It is important for Christians to be wise as they view the cultural landscape and begin to make predictions as to what is coming down the pike. And unfortunately, most accurate assessments yield a lot of trash.
Specifically, I wanted to draw our attention to some very bigoted and terrifying thoughts from the new Daily Show host, Trevor Noah.
Before I begin, I want to anticipate an abjection: Why do I care?
Who is Trevor Noah, and why should I care about his opinion? Is it reasonable to believe his personal opinions expressed on a radio program can make an impact?
Well I say yes, yes it is.
Trevor Noah is the new host for Jon Stewart. The show is as tasteless and insulting as it has ever been.
His humor is even worse than his political opinions, which is saying a lot. He hosts a comedy driven, late night social commentary show, only it lacks in both comedy and productive social commentary.
However, the real point is this: people like Trevor Noah are very influential.
Celebrities have always been influential. This is why marketing experts want endorsements.
Peyton Manning advertises for pizza. What does football have to do with pizza? Absolutely nothing; It does not need to. People like Peyton, he is famous, and that settles it.
Notice today how much people value hearing famous actors give their take on politics and ethics. Nothing about their job qualifies their opinions on these topics to be so treasured, but nonetheless, the world listens.
Therefore, a young, famous, progressive with a television platform can be far more dangerous than an old white man in congress, especially since his job does involve social commentary. This is not like an actor talking about global warming, a comedian selling diet plans, or a football player promoting a pizza company. His job is relevant to social commentary.
Recently, Trevor Noah went on a radio program called the Breakfast Club to discuss different political issues, but the issue of racism in America
was most prevalent to their conversation.
Trevor Noah is very smart, and in the interview above, seems very polite and kind in person. He made some statements that I think are profound and true, which I will touch on at the end. However, what I want to focus on is a particular portion of the interview where he discusses his ideal America and how it ought to respond to “racism”.
“I believe we need to treat racism like a disease, and not a choice….I believe racism, it is hereditary. It is passed down from generation to generation just like alcoholism.”
“The problem I have is when you shun racists, when you cut them out of society, where do they go to? Let me get this straight: A person is racist, they get fired from their job; a person is racist, we kick them off their T.V. show, a person is racist, we ban them off Twitter. So all we are doing is we are banning these people. Where do we ban them to? That is what I want to know.”
“What happens to them afterwards? It shouldn’t just be you lose the job, you have to go do something.”
This ought to terrify Christians everywhere, and I’ll explain why, but first, notice the important structure of his argument.
Mr. Noah has manifested what Christians have been saying for 2,000 years: everyone is religious
. Mr. Noah is promoting Secularism, and make no mistake about it, that is a religion. Yes, it is a lame one. It has a false god and false gospel, but it is a religion none the less.
Structurally, Mr. Noah is an evangelist; He is doing exactly what Christians do. He has exposed, not only his worldview, but the appropriate gospel that accompanies it.
One cannot have a Christian worldview without having the Christian Gospel. They are inseparable and logically related, and every worldview is like this.
The Biblical worldview is a blessing to people because the Gospel, and the consequences of the Gospel, are clearly spelled out. The Gospel is that Jesus died to pay the penalty for sins, provides His Spirit to change the sinner, and He rose from the dead to conquer death forever, then afterword, ascending to heaven, He took His rightful seat as judge and leader over all of the created order.
What are the consequences of this Gospel? For starters, Jesus is Lord. Jesus will win all of history as He has the authority and power to make all enemies a subdued footstool at His feet. He will execute righteous judgment for all sin, righting all wrongs, and will make all things new.
All those who repent and believe will inherit glory, all those who do not will rightfully reap the wrath of God which they earned by sowing so many seeds of sin. In other words, sinners can be redeemed and transformed, or they can be condemned and punished. But the consequences are there for the entire world to see and respond to accordingly.
Given all that, as a Christian, I may evangelize on the streets to make this known. I may stand on a bench (platform), accuse the crowd of breaking God’s Law (proclaim sin), and then give them the Gospel (they can be forgiven and transformed).
Trevor Noah has done the exact same thing only with a contrary worldview to mine.
He went on to a radio program (platform), said racism is wrong (proclaimed sin), warned of the just penalties for it, and then called for transformation (preached gospel).
