Proverbs One and Contemporary Critical Theory

Proverbs chapter one serves as an introduction to the book of Proverbs. The rest of the book develops this overview outline. Today, we will examine the outline and use it to understand better contemporary Critical Theory and how it is a counterfeit of the Gospel of God initiated in the Garden, blossomed in the life and ministry of Jesus, and clarified in the Great Commission.

This book is written with purpose, which is laid out in two ways in the first seven verses.

The desire of Wisdom (God)
To know wisdom and instruction (1)
To discern the sayings of understanding (2)
To receive (moral) instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice, and equity (3)
To give prudence to the naïve (for example, to give a proper understanding of sexuality) (4)
To give youth knowledge and discretion so he can hear and increase in learning and know how to acquire wise counsel (5)
To give an understanding of the variegated dimensions of learning (6)
The foundation of Wisdom
Here, he gives a contrast that we see played out throughout the history of man.
Either we begin with God, who is the foundation of all right knowledge, or we become fools who put ourselves in the place of God by despising the Wisdom and the instruction forthcoming from Him.

This appeal will be a recurring refrain that will take various forms throughout the book. Its structure is a reminder that this is an appeal of God, the father of all, appealing to his created children to listen to Him.
Structure of the appeal (8-9)
Please notice the gender-affirming nature of the structure of this appeal. How amazingly pregnant it is.
First, it reminds us that parents consist of a man and a woman.
Second, it reminds us that gender input is essential and that the input of each is essential for
Content of the appeal (10-19
Here, he gives us a list of the enticements by the naïve (fools) that we should choose to reject.
Note the appeal of the world, the flesh, and the devil (nature of the enticements.
Natural revelation screams Wisdom (God’s existence) 20-21
Declaration of Widom’s work on our behalf (22)
Wisdom’s appeal for repentance (23)
Resilient stiff heart of the naïve (24-25)

Expected Dynamics of Rejecting Wisdom 25-32
God answered before you called, so He will not answer when you see His aid to escape the outcome of your ways (24-25)
God’s response to self-inflicted judgment (26)
The dynamic of the outcome (27-31)

Assurance for Him Who Listens to Wisdom 33
Here is the promise of God. He who listens to God shall live securely (he will have accepted the gift of salvation at the expense of Jesus). And he shall be at ease from the dread of evil. (33).
As Paul put it, he shall have the peace that surpasses understanding because the God of peace shall be with him (Phil 4:4-9).

The Counterfeit Gospel of Critical Theory

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (1:7). The beginning of Critical Theory is the heart of man who sees the impact of the fallenness of man and then starts with man to transform man.
This is the nature of contemporary Critical Theory.

In keeping with its ideological presuppositions, commitments, and values, the transformation of society is a fundamental concept of contemporary critical theory’s telos (the ultimate aim). (Critical Dilemma p, 67).*

First, at the broadest level, critical social theories attempt to understand how power operates within societies to shape, produce, and reproduce social inequities and inequalities. In other words, critical social theories attempt to explain why some groups have agency (the ability to act and make meaningful decisions), resources, money, wealth, and/or social status while other groups lack such agency.
Second is the commitment to action. They do not simply attempt to explain society but aggressively attempt to improve society. Hence, they are activists in their orientation…. This is what it means to be critical (p. 67-68).

Marx and Lenin were not entirely wrong when they proffered that history unfolds as a series of struggles between opposing social groups, one of whom controls the “means of production”? They drew upon Hegel, who, in his dialectic, saw this same struggle in the world of ideas.

Marx’s criticism of Hegel asserts that Hegel’s dialectics needed to be observed in the physical world, which we now see exhibited in Critical Theory as those who can act and those who cannot.

Following the wisdom of Hegel, Marx, and Lenin, Critical Theory offers a counterfeit gospel. In a sense, Hegel, Marx, and the Critical Theorists who have exploited and refined them offer an analysis that Jesus observed. However, it preceded Jesus throughout the Old Testament. What God reveals in both testaments is a struggle between God and Satan—God’s wisdom ideas and Satan’s counterfeit.

Critical Theory is evangelistic, and Christianity is evangelistic. Critical theory is about transformation. Christianity is about transformation. Critical Theory is about empowerment. Christianity is about empowerment. Critical theory starts with man. Christianity starts with God.

Remember that “In keeping with its ideological presuppositions, commitments, and values, the transformation of society is a fundamental concept of contemporary critical theory’s telos (the ultimate aim)” (Ibid, p. 67). Since the fall of man, it has been the goal of man to transform society. There are two options: man’s prideful approach or man’s humility before God to do it God’s way.

Look at Chapter Two of Proverbs. It pinpoints the options. Verses 1-11 encourage us with an if-then argument. If we receive revelation (1), then we will experience the transformation (5). In verse twelve, we learn that receiving the revelation is our protection from the opposition, both corporately and personally.

The first chapter of Proverbs sets the course of Christianity. The pride of man sets the course of Critical Theory.

Conclusion and Implementation
The conclusion is that there are but two options. You choose to fear God and gain wisdom by which to live authentically. Or you choose counterfeit and live in perpetual angst. The implementation is this. Repent, receive, and get on the journey of transformation God’s way.

*Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer, Critical Dilemma, Harvest House, 2023

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