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A person can hardly post an objective fact anymore on a social media platform, let alone one’s own opinion, without being verbally attacked. Though disagreements about topics and perspectives have existed throughout the history of humankind, the woke crowd has reintroduced as their primary social engagement the ad hominem attack.
Ad hominem is a response to another person’s perspective(s) or position(s), which attacks the person rather than discussing or arguing against the position in question. For example, two people may disagree about whether or not schools should reopen. One person might post a scientific study that concludes one way or the other.
Instead of addressing the interpretation of the data presented in that study, another person attacks the one who posted the article. It might be something elementary, such as, “you are no expert, so stop pretending that you are.” Not only is this an ad hominem attack that ignores the facts and prefers to belittle the person who posted the facts, but the response is also filled with presuppositional beliefs in itself.
But ad hominem attacks rarely end in simple verbal jabs. Typically, they go much deeper, and anger regularly accompanies future responses. The goal is not to engage in a worthwhile dialogue and uphold truth. Instead, the woke crowd wants to shame, scare, manipulate, gaslight, silence, and even invalidate the one who is presenting an alternative view to maintain the belief that the one attacking holds truth.
In most cases, ad hominem is applied by people when they perceive that truth is being presented; though there are social issues that are agreed upon, but how to resolve them becomes the point of disagreement. In many ways, when a person attacks another rather than objectively addressing facts, they are confessing to the world that they do not possess the truth, which they assert that they do.
This increasingly common and destructive human response to objective truth is referred to as foolishness in Scripture. Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in airing his opinions.” The fool, or the “woke crowd,” is not interested in hearing the truth or dialoguing with others to arrive at truth and unity; fools only want to be heard and for everyone to accept their opinion and comply with their worldview.
Unfortunately, the natural fool does not remain in a neutral moral position before God and others, and attacking others and becoming angrier will likewise increase. Proverbs also explain how a foolish heart will digress into the position of a scorner. When a deeply “woke” individual is confronted with the truth, he/she will not only verbally assault, but he/she may also physically attack. Proverbs 9:7 offers this insight: “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.” James 4:1-3 also highlights that violence and murder are born out of deceitful desires that are unfulfilled.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
The woke crowd wants something passionately, and anyone or idea that gets in their way must be eliminated. While this way of thinking is part of humanity’s depraved nature, it is incredibly destructive. In fact, “woke” people turn into the “woke crowd.” When the woke crowd becomes the majority, then atrocities upon humanity are justified under the narrative of utilitarianism (the greatest good for the greatest number) and violently imposed upon anyone who dares to disagree.
Simple ad hominem attacks most often lead people to a position of not tolerating anyone who has a different perspective. Marxism, Nazism, and Communism are examples of how “woke” or foolish thinking leads entire crowds/entire societies to attack and eliminate others.
We continue to speak the truth for the sake of others. When people disagree with us, we should graciously engage in dialogue that can place them in a position to hear the gospel. We do not attack the person who is attacking us, which makes us foolish as well (Proverbs 26:4). Instead, we do offer truth in a gracious manner and address the arguments so that others can discern what to accept and reject, and truth can humble him/her (Proverbs 26:5). When Christians engage in attacking others who have attacked them, they are losing sight of the gospel in that moment and starting down their path to anger and bitterness. We must ask ourselves when we comment on others’ posts whether or not our comments address the issues or attack the person.
We do not waste our breath attempting to convince fools. Proverbs 23:9 states, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.” We do not need to always comment on every post, article, or conversation with which we disagree. There are certainly times to have discussions on social media, but many times those platforms are not the best means and invite foolishness where grace was intended.
We graciously season our words with salt. When we are attacked (and if you are on social media and post anything other than photos of furry little puppies, you will be—yet, even disagreements over puppies and kittens exist), we must ask God to give us the wisdom to answer in a gracious way that does not put people down but exults Christ. Colossians 4:6 states, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” How we respond reveals our hearts and will either hurt or help the hearer. Secular psychiatrist Awais Aftab recently responded to someone on Twitter who attacked him rather than his comments: “Some folks store their arguments in a jar of vitriol, which burns away any good they may have had to begin with.”
We continue to be light and salt. The world is spoiling, and it is dark by nature. If our country continues to decline morally, we should not be surprised. It is Christians who are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) and provide that within our societies while we have the opportunity. More and more, what is good is being called evil, and anyone who disagrees with this new moral perspective is being categorized as evil. Don’t be anxious about this trend or surprised as it worsens. We should certainly pray to God for our countries and our countries’ leaders and ask God to mercifully intervene. But we also must trust in His sovereign control over world history and human affairs.
What our fellow countrymen and we need (no matter what country we live in) is not to be woke. Instead, we need to be illuminated, as the Holy Spirit’s ministry of opening the spiritual hearts of mankind is the only remedy for foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). 1 Corinthians 2:14 states, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” The gospel is a game-changer, and we must stay focused on keeping “the main thing, the main thing.”
The woke crowd attacks others, is intolerant of truth that defies its popular narrative, and seeks to cancel or eliminate any person, organization, fact, event, or thing which undermines their constructs of “truth.” But the gospel is life-giving, leads to changing people’s minds in a healing way apart from manipulation, and offers hope for all of humanity and not just a select few. Let us be careful to be an illumined crowd depending upon God’s wisdom and not part of the woke culture.
Dr. Daniel R. Berger II is the founder and director of Alethia International Ministries (AIM), where he continues to write and to speak around the country in various churches, organizations, medical communities, and at various counseling and teacher’s conferences. He is also an experienced pastor, counselor, school administrator, and the author of ten books on Biblical counseling, practical theology, education, and the history and philosophy of the current mental health construct. Daniel earned his B.S. in counseling, an M.S. in counseling/ psychology, an M.A. in pastoral studies, and a doctorate in pastoral theology. Daniel is also an adjunct professor at several Universities and seminaries-including serving as the director of a post-grad degree at SEBI (Brasilia, Brazil) in Biblical Counseling, which is specifically focused on understanding the various aspects of the construct of mental illness from a biblical worldview.