On Christians and Social Justice: Both Sides Are Doing It Wrong

Christians need to pursue justice. They should shy away from the social justice movement.

A certain segment of the evangelical pastoral community has decided Christians should embrace social justice. More prominent evangelicals are pushing back saying no. I think both sides get it wrong.

John MacArthur, one of the great theologians of our age, has pushed back against the tendency of some evangelicals to embrace social justice. Though admittedly oversimplifying his point, he essentially argues that we should preach the gospel. MacArthur and a dozen or so other Christian leaders also released a “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel.”

Others, mostly younger theologians, pushed back on MacArthur and some tried to argue that “intersectionalism” is in scripture. I will not bore you with the fine points of intersectionalism, which is Marxist culture theory, but I do agree with one criticism against MacArthur and that is we need to really better define what social justice is.

The Christian humor site, Babylon Bee, has the best actual working definition for what modern “social justice” is. According to the Bee, social justice is “a Marxism-inspired construct that sees everything in terms of power vs. the powerless.” Social justice, in other words, is not caring for the widows, orphans, and poor, but embracing the idea of classes and identity politics. Intersectionalism comes in to play where the more you identify with supposedly powerless classes, the more power society must give you. In other words, a one armed black muslim homeless lesbian must be given greater standing in society than a one legged white Southern heterosexual Christian male who lost his leg in Afghanistan because he represents the white male patriarchy.

Social justice uses the logic of the insane asylum and adding intersectionality to it adds acid to the diet of the nutters. Christians should steer clear of it. The liberal theological idea of the “social gospel” compounds the problem in that its practitioners believe we can create heaven on earth, which we cannot. Wrap up all three concepts and Christians turn into sweat equity for Marxist mobs.

Ultimately, the problem with social justice, the social gospel, and intersectionality is that they embrace classes and identity politics where authentic Christianity teaches that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28). Christians are not supposed to elevate one class of people in society, even to compensate for another group’s elevation. We are to treat everyone equally always.

Likewise, groups like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, etc. may have Christian members, but their leadership is secular and progressive. As scripture teaches us, the things of the world hate the things of God. These groups are very much of this world and Christians diving into them will inevitably compromise their witness.

So what should Christians do? They should take a lesson from James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27). Too many Christians and evangelical churches have abdicated their responsibilities to government. They have scrapped their food banks. They have turned their church based schools into top tier academic institutions that price out the poor and middle class while failing to offer scholarships. They have begun to resemble the world.

Christians should avoid the social justice mobs, but they should not be afraid to call for equality. Scripture demands it. They should be willing to stand up against police brutality. They should call out government for behaving unjustly. But they must be explicitly Christian. We will not draw others to us by looking like and sounding like the world around us. Too many Christian social justice practitioners want to look and sound like the cool kids they will never see beyond the pearly gates. Too many other Christians have so overcorrected they think a silver tongued sermon on a Sunday morning is all Christ demands.

Christians have ethical obligations to their faith. We need the sermons on Sunday, but we need dirty hands in the world reflecting the cleansing power of Christ.

Comments
No. 1-13
DavidMKern
DavidMKern

Ethnic social clubs and associations were very important to American immigrants of the 1800’s. People naturally seek to help people that they have something in common with, whether they be physical neighbors, speak the same language, attend the same church, work at the same location, or suffer a common natural catastrophe. This type of local community support was common throughout America before “social justice” became the responsibility of the national government through various socialist-light programs.

The problem with nationalizing social justice is that while people are inclined to directly help other people that they know, once the responsibility for social justice is ceded to a government program, there is no direct connection between those providing the help and those receiving it. The lack of a direct connection between providers and receivers encourages people to abuse the system and the distribution system bears the heavy friction of government bureaucracy. As a result, everybody loses.

The bottom line for anybody who believes the Bible is that we are instructed to “love our neighbors as ourselves” – Mark 12:31. Without the force of government, early Americans voluntarily sought to do this by forming support societies – whether through churches or secular community organizations. Abandoning this local responsibility to the national government has turned something Americans volunteered to do with gladness into something implement by government force. That is a tragedy.

bub23
bub23

A book out on this very subject, "Christians in the Age of Outrage" by Ed Stetzer. How to respond to the outrage in a Christian manner that will draw those to the Gospel.

michaelcuddlehammer
michaelcuddlehammer

Social Justice is "group redemption". That is socialism. Whereas redemption, is best sought individually; encouraged to be that way. That is freedom

Guys
Guys

Good points. Nonetheless there primarily is in the assumption that when one speaks of social justice, they are confirming to the definition you have set forth . Who is counting how many Christians employ that definition. There is little evidence to support your assumption. This is the main issue with the statement. It is just as easy to assert that most Christians actually ascribe to the balance you've outlined.

Darboj
Darboj

Justachristian - Jesus purpose in a Samaritan in the story about the Good Samaritan was not to support that they were considered the 'lesser' in that society, any more then his quoting Deuteronomy 15:11 was/is an excuse to ignore the poor. Followers of Jesus are called to care for the poor and needy and visit those who are sick or in prison ... because Jesus does all that for the follower ... it's not a 'social justice' thing. God did not give this charge to the government but to Believers. Fact is if the church would do as commanded in Matthew 25:31-40 there would be no need for the government and social justice. Erick is right ...Too many Christians and evangelical churches have abdicated their responsibilities to government.