Rev. Andrew J. Preus
Virgil’s Aeneid tells a story of a great statue of a horse left by the Greeks outside the city gates of Troy. This Trojan Horse was beautiful. The people of the city thought it was a gift from the gods. They brought it into the gates, and at night the Greeks who were hiding inside came out of the giant horse to let in the rest of their army. Like Eve who saw that the fruit was beautiful and able to make one wise, the Trojans did the same. Nothing ever changes.
Learning history is also beautiful. It has tragedies and triumphs, highs and lows, insights and blind spots, heroes and charlatans. As Christians we would do well to learn of such figures from a godly perspective. We should not be conformed to the world but with renewed minds discern what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2). It’s no different when we learn about black leaders in history. It is beneficial to learn of the differences between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Just as we must discern the teachings of any preachers to see if they are from God, we must also test the spirits of all those who bore the title Reverend, seeing what they taught about our Lord Jesus. We should learn about the difference between liberation theology and the gospel of Scripture. We should learn about how communism and other social movements captivated certain black leaders. We should learn about those like Rosa Young, who was introduced to the Lutheran Church by Booker T. Washington, how she strove to foster Christian orthodoxy against false teachers leading her people astray, and loved the Lutheran chorales. Like any genre of history, we should build within our own gates, not simply bring in a big, beautiful horse we imagine has been sent from above.
The study of history is good. Yet a history that ignores how people behaved toward God and his Word will quickly turn into a pagan narrative. This is true of any history. That Cincinnatus resembled the virtue of duty and humility when he returned to his quiet farm after saving Rome from the Aequians is useless to know if we don’t think of our Lord Jesus who set aside his riches to give us a much greater kingdom. That Alexander the Great Hellenized the western world is a waste of knowledge if we don’t see how God used this to advance his Word through a common trade language. That the world broke out into two great wars in the 20th Century only serves for a power play of triumph and shame if we ignore how much Christ and his Word were assaulted by the preceding centuries of the Enlightenment.
Laocoön was a priest in Troy. Dr. Gregory Schulz is a teacher of the church in Mequon, WI. Laocoön was suspicious of Troy’s Greek rival, Ullyses (Odysseus), and he warned the Trojans against the horse, even thrusting his spear at the giant object. Dr. Schulz has been speaking against the wiles and crafts of the devil for decades, and he sounded the alarm that godless poison is being pushed at Concordia Wisconsin. And just as that original Trojan Horse was covered in beautiful skins, the one standing in our own institutions is clothed with the seemingly virtuous and compassionate teaching of antiracism. While Laocoön was making his sacrifices, he and his sons were strangled by serpents. The people of Troy concluded that Laocoön was cursed, and they listened to Sinon, a Greek spy, who claimed that the Greeks had left the horse and fled. Will Schulz likewise be strangled by snakes? Will we, like the naïve citizens of Troy, assume that Schulz is cursed? Maybe “cursed” is a bit too strong. Will we simply assume he didn’t follow procedure?
If we let a packaged horse enter into our gates, not even looking inside to see what kind of baggage it has, then we are leaving our treasure to be plundered. And if we don’t guard ourselves against the grips of the lying serpent, the devil, if we don’t ward off false doctrine, then we won’t have any strength to warn our brethren against bringing this horse into the church–we are left defenseless, sympathizing with seemingly compelling narratives told by those who seek to destroy our treasure of the gospel, just as the Trojans bought into the sob-story of Sinon.
