The Southern Baptist Convention recently made a resolution denouncing the “alt-right” movement. Christians are called to be innocent as doves but wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16). In other words, we do not need to be attentive or actionable for every wrong view of the world, but we should be aware enough to engage it with gospel truth. We need sons and daughters of Issachar who “understand the times and know what to do” (1Chronicles 12:32). Too often Christianity’s relationship with culture has been unhelpful at best, or a hindrance to God’s mission at worse. Christians have interacted with culture in at least four ways:
Christians relate to culture like the Pharisees or Essenes: They avoid the culture by creating sub cultures. It’s the mindset that church culture is a bomb shelter; huddle up and hide. Christians become innocent but extremely naïve. The problem with this view is that evil not only exists outside of ourselves but inside our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”). Jesus said his prayer was not to take us out of the world but have protection from the evil one (John 17:15).
Christians relate to culture like the Sadducees: They accommodate the culture. The church simply mirrors or reflects worldly styles and trends. In this case, it becomes difficult to discern the difference between Christians and unbelievers. By default, the love of the world becomes god. The obvious problem with this view is producing god-substitutes rather than a clear difference and reason to become transformed by God’s grace and have devotion to Him alone.
Christians relate to culture like the Zealots: They attack the culture for everything wrong that exists. They may be right in doing so but their methods are by far from honoring God or loving toward people. The church becomes known for what it is against and never what it is for or in support. The problem with this view is that it is arrogant and prideful. It forgets the reality that we are all saved by the mercy and grace of God. And it fails to offer the intended purpose of the gospel to transform others.
Christians relate to culture like the Disciples: They seek to alter and influence the culture with the gospel. They understand they are not perfect models but they point to the One that is, Jesus Christ. They have accepted the call to be on mission with God to redeem a lost and dark world without hope if they do not receive the gospel. The church becomes very public and culture shapers while remaining counter cultural. Christians are sent as missionaries just as Jesus was sent into the world (John 17:18).
In terms of the alt-right movement, its aim is to be zealots for race but in a woeful and wrong manner. To be certain, the alt-right and white-supremacist movement is sinful and satanic. Southern Baptist needed to stand and speak with clear resolve that the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s kingdom is available for all people regardless of race and color. Racism should not be tolerated on any level. Further, Christians must not only stand and speak but also serve and labor toward the eradication of racism and the reconciliation of relationships with our brothers and sisters of different ethnicities. While Southern Baptist’s may have spoken with a stutter, I am glad we spoke and are striving toward gospel advancement, and biblically-informed, kingdom-minded, Spirit-empowered cultural transformation across neighborhoods and nations.
For those who are unclear or would like more information on the alt-right movement or Christian engagement with race, here are a few articles to aid your awareness.
- The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About the Alt-Right 
- Introduction to Alt-Right Ideology 
- Profile of 5 Alt-Right Leaders 
- A Response to Alt-Right FAQ 
- An Evaluation of the Alt-Right Movement 
- Resources on Race 
 Views adapted from Mark Driscoll, 20/20 Conference at SEBTS, February 2009.
 Quote from Russell Moore, https://twitter.com/drmoore/status/877556863658852352