully obedient to His teachings and commandments
  • And endure with patience and longsuffering the adversities of this life in order to receive our blessings and inheritance of immortality and eternal life

This is evident where a mighty change of heart replaces the natural desire to do that which is evil. It is a declaration and covenant the people of Zarahemla made when King Benjamin gave his speech:

And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually.

Mosiah 5:2

As the people made a covenant to God, before King Benjamin, the response we read:

And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon yourself the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

In another sermon, we find Alma declaring the truth that all will stand before God and shall give an account of their life. Those who have had a mighty change of heart, have been spiritually born of God, having received salvation through the Grace of God and are sanctified will stand blameless. Those who have denied Christ, walked in disobedience, engaged in behaviors and attitudes that are less desirable shall stand with shame and guilt before the Lord. Shall be judged according to God’s justice and judgment. The crux of the sermon is Alma 5:14-13 and says:

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

This is consistent with the Apostle Paul and what he writes in Romans 8:1-4 regarding that those who are faithful and are in Christ – there exists no condemnation:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Therefore, do not allow yourself to be misled by the philosophy and teachings of men that are established to seduce you away from the truth. For they lie in wait to deceive:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From the whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in the, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4: 14-25, KJV

Therefore, scripture defines who are the true followers of Christ. The very heart beat of following Christ means we empty ourselves of all natural and vain imaginations, beliefs, and values and experience a mighty change of heart to were we are spiritually awakened and wrought toward putting to death those things that are evil in order to live according to the Spirit of righteousness – being sanctified and sealed by the covenant of promise so that we may receive our inheritance of immortality and eternal life.

The only dismantling of any systems and structures is that of our old man – the natural man that is at enmity with God and His Righteousness.

The Epistle to the Christians and the Church at Philippi

Brandan Robertson finally appears to make some justification for his position and quotes Philippians. He states:

One of the earliest creeds that followers of Jesus gathered around and recited in their worship gatherings is found in the Book of Philippians where Paul writes it out. This passage is a description of how Christians are supposed to live their faith and life. Paul writes:

‘Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit, but he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ‘

Jesus, who was in the form of God, didn’t exploit his powerful position, but instead, emptied himself. He gave his privilege and power away and stood in solidarity with humans – but not just any humans, the lowest valued humans – slaves. Not that – he gave up his power so much that he died the death of a common criminal.

Then Paul writes:

‘Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus honor, his blessing, his position came from his willingness to humble himself. To serve others. To sacrifice himself for the good of others. That’s how Jesus received the blessings of God. That’s why Jesus was exalted – not because he exploited his position of privilege, but precisely because he gave it up to help level the playing field for others.

Then Paul commands the church: “Adopt this attitude – the one that was embodied by Jesus …”

He commands followers of Jesus to adopt this posture. To embody it. These are our marching orders.

Philippians 2:5-11, CEB

The issue with this is that Robertson engages in a tactic known as Eisegesis where he is reading into the text his own bias and prejudicial viewpoints and understandings are. This is evident by him quoting Philippians 2:5 as the last thing Paul wrote instead of being the first thing he wrote. And prior to Paul saying that the Christians at Philippi are to adopt this attitude – he was referring to the previous remarks (which Robertson failed to mention or quote):

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy y thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.

Philippians 2:1-4, CEB

Whenever we read the term, Therefore in scripture, it is referring us back to what was previously said. This means, we go back to Philippians 1 to see what the Apostle Paul was writing about. He first gives his typical salutation. He then offers up thanksgiving and prayer (vv. 3-9). We also know that the Epistle to the Philippians was one of a handful that Paul wrote from prison. This is evident in what he discloses in vv. 12-16. And, he also contrasts those who preach with selfish ambition compared to those who preach the Gospel of Christ with good motives. However, regardless how the Gospel is preached – it is being preached.

It is when we get to vv. 27-30 where we find Paul’s admonishment and counsel to the Christians in Philippi:

Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the Gospel. That way, you won’t be afraid of anything your enemies do. Your faithfulness and courage are a sign of their coming destruction and your salvation, which is from God. God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. You are having the same struggle that you saw me face and now hear that I’m still facing.

Philippians 1:27-30, CEB

The other issue is that what Paul was illustrating through Christ was not that he gave up his power and privilege – instead, Paul was focusing on the illustration of Christ’s humility to become the necessary sacrifice needed to fulfill the ends of the Law and bring about God’s purpose and will regarding our immortality and eternal life.

Paul calls forth the Christians at Philippi to work out their salvation with fear and trembling because For it is God which worketh in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. He further calls their attention to do all things without murmurings or disputations. To be found blameless and harmless as the sons of God where there is no rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life to which Paul stats that he hopes to rejoice in the day of Christ where he has not run nor labored in vain (Philippians 2:12-16, KJV).

