This morning as I was getting ready for work I found that an online acquaintance of mine had written an article dealing with the sacramental aspects of the plague to mankind known as wokeness. It is often helpful when we can understand contemporary problems in light of their larger history. Among the key problems of wokeness and the contemporary mania for “social justice” that contradicts biblical doctrine is the pitting of the vertical dimension of salvation that can only come as a gift from above with the horizontal efforts at gaining salvation through righteous and just works for one’s fellow man. All heathen religious systems have at their base a view that salvation can be earned in some fashion through one’s good deeds. And by the same logic, all systems that ascribe salvation to one’s deeds and not to a gift from God are themselves heathen. Wokeness is no different in the way that it points to white people as being called upon to bear the burdens of the world’s injustice to elevate the world as a whole, even if other peoples are not held to the same standard. Admittedly somewhat perverse, this white man’s burden is not so different from the past.
If we look back a mere century or so, the poetry of Rudyard Kipling was particularly popular. A core part of Kipling’s own worldview was a celebration of the way in which educated and elite Westerners took upon themselves a white man’s burden to elevate the world through enlightened imperialism. Whether he was praising engineers as the sons of Martha  or loftily holding up his fellow European and North American imperialists to higher standards than the subservient and dark-skinned masses whom they ruled, Kipling is not a man who is popular with the cultural zeitgeist of our times. Yet the path between the white man’s burden of Kipling’s writings and the woke man’s burden of contemporary white liberalism is clear in that both espouse a higher standard for whites than for others–the soft bigotry of low expectations as it has often been called–and both view the self-sacrifice of white elites as being the source of pride that more than compensates for the sacrifice that is paid to ennoble and lift up a world that needs salvation brought to it through the cultural domination by white liberal elites.
It is also not surprising that this view is starkly in contrast with biblical morality and proper doctrine when it comes to salvation. As much as I love my fellow well-educated white people, we are not the saviors of this world. It is flattering to think so, but our contemporary culture needs to be redeemed. It is not fit to bear the weight of our own sins against God and against others, much less to bear the weight of the sins of other peoples against God and humanity. We can lift others to a level no higher than our own level, and our own level is not high enough to lead to salvation for humanity. We ourselves need to be purified and forgiven from our sins, and not merely the fake and phony and imaginary sins that are ascribed to us but actual sins with regard to our rebellion against the laws and ways of God. It is not by viewing ourselves as the sacrificial lamb that we are truly elevated but through humbling ourselves and praising God and Jesus Christ for our salvation that we can be transformed into His image and fit to serve as an example for others not as white people bearing the burden of racism and imperialism and sexism but as redeemed human beings in the imagine and likeness of God from all backgrounds serving as one united family.
Truth be told, we cannot do without either the horizontal or the vertical aspects of our relationships. From the beginning of biblical teaching it has always been so. The greatest commandment has always been to honor and obey God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our being, and right behind it has been the obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. We cannot please God by being unjust to others. Nor an we justify our disobedience to God’s clear commands by pointing to our good deeds for other people. If we neglect either the vertical or the horizontal dimension we will stand condemned for our failure to live up to our obligations to God and others. Moreover, it is the vertical dimension that informs the horizontal. We do not know justice by looking at what the world considers to be just and then copying its corrupt example. We learn justice by looking into God’s word and seeing how it is that we should behave towards others. Our sense of justice, moreover, needs to be tempered with mercy given our recognition that we are beings in need of mercy, something we do not see in the contemporary mania to destroy all historical trace of imperfect people, which can only end in seeking to wipe imperfect people off of the earth, which is a demonstration of that timeless truth that those who hate God love death because they desire to usurp his power over the universe and turn it to their own wicked ends.
 See, for example: