Social Justice

“I was blind but now I see.”  John 9:25

On Sunday, I listened to one of my friends, Marty Prince, play the harmonica during our worship service.  He was simply amazing as a virtuoso.  He had no music to follow, because Marty is blind. Afterwards, I found him and complemented him, and he replied: “Nice to see you, Bill.”  I’ll let that sink in.

What does that have to do with “social justice”.  Well, a lot, actually, because it is a term of recent coinage that is thrown around and sounds nice, but is it really?  It even uses a term that has biblical dimensions: “justice”.  We have a just God, after all, and the term justice appears throughout the Bible. 

It was first used as a Catholic term in 1840 to describe a “new kind of virtue (habit) necessary for a post-agrarian societies”.  It has morphed into a term used by progressives to describe “the uniform state distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages.”   We think of justice as coming to a just and equitable solution.  That is not the social justice of today.

It has nebulous meanings, but one thing is clear:  it is not biblical and in fact is becoming a problem in Christianity to the extent that it has crept into usage. To some Christians, if you are “not into social justice, then you must not care about racism or abortion or sexual assault or inequality or the imago dei itself”, according to Kevin Deyoung

Deyoung goes through what the Bible says about justice, starting with Leviticus 19, , and ending with Luke 4.  His summary is that biblical social justice means “treating people equitably, working for systems and structures that are fair, and looking out for the weak and the vulnerable.” 

Note the term “equitably”.  Current usage has redefined “justice” as it was used in the French Revolution where the French term “égalité” was introduced. Sounds the same, but it’s not.  What égalité meant is equal, not equitable. 

Social justice requires equality of outcome. In the bible, equality refers to equality that all humans possess as “image-bearers of God.” Scott Allen writes: “All people have equal dignity, worth, and God-given rights” even though we may be diverse in “our sex, our personalities, our gift and our ethnic backgrounds.”

In other words, equality of opportunity where personal responsibility and accountability plays into the matrix of one’s life.

Which brings me back to a lesson in history of Marxism. Members of the Frankfurt School came to the United States during and after WWII. They were influenced by Antonio Gramasci, a Marxist theorist, who advocated giving new meanings and definitions to prior language.  Their goal was to alter Marxism from an economic struggle to a cultural struggle.

By redefining words and phrases, they have been able to seductively change words and phrases into things that obscure the old meaning. Social justice is one of those phrases, and when the evangelical church “exchanges the biblical definition of a word as important as justice with a counterfeit, it is no small matter” according to Scott Allen. 

Allen’s book, Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justiceis a must read. It demonstrates how the term social justice now embraces Critical Race Theory (CRT), in that it has a distorted view of racism in America.  It is a post-modern ideology which “holds that ultimate authority is not vested in God, or in science, but in the autonomous, sovereign individual.”

In other words, the theology of God has been replaced by the ideology of man. It is a verbal wolf in sheep’s clothing. Allen writes that Biblical justice “requires that authorities render judgments fairly, treating everyone before the law because…. that’s how God treats us”. 

Social justice has now been redefined: “The tearing down of traditional structures and systems deemed to be oppressive, and the redistribution of power and resources to victims in pursuit of equality of outcome.”  Reparations are form of redistribution of resources.

Recently, riots and looting occurred at stores on the Miracle Mile in Chicago, triggered by misinformation.  The damages were estimated at $60 million. One of the looters who emerged through the broken window of a store with arms full of merchandise is quoted as saying this was “reparations” and that he deserved it. 

The scene was described as an “uncompensated retail experience” by one media source. No one mentioned that it was stealing and criminal. The biblical value goes back to the Mosaic law which said “thou shalt not steal.”  Social justice overrides that law by justifying theft. It is an example of man’s ideology overriding biblical values.

The social justice ideology is not about social justice but power, oppression and victimization. It uses tactics similar to Mao’s Cultural Revolution so that the ends justify the means. It is hostile toward Judeo-Christian religion, particularly in its beliefs of the natural family and sexuality. Finally, as my story above indicates, it is fixated on redistributing wealth and power. 

Allen’s book was an “Aha” moment for me.  I was blind but now I see what is really going on, and it is dangerous. If you do not realize that the post-modern concept is that “each person is a law unto himself or herself”, you get chaos because there will be no order in society. 

Sadly, Allen notes that “individual freedom, responsibility and accountability are all casualties of this profoundly destructive and dehumanizing belief.” In contrast, the Bible affirms the importance and value of every individual. 

Yet social justice is now mainstream in western culture and has even crept into the Church. It is a false teachingand one which we need to spotlight. It leads to an erosion of the rule of law, the loss of due process, the loss of free speech through Cancel Culture, the loss of truth and ultimately the erosion of religious liberty. It leads to the loss of any basis of civility (most can see this already), and no hope for future justice.

In a post Christian world, it is a successor ideology to biblical principles. Allen quotes Andrew Sullivan who said: “that, for many, especially the young, discovering a new meaning [for life] is thrilling.”

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   Your mentee is likely to favor the concept of social justice, and it is very important that you take the time to help him see the fallacies from a biblical worldview.

RESOURCES:

Social Justice is Not What You Think It Is. Heritage Foundation

Is Social Justice a Gospel Issue?  Gospel Coalition

Critical Theory: An Introduction to the Frankfurt School

Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice – Allen

WORSHIPLove Changes Everything  Red Rock Worship

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