'Woke Jesus' Author Warns About Critical Race Theory in Christianity – Daily Signal

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Lucas Miles, author of “Woke Jesus,” warns about a “doctrine of demons” infiltrating Christian churches. (Photo: Lucas Miles)
ORLANDO, Fla.—A “doctrine of demons” is invading Christian churches across America, twisting the Bible to advance leftist ideologies that divide people, warns a pastor and author of the book “Woke Jesus: The False Messiah Destroying Christianity.”
“I think it is a doctrine of demons,” Lucas Miles, pastor of Nfluence Church in Granger, Indiana, told “The Daily Signal Podcast” at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Orlando on Monday. “I mean, its intention is to divide people.”
He warns that “woke Christianity” or “progressive Christianity” or “the Christian Left” boils down to a false version of the faith, tracing back to a Marxist substructure” that reframes the faith in terms of oppressors and oppressed.
But wokeism, it’s antithetical to Christianity,” Miles said.
He recalls seeing the website for the Black Lives Matter movement, which promoted transgender activism and the abolition of the nuclear family.
“I don’t know how any Christian could be on the side when you look at a gay parade or a trans parade that’s happening and ever look at that and say, ‘That looks like an event that’s promoting righteousness or holiness,’” Miles said.
Not only does the leftist perspective often advocate for the erosion of the nuclear family and the promotion of LGBT lifestyles that conflict with the moral teachings of Scripture, but it robs Christianity of proper discipleship.
Miles argues that wokeism removes the ability to suffer for Christ. Since Christians will spend eternity in heaven, where there is no suffering, “I only have my lifetime to offer obedience to Him and faithfulness in the face of persecution.” But woke Christianity “removes persecution for the sake of Christ because persecution, according to wokeism, is always based upon my socioeconomic status, my skin color, my country of origin, my sexual preference, my gender, immigration status, all of these things.”
Woke Christianity also “robs us of the ability to offer forgiveness,” he adds. “There is no such thing as redemption or forgiveness, because the other group is always classified as the oppressor.”
“When you look at Scripture, it talks about not punishing people based upon the acts of their parents or the acts of their ancestors,” Miles noted, referencing verses such as Ezekiel 18:20.
He laments that “we have such an increase in biblical illiteracy in the church that most people can’t recognize” that these ideas are actually rejections of what Scripture teaches.
Miles encourages the church to truly study woke ideology, critical theory, and critical race theory, in order to “wrap our minds around it and untangle these doctrinal fishing lines,” so Christians can “clearly stand on knowing confidently we’re on biblical grounds to be able to say, ‘This is unbiblical, and here is why.’”
The author pastors a church based near South Bend, Indiana. He recalls the impact of then-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who went on to become a presidential candidate and secretary of transportation under President Joe Biden.
“It wasn’t the national conversation that inspired this [book],” Miles says. “It was really what was happening locally.” He says people “laughed at” him when he predicted that Buttigieg would run for president.
“Pete did something that I believe that no other presidential candidate has fully done before,” the pastor noted. “We’ve seen presidential candidates talk about their faith. We’ve seen them thank God for things. We’ve seen them even pray. Pete would exegete passages on the campaign trail.” (“Exegesis” refers to the careful reading of Scripture, focusing on specific words to tease out a deeper meaning.)
“He’s breaking down passages, using them, really, as, in many ways, sort of propaganda for his various views,” Miles says. “And so, I believe that there was actually a turning point with him. I’m not going to say that Pete was single-handedly responsible for giving life to the Christian Left, but I think he was a major inspiration for a lot of people on that side for that reason, because he would build these arguments about why Jesus was a refugee, so, therefore, we need open borders and illegal immigration.”
Miles recalls briefly interviewing Buttigieg years ago, and he cites Buttigieg’s father’s past in translating the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci. He noted that Buttigieg “did a lot of things to clean up the immediate downtown” in South Bend, “but you go outside of the area at all, and the city’s probably the worst it’s ever been.”
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Tyler O’Neil: This is Tyler O’Neil, managing editor at The Daily Signal. I am joined by Lucas Miles, a pastor, host of the show “Church and State with Lucas Miles,” and author of the new book “Woke Jesus: The False Messiah Destroying Christianity.” Thanks so much for joining me.
Lucas Miles: Thanks for having me.
O’Neil: So, Lucas, can you walk us through how the Left aims to subvert Jesus? I’ve seen Democrats claim Jesus was a radical, a refugee, even transgender. What’s going on?