Trevor Noah is a religious evangelist, a gospel preacher. The difference between him and me is not structure or behavior. The difference is in the gods of our systems and the gospels that spring forth from them.
Trevor Noah’s gospel is lame and his god is often times a blundering fool.
His gospel resembles the biblical one in that it claims god can transform a sinner. However, since his god is a false one, the change from his god is also false.
What is his gospel?
Sinners (racists) can be changed.
For example, in the interview he paralleled racism and alcoholism. How do we cure alcoholics? Rehab. We rehabilitate them through a program.
Thus, how does a sinner (racist) find salvation (change) in Trevor Noah’s worldview? The government.
When I want a racist to change, I take them to Jesus; I bring them to God. When Mr. Noah wants a racist to change, he brings them to the government; structurally paralleled to god.
The government is Trevor Noah’s god. The government can solve the problem of racism. That is how we change people. We ought not just fire them from their job; they need to go somewhere, to the State, just like alcoholics.
(One may try to argue at this point that groups and programs like A.A. are often times non-profits or are programs not federally funded. However, it would still be the State’s prerogative to force a person to attend, and the State would also need to give their blessing to that particular organization, making it a distinction without a difference.)
Another demonstration of why the Triune God of Scripture is so much better than Mr. Noah’s is that in the Christian worldview forgiveness comes before transformation. That is good news.
In Mr. Noah’s worldview, not only is forgiveness not even promised, but if it were to happen by chance, it would only come after your transformation; it must be earned. That is hardly forgiveness at all, and that is terrible news.
The secular worldview is not only brand new, but it is also inconsistent, fallible, immoral, and filled with corruption. On top of that, it offers no written, unchanging standard, so we must do a lot more digging in order to sort through the mess and get to the bottom of things.
And I want us to dig through Trevor Noah’s gospel and see what this means for us.
Given that he is a fool who says there is no God (Proverbs 1:9), he has lost the ability to call anything sin, and therefore cannot attribute sinful dispositions to a person’s soul. This makes all things material, and thus must be dealt with accordingly. That is why something like “racism” cannot be a sinful decision or a sinful disposition, it must be a hereditary disease.
Therefore, we need pills, not Jesus; we need rehab, not Jesus.
Racism has now been blended into the material realm and must be treated accordingly.
(As a side note, how did racism ever show up if it had to be learned? Noah claims,“If you are not born racist, if you are not in a world of racism you do not become racist; it is taught to you.”
If racism is something that must be learned, how did it ever get going? Who was the first person to be racist, and where did they get it from? Sin is natural; we do not need a professor, a pen, and a notepad to learn racism: we are born that way.)
To the point, Noah asks,
“But what happens to them afterward? They have to go and do what?”
The panel offered educational classes or rehab as options to his question, both of which Noah seemed content with. They then began to joke about “conversion shock-therapy”, but the thing to laugh at there is, given their premises, that is not a joke at all; it is actually a viable option.
The panel does not realize the irony that the worldview they are advocating for cannot possibly exclude that method, nor can it consistently exclude even methods far worse.
Thus, there are two important things to break down before final application:
1) Trevor Noah wants to institutionalize a disposition.
This panel is not promoting that we punish crimes; they want to take it a step further and “fix” racist people. People can be hauled away and locked up by the government, not for something they have done, but for something they are.
The first problem with this is that you cannot legislate holiness. Laws and penalties can only discourage sin, they cannot change sinners. Penalties and laws curb behavior, they are not in the business of changing hearts. You cannot pass a law which changes desires. You cannot fine someone more and more money until they objectively become a more loving person.
Who people are lies outside of the realm of something I call “the government’s business.” You cannot arrest someone for being racist any more than you can arrest them for enjoying science-fiction, or for not liking yogurt, or for loving hockey.
Suppose a racist, KKK supporting, white-man kidnaps a black man and lynches him. Obviously, that person should go to prison (I would argue they should be killed).
What was that racist hauled away for? Was it for being racist
? No, it was for the civil crimes of kidnapping
A pedophile is a pedophile ten minutes prior to his first offense. But the government has no claim over him ten minutes prior to his first offense.
