04 September 2018

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

by Hohn Cho

This morning, "The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel" was released. Consisting of 14 main articles of affirmations and denials (plus an addendum), the entire statement is full of biblical truth and worth reading.

Thabiti Anyabwile, who has been very involved in the discussion relating to social justice and the Gospel, called it "a great statement" and said he'd be "happy to sign it" even if he doesn't believe it's a "fair statement of the issues."

I'll let the actual initial signers speak more about this as they see fit, but from where I sit, I don't believe the statement is supposed to be controversial or difficult to sign. My impression is that it's simply a set of fundamental biblical truths and principles that Christians broadly and generally ought to be able to agree on. And it does not prescribe a set of overly specific applications or attempt to micromanage Christians' consciences, which is one criticism I've had of quite a few "social justice" advocates.

What it does is lay out a basic and fundamental set of principles for the discussion. If a large number of "social justice" advocates are also in agreement with the statement, I would consider that a very good and healthy thing. We would then be crystal clear about the ability to have an intramural debate, so to speak, and perhaps some of the perceived threats to the actual sanctity of the Gospel itself would abate.

On that note, I believe the statement could also serve to flush out both theological extremists who are a threat to the Gospel, as well as pragmatic opportunists who might be so concerned about or swayed by public opinion—or perhaps being perceived as a bad "ally" to other Christian or even secular "social justice" advocates—that they are unwilling to stand for basic biblical truth.

At a bare minimum, perhaps the statement will help to do away with the Gnostic-like notion that only people of certain ethnicities (or even worse, people of certain ethnicities who agree with the "social justice" advocates' views) possess the "secret knowledge" that permits them to engage in the discussion and expound upon the Scriptures relating to these topics.

I've long said that people who are concerned about the direction of the "social justice" movement are more than willing to engage in the debate, despite claims to the contrary by many on the "social justice" side. (A future post of mine may address this very issue.) Hopefully we can do so in a civil way that has as our foundation the Word of God.

One final note, as many already know, my pastor John MacArthur has been publishing a series of blog articles and preaching a sermon series on this topic. A number of people on the "social justice" side have commented that although they might not agree with every single nuance, the basic concepts and principles are not in themselves controversial or subject to dispute.
Again, as with the statement, I think that's actually a good thing, and my hope is that after he's finished with both series, we can continue the discussion on a foundation of solid biblical truth that has been the hallmark of MacArthur's ministry for over five decades.

So let's continue talking about this, and again, if the statement serves only to isolate the extremists and opportunists, that alone would be a helpful thing.

Hohn's signature


Sharon said...

Phil’s tweet listing all 4 articles was posted on 8/27/18. Unfortunately, if I cut and paste it here it cuts off the link URL.

Phil Johnson said...

My bad. I've fixed it now.

Robert said...

Thanks for this, Hohn. I am genuinely hopeful that this will bring people to the table for meaningful dialogue. I will be praying for people to drop the fanning of flames and look to deal with the implications of what is being said and written. I think if this happens, it will show the real concerns and we’ll have a better idea of who is driving the divisiveness.

Bobby Grow said...

I kind of think statements like this only galvanize those who are already so galvanized. In other words, my guess is that people who sign this are already of like-mind. I suppose statements like this have a history in the church (in re to other issues), but that the statement's origination itself already almost defeats its purpose; if in fact the purpose is to invite dialogue.

Unknown said...

The social justice cabal despises dialogue, hopefully truth wiii get them woke.

Hohn C said...

Robert, thanks for reading. I suppose we'll see what happens, hopefully it will spark some civil and productive discussion, but at least it will set out some basic positions from a biblical point-of-view.

Bobby, you may well end up being right. In retrospect, I think I was being naive, thinking that any well-known members of the Christian "social justice" movement would actually sign. Anyabwile quickly backtracked, after it became clear that others in his camp were rejecting it (although his motive appears to be additional consideration, after he read a detailed critique).

For all the talk of people in that camp saying they largely agree with the statement, the partisanship appears to be just too great. And while both "sides" can be guilty of that partisanship at times, I've perceived far more groupthink and emphasis on solidarity even to the point of threats and shaming on the "social justice" side of the debate (which mimics the mass Twitter-shaming we've seen in the secular world of people who stray from the politically correct line).

Most of what I see is a ton of heart- and motive- reading, which is again par for the course for many on the "social justice" side. It's also interesting to note that the majority of the pushback on Twitter appears to be by non-Christians, liberal Christians, egalitarians, and LGBTQ-etc. folks.

Unknown, not all of them, but apparently more than I was hoping.

Robert said...

That is a good observation about the amount of negative comments coming from unbelievers. I have noted the same thing and it is curious to me that I try to engage in dialogue in hopes of presenting the Gospel (conversation dies as soon as I start that conversation), yet I have not seen anybody from the SJ movement try to engage these same people to discuss the Gospel.