Miles: Without a doubt, there’s a concerted effort that seems to be picking up a lot of momentum in recent years of the Left’s redefining of Christianity, re-imagining Christ, what he looks like, what his nature is, and, of course, outside of a biblical worldview.
But I think it’s important that people understand that this isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon. That this, in my book “Woke Jesus,” I go back to as early as the 1700s, after the Enlightenment, during the post-Enlightenment period, the world was at a different place and actually a very similar place than it is today where there was a paradigm shift.
And so for the first time there was an elevation of man’s intellect over this idea of faith. And so logic and reason, the scientific method, Darwin, all these things, Hegel, all of these sort of new machinations, if you will, of man became the paramount.
So the church was in a dilemma. It had to find a way to make Scripture stay relevant. And they did that actually by wrongly, but probably with good intention, they did it by minimizing the divinity of Christ and uplifting his humanity.
And that’s the same debate we have today, is, is Jesus just a great human example and a human witness that promotes a social gospel—and at times a socialist gospel—or is he truly divine? Of course, the Christian answer is, he’s both, but that has certain implications.
So what we’re seeing today and what I write about in “Woke Jesus” are the various iterations of Christ that we see presented and now financed by the Left. And that’s what makes this different than just what happened in the 1700s.
The 1700s I think, in many ways, was a natural discourse of theology in the conversations. What we see today is the monetization and the funding of a woke gospel in order to divide the church so that the Left can really weaken the evangelical vote in this country, win elections, and gain more power.
O’Neil: So how would you define or explain this woke gospel?
Miles: Yeah, so, if you’re talking to somebody who is an adherent to it, they would say probably something like, although it would be much more complex than this, that wokeism is a higher awareness or increased sensitivity to the systemic oppression of various demographics, whether that be people of color or people based upon their gender or sexual preference, or something like that.
The way that I would describe it, first off, I think it is a doctrine of demons. I mean, its intention is to divide people. It’s a Marxist substructure that really lines it and this idea that there’s an oppressor and oppressed and that everybody’s divided in these categories. So whether we’re talking about critical race theory or critical queer theory, these are attributes of the woke gospel.
And I think what woke Christianity or progressive Christianity or the Christian Left, it can go by all these different names, it’s important to understand that there’s a spectrum.
We have some individuals that have maybe some theological imaginations or leanings toward some of these doctrines. And then we have all-out activists that are really leftist operatives within the church. And I think it’s important to give recognition to that because our response to those different groups is different.
Somebody who’s truly a believer that’s maybe embraced a social justice message because they think it’s going to be the best thing to help the world, I’m going to respond to differently than a leftist infiltrator into the church that’s trying to create a bunch of havoc.
And so we utilize grace and truth, which are obviously very, very strong Christian principles and values that we hold to in order to walk our way through this. But wokeism, it’s antithetical to Christianity. And I think one of the things that’s important to point out is that one of the greatest problems with wokeism, from a Christian standpoint, is it robs us of the ability to be able to suffer for Christ.
As believers, one of the only things that we can give to the Lord on this side of heaven that we can’t give to him for eternity is glory in the midst of persecution and suffering. There will be no persecution and suffering in heaven. I only have my lifetime in order to offer obedience to him and faithfulness in the face of persecution during this life.
But wokeism removes persecution for the sake of Christ because persecution, according to wokeism, is always based upon my socioeconomic status, my skin color, my country of origin, my sexual preference, my gender, immigration status, all of these things. So that’s driving why people are being persecuted. It’s a very self-focused, man-focused view of persecution and suffering, and it never gives credence to being able to suffer for Christ.
And the other thing it does is it robs us of the ability to offer forgiveness. There is no such thing as redemption or forgiveness because the other group is always classified as the oppressor and the wokeism would teach you, or whether we’re talking about other iterations of it, things like black liberation theology would teach you to never be nice or graceful to your oppressors, which, of course, goes against the Christian gospel as well.
O’Neil: So do we have in wokeism this sort of bifurcation of black queer theory, “Oh, Jesus was a black LGBT person,” or whatever, and perhaps Hispanic queer theory? Are there different versions and they grab different parts of Jesus? Or is this all one thing that you’re saying?
Miles: I think that you could probably best explain this as a Hydra or you have the giant octopus sea monster that we’re all experiencing a different tentacle of the same thing. And so oftentimes these groups don’t even know that they’re part of the same kind of body of belief or structure.
But we saw this I think early with [Black Lives Matter]. BLM comes out on the scene, you start having corporate donations to them, you go on their website—like many Americans. And what I saw was that they were committed to basically a dismantling of the nuclear family. And then you go down the list a little bit more and you see that they’re committed to supporting black trans rights.
