Let’s Talk About Tangential, Balkanization, and the Great Replacement Theory



 I put my educator’s hat on as we began our regular Friday Zoom discussion this morning by giving a pop quiz. Please understand. When I was teaching at Moody in Spokane, my students had to get used to pop quizzes at the start of every class. I never did it to embarrass or shame anyone. Instead, it was an effective teaching tool to wake up the gray matter, assist in note-taking, and provide insight into what would be on future tests. They knew I would never ask a question on a test, be it a section or final test, that they had not seen before.

My purpose this morning was to assist my brothers and sister in Christ to see how what we are discussing in the book of Ephesians regarding the church, especially in chapters 4, 5, and 6, applies to what the church is facing today. I used a simple PowerPoint slide. Since transforming the slide into HTML is not easy, I will give it to you here without animation.



The Great Replacement Theory

The lead-in was an interview with Dr. Bill Bennett this morning that I watch as I ate breakfast. This, together with a blog I read on the internet this morning, led me to the questions, what do these terms and the phrase mean and how do they relate to our discussion? How would you answer these questions? Then follow this with the question, how does the meaning of each relate to Ephesians 4-6?

Dr. Bennett was being interviewed regarding the uproar over what is being taught in the classroom today and how it has affected student learning, and the ripple effect this will have on their education going forward.

The first term, tangential, comes from the term tangent. Usually, it is described as “a completely different line of thought or action.” However, it is also “a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point.” I believe the latter meaning is closer to the context of Dr. Bennett’s meaning than the former. Public Education today appears to be relevant on its surface but is often not relevant to what the youth in America needs at each grade level. Hence, it is missing the mark.

The root meaning of sin in the New Testament, hamartia, is often defined as, “to miss the mark.” This is true. However, taking all of the cognates of the term in all of their contexts in the New Testament, one would have to conclude that sin is not just missing the mark. It is not even shooting at the target. It is a deliberate act of the will to shoot at the wrong target. It would not be incorrect to say that many in the progressive movement with regard to the subject of education are not just missing the mark, the first definition of tangential, but are not even shooting at the target, the second definition of tangential.

How often are preachers and teachers speaking tangentially today rather than hitting the mark by not teaching the Word of God directly, clearly, in a way that edifies the Body of Christ, and not just tickling ears?

The second part of my pop quiz was, what does balkanization mean?

The article on Wikipedia notes:

The term (coined in the early 19th century) refers to the division of the Balkan peninsula, which was ruled almost entirely by the Ottoman Empire, into a number of smaller states between 1817 and 1912. It came into common use in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, with reference to the many new states that arose from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

The article gives the following background and origin of the term:

Balkanization is the fragmentation of a larger region or state into smaller regions or states, which may be hostile or uncooperative with one another. It is usually caused by differences of ethnicity, culture, and religion and some other factors such as past grievances. The term is pejorative; when sponsored or encouraged by a sovereign third party, it has been used as an accusation against such third party nations. Controversially, the term is often used by voices for the status quo to underscore the dangers of acrimonious or runaway secessionism. [sic]

Dr. Bennett was using the term in the context of describing what is happening to the learning process in America today. Liberal states, teachers’ unions, and many school districts, are pushing their liberal agenda. Meanwhile, conservative parents are pulling their children out of public schools in record numbers now that, as a result of the pandemic and the closing of schools, they have seen what is being taught in classrooms. This is what Dr. Bennett meant when he referred to the balkanization of education.

We are going to see the term used a lot in the coming months as we await the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Roe vs Wade. Should the leaked memo prove to be the way the vote is cast, it will definitely apply with this connotation.

While the conservatives will see overturning this as a great victory, it will eventually lead to the balkanization of the United States with regard to the issue of abortion. The lines are already drawn. Groups, large and small, are building their arsenals to attack the opposing side. This is true regardless of the side one takes. Because of the fifty-year history of the controversy, little has been settled. Any bridge between the two camps has been bombed to smithereens so that there is no ground for coming together for a meaningful solution. The church, because of the stands the Catholic church has taken in the past and the Moral Majority in more recent times, has allowed itself to be sucked right into the vortex of the debate.

Is this where the church ought to be? I will not attempt to answer that question either for your church or for you as an individual. I simply raise the question because it is something we all, as individuals and as churches, are going to have to answer in the coming months and years.

This is true in many aspects of life today. It seems even when discussing whether or not the United States should be involved in selling arms to the Ukrainians, whether or not the masses of immigrants is a good thing or a bad, or even whether Donald Trump was good or evil, many are not capable of a meaningful conversation. We have become so balkanized we can hardly carry on a civil conversation with some of our neighbors, family members, and perhaps even fellow believers in the congregation to which we belong.

This leads to the third question, what does the phrase, The Great Replacement Theory, mean? Space does not allow for a full explanation of this phrase, its meaning, and how it is being used today. I have included a reprint of an article from the internet (see). I have repaginated and highlighted it to assist in understanding it. I have hyperlinked it to the original article. Please read this carefully. Like me, you might need to read this over several times before you gain the full import of what is being said. It reflects darkly on conservatives in America and particularly conservative Christians, especially with reference to issues such as immigration, the progressive agenda in the public schools, and the Supreme Court decision about to be announced regarding Roe vs Wade.

During World War II, the War Advertising Council in the United States coined the phrase: Loose lips sink ships. Pastors, church leaders, and all believers need to adopt this idiom today. We need to beware of careless talk on our part because the enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ will take what we say and use it against us, as in the case of the phrase, The Great Replacement Theory. We might agree with much of what was said by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his views regarding Hungarian Nationalism and European Christianity. But we must take care of the context in which we speak and to whom we are speaking. It can and will be used against us and our Lord.

This is why the Holy Spirit guided the New Testament writers to carefully thread the needle as to what was a divine revelation and what was their own personal reaction to current events taking place around them. As my previous article mentioned (see), we must not mix the gospel with politics. As believers, we need to rise above such talk. On the other hand, we cannot allow the Woke Generation to cancel us from speaking the truth when doing so will build up and not tear down. No generation has been more in need of watching our lips. As David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”[i]

Paul exhorted the churches from his confinement under house arrest in Rome:

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.[ii]

...Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.[iii]


[i] Ps 141:3 KJV.

[ii] Eph 5:6-10.

[iii] Eph 5:6-10.