18 July 2018

Don Green on Biblical Justice vs. "Social Justice"

posted by Phil Johnson



My friend and one-time joint pastor of GraceLife wrote this brief post on FaceBook yesterday, and it was so good I wanted to save it here for easy access. FaceBook posts always disappear into the timeline, and it's really hard to search for them, so let's preserve this here:

When like-minded brothers and I voice warning about the so-called Christian justice movement, it would do you good to recognize something important.

(I speak primarily to those who are confused and trying to sort it out; I realize the main speakers, writers, and promoters have chosen their way and resent the fact that we won’t hop on their train.)

We are trying to safeguard you and your faith. We think there is a genuine danger to this movement that will lead you far away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

The burden of proof is not on us to defend a continuance of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, but entirely upon those men who point to an immoral heretic as grounds for re-defining the very nature of what historic Christianity should be and do. We don’t believe these men have come close to making their case.

We see them driving people from their churches with harsh words and judgment. We see them calling their opponents racist Confederates. We see their defensiveness when sincere concern is expressed against their agenda.

We assess all that and say, “That is not the Spirit of the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep.”

We fear lest the precious good news be obscured and hidden by men with a grievance trying to accomplish political and economic goals rather than pursuing the interests of Christ Jesus, who plainly said His kingdom is not of this world.

To be sure, we are men of clay feet. We never said anything different. We are near Paul at the front of that long line of men who are foremost among sinners.

But over time we’ve seen these kinds of movements come and go. They’re fundamentally all the same. Biblical preaching and the transforming power of God’s Word isn’t enough to them.

We disagree. And we’re not moving. The angrier they get, the more resolved we are—whether we are in the majority or minority is of no consequence to our position.

We do it preeminently for love for Christ, who loved us and gave Himself up for us in His atoning death on Calvary. Loyalty to Him allows us no other option and we wouldn’t take a different path if we could.

But know this. We do it in love for you, too. We seek to feed His lambs and tend His sheep.

We believe that’s the ultimate justice we can render in respond to Christ, who not only saved us, but who also in one way or another has put us in a position of ministry.

          Don Green
          Pastor
          Truth Community Church, Cincinnati
And follow Don on FaceBook. He's not the most prolific FaceBook celeb, but when he posts anything substantive, he always has great stuff to say.

Phil's signature

9 comments:

DJP said...

Excellent word, excellent.

Hohn C said...

But over time we’ve seen these kinds of movements come and go. They’re fundamentally all the same. Biblical preaching and the transforming power of God’s Word isn’t enough to them.

We disagree. And we’re not moving. The angrier they get, the more resolved we are—whether we are in the majority or minority is of no consequence to our position.


BOOM. The above is pure gold. All of it is, really, but especially the above.

AK said...

Those are indeed good sentences, clearly coming from the heart of a shepherd.

But, to take a step back, I and others are still unclear on the "woke dogmas" or the unifying convictions of this "Christian justice movement". In other words, how will we know it if we encounter it?

It would be helpful if you backpeddled a bit and outlined some of the key tenets of the movement you oppose, so that your readers can understand the specific ideas against which you are sounding the warning bells.

Hohn C said...

AK, I will strive to answer your question in my next post. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry - I truly mean no offence- but I'm with AK.
What makes an evangelical a "social justice" Christian?
I'm also at a loss as to the meaning of "woke". It can mean anything from "acknowledges racism exists" to "advocates far-left identity politics", depending on who is using it and why. It can be used as a compliment or a sarcastic slur.

Also, I take it that the heretical, immoral pastor was Martin Luther King Jr?

If that is the case, I am completely confused. I admire Martin Luther King Jr as a politician; I do not admire him as a theologian or pastor. But at least one prominent member of the SCLC scolded King for his liberal theology. At least one person could support him politically but oppose his theology (in extremely strong (and intimidating!) terms).

And given that MLKs most influential political ideas were pulled directly from the Natural Law tradition - where is the danger to the gospel?

Or is this about Trump, or Black Lives Matter, or the Revoice conference? In other words - what am I missing here?
There seems to be a huge row brewing, but I don't know about what or even who it will be between. It will have an effect on evangelicals on this side of the Atlantic: hence my concern.

Graham Veale

Unknown said...

Does this interview with Thaddeus Williams illuminate your concerns? http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/how-should-christians-think-about-social-justice
GV

Hohn C said...

Graham, there’s a lot I appreciated about the article you linked. One thing to consider is that in terms of the various OT “justice” verses, it’s important to consider them carefully within their contexts, especially when they deal with civil law in Ancient Israel. But I certainly agree that concepts of fair judgment and impartiality and charity run through the Scriptures.

Regarding MLK, there appears to be an active effort by some Christians to revise and remediate his image as a Christian rather than merely as a political figure who accomplished mighty things. Were it only the latter, I think there would be less concern among folks like Phil and me. But here are two links for you to examples of what I’m talking about, one an entire conference put on by The Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the other a talk at the popular Together for the Gospel conference.

http://mlk50conference.com

http://t4g.org/media/2018/04/50-years-mlk

Unknown said...

Thanks Cho, that helps somewhat.
Again, I'd be keen to see which "dogmas" are causing problems. My guess is that publicity, rhetoric and presentation might be causing more problems than anyone's substantial beliefs.

Graham

Unknown said...

(At least, that's my hope...obviously, you'll be able to keep me right)GV
:-)