/ black lives matter / Guest Author

Marxism, Postmodernism, and Critical Race Theory

Today I came across a detailed but readable interaction from a Christian point of view with Marxism, Postmodernism, and Critical Race Theory. In the chaos of the current societal conversations these are topics we need to think clearly about. After all, "empty philosophies" really do take people captive (Colossians 2:8). But in a love for truth we also need to avoid caricatures and misapplications of the truth. The author of that interaction, Brant Bosserman, gave permission to have it posted here on Gentle Reformation. As a disclaimer, it’s fairly long, but, of course, these are not things that can or should be addressed with brevity. I’m thankful for his labors and I trust that all who will read will gain new perspective and clarity.

Brant lives in the greater Seattle area with his wife Heather and four children — two 11 year old girls (Nicea and Chalcedon), and his 8 and 5 year old boys (Augustine and Calvin). He is the planter/minister of Trinitas Presbyterian Church, in Mill Creek, WA (PCA) which was launched in May 2013, and particularized in October 2015. He has his PhD in philosophy of religion from the Welsh, Bangor University. His M.A.T is from Fuller, and his B.A. in Religion & Philosophy/Biblical Lit is from the Pentecostal University, Northwest U., where he has taught philosophy courses in an adjunct capacity for over 10 years. He is a Van Til scholar, and published “The Trinity and Vindication of Christian Paradox” available here. -K.B.

A friend of mine recently asked me to share my thoughts on “Critical Race Theory,” especially as it relates to movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “systemic injustice.” I figured that others who enjoy reading (a lot), and philosophy and theology in particular, may find these reflections helpful.


At its roots, Critical Race Theory is a legal/social/political theory that belongs to the postmodern philosophical tradition and has certain neo-Marxist tendencies. To flesh out this description, let me begin by briefly describing a classical Marxist vision of things. According to classical Marxism, contemporary societies are divided into a ruling (Bourgeois) class and a working (proletariat) class. The former inherits and sustains social/legal/political conditions which enables them to control the lion’s share of wealth and resources. The latter finds itself in the otherwise inescapable condition of poverty and social abuse. The only way to advance society to a more just state of affairs is by the unification of the proletariat against the ruling class by way of violent revolution. The ruling class, after all, has no incentive to alter a system which has served it well. After the proletariat overturns the previous state and effects a more balanced distribution of resources/power, they too will, in many instances, set up a government that better serves some over others, but perhaps less so than the previous government. Thus, they too will likely have to be met by violent revolution, until at some point this oscillation between ruling/ruled classes births a communist eutopia marked by the equal distribution of wealth and labor among all citizens In this ideal condition, there may not be any need for rulers, political orders, or even law-enforcement. Due to the facts that Marxist revolutions were (a) the leading ideological cause of death in the 20th century (claiming 100 million+ lives), and (b) widely regarded as unsuccessful at achieving more just conditions than had previously prevailed, the strict theory had fallen on rather hard times by the end of the 1900’s.

Postmodernism is a philosophical movement with fuzzy boundaries encompassing a variety of philosophers (the later Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault, etc.), and overlapping with other philosophical schools (feminism, neo-Marxism, etc.). At its roots, postmodernism is radically relativist, which is to say that it denies the reality of objective moral standards that ought to govern human conduct everywhere and at all times. At the same time, it attempts to offer broad strategies for how to affect some sort of justice between fundamentally different visions of the world that prevail in different communities. Broadly speaking, postmodern political theories share with classical Marxists a deep suspicion of all prevailing power structures; not only of wealthy and powerful classes, but of the narratives (stories) with which we commend certain behaviors and condemn others; and of the manner in which language itself tends to favor some and suppress others. However, postmodernists have jettisoned the classical Marxist hope of achieving a utopia where perfect balance is finally achieved. More pessimistically, postmodernists are convinced that every political and social order, indeed, every language, is an assertion of power by some group over others. And it will always be that way. To propound a particular worldview as capable of achieving “liberty and justice for all” (as enlightenment, constitutional republics consciously aimed at), or perfectly equitable distribution of resources (as Communist revolutionaries aimed at), is the most violent assertion of all. Why? Because, says the postmodernist, there can be no perfect system which fosters total equality. For, every community has its own distinct code of ideals that competes with others. Thus, when an ideology masquerades itself as equally interested in the well-being of all people, it is necessarily a ploy meant to achieve political power for some and the political domination of others. The very same can be said of any manner of describing reality which claims to be objectively true—be it scientific, ideological, religious, etc. Pretentious claims to “objective truth” ultimately dominate and suppress other people’s vantage points. What then can be done, when every story we tell, every theory we develop, and every language we use does violence to some community? Well, the closest thing to achieving “justice” (remember justice itself has different definitions in different communities) is to ever and again (a) take up an aggressive stance toward current power-structures (whether they be manifest in literature, film, religion, family structures, politics, etc.); (b) expose the way that they suppress others, even though their values are no more objective than others’; and (c) labor to replace the currently dominant community values, with the community values of the currently disenfranchised. Hence, to destabilize any one set of community values is the best way to achieve something akin to justice. In fact, all binary contrasts, where one side has classically dominated the other—male/female, black/white, straight/LGBTQ…., nuclear family/alternative family, individual rights/community rights, Christian values/non-Christian values, etc.—must be “deconstructed.” “Deconstruct” does not mean “destroy.” It rather means to expose the dominant term as being dependent on, subject to, and in many ways indistinguishable from its supposed opposite. Deconstruction apparently reveals that there is no inherent reason why the marginalized group ought to be marginalized, and invites people to elevate it to the status of a new norm. The result of this back and forth between central and marginalized groups, has been called a state of “play,” although it is generally recognized that the pendulum swing between dominator/dominated is necessarily painful and violent.

