Jesus Was a Social Justice Warrior

Recently a group of Evangelical church leaders released a document called The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, which has since been electronically co-signed by 7,000 clergy members through America.

Following on the heels of last year’s Nashville Statement, it is yet another attempt by a group of Bible Belt Conservatives to lecture the rest of the nation on how to properly follow Jesus—as if Jesus himself wasn’t fit for the job, as if he needs their help.

I’ll let you read it for yourself, but here’s a spoiler alert: 

Like it’s equally pompous brother from Nashville, it too is filled with sanctimony, self-righteous gas-bagging, and all kinds of Bible verse-footnoted religious-speak—designed to serve an iron-clad apologetic of a compassion-free Christianity.

I’ll share with you two revelatory statements that bookend the piece, one from the preamble and another from the afterword.

From the former:
The Bible’s teaching (in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality) is being challenged under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for “social justice.”If the doctrines of God’s Word are not uncompromisingly reasserted and defended at these points, there is every reason to anticipate that these dangerous ideas and corrupted moral values will spread their influence into other realms of biblical doctrines and principles.

It’s all there; every Conservative Christian dog whistle, every terrifying fundamentalist sky-is-falling talking point, every familiar hot button Evangelical trope.

And the writers position themselves as authorized by Divinity in these weighty and urgent matters.

But here’s part of the closing, talking about the Genesis of this lofty, anointed, God-ordained proclamation:

Fourteen men met in Herb’s House coffee shop in Dallas, Texas, having all expressed our growing concern with much that was taking place within evangelical circles under the banner of “Social Justice.”

Fourteen men.
At Herb’s House Coffee shop.
In Texas.
Sounds super spiritual, don’t it?
Sounds like exactly the place to be hearing revelation from the Almighty on matters of equality, sexuality, diversity.

Fourteen (predominately white) dudes over 50, sitting around somewhere in the reddest of red states, bloviating to one another about the evils of the world and imagining themselves qualified to tell tens of millions of Christians they’re doing it wrong.

And here’s the real kicker: these same 14 dudes, are among the most ardent supporters of this President and his Administration.
These 14 supposedly Christian men have repeatedly signed off and supported and defended:
his vile words about women,
his unrepentant serial adultery,
his race-baiting diatribes,
his ignoring the murders of unarmed black men,
his Cabinet filled with supremacists,

his dismantling of healthcare for millions,
his ICE harassment of undocumented Americans,
his separation of families and caging of children,
his incendiary language about Muslims,
his disregard for victims of gun violence.

These men, renting out their pulpits to shill for an amoral predator like Donald Trump, have the absolute brass testicles to declare to anyone, what God would have Christians do.

If these fourteen men were being at all honest with themselves and with us, here’s the real statement that they’d have made this week:

We are terrified.
We are afraid of gay people and Transgender people and brown people and Muslims—in a time when others are rapidly abandoning such fear.

We are white, Conservative, old men, and we realize that we are rapidly dying dinosaurs approaching extinction.
We see the culture becoming more intelligent, more scientifically aware, more connected across faith traditions and borders, and far less willing to be dictated to by white, Conservative, old men—and we are panicking.
We’ve made our bed politically with a man who is antithetical to every word and deed of the life of Jesus in the Gospels, and since we can’t change him or risk severing those ties now—our only option is to rewrite the Jesus story; to retrofit him to the monster we’ve created.
We want a Christianity that secures our privilege, that hordes our power, that doesn’t require us to be at all confronted or inconvenienced by Jesus.
We will do anything to resist equality, curb diversity, and keep marginalized people where they are—even betray the very heart of the Gospels.

I could spend a lot of time here arguing the minutia of the sprawling Social Justice Statement, but I don’t need to.

Jesus has already done that.

Don’t rely on me, see for yourself.

Read the Sermon on the Mount from front to back and see what was happening, what he was calling people to.

Meander on your own through the life and ministry of Jesus in the four New Testament biographies of Jesus.

Go anywhere you’d like: to him feeding multitudes on hillsides, to him railing against the hypocrisy of politically tainted religious leaders, to him sharing his affinity with the hungry and the imprisoned, to him challenging the religious systems oppressing the poor.

I contend you’ll see the same truth these overwrought Evangelicals are doing everything to ignore in their verbose manifesto: Jesus was a social justice warrior.