And very quickly I think BLM, which, from my vantage point, has done virtually nothing to help disadvantaged people in urban neighborhoods or people of color, what it has done more than anything is it very quickly started, it kind of opened the door for this trans revolution that we’ve seen. I think that really came out of the BLM movement in a lot of ways.
So these groups oftentimes will sort of hijack each other. They’ll fight for the top of the food chain. They all want the same thing and that is a dismantling of this Western way of life.
Marxism never encourages fixing something. It doesn’t look at something and go, “How can we improve this?” That’s a capitalist framework. What Marxism does is says, “Let’s burn it to the ground and the phoenix will arise out of the ashes.” And I think that that’s the goal of all these different groups.
And so are critical race theorists or black liberation theologians or critical queer theorists or the TikTok pastors that are wearing the rainbow scarfs, are they all part of the same group? I don’t think that they think are. I think they probably think that they’re friendly with one another, but I think that there is a greater school of thought and that is critical theory in general that is driving all of them.
It makes it very difficult to combat because even though they are unique in each of their focus and messaging for us on the other side of this that are trying to stand for truth in a biblical worldview, they do produce, whether they even realize it, sometimes a very united front against truth and reason and Scripture and these things that we see today. So it’s definitely an interesting time to be alive.
O’Neil: Yeah. And we’ve touched on a few of the issues where there’s clear disconnect between the Christian Gospel and the modern woke view, transgender ideology. Where are some of those conflict points and then what encourages some of these people to reexamine and actually come to an understanding of the Gospel?
Miles: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s say that we look at an issue like the issue of gender. The Bible is very clear that there is male and female, that marriage is male and female. And so we could go through a whole series of Scriptures over that.
The LGBT community, you will hear arguments about a 1948 translation of Scripture and that this word we used for homosexuality, arsenokoitai I believe is the word, was not used prior to that time period. And when you really understand what happens here, this word that we see that’s translated from the Greek into this word for homosexuality is a word that Paul essentially made up.
And he took two words from the, I believe it was the Septuagint, that he put these together and sort of created this compound word and it’s essentially a word that implies “those who lay with other men.”
So even if you just went to that passage, that’s not the only passage there. So we could have an argument about that passage, but you still have to deal with all the other places in Scripture where it talks about fornication and evil in these days.
And I don’t know how any Christian could be on the side when you look at a gay parade or a trans parade that’s happening and ever look at that and say, “That looks like an event that’s promoting righteousness or holiness.”
So that’s one issue.
We could also talk about something, we saw this during the COVID pandemic, for lack of a better term—I know that we’d probably rather think of it as a plan-demic in many ways—but this thing that happened, what we saw is that for the Left who’s known for pushing this idea of separation in church and state against Christians—
So anytime somebody prays in the Senate or at a football game, somebody’s going to, on the Left, is going to say, “No, no, no. What about separation of church and state?” But all of a sudden the Left was the one promoting the idea, “Well, what would Jesus do in this situation? Wouldn’t Jesus love his neighbor by getting the vaccine and wouldn’t Jesus be vaccinated?” And so we started seeing this push and I think a lot of Christians struggle to go, “What does Scripture offer to this?”
And so I point to two places. We look at something like what in theology, what’s known as sphere sovereignty that God has given—there’s an order to creation, that he’s given kings and rulers authority over their nations and their sovereign borders. He’s given fathers authority over the family. He’s given elders and pastors authority over the church. He’s given all of us individual authority over our own body and that we see that in the form of free will.
And we could have theological discussions about that. But regardless of which side of the free will debate you’re on, I think that everybody would acknowledge that there is a sphere of sovereignty over your own physical body.
That’s why we have laws that if you violate somebody’s body or you harass them or you abuse them in some way, that that’s against the law. Why? Because you’re violating their sphere of sovereignty.
So there’s all sorts of theological arguments against these different iterations that we see in wokeism, from the vaccine to even separating people based upon race and color or even the conversation about reparations for something. This is when you look at Scripture, it talks about not punishing people based upon the acts of their parents or the acts upon on their ancestors.
And so there are so many ideas that are being presented today as “this is what Jesus would do” or “this is this biblical position” that anybody who has any biblical sense whatsoever should easily be able to spot those. The problem is that we have such an increase of biblical illiteracy in the church that most people can’t recognize it.
So what I’ve done in this new book, “Woke Jesus,” I actually quote Irenaeus, who was an early church father, in the start of the book. And he wrote a book called “Against Heresies” trying to defeat Gnosticism, an early heresy that came against the church in the—he wrote at 180 A.D. And he said the reason why the first-century church was not able to refute Gnosticism is they didn’t understand it fully.