Critical Race Theory is a branch of the postmodern tree. In its most basic form, Critical Race Theory holds that the “White (-male)” system which prevails in the Western world is inherently oppressive of minorities of all kinds, especially to people of color. White men are generally the most-wealthy, hold the highest positions of power in government and business, occupy the majority of seats on the highest courts, etc. White men who openly espouse racist views have been allowed to govern. They continue to be celebrated and commemorated as major contributors to society. The legal system created by white men protects their wealth and power, and disproportionately charges, incarcerates, and even executes people of color. It does not uphold a timeless, objective, God-given ideal of justice as it claims. For, there is no such thing. But, even these data points and critiques are too superficial to get to the root problem as understood by CRT. The very stories that we cherish feature white heroes—a white Christopher Columbus who courageously discovered America; a white George Washington who fought for independence; a white Abraham Lincoln who saved the union; a white Santa Claus who regularly checks up on whether children have been good or bad; a white Jesus, who saves the world; etc. And these heroes are associated with what have been called “white” ideals of righteousness and success. They form constitutional republics (which promises representation for all, but really overlook minorities of all kinds). They embody capitalist success (which promises that everyone can “make it,” but really protects white wealth); etc. Even classical “Aristotelian” logic has been denounced as a distinctively “white” manner of arriving at true conclusions, over against emotion, community reflection, inspiration, intuition, etc. etc. Even if the predominantly white leadership in America were to “listen” to oppressed communities, and implement their very best ideas, it would do nothing to undermine the narrative of “white supremacy.” Rather, it would only confirm the narrative of a white savior who fools the masses into believing that he can achieve liberty and justice for all, while retaining ultimate power for his own community. Thus, critical race theorists have argued that the decision sought after (and won) in “Brown vs. the Board of Education” (rendering racial segregation in schools illegal) was not motivated by altruism or genuine love for black communities. It was motivated by the desire to foster a better image with potential third-world allies in the American fight against communism. More recently, when the white Mayor of Minneapolis offered to reform, restructure, and revamp every aspect of the city’s law-enforcement, he was shouted down for failing to express his intention to abolish law-enforcement entirely. Again, anything less would involve the retention of white power and (allegedly) white power structures. Finally, attempts to argue that white America has, on the whole, accomplished “more good than evil,” is but another assertion of white privilege. The argument supposes that the dominant white (-male) culture has the right to decide just which sorts of harms and losses are acceptable collateral damage in order to achieve certain goods; not to mention, which people groups (people of color, native Americans, women, etc.) may acceptably suffer the said harms. Hence, the only solution to the problem white privilege is a revolutionary one—a total restructuring of society, language, and of the very narrative that defines righteousness and justice, by and for those who have been oppressed.

