Recently, I wrote an article about a presentation at the White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia last month. In response to that piece, I was accused of setting up a straw man and then attacking same.
The speaker in question, Paul Kivel, is the founder of “the Challenging Christian Hegemony Project.”
While Kivel in his talk apparently issued a wide-ranging indictment of Christianity’s influence, perhaps it was an overstatement to say that he “blamed Christianity for everything bad in the world”—although he indeed blames institutional Christianity for much of it.
Subsequently, after the criticism, I found a video of Kivel himself, where he says that Christian hegemony is the ultimate source of three major problems in the world today. I’ll address those in a moment.
First, what is “hegemony”? Webster’s calls it “the influence of one state over others.” After He rose from the dead, Jesus told His disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. Therefore, He commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations.
In this sense, the idea of “Christian hegemony” gets back to Jesus Himself. After all, Christianity is Christ.
Kivel says there are three major crises in the world today, all of which can be traced back to Christianity.
1) The threat to world peace. Kivel says, “The first is militarism and war---the unending war on axes of evil and terrorists that is justified by concepts of Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism.” Later, he also blames Christianity for Islamophobia.
Well, it is certainly true that in times past, professing Christians picked up the sword for the advance of the faith. But that “Medieval mistake” did not comport with the way of the Master. Jesus said, “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” He even told His followers we are to love our enemies and pray for them.
Meanwhile, Western nations, through Judeo-Christian influence, have indeed opposed “axes of evil”---all the “-isms” that arise to deprive others of life and liberty. Such as Nazism, Communism, and today, Islamism. We only oppose those Muslims who want to impose their Islam on us---“convert or die.” If that’s “Islamophobia,” count us in.
2) The weak economy is due to Christianity, says Kivel. He blames Christianity for stressing a free market economy, “rewarding the greedy and punishing those who have little.”
Implied is a criticism of capitalism. The world can thank Christianity for capitalism. Bailor professor Rodney Stark wrote The Victory of Reason, tracing this connection. Capitalism has helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
But capitalism is not always fair, and the Christian church does a great deal of work to help the down-and-out the world over. As to greed, it is one of the 7 Deadly Sins that Christians oppose.
3) “The basic Christian concept is that humans are given dominion over the earth. We can’t solve our environmental problem without understanding we are interdependent with all life. And that we have to live in balance and in harmony with the plants and animals and the earth itself,” according to Kivel.
Yes, the Bible does say that God has given humankind the role of steward of the earth, and it also says, “Woe to those who destroy the earth.” Use is one thing; abuse is another.
Meanwhile, the theory of man-made global warming is a myth. For example, the worldwide average temperature has not risen in the last 18 years. So the theorists changed the name to “climate change.” Well, to borrow a line from Marco Rubio, there’s always climate change---it’s called “the weather.”
Because Jesus bodily rose from the dead, He has proven His divinity. Every breath we take is courtesy of Jesus Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God. And one day, He’ll call it quits for us and then comes the accountability before Him.
One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And today that message is spread through peaceful proclamation of the gospel.
If opposition to “Christian hegemony” refers to opposing every abuse in the name of Christ, then it is the Christian thing to likewise oppose such abuse. But if by “Christian hegemony,” one refers to opposition to the ultimate reign of Christ, then such opposition is destined to fail. The day will come, as the Hallelujah Chorus reminds us, when “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. And He shall reign forever and ever.”