The “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” came out a year ago and is worth looking at once again. Scrutiny reveals that the statement perverts both the gospel and one of the gospel’s components, social justice.
The first paragraph of the statement’s introduction asserts there is “an onslaught of dangerous and false teachings that threaten the gospel.” This is error. The reality is that the gospel is not threatened by lies, and falsehoods pose no danger to it.
The statement’s introduction then identifies the culprit as social justice but places the phrase in quotes, allowing the reader to assume that social justice is not a real concern for those seeking to live out the gospel of Jesus. Once the concept of social justice is dismissed, the statement is free to list a number of other aspects of life that are supposedly not gospel. The statement slowly builds to sex and race divisions, reaching them in articles XI (Complementarianism) and XII (Race/Ethnicity). The statement’s point is that feeling oppressed is no reason to consider someone to actually be oppressed: “we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.” (Art. XII.)
This is a straw man argument. No one says feelings are necessarily prove anything. The real point–and the one deflected by the statement–is that if a woman or person of color says they feel oppressed or offended they are referring to something that happened to them, not some emotional state of mind. The proper response is to listen and investigate.
If oppression or offense exist, the Bible says to do something about it.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9.)
Rather than dismiss social justice we are embrace it as part of the gospel of Jesus. (Luke 4.) Did the authors of the statement have good intentions? It doesn’t matter, since they deny the gospel in dismissing the pursuit of justice the Bible calls for.
“Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20.)
Not a bad pursuit indeed.