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Is Social Justice Activism Leading Black Christians Away from the Cross?

Darrell Harrison sees something dangerous happening thanks to this recent explosion of "social justice" Christianity.

I read a lot of Christian writers and a lot of Christian commentaries on the culture. Without question, there has been a marked increase in the amount of focus placed on so-called “social justice” issues within Christendom over the last several years. Sadly the voices that are often promoted and celebrated in that regard are the ones who seem inclined to echo the world more than the Gospel.

And that is why, for my money, no one is speaking Christian truth to these issues of race, racism, discrimination, prejudice, and justice from a black man’s perspective more effectively and with more fidelity to Scriptural truth than a writer and thinker named Darrell B. Harrison.

Harrison’s recent piece entitled, “Is the Gospel No Longer Enough for Black Christians?” surely angered and agitated a great many that have come to believe the point of the Gospel of Christ is social equity, racial reconciliation, gender equality, and equal opportunity. But those of us – black or white or any shade in between – who recognize the real mandate in the Gospel of Christ is to preach Christ crucified, should not only applaud Harrison’s work, but should do all we can to spread and promote it.

Harrison sees something dangerous happening thanks to this vigorous expression of social justice Christianity. Communities that have long found contentment in terrible circumstances because of the abiding promise of life in Jesus, are being deceived into replacing the real Jesus with a social activist version who promises not eternal riches through faithfulness but temporal “justice” through political activism. It is unsurprising that the embrace of a new, false Jesus would cause these communities to exude far less joy and far more resentment than their ancestors exhibited despite far worse earthly conditions.

Harrison writes it this way:

[M]any black Christians have begun to advocate a purely activist theology borne of a soteriology that proffers the idea that the preeminent, if not sole, mandate of the gospel is the pursuit of “social justice”, the manifestation of which is evidenced primarily by the bringing about of such realities as socio-ethno egalitarianism and the eradication of all human suffering and oppression, particularly of those whose melanin happens to be of a black or brown hue.

There are many black Christians today who, believe it or not, would assert that, collectively, the plight of black people in 21st century America is tantamount to that of Jupiter Hammon in the 18th century. This, I believe, is because words like slavery and oppression are applied so flippantly and, dare I say, ignorantly today as to divest them of their historical significance with regard to legitimate injustices that were perpetrated against God’s black and brown-skinned image-bearers (Gen. 1:27; Acts 17:26).

The truth is there is no gospel and, conversely, no church – regardless of ethnic composition or denominational affiliation – apart from the life-changing message that ‘Jesus Saves.’ It is that message which, I fear, is being lost as increasing numbers of black Christians become convinced that their primary loyalty is to an ecclesiastical legacy rooted in a socio-ethno missiology that emphasizes societal reformation apart from spiritual transformation.

This is brilliant writing and profound thinking, to be sure. But it’s much more than that. It’s Christian writing and thinking. That is, it is Christ-centered, not issues-centered. It is focused on Kingdom-building, not political ends. It’s what I (and every believer) should strive to do, and Darrell Harrison does it so well:

To believe that an innately sinful society inherently possesses either the capacity, or the ability, to bring about the kind of equity so zealously desired by social justice advocates is both unrealistic and naive.

Yet that is what the “social gospel” – preached so often these days from “culturally relevant” pulpits, misguided and misled Christian campuses, as well as vocal “Christian” commentators – assumes.

You're right about it happening on Christian campuses. Trinity Christian in Indiana I'm afraid is turning in that direction.

I like this guy's perspective. Thanks for bringing his writing to our attention.

"Is Social Justice Activism Leading Black Christians Away from the Cross?" Of course it is. That is its purpose. The Left has only three major enemies----the intact family unit, religion, and education. All pose threats to the dominance of the Left and the first two are competition with the authority of the Left. Destroy the family unit and its inherent structure and loyalty, and that destroys one competitor for the authority of the State. Shift divine authority to State authority by redefining religion and that challenge to the absolute authority of the State is eroded and eventually nonexistent. As for education, a truly educated citizenry is the biggest threat to the Central Authority, but the Left's takeover of our educational system has pretty much eliminated that threat. We still have schools, but they no longer teach the truth about the founding of this nation, its founding principles and ideals, its incredible successes when the original template for governance was followed. They do not teach respect for any authority other than that of the State----not for parents, not for God, not for fellow men if they have different points of view. The educational system in this country has become an indoctrination factory turning out mindless puppets susceptible to the Leftist attacks on religion and the family. This article, well-meaning as it is, still manages to promote one of the lies of our educational system: "... legitimate injustices that were perpetrated against God’s black and brown-skinned image-bearers.." As if injustices have only been perpetrated against black and brown-skinned people. This is such a horrible distortion of history, of fact, of truth, yet it survives and is now part of the official narrative. What about the injustices of the barbaric and purposeful starvation of millions of Ukrainians by Leftist hero Stalin? What about the horrible offenses against the Scots and the Irish by the English? How about the history of white slaves all around the world, all through history? Why overlook the barbarity and cruelty of the Japanese toward their enemies when captured, levels of horror and viciousness unequaled at least in modern times, and mostly against people of light skin. But even the well-meaning are buying into, and promoting, and supporting, the lie that only "people of color" have endured injustices, which of course leads to the inevitable conclusion that if people of color are victimized it must be by an Other-----an Other that has to be, through the process of elimination, white.

I would add the present persicution of the Dutch Africaners in South Africa to the list. Persicution by skin color etc. is a base lowest common denomomonater of political tyrants.

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