He was compassionate caregiver and status quo changer.
He was gentle healer and radical activist.
He was wall-destroyer and barrier-breaker and least-lover.
He was shepherd to the people of the street and he was a holy terror to the wolves wielding religion like a hammer against them.
He poured out his life in acts of service and generosity and empathy and sacrifice.
He made selfish, powerful, entitled religious people the most uncomfortable—because he welcomed everyone to the table and declared them equal.
With every breath he preached social justice, with every act he engineered it.

In short, Jesus was everything these fourteen men in a coffee shop in Texas and those like them, despise—and they have no interest in emulating him.

The writers of the Social Justice Statement (like the Evangelicals they represent) use a ton of flowery words and religious code language, to simply say, “We don’t want to give a damn about people who aren’t like us.”

I’m sorry, but in the spirit of Christian love—I’m calling BS on it.

If we try and have a Christianity without social justice, we cut out the beautiful, beating heart of Jesus and we are left with only a lifeless corpse of religion to drag around.

‘Justice’ is what Jesus was doing and preaching and demanding of those who would follow him; and that justice is precisely what made the powerful want him dead.

You can draft any statement you want to deny that truth.

In the fourth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus declares his purpose.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

This is the real Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel.

Someone needs to tell these terrified white, Conservative, old men.

Just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day—they’re missing it.

 

 

 

 

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48 thoughts on “Jesus Was a Social Justice Warrior

  1. Pingback: Social Justice & the Gospel – FairAndUNbalanced.com

  2. This is perfect, John! (Except for a couple of typos ; ). )
    When “Christians” are against social justice, something has gone terribly wrong.
    And when they worry about “the Bible’s teachings on race and ethnicity” we can sure hear those dog whistles loud and clear.
    I dunno, but I can’t remember reading where Jesus said, “Love your neighbor, unless he’s a different color from you or his ancestors came from a different country.” This is a painfully obvious thing to say, but those 14 white dudes just don’t seem to get it, so I wish I could say it directly to them.

  3. So needed in these days of judgements and proclamations by men who have blinded themselves from the obvious. Donald Trump is so far from being a Christian leader that it is incomprehensible anyone is still thinking he is. Perhaps he is the one they have been looking for… The AntiChrist?

  4. Was Jesus a Social Justice Warrior?
    NO!!! He was a sin warrior ( and still is)!!!
    There is a huge difference in the two. With sin, you can’t be considered a victim (by God’s standards). Social justice uses victim-hood as an excuse for sin. Jesus never excused sin and let those he encountered play the victim. Everyone has accountability with God.

    • Mr E.

      JP tries to re-imagine and re-define every important word in our language. He doesnt know that ‘Justice’ actually means ‘to get what you deserve’.

      Jesus administers Justice. He is the Judge, and he can only be Just. Throwing the word ‘social’ into is so ridiculous. God gives one, and only one, ‘right’ to his creation…’the right to become a Child of God.’

      As sinners, we all ‘deserve’ death. There is no such thing as deserving a ‘right’ to health care, ‘right’ to housing, ‘right’ to a college education… etc.

      JP conflates Communistic Govt (& no sovereign borders) with personal compassion, generosity, hospitality, outreach. Very unbiblical. When you ‘force’ someone to act a certain way, where is the ‘love’? Even God didn’t do that to his creation, he gave us a Free Will ‘choice’. ‘I love you, will you love me?’ –Jesus.

      JPs (quasi Christian) Progressive politics are controlling, legalistic, and unloving.

    • You are completely missing the point.
      Please read the following and tell me who the sinner is?

      The Parable of the Good Samaritan
      25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
      26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
      27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
      28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
      29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
      30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
      36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
      37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

      Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

      THAT is an example of social justice. The Good Samaritan in his day was considered the scum of the earth. People avoided Samaritans because they were the despised enemies of the Jews. Yet where listeners would have expected a Jew to be the hero of Jesus’ story, instead they would have been shocked to hear that it is a Samaritan.

      The Samaritan represents anyone who is DIFFERENT. And that very person, the one who was shunned, is the person who showed compassion and love for the stranger.

  5. John P. This main post is one of your best efforts. Most Mainline Christians and even many evangelicals like the Southern Baptists are kicking “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” squarely in the groin. I wonder how John MacArthur’s brass testicles feel now.

