Over the past two years, the so-called “woke church” movement appeared to be losing steam as its obsession with social justice and identity politics began losing favor with many of the laypeople who are committed to sound biblical doctrine and waking up to the detrimental effects of it. Yet, recently, this troubling trend has begun rearing its ugly head once again, finding new life in many Evangelical organizations, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s “New Churches” program through the SEND Network.
Far from being a straightforward church-planting network, New Churches is essentially a thinly veiled front for social justice activism. Under the guise of Gospel-centered mission, the program appears to be more focused on pushing a social justice agenda, utilizing SBC tithe dollars to fuel its cause. This re-emergence of the woke ideology—through its embrace of the worldly DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) movement—within the Church warrants a closer examination. We’ll look at this recent call to action from Trillia Newbell, a long-time contributor to the Southern Baptist Convention-backed New Churches church planting project.
Here’s the clip:
Newbell’s diatribe, advocating for artificial diversity within the Church, is riddled with baseless, unbiblical assertions. Her plea to evaluate church leadership to add diversity not for its own sake but for the “benefit of the body” is nothing more than a thinly veiled call for Marxist engineering within the Church. But what is particularly alarming is the underlying meaning of “diversity” in this context. What these leftists often mean by “diverse” is “non-white.” In their push for so-called “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the word “diverse” actually seems to include everyone except white people.
They twist language to fit their vain philosophies and traditions of men, and in their minds, a church staff is considered “diverse” if it doesn’t include white people. This skewed perspective is not just a distortion of language—it’s a distortion of the Gospel. The Scriptures teach that diversity in the body of Christ comes naturally through the Holy Spirit. God places the parts in the body as He wants them to be (1 Corinthians 12:18), not as some human, politically-driven agenda dictates. The focus on exclusion rather than genuine unity betrays a worldly perspective that has no place within the Church.
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Newbell’s suggestion to “celebrate our differences” and reject colorblindness is an attempt to import worldly identity politics into Christian living. While she claims God is not colorblind, the Bible is clear that our unity in Christ transcends all earthly distinctions (Galatians 3:28). We are one in Christ, and any attempt to artificially emphasize differences is contrary to His word.
Her coined phrase, urging us to be “color smart” or “color wise,” is yet another misplaced emphasis on color over divine wisdom. We should be growing in the wisdom that comes from heaven, pure, peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere (James 3:17). This divine wisdom transcends color and human distinctions, and fosters genuine love and unity in Christ’s body.
Newbell’s arguments fall flat in the face of biblical truth. Though she claims that she doesn’t advocate for this “for diversity’s sake,” this is exactly what she is doing. They echo a world obsessed with identity politics and bear no alignment with God’s sovereign design for His Church. Her call for diversity is a fruitless endeavor, far removed from the teachings of Scripture. We must reject such vacuous and unprincipled convictions and honor God’s design, knowing that He alone brings true diversity and unity according to His perfect will.