Two things are very clear about the “black lives matter” movement, the first distressing and the second encouraging. First, the formal Black Lives Matter “organization” is committed to critical race theory (this is clear from a cursory read of its website, an elementary understanding of its history, and a basic awareness of its methods). Second, perhaps not even 20% of the people who have embraced the black lives matter “movement” have any idea what CRT is, and would simply like to see the longstanding plight of black Americans more widely recognized and changed for the better. After all, the phrase itself—“black lives matter”—is completely unobjectionable. Any Christian who really loves Jesus ought to heartily agree with its basic sense. The phrase would even seem to convey the opposite point of postmodern relativism; namely, that black lives objectively matter precisely because black men and women are made in the image of the eternal God. A big part of me hopes that the phrase “black lives matter” will continue to outgrow the organization that coined it, shedding its relativist and revolutionary elements. At the same time, I am genuinely concerned that many Christians who have taken up the BLM mantra have imbibed much more than a healthy love for their black neighbors. Many have taken a tone, advocated ideas, and even participated in belligerent activities that belong to a neo-Marxist vision of justice, rather than a Christian one. People who are understandably angry, disillusioned, and deeply distressed by the injustices committed against people of color have joined in hateful instigation of law-enforcement, destroying public and private property, and creating violent situations where people have died. This is classic revolutionary behavior. Marx himself was convinced that reason could not ultimately change the world (remember that reason is often the abusive tool of a ruling class). Rather, pure force would have to get the job done. Thus, it isn’t necessary for the majority of revolutionaries to be consciously aware of the theory that justifies their uprising. There only needs to be enough dissatisfaction with the disparity of wealth, power, and justice to fuel a successful uprising.

A Christian critique of postmodernism (and theories like CRT) is not purely negative, as it begins with the recognition that truth-claims cannot be divorced from a story about all of reality. A careful Christian apologist must: (a) clearly set the Christian story against the postmodern alternative; (b) show that postmodernism is self-defeating, and therefore incapable of posing a legitimate challenge to the Christian story; and (c) identify and rework the better insights of postmodern theories, since they cannot help but to give some indirect witness to the truth of God.

Christianity is inseparable from a story that boldly diagnoses the human condition and declares that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate solution to it. According to God’s infallible Word, all men know that He exists (Rom. 1:18-23; Acts 14:17; 17:23) and have burdened consciences because they have transgressed His objective standards of righteousness, justice, and truth. At the same time, since the Fall of humanity in Adam, all men are born suppressing the truth of God in unrighteousness (Ps. 10:3-4; 14:1-3; Rom. 1:18). This makes for a conflicted human condition. People simultaneously want for there to be: (a) the sort of objective moral standards that only God can supply (Rom. 2:14-15), so that they may carry on in just indignation toward their enemies; and (b) no objective standards of morality so that they can justify their own sinful behaviors and be free from the burden guilty before God (Judg. 21:25; Ps. 10:3-11). Man’s incurable effort to steal from God that which only He can supply, while posturing as if he (man) can be a god and moral lawgiver unto himself (Gen. 3:5), renders humanity worthy of God’s eternal wrath. The only deliverance from this deserved judgment—one aspect of which is that God justly hands mankind over to ever great depths of confusion (Rom. 1:24; Ps. 16:4)—is the intervention of the God-man Jesus Christ, who freely suffers the penalty deserved by every individual sinner and community (1 Pet. 3:18; John 1:29). It is not mere happenstance that Jesus suffered both at the hands of an oppressed, and still yet belligerent Jewish people, and of an oppressive Roman Empire (Luke 22:54-23:49). He was suffering between two rebel peoples, who deserved one another, as an expression of the very wrath of God. Yet, whosoever believes in Him is cleansed of sin and clothed with Jesus’ own righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; John 3:16). This reconciles sinners to God and to those from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) who share this common faith and redemption in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:11-3:10; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:10-11). It is only when people consciously submit to Jesus as Savior and King that we may acknowledge that God’s Law is an objective standard of justice which we have all badly transgressed, without succumbing to despair, since we have been forgiven. This story invites believers to join Christ in heralding the Gospel of His kingdom, and to foster justice in multi-ethnic societies like Rome. As they are committed to the Gospel story, believers know that oppressed peoples (like Israel) suffer from the same problem as their oppressors (Rome), and will not necessarily dispel injustice if they are elevated to a position of power. Only divine providence working through sinners, along with redeemed citizens and rulers in conscious submission to God can dispel injustice in the world. Gladly, Christians may be confident that they will have great (even though less than total) success at developing more just conditions, even when they live as a minority tribe, ethnicity, or language group. For, God has promised that Jesus will certainly be the “Prince of Peace,” and that “there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness” (Isa. 9:7).