In other words, Mr. Noah has confused the difference between sin and crime. He does this because his worldview is not able to distinguish between them at all.
Not all sin ought to be punished by the civil government. What Trevor Noah is suggesting is the obliteration of that distinction. If someone demonstrates they are racist, they must be legislated to fix their racism. It is no longer enough to punish their behavior.
We arrest and punish people for crimes committed, not for being a certain kind of person. People are allowed to be bitter and angry all they want; the government can do nothing about it unless said bitterness or anger leads to a crime. You cannot legislate against or punish racism. You can only legislate against and punish crimes. No one should be forced to go to a class or be institutionalized because they are racist. No one should be forced into a program or a class because they are racist. They have rights until they commit a crime.
Trevor Noah wants the government to do something about people’s soul, and that is something the government is inept to do. But, it is his god, so he cannot admit that.
2) If the government gets to define racism, they get to define everything.
An interesting portion of the conversation was when Mr. Noah admitted that the term “racist” covers such a wide range of ideas and behaviors today that it is hard to even know what we are talking about when we use the word.
This is very true. What does it mean to be racist? What does it look like to be racist?
Sure, there are extremes most people agree on. However, many people have been called racist for things they strongly disagree are racist. Who gets to determine whether they are guilty or innocent?
Before a racist can be hauled away by Trevor Noah’s Utopian, governmental, demi-god, they must first be determined to be racist. Who gets to make that call? Who gets to decide which behaviors constitute as criminal racism?
As a Christian, we let God do that.
Trevor Noah does to, but remember who his god is: the State
In Noah’s world, the government gets to define sin. They get to tell us when we are being racist and when we are not. And then they get to institutionalize and rehabilitate us for our racism.
Now, I hope you have connected the dots. This idea of government is the end of Christian liberty in this nation as we know it.
Trevor Noah strongly disagrees with most of Christian thought and practice. Who is to stop him from defining Christianity itself as also being “a disease like alcoholism”? Take everything Trevor Noah said and replace the disposition of “racism” with the disposition of “Christianity.”
It is not enough for Trevor to ban Christians from Twitter, or to fine them, or to fire them from their jobs. They need to go somewhere.
We are already seeing particular Christian convictions and practices being defined as crimes. Christian bakers and photographers are being fined, shut down, or being court ordered to take “sensitivity training.”
Not long from now though, the crime will no longer be things like discrimination, homophobia, or any other made up word legislators want to use against us. The punishable crimes will not be specific actions like preaching without a license, or hate speech from the pulpit. In Trevor’s worldview, the crime can be Christianity itself.
Thus, Christians can be hauled off, no longer for doing something, but for being something. If people can be rehabilitated for “being racist”, then Christians can be hauled off just for “being Christian.” A government big enough to haul you away for being a racist is a government big enough to haul you away for being a Christian.
In Noah’s worldview, since the god of government has the power to transform hearts, until we are all on board with the power that is, his question will remain the same:
“We can ban [Christians], but where are we banning them to?”
You see the horrors of secularism on full display now right?Can you imagine anything more terrifying than an unrestrained, secular government determining morality?
At the beginning of this post I mentioned some of what Mr. Noah said was very insightful and helpful to the conversation of racism in this country. In regards to racism at large, Mr. Noah said this:
“[Racism] a tribal thing.”
He did not say all racism is tribal, but he made the point Douglas Wilson has been trying to make for some time: racism has very little to do with race.
For most of human history, racism has always been tribal
. People of the same exact skin tones hated and enslaved one another.
The unique circumstances of southern slavery in America made American’s concepts of Racism more race-based than ever before, but racism is hardly about race; it has more to do with cultures than melanin.
Noah admitted that racism exists today in many places within Africa where there are no white people at all. There are people in Africa who will discriminate against people who share the same skin tone. Why? They do not like their tribe.
|If a man hates black people,
who of these two men should he hate most?
I think America is the same way. We associate culture and race; essentially forcing them to be synonymous. Racism ought to be called Tribalism.
This should be clear as white racists do not begin to hate other white people more as those people become more tan. The issue is not about color, but tribe. And by tribe, I really mean culture.
And if we continue to be lazy in diagnosing the issue, we will never take steps forward in addressing this issue which is so divisive and explosive in our nation right now.