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Equity and Utopia

While most Christians do seem to understand the unrealistic and dangerous nature of utopian thought—as well as its bloody history—the seductive agent which is captivating many a Christian mind today, is the concept of equity. The reason why movements rooted in wokeness, such as social justice, racial justice, radical feminism, and racial reconciliation are taking hold of many churches is that they promote a certain idea of “fairness” that appeals to people who see intrinsic value in all humanity.
 
 
Man created in the image of God cannot escape certain realities or intuitions. A particular example of those is the reality of the imperfection of the world we live in, and the intuition that history is moving toward some final resolution. The biblical narrative of course affirms these two truths, and even goes so far as to tell us both the reason for the world’s imperfection, and how it will be resolved in history; however, when man rejects God, he must find a different solution to these problems. It is because of this that atheistic worldviews routinely result in utopian aspirations.
 

Every Worldview Must Have An Endgame

Every worldview must have some sort of telos, an eschaton, an endgame; for the secularist, the existence of suffering minus God necessarily equals some iteration of a man-made paradise. This was the reality of Babel, which was to be a monument exalting human enterprise and human achievement apart from God (Gen. 11:1-9). This was the aim of the French Revolution, a product of secular enlightenment philosophy, which sought to take privilege and power from those who had it and give it into the hands of expert ideologues who would then use it to usher in a truly equal society.
 
Utopia was at the heart of the economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who contended that if the means of production could be taken out of the hands of the owners and into those of the workers, then there would be no need for governments or nations and that society would then become perfected. Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin during their respective regimes in the Soviet Union sought to implement the ideas of Marx by means of consolidating for themselves absolute decision-making power, hoping that by collectivization and central government planning, a new perfect society would emerge. Adolf Hitler in his Nazi ideology promised that by racial cleansing and natural selection, the strong and fit would achieve the utopian dream. And now this utopian vision remains not only present but prevalent in contemporary secular thinking, particularly to be found in what is commonly referred to as “woke” ideology.
 

Woke Ideology

Woke ideology is a phrase used to describe the particular brand of Critical Theory that has come to dominate much western thought over the past number of years. Like Marxism, Critical Theory is a utopian ideology that maintains that systemic oppression is all that stands between humanity and perfection. This systemic oppression, they contend, is evident by various societal inequities. However, whereas Marx saw class struggle as the foundational dividing line, CT broadens the scope, proclaiming that it is not merely one’s economic class, but a whole host of identities that determine whether and to what degree one is an oppressor or oppressed. Most significantly, these identities tend to be race, gender, and sexuality, and it is the various “intersections” of these identifiers which divide the privileged from the disadvantaged.
 
Wokeness, therefore, is not simply interested in redistributing wealth to establish utopian equity but is instead concerned with the very systems and structures of civilization. Their formula for utopia, therefore, is the dismantling of all systems, that they may be replaced by those which are equitable, providing the same outcome for all people indiscriminately. Of course, those who determine what these new systems ought to be will be various “experts” (those who have fully bought into the ideology), and the most oppressed people, determined by the calculations of intersectionality.
 
Once this equity is achieved, then will come utopiaa world where everybody has exactly the same, where there is no want, no distinction, no reward for hard work, no consequence for laziness. There will be no crime because everybody will have the same status and the same resources. There will be no borders because we will all share equally the bounty of the earth. Indeed, there will not even be any natural disasters because scientific experts will have been given the power to address the plague of climate change. The promise is of a new creation and a new mankind; a perfected earth and sinless humanity, all things made new.
 

The Fatal Flaw

The fatal flaw of woke ideology is of course the same as every other utopian visiona denial of God and a denial of the sinfulness of man leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of reality as it is. Man cannot change his own nature, and therefore even the purest woke ideologues will seek to build structures that favor them, to the detriment of others. Man is infinitely corrupt, and the more power he seeks to attain, the more pronounced that corruption becomes. This is the principle behind God’s instruction to Israel regarding their kings:
When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving to you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,” you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, “You shall never return that way again.” And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

Additionally, the notion that man can change the nature of the world in which we live is equally unbiblical and irrational.
 
The curse of the fall promises a creation that is uncooperative, and at times even destructive (Gen. 3:18). Jeremiah 13:23 succinctly summarizes man’s inability to transform either himself or the nature of the world around him: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” A system that ignores the sinful nature of man and the fallen nature of the world will invariably result in a multiplication of wicked atrocities. It is no wonder therefore that regimes that accomplished the implementation of their utopian ideologiessuch as the French First Republic, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germanyended in tremendous suffering and loss of life.
 