And I believe the same is true today. Unless we start understanding wokeism, critical theory, critical race theory, critical queer theory, and we see it as more than just, “Well, that’s not true”—Why is it not true?—and really be able to wrap our minds around it and untangle these doctrinal fishing lines that we can really clearly stand on knowing confidently we’re on biblical grounds to be able to say, “This is unbiblical and here is why,” until the church is able to do that, I think we’re going to continue to run into this and have a hard time getting past it.
O’Neil: … When you go up against this left-ward twisting of Christianity, it seems as though many of the institutions in our society are tilted in that direction where they’re constantly pushing the Overton window on reparations, on these claims from the Left on transgenderism, in particular. I can’t see a Reuters or an AP article that ever cites criticism of “gender-affirming care.” It’s just always assumed that, “Oh, all the hospitals, all the medical organizations support this.” How is it preaching into this void, saying, “No, Jesus doesn’t support all this stuff that seems to be pushed down upon us”?
Miles: Yeah. I think that we have to continue to fight this battle on multiple fronts. And of course, we want to do whatever we can.
If there’s a media outlet that will let me go on and talk about these issues and they’ll give it an honest shake, I’ll do it. I don’t care who it is, I’m going to go on there and really be able to offer my best defense. I believe that’s the position that the Lord has me in.
Now, am I aware that there’s certain media outlets that are never going to give this time of day or even certain—whether it be government organizations or other leading foundations or [nongovernmental organizations] or whatnot that are going to be at the front of moving a lot of these things along? There are powers that don’t want this message to get out there, and they don’t want people to realize that the emperor has no clothes and to have the confidence to start admitting it.
They’re not looking for that. But I think that there are places that are, and so we have to celebrate those.
I think that the conservatives and Christians are also doing a great job of creating new platforms to be able to get the word out and to be able to really gather their own audiences.
I’m encouraged by many of the apps that are popping up that are conservative-friendly, and there’s danger in that because a lot of the app platforms are governed by left-leaning companies and individuals.
So it always is a dance and dangerous. Even having a book like this on Amazon, you always wonder, like, Amazon, they can pull the plug whenever they want. Thankfully, they haven’t. And I appreciate what I see to be at least still some sort of a value there to allow books to breathe regardless of content, and which I’m certainly for.
I think that the other aspect of this is that we as Christians, we have to recognize that this is, it’s not just a physical battle, that there’s a spiritual aspect to this as well.
And I talk about this later on in the book. And I think that for us to get through this, it can become very depressing, very overwhelming very quickly when you realize how much you’re up against in this whole equation. It’s not even just secular platforms. There are Christian groups that don’t want this message to go out. And that’s where a lot of my work and writing has gone.
So we have to remember why we’re doing this, that ultimately, it’s not about me getting canceled, it’s not about this fight that I’m trying to carry on. It’s really about the Lord. And I think that that’s what moves me and motivates me every day to get up and if I can win somebody over and really help them to be able to see this.
I just had a woman come up to me and she watches my show “Church and State” and she said, “Are you Lucas Miles?” And I said, “Yes.” And that doesn’t happen every day to me. But I talked to her and she goes, “I escaped communism.” And she goes, “I watch your show every single time it’s on.” And she goes, “I just want you to know how much it means to me that you are bringing the truth to this that most people don’t realize and they’re not aware of.”
Those sort of things really keep me going in the face of so much opposition that’s truly out there.
O’Neil: And where are you a pastor? Where’s your congregation at?
Miles: Yeah. So, my church is called Nfluence Church … and it’s right outside of South Bend, Indiana, a suburb called Granger, Indiana, just about 10 minutes from the University of Notre Dame. And we like to think we’re the center of the nation because we have the two highways that run east and west and north and south throughout the whole country, across about a mile from my church. So Indiana, … that’s been home. But we’re on the road a lot. We’re doing events around the country. Lots of different ways to get connected with us and people can find all that and more on my website at lucasmiles.org.
O’Neil: So did a certain former mayor lead you to consider writing these books?
Miles: Yeah. So, it’s funny. People always ask me, because I haven’t been in the political conversation forever—I really started probably ramping up 2012, 2013, 2014, and we started getting bolder. And it wasn’t the national conversation that inspired this. It was really what was happening locally.
And Mayor Pete [Buttigieg], who obviously his regime was built in South Bend, I started warning about him probably as early as 2012. I started talking to people about, “Hey, this guy’s going to make a run for White House. He’s doing all these things.” And people laughed at me early on about it. And we knew the history of his dad’s involvement in translating [Antonio] Gramsci and all these long history of critical theory ties with Pete and his family.