Of course, the postmodern critic will denounce this Christian story as an abysmal failure since when it has been taken up by white culture in America, it hasn’t prevented us from perpetrating grave injustices (such as the evils associated with American Slavery). But to this, the Christian has a twofold reply. First, the Christian story is big enough to account for our failures. In short, we agree that Christians have, in spite of their best efforts to follow Christ, committed terrible crimes. Even after redemption, the Holy Spirit has taught us that “if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 2:8). Additionally, we know that many will take on the name “Christian,” who have no real affection for Christ (Acts 8:14-24; 1 John 2:19) and bring still more disrepute to His church. Thus, Christian churches, denominations, and cultures must repent for their corporate failures, as God’s people have throughout the Biblical story (Neh. 1:4-11; Dan. 9:4-19). Personally, I am glad to be part of a denomination (the PCA) who has recently done just that—publicly repented—for our past complicity in various crimes surrounding slavery. Second, the Christian may confidently point out that Christianity supplies more than a relatively better story within which to combat the evils of racism and injustice. Rather, the opposing secular theories (of which CRT is one), if true, would deprive themselves of any ability to speak meaningfully about injustice at all. Thus, in accusing Christian societies of their manifest failures, advocates of postmodern philosophies are appealing to principles that only a Christian worldview can justifiably supply. In denouncing Christianity, postmodernism always indirectly affirms its basic truth.

Let us apply this critique directly to Critical Race Theory. CRT needs for two incompatible things to be true at the same time. On the one hand, justice must be a communally defined construct that is incapable of being transferred from one community to another without violence. On the other hand, justice must be an objective concept, such that one may infer that the only way to mediate between dueling communal visions of justice is to subdue the ruling conception to that of the ruled (and that process without end). But if justice is indeed a communal construct, by what standard can it be said that the order imposed by a ruling community “ought” to be displaced by that of the ruled? It is surely not by the vision of justice upheld by those “on top.” As the theory goes, they only have an interest in retaining their position and power. Is it a stable property of the oppressed community’s vision of justice that every ruling community ought to be opposed and replaced by the marginalized community’s vision of justice? If so, then immediately upon ascending to a position of power, the oppressed community would be compelled by their own concept of justice to relinquish that same power to the community that once ruled them (but has subsequently been reduced to the position of the “ruled”), thus returning to a position of being oppressed! Once one has assumed a relativist stance wherein ideals such as justice do not transcend communal values, one cannot propound any strategy for mediating between those communities as if the said strategy were objectively just, best, or appropriate.

Insofar as postmodernists continue in the face of such a critique to hold that it is good for different communal visions of justice to displace one another as most prevalent, consider what happens wherever postmodernism itself becomes a prevailing philosophy (as it currently is in many departments of academia). By its own conception of quasi-justice, postmodernism ought to be denounced and opposed by communities who hold to the opposite theory (that justice is an objective, God-given principle that is not finally subject to any communal interpretation, even if it manifests itself somewhat differently in different contexts). Or is it that postmodernism itself ought not to be toppled by those whom it oppresses, until and unless it has gone from being the prevailing philosophy not only in academia but in a national society? Again, one might ask by what objective standard postmodernists might erect such a distinction between academia and national society, such that only the latter needs to be radically opposed by marginalized communities? Perhaps the minority of students who inhabit academia, but continue to believe in objective truth, may find the distinction between academia and national society to be an oppressive tool of their ruling community (the faculty/administration) created to protect the propagation of their philosophy (not to mention their jobs). And exactly how could the faculty denounce such determined opposition to themselves on postmodernist terms? Far from denying the objective truth of any over-arching narrative or language, postmodernism posits its own (rather short) narrative of a universe of conflicting stories and visions of right and wrong as beyond question, and in every respect objectively correct. It offers no ground, and can offer no ground (due to its relativism) for why anyone ought to accept its story of reality as a true one. It even lacks pragmatic value since it commits all communities to a never-ending effort at destabilizing norms, which is frequently marked by violence, loss, and suffering even for the oppressed communities which it aims to liberate.

Thus, postmodernists betray a suppressed awareness of God and His objective standard of justice when they attempt to articulate some higher method to mediate between competing communal theories of justice. Yet, because they refuse to submit their minds to the “fear of the Lord” as the beginning of knowledge and understanding (Prov. 1:7; 2 Cor. 10:5), their prescribed ideals of “play,” and constant destabilization of power structures makes for more chaos and pain than that which was perpetrated by those very power structures.