“Christian” Wokeness

While most Christians do seem to understand the unrealistic and dangerous nature of utopian thoughtas well as its bloody historythe seductive agent which is captivating many a Christian mind today, is the concept of equity. The reason why movements rooted in wokeness, such as social justice, racial justice, radical feminism, and racial reconciliation are taking hold of many churches is that they promote a certain idea of “fairness” that appeals to people who see intrinsic value in all humanity.
 
The argument of “Christian” wokeness is that, because all peopleblack, white, gay, straight, male, female, trans, etc.are made in God’s image, each one deserves as a matter of justice equal access to power and privilege, and ultimately equitable outcomes. It preaches that equality before God must mean equity in this life, and where there is any disparity, there must necessarily be an injustice.
 
Indeed, Christians must see the inherent dignity of every person, made in God’s image. Furthermore, we are indeed required to show care and concern for the poor who are among us (Lev. 9:9-10, Gal 2:10, 6:10). However, one failure of this argument is that it does not acknowledge God’s providence and His prerogative to bless some materially while withholding material blessings from others. It forgets the fact that ultimately no person is owed anything in this life–God’s justice does not demand that all people achieve a certain base standard of living. But there is another biblical red flag in this argument that often gets overlooked, yet nevertheless deserves attention.
 

Equity Is Not The Ideal

It seems to be taken for granted by many Christians that equitymeaning equality of outcomeis the ideal that ought to be strived for. This argument implies that it is only because of sin and the fall that some people have what others do not, and that this will be perfectly rectified in the new heavens and the new earth when all will finally be at perfect equity and equilibrium. However, this is not taught in Scripture. There is a sense in which the fall is the cause of lack of necessities; there will indeed be plenty in the new creation, in which all will eat freely of the tree of life (Rev. 22:2). Yet several places in the New Testament make it clear that there indeed will be varied rewards in eternity.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10).
 

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done (Revelation 22:12).

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).

Now we know that nobody is saved based on works; salvation is a totally free gift of grace that is given entirely based on Jesus Christ. All those who by faith are joined to Christ will inherit everlasting life to be lived in direct fellowship with the Triune God, in which there will be perfect and unending bliss. And yet, there will be varied rewards in heaven based upon what one has done in this life. One of the clearest places where this is taught is in Matthew 19:28-30:
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Jesus, in rebuking the rich young man’s refusal to surrender all of his earthly possessions and follow Him, explains to the discipleswho had left all things behindthat they would be rewarded in kind in eternity. There is a proportional relationship between the things that we do in this life and the reward we receive in heaven. This is challenging teaching for us to grasp; how can eternity truly be a perfect, sinless paradise if “inequities” remain if not all people have exactly the same? What must be emphatically reiterated is that our status as co-heirs with Christ is not affected in the least by what we do. All Christians truly and equally share in the merits of Christ’s work.
 
Part of the promised blessing is that we will be completely freed from every trace of sin, meaning that there will not be a hint of envy or covetousness or self-pity in glory. When we see the rewards received by others in heaven, all we will be able to do is praise God for His justice and righteousness in blessing each according to their works. And we will glorify Him for having used fallen individuals in such a magnificent way during their sojourn on the earth. We will be fully satisfied, infinitely blessed, wanting for nothing; yet some will receive particular rewards that others will not receive.
 

The Christian’s Interest and Responsibility

Biblically speaking then, “equity” is not an ideal that is possible to attain in this life but is a sinful concept rooted in covetousness. It is not a result of the fall, but a reality of creation. However, it is the Christian’s interest and responsibility in this life to do both justice and mercy. Though we do not strive for utopia, we do acknowledge that there is a kingdom; a kingdom that encompasses all of creation, over which Christ rules with all authority. And this is a kingdom which is being manifested in the present and which will most assuredly appear in its fullness when the Lord returns.
 
Therefore, understanding this reality, Christians ought to glorify God by building just societies that mirror the justice of God. We ought to live mercifully, seeking to care for those who do suffer lack. We ought not to be so consumed by what we do not have, but instead, use what we do have to bless others and glorify God. And we must practice gratitude and thanksgiving for what has been given to us, knowing that we are striving and laboring not for that which is perishable, but for the imperishable reward, kept in heaven, to be revealed to us in the last day.
 
Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA.  Click here for more RCSH Blog posts. 
 
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