And I know Pete, he might claim that he doesn’t know me, I’ve been around him. I interviewed him for Chamber of Commerce years back and we’ve had a little bit of interactions together over the years.
But it was a wake-up call just to see, if you go to downtown South Bend, there’s aspects where you saw that Pete did a lot of things to clean up the immediate downtown, but you go outside of that area at all and the city’s probably the worst it’s ever been. Our crime is up. I mean, it’s just a disaster. And what we’re seeing now is it was kind of really a guy that Pete knighted to take over. It’s been a Democratic-run city for I think 50, 60 years.
So I’m working with some local people hoping to change that as much as we can and really trying to do our part. But yeah, there was definitely some inspiration there.
O’Neil: Yeah. Because I thought, during that presidential cycle, hearing him constantly like he took his faith seriously, and yet he would twist it every time, and “life begins with breath” and all this—
Miles: Yeah. So, this is the one—and I’ve talked about this a lot. I’ve not heard a lot of other people actually other than you notice that and mention that. Pete did something that I believe that no other presidential candidate has fully done before. And we’ve seen presidential candidates talk about their faith. We’ve seen them thank God for things. We’ve seen them even pray.
Pete would exegete passages on the campaign trail. And so he’s breaking down passages, using them really as—in many ways—sort of propaganda for his various views. And so I believe that there was actually a turning point with him. I’m not going to say that Pete was single-handedly responsible for giving life to the Christian Left, but I think he was a major inspiration for a lot of people on that side for that reason because he would build these arguments about why Jesus was a refugee, so therefore we need open borders and illegal immigration.
And Jesus—now I saw something the other day on TikTok. It was a guy who said that Jesus was most likely either gay or transgender because he wore a tunic. And that’s a lot like a dress, so therefore he was a crossdresser.
And it’s just these—but I think there’s probably young people out there that hear this and they go, “Oh, yeah, so insightful.” But when you understand history, these are ludicrous, they’re asinine ideas. But we are winning people over because I think that they have tapped into Marx and others of just the useful idiot sort of framework.
They are taking advantage of people based upon pulling on their heartstrings, giving them these propaganda pieces. And I think that when you take the time to really talk to somebody, they get educated about the policies, they start seeing the impact.
I’ve traveled all over the country, I’ve been in countries that are controlled by dictators and corruption and everything else. And you see those things and you realize that, “You know what? America’s a pretty good place to live, but there’s some people I think that are going out of their way trying to damage that.”
O’Neil: Yeah. Do you see any tie with woke Jesus and the deconversion stories we’ve been hearing?
Miles: Yeah. Yeah. I think this issue of deconversion is a major, major topic, and I think it’s going to probably become even more so in the years that come.
People have gone through a lot of church hurt. I call it post-traumatic church disorder. And I don’t say that to belittle it. They’ve gone through some really damaging things.
I think the height of legalism that we saw probably when I was a kid did a lot of damage to people and there wasn’t—in the balance of grace and truth, it was a high truth side and very little grace. And then the pendulum swing, it swung now to this high grace side with very little truth and in some ways it’s swinging back.
And now we have this polarization where we have a group over here that’s high grace and a group over here that’s high truth and sometimes they’re both missing aspects of this, and so sometimes it feels a little lonelier in the center there.
But I think this deconversion thing, we have to keep our eyes on this. I think that it really requires—there’s a biblical concept to deconversion kind of, it’s called repentance. And repentance is, I get rid of my old ways of thinking and I embrace his ways of thinking and I turn away from all the ideas that I’ve held that are contrary to him.
The problem is, with deconversion, they’re going from one belief that they held, which was oftentimes wrong, to another belief that they hold, which is oftentimes wrong. And neither group is ever taking the time to go, “What does Scripture really have to say about this?”
I believe that we can look to the Lord, we can look to Scripture. It is a book that is God-breathed, that’s inspired, it’s authoritative. It is the word of God and it’s useful for every single aspect of my life. And so my passion is to help young people and really people of all kinds to be able to come back to the word of God as first place. And I think we can get rid of a lot of this kind of nonsense that’s out there.
O’Neil: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Lucas. Where can the people follow you?
Miles: Yeah. They can head over to lucasmiles.org and find out more about me. If they’re interested in booking me for a speaking event or grabbing a copy of my book, my new book “Woke Jesus” is available on Amazon or wherever else books are sold. We just this morning hit No. 1 new release in one of the bigger categories. So I was super excited to see that happen. But appreciate the support and your time.
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