The attention of the Apostle Paul is on the nature and condescension of Christ in that he became mortal – yet retaining his divinity and deity as the Son of the Living God sent to do the will of the Father. One reputable Christian commentary shares this understanding:

Christ is the supreme example of humility and selfless concern for others (vv. 5–8). These verses, along with verses 9–11, constitute a grand statement on Christology.

2:5. Believers are exhorted to have the same attitude—selfless humility—Christ exhibited in His humiliation and condescension. The word here translated attitude is translated “like-minded” in verse 2.

2:6–8. The word translated nature (morphē) in verses 6 and 7 is a crucial term in this passage. This word (trans. “form” in the KJV and NASB) stresses the inner essence or reality of that with which it is associated (cf. Mark 16:12). Christ Jesus, Paul said, is of the very essence (morphē) of God, and in His incarnation, He embraced perfect humanity. His complete and absolute deity is here carefully stressed by the apostle. The Savior’s claim to deity infuriated the Jewish leaders (John 5:18) and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33).

Though possessing full deity (John 1:14; Col. 2:9), Christ did not consider His equality with God (Phil. 2:6) as something to be grasped or held onto. In other words, Christ did not hesitate to set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man. As God He had all the rights of deity, and yet during His incarnate state He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendor and glory.

Christ’s humiliation included His making Himself nothing, taking the very nature (morphē) of a servant, and being made in human likeness (v. 7). These statements indicate that Christ became a man, a true human being. The words “made Himself nothing” are, literally, “He emptied Himself.” “Emptied,” from the Greek kenoō, points to the divesting of His self-interests, but not of His deity. “The very nature of a servant” certainly points to His lowly and humble position, His willingness to obey the Father, and serve others. He became a man, a true human being. “Likeness” suggests similarity but difference. Though His humanity was genuine, He was different from all other humans in that He was sinless (Heb. 4:15).

Thus, it is seen that Christ, while retaining the essence of God, was also human. In His incarnation He was fully God and fully man at the same time. He was God manifest in human flesh (John 1:14).

Some have wrongly taught that the phrase, being found in appearance as a man (Phil. 2:8), means that He only looked human. But this contradicts verse 7. “Appearance” is the Greek schēmati, meaning an outer appearance which may be temporary. This contrasts with morphē (“very nature”) in verses 6 and 7, which speaks of an outer appearance that reveals permanent inner quality.

The condescension of Christ included not only His birth—the Incarnation in which He became the God-Man—but also His death. And it was the most cruel and despicable form of death—even death on a cross! (v. 8) This form of capital punishment was limited to non-Romans and the worst criminals.

No better example of humiliation and a selfless attitude for believers to follow could possibly be given than that of Christ. With this example before them, the saints at Philippi should be “like-minded” (v. 2) and live humbly before their God and each other.

Robert P. Lightner, “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 653–654.

Therefore, the Apostle was calling the Christians to have the same like-mindedness of that Savior – selfless humility and charity toward others. This is consistent with the context of Paul’s writings where he admonishes them to be united in one purpose.

And while Robertson appears to make a call to action that embodies a sense of social justice – he places the wrong understanding in what we are called to do:

Do you have power? Give it up.

Do you have wealth? Give it up.

Do you have position? Give it up.

Don’t exploit it – utilize it to bless and liberate others. Use it to wage a war on the powers and principalities that seek to marginalize others. This is the very attitude of Christ, and it should be the attitude of Christ followers.

Unfortunately, the warfare we are battling is laid out in scripture quite well:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12, KJV

This is in the context of the Apostle Paul admonishing that we put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). Prior to this, Paul writes that how children ought to obey their parents, counseling fathers not to provoke their children to wrath, instead raise them, nurture them in the admonishment of the Lord. He counsels servants to be obedient to their masters as they would obey Christ, willing to do the will of God from their heart and doing service unto Christ and not unto men. He, then counsels the master’s to honor and respect their servants.

And yes, we definitely want to utilize our power, our wealth, our position to bless others, to minister to them through humility, meeting their temporal and spiritual needs – above all – Preaching Christ and living according to the principles and values of what true a true disciple of Christ is. Exemplifying and ministering in the manner, power, and authority of Christ.

The Broad and Narrow Path

Robertson appears to stipulate that the aforementioned attitude of Christ that we ought to adopt is no easy task or path to follow:

And do you recognize that this isn’t an easy path to follow? It’s not easy to give up privilege. it’s not easy to give up power. It’s not easy to not be selfish.

This is why Jesus said that the path to follow him was “narrow and few find it.” but he also promised that those who do walk on the path of Jesus will find “life, and life in its fullest.”