Finally, the Christian story compels believers to take up the better insights of non-Christian philosophies, rework them, and put them to positive use (Acts 17:22-31; Tit. 1:12). One such concept that is often associated with (but not the exclusive property of) CRT is that of “systemic injustice.” Sometimes the phrase is intended to mean that the majority influence of white men on the American system is an insuperable evil that cannot be remedied except by revolutionary overthrow; that minority communities have little to no responsibility for their current plights; etc. When used in this way, it to ought to be denied by all Christians. It is inherent to a Biblical worldview that people can dispense genuine justice for their countrymen despite their belonging to different tribes, clans, peoples, and nations (Ex. 23:1-3; Lev. 19:15, 35-37; Deut. 19:19-20; Prov. 17:15; John 7:24). It is also a fact that afflicted peoples can exacerbate their situation by their own sinful behaviors (Mk. 15:7; Lk. 23:39). Nevertheless, on a popular level, “systemic injustice” is often used to refer to any number of specific injustices manifested in American society, such as the reality of: (a) self-conscious racists who have abused positions of power; (b) unconscious prejudice among citizens; (c) specific laws that unfairly impact minority communities; (d) historic evils perpetrated against people of color that have contributed to cycles of poverty in their communities; etc. Christians ought to be prepared to face the unsettling reality that these sorts of injustice exist, because Scripture warns against them time and again (Ps. 10:18; 82:2-4; Amos 5:12; Jas. 2:1-6).

It must be frankly admitted that American slavery contradicted Biblical law (divine justice) as it was birthed from the capital crime of man-theft (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7); did not involve paying slaves wages (Deut. 24:14-15; Gen. 30:28) with a view to elevating them to a free and self-sufficient condition after no more than seven years (Ex. 21:2); deprived slaves of their God-given freedom to exit hired servitude at will (Deut. 23:15-16; Ex. 21:5-6); often prohibited slaves from entering into the bonds of matrimony and/or divided children from parents/siblings; etc. Likewise, Americans frequently neglected the Biblical command to attend the same house of worship with their servants (Ex. 12:43-44; Deut. 12:12, 18; 16:10-16). These sorts of things have long-lasting impacts on families/communities, contributing to cycles of poverty and longstanding animosity between different peoples. Presently, we ought to be distressed when different sentencing standards exist for cocaine possession (a drug somewhat more common in wealthy communities) than crack possession (a drug somewhat more common in impoverished communities) when they are essentially the same substance. The fact that impoverished minority communities have generally lacked a choice in how to educate their children is another systemic problem. It ought to make us rethink whether families should have the right to redirect education tax dollars to a private school of their choice, so that their children can receive a competitive education in a context where their value-system is being reinforced. Likewise, efforts to reexamine judicial decisions where there is high-suspicion of racist motivation and/or unexamined prejudice in the prosecution and adjudication of minority defendants are of inestimable value. Much more could be said on these topics. But the basic point is that American Christians must acknowledge these sorts of evils and seek to rectify them.

Sadly, in the very same breath that we acknowledge the aforementioned evils, we must be on our guard against the tendency to suppose that one can solve them by perpetrating other kinds of evil. I’ll mention two in particular. First, we must not join the radical masses in belittling, silencing, and casting aspersion on black intellectuals and black Christian leaders who speak openly about the manner in which minority communities have made significant contributions to their own plight. This self-reflective stance is altogether Biblical. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was subdued by Assyria, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was overtaken by Babylon, both peoples had their places of worship destroyed, their cities toppled, their wives ravaged, their children subjected to servanthood, etc. As the Biblical prophets decried the cruelty of their national oppressors, they never neglected to speak frankly (and often more frequently) about how Israel/Judah had contributed to their own plight (Isa. 1; Jer. 2; Ezek. 16; Dan. 9; Hos. 4, 7; Amos 2-3). Likewise, they warned their countrymen against resorting to radical measures which would only lead to more bloodshed (Prov. 24:21-22; Num. 14:39-45; Jer. 37:9-10; 41:1-18). I was disappointed recently to hear a fellow minister (who otherwise had so many good things to say on these topics) denounce another black leader as a “token” spokesperson of an oppressive white society, because that person has often denied the strict CRT narrative, particularly as it downplays minority involvement in their own social plights. I pointed out to this minister that Jesus Himself invited the same criticism, as He refused to accept the narrative of the zealots and insurrectionists of his day. Jesus spoke more about the sins of Israel than of her heavy-handed oppressor, Rome. That is why Jesus’ countrymen opted to have a violent insurrectionist named Barabbas pardoned by Pontius Pilate rather than Him (Lk. 22:13-25). The example of the prophets and of Jesus Himself also teaches us another lessen. Although it is not inherently evil for white intellectuals and religious leaders to publicly point out the prevailing sins in neighboring communities and subcultures—the Biblical prophets did this, too (Isa. 10-24; Jer. 46-51)—we justly invite the charge of hypocrisy if our chief,and most vocal focus is not on the sinful tendencies which afflict our nearest communities (Matt. 7:4-5). Again, Jesus and the prophets focused their indictments on their nation, their kingdom (northern or southern), their nearest schools of thought (the Pharisees, in Jesus’ case), etc. prior to, and in greater proportion than all others. In the vast majority of circumstances, we must be careful to do the same. (Lest anyone get confused, I should note that my own protracted critique of postmodernism and critical race theory is not at all a hypocritical focus on an error germane to people of color. Most of the pioneers of postmodernism are white male Europeans. And, only a small minority of people of color are vocal advocates of CRT.)