Jesus tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt 10:16). Concordia University in Wisconsin has been neither wise nor innocent. Instead of teaching history from the perspective of what God’s Word teaches about original sin, they have brought into their walls a Trojan Horse with narratives seeped in Critical Race Theory, which indicts godly structures, such as a father’s rule over his family, as essentially evil and oppressive. Like anyone looking at the big, beautiful horse outside the city of Troy, those who look at black history can easily appreciate the fight against oppression. But as the Trojans bought into the twisted narrative of Sinon, Concordia Wisconsin has bought into the twisted narratives of “those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:6-7)”
So take a look inside the Trojan Horse. Follow the spear thrown by Dr. Schulz, which caused groaning to come out of the hollow belly. Go to the Concordia University Wisconsin website: www.cuw.edu. Click on “Diversity and Belonging.” Click on “Initiatives.” Click on “Black Student Union,” and then click on “Learn more about Concordia’s Black Student Union.” Scroll down and click on “Read More” under “Black History Month — 5 Ways to celebrate.” There you will find an uncritical endorsement of media, writings, and figures, much of which subtly and not so subtly undermine the Christian faith. Not to mention the silence of how the great leader, MLK, denied the teaching of Christ’s divine nature. One of the other notable figures being promoted uncritically is Dorothy Height, a feminist who promoted the so-called “right” to an abortion. Among the books uncritically endorsed is “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism,” by bell hooks, the pen name of feminist Gloria Jean Watkins, who sought to crush the patriarchy and saw marriage as an unhealthy institution.
There are plenty of other enemies hiding in the belly of this Trojan Horse. One post, entitled, “An evening of listening and understanding . . .,” recommends Ibram X Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist,” in which the author pushes the typical talking points of other proponents of Critical Race Theory, including a full endorsement of homosexuality.
Psalm 78 gives us a good model for how we may understand history as Christians. It tells of God’s providence and grace as well as how man has responded to God’s Word in his sin, hardening, repenting, and backsliding. The Psalm speaks of the faith passed down by our fathers. It is honest about the sins of the fathers against God, but it concludes with the hope God promised through the line of David to shepherd his people. A godly treatment of history allows us to look at the events of the past with honesty as we see how original sin infects the hearts of both fathers and children. It allows us such honesty, because all history is fulfilled in the coming of the Son of God in the flesh to save us from sin and give us adoption as his sons (Gal 4:4).
This is the treasure we have within our gate of the church. It is the precious gospel, surrounded by the many great works of God: that he made man – male and female – in his own image, providing children with a mom and a dad, even as he serves as a defender of the widow and father to the fatherless; that he rescued Israel out of Egypt, controlling all the kingdoms of the earth and all events of history to make way for the coming of his only begotten Son; that he gives repentance and faith to hardened hearts; that through his command to make disciples of all nations, he gathers his church and calls ministers to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments; that he prepares for us works to walk in where he calls us to confess his Son with humility toward and confidence in his Word of truth.
Dr. Schulz threw the spear into the belly of the horse. Will we esteem him cursed because this aggravated the gods of this age? We are told to follow Matthew 18, our Lord’s counsel on how a brother is to bring another brother to repentance. Yet, look at one more thing within this Trojan Horse. On Concordia Wisconsin’s website, under the same “Diversity and Belonging” page, is a link for those on campus to report a “bias incident.” You can privately report anyone whom you feel has shown bias against you. What if a Muslim student feels that a Christian student has shown bias by asserting that Mohamed was a false prophet? What if a professor or student says that MLK was a false teacher who denied, among other
things, our Lord’s divinity? Can a black student who has bought into the mainstream race doctrines feel discriminated against and then report that person? What if it’s simply a private dispute between brothers? In Matthew 18, Jesus tells you that when a brother sins against you then you should tell him his fault between the two of you. If he doesn’t listen, then you bring one or two other people along with you. And if he still won’t listen, then you bring it to the church. This form on the Concordia website, which encourages students and others to report “bias incidents” is completely contrary to what our Lord teaches us. It replaces Christian discipline with worldly, bureaucratic Human Relations. And it replaces pastoral care with affirmation or whatever other loaded terms are fed to us by the world. Before turning Matthew 18 into some procedure policy, take a look at how the poison in the belly of the horse completely undermines what that chapter of the Bible teaches. This is the very poison Schulz was exposing. Can you sense the irony?
Dr. Schulz has pointed things out that are not hidden from us. All we need to do is look into the horse and see for ourselves. Insist that our leaders publicly condemn the things festering therein. May God bless Dr. Schulz for doing it first.
Rev. Andrew Preus is pastor of Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church, New Haven, MO