And this is why Jesus said the path of the privilege was “broad and leads to destruction, and many walks on it.”

When we examine Robertson’s understanding of Matthew 7:13-14 appears to be another Eisegesis. This is because Matthew 7, Christ is concluding his sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) with some final instructions, teachings, parables, and warnings:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

He then warns of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing – yet are inwardly ravenous wolves. And one is able to determine them by their fruits. Once he gives a parable about the tree bringing forth good fruit and the tree bringing forth bad fruit – he states this:

Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doth the will of my father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in they name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 7:21-23, KJV

What is interesting is that Christ summed up all of his teachings from Matthew 5 – 7:23 by illustrating those who heard what he said and take the necessary action to do them – they are liken unto a wise man who built his house on the rock. Those who heard what Christ taught and did not do them, nor hearken unto them – they were liken to a foolish man who built his house on sandy ground.

Now, I do agree that for those to truly come unto Christ, to enter the strait and narrow gate – it is quite difficult and costly for them because they have to give up their old self. They have to put to death their preconceived notions, worldview, ideology, values, and presently held beliefs. And for many – it is quite difficult. Because the strait and narrow gate and path is not about giving up privilege – it is about committing our lives over into a covenant relationship with Christ through principle ordinances that are sacred and necessary to participate in receiving the inheritance of eternal life and immortality.

Since Christ is the gate that we are able to enter into – and the path that leads to eternal life and immortality (John 10:7-10) – it is no wonder he said that it is strait and narrow.

Confronting the insidious ideology of Progressive Deconstruction

Robertson concludes his message by sharing his thoughts:

And how do we practically begin confronting the insidious disease of Christian privilege?

We follow Jesus example – we open our door, we set a table, we invite them to sit, and we listen. We learn. And we act on their behalf.

Sounds good. Appears to show some charity, love, compassion, and kindness toward others. However, it is shattered when we continue to see where Robertson is going with this:

… inviting those who are marginalized in our society because of their beliefs to come and teach us. To reveal truth to us. To help us see the world in a different way.

And that is the true gift.

Because at the end of the day, the claims of privilege are fake and vanishing. Christianity doesn’t own truth. It’s not the only way or the right way. And those of us committed to seeking God in a way of Jesus must be willing to find God speaking and working in the places we’d least expect to find God – in our “others”, in the perspectives of those whom we’ve been taught to ignore and or to accost. In the face of those who we have been conditioned to see our enemies.

He further surmises his thoughts and beliefs:

Because we are all one human family, emerging from the same prism, the same light, the same God, and out of that, we shine forth the diverse perspectives, positions, cultures, beliefs, and attributes that make us each unique.

Because that is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately – the Apostle Paul writes:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the Wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chose, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory unto the Lord,

1 Corinthians 1:18-31, KJV

Granted, we are all part of the human family- that does not necessitate that we all will taste the sweet and savory power of God’s grace and the blessings of the Infinite Atonement. Because for some – it is foolishness. It is an insidious privilege that does not fit within the progressive and deconstruction worldview.

Robertson is seducing individuals into a false gospel. He is establishing a false Christ and crying out “come unto me and listen as others provide their own perspectives, their own truths, and their own way of living life”.

He is the epitome of what the Savior warned us about. A teacher established to preach what itching ears want to hear.

The sad reality is that true and authentic Christianity is not based on privilege. It is based on our need for redemption and salvation. It is based on our ability to choose to live according to the Spirit of God and be sanctified and inherit our blessings of eternal life and immortality or seek after vain imaginations and philosophies of men that lead to destruction and separation from our Heavenly Father.

Yes, there is one absolute truth. There is one absolute way. And there is one who stands and proclaims that I am the Truth, the Light and the Life whereby no other name under Heaven is given by which we receive the blessings and power of the infinite atonement and that is through Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God who died, was buried, and resurrected to break the bonds of sin and death. To set the captives free.

And in the words of Lehi as he called forth to his sons:

O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe. Awake! and arise from the dust … Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

2 Nephi 1:13-23

Let us awake and arise from the dust – shake off the chains of our own vain imaginations, the chains of pride, and humble ourselves to seek forgiveness, mercy, and grace at the Throne of Christ. Otherwise, we shall be held captive and led toward destruction where there is no more opportunity for redemption and salvation.

Let us shake off the chains of false teachings – rid ourselves of fellowship with ravening wolves who seek out to revile, lying in wait to deceive and seduce people into false teachings and following after false Christs. For they are accursed and condemned already as they perish in their own sins and transgressions. Pretending to have a form of Godliness yet denying the very power thereof. Refusing to have a mighty change of heart and taking on the true name of Christ and humbling themselves to the point of putting to death and forsaking all to come unto Christ and following him.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s