Second, we must not join in rioting and perpetrating violence in our efforts to combat injustice. It is true that Jesus—like all Biblical prophets—twice engaged in a “symbolic action” of overturning tables in the temple (John 2:13-22; Lk. 19:45-47), to accompany His message that total destruction awaited Jerusalem and her temple (Lk. 19:41-44; 24:20-24; Matt. 23:37-24:3, 15; Mk. 13:1-2). But let us remember several things. Jesus’ actions startled his own followers and did not represent an attempt on Jesus’ part to create the very uprising that would lead to Jerusalem’s desolation (God, acting through Rome, would handle that). Jesus had a longstanding reputation as a comforter, healer, and a preacher of a heavenly kingdom that would not be advanced through violence or armed rebellion—“Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword,” in rebellion, that is, “will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52; John 18:10-11; 36-37; Lk. 17:20-21; 22:49-51; cf. 2 Cor. 10:4). Thus, Jesus’ well-established message safe-guarded against any tendency to interpret His table-turning actions as meant to instigate a national riot, much less out-right violence that might lead to the death of innocents. Most importantly, Jesus’ most disruptive actions in Jerusalem were accompanied by His sense of mission to die in Jerusalem, rather than to conquer her. Thus, Jesus’ table-turning gesture had the opposite aim of modern day riots, as He was not primarily attempting to teach the money-changers a lesson (they surely opened up shop again the next day, if not a few hours later). It was to invite upon himself the wrath of mankind, as he uniquely bore the very wrath of God.

These sorts of qualifications on how thoughtful Christians can (and cannot) acknowledge and respond to systemic injustice will leave many convinced that we don’t really take the problem seriously. In this and so many other matters, we must accept the fact that we will often be misunderstood (John 15:18-20). However, every Christian ought to be clear that we believe in a more terrible sort of systemic injustice than the most radical advocates of CRT. We know that whether the law is written, enforced, prosecuted, or applied by any people group or subset of it, there are things that the law simply cannot accomplish (Rom. 8:3). The law cannot heal animosity, suspicion, and prejudice. Still more, the law cannot exorcise demonic powers who drive subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) wedges between brothers and sisters in Christ. There is, in other words, a “system” that often prevails in our land which is not ultimately fueled by any community of people, but by that malignant spiritual power whom the Bible calls the “god of this World” (2 Cor. 4:4; cf. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2). Of course, we ought to continually strive for justice in our legal system. But we must do so with a recognition that our greatest enemy is not the “flesh and blood” of any ethnicity or race, but “spiritual forces of wickedness” (Eph. 6:12). And our Lord Jesus was very clear: some demons cannot be exorcised “by anything but prayer” (Mk. 9:29), and prayer without ceasing (Lk. 18:1-8; Eph. 6:18). I do wonder how much time professing Christians have spent in prolonged intercession that the deep animosities alive in American society would be healed? But let me tell you what saddens me most. Many protesting against prevalent injustices in American society are at the same time unclear about how the problems they are protesting can be solved. I don’t fault the protestors for this. It is as if they can sense there is just something evil “in the air” that simply has to go. So, they are appealing to the highest powers that they can think of (police, mayors, county councilmen, senators, governors, presidents, lobbyists) to do something radical—anything—to fix it, and quickly. What burdens my soul is that they seem to lack shepherds who can name that “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:3) who sows seeds of injustice beyond what any human law can prevent. What burdens my soul is that they seem to have no hope in the one and only Reformer King, who died for human sinners, and whom the Father seated “at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph.1:20-21). May we appeal to this King Jesus for healing in our land, and beg for shepherds who will make Him known (Jer. 3:15).