    I especially loved the following article in “The Washington Post,” wherein the white author of the article views this statement as a racist document and an excellent example of the spiritual blindness that pervades Fundieland today:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-impossible-to-separate-social-justice-from-the-christian-gospel/2018/09/10/26764628-b528-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html?utm_term=.3eae8dfe155b

    You folks know where to find me out on the web. Just click on the green icon next to this message.

  6. Most of your remarks in this post are aimed at the signers of the statement instead of the statement itself. So, I want to refute your assessment of (some of the men); then I want to discuss the critique you did make of the statement. Finally, I want to show how there are some inconsistencies between this post and some of your other posts.

    “the writers position themselves as authorized by Divinity in these weighty and urgent matters.”

    Which part of the statement gives you this impression and what do you mean by “authorized by Divinity”? I think the writers of the statement think they are giving the correct Biblical interpretation of the issue under consideration. But certainly you think your interpretation is correct, too. But I don’t think you claim to be “authorized by Divinity”.

    “Fourteen men.
    At Herb’s House Coffee shop.
    In Texas.
    Sounds super spiritual, don’t it?
    Sounds like exactly the place to be hearing revelation from the Almighty on matters of equality, sexuality, diversity.”

    Well, if the Almighty is going to reveal himself, I think he can do it in any place he likes and there seems to be a history of him doing it in places that might not be the most glamorous. After all, what good has ever come from Nazareth? Your implication that there is something about Texas that precludes it as a location in which God will reveal himself is astoundingly arrogant. Furthermore, it was written in Texas, but not all of these guys are in Texas. For example, John MacArthur and Phil Johnson are in California (the bluest of blue states), James White is in Phoenix and Vodie Baucham is in Uganda.

    But, nearly every one of the 14 original signers (maybe all of them) don’t actually think that there in ongoing revelation from God, so this point you’re trying to make is nonsense. None of them (that I know of) even think that God is currently revealing anything that they could hear (which is why their affirmations and denials are based on scripture).

    “Fourteen (predominately white) dudes over 50, sitting around”

    Yes, they are predominately white dudes. To my knowledge, there are three black guys (Baucham, Darrell Harrison, Craig Mitchell) assuming the rest are white guys, this gives 11/14=.78 white guys. Sure, it’s a little higher than the national average (which according to wikipedia is about .66) but 10/15 would be less than the national average. But why should their whiteness automatically disqualify them from making statements on race? You’re white and you write about race, why should I listen to you? Especially when I can find black guys who disagree with you? This seems to be the standard that you are demanding from others.

    “And here’s the real kicker: these same 14 dudes, are among the most ardent supporters of this President and his Administration.”

    This is demonstrably false. I mean, it is just totally wrong. I’ll mention some of the information I was able to find:

    John MacArthur said he was going to vote for Donald Trump, not because he likes Trump, but because he thinks he is better than Clinton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN0IGHg0rms). You might disagree with his assessment (as do I), but this hardly makes him an “ardent” supporter. (I’ll assume Phil Johnson is on the same page here, but I’m willing to admit if someone shows me I’m wrong.)

    Here is James White on Trump (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBghEEHPHBM), he didn’t even vote for Trump.

    Here is Josh Buice on Trump (http://www.deliveredbygrace.com/why-donald-trumps-christianity-is-not-offensive/). It’s hard to read this and get the impression that he is an ardent supported of Trump. (Read the article, not just the title).

    Vodie Baucham describes Trump as “he wicked, godless, profane, unscrupulous, blowhard con artist, whose political philosophy changes with the wind” (http://www.gospelapplied.com/voddie-baucham-on-never-trump/). Again, not an “ardent” supporter.

    Darrell Harrison said he cannot and will not support Trump (http://blackconservative360.blogspot.com/2016/03/darrell-b-harrison-why-i-cannot-and.html). Again, not a supporter and certainly not an “ardent” one.

    I’m guessing there are some who *kind of* support Trump (e.g. consider Tom Buck https://twitter.com/TomBuck/status/1037719544230498305), but this is not “ardent” support. Probably there are a few ardent supporters among the 14, but there are lots who are not.

    Thus, not only is this part of a larger ad. hom. logical fallacy, it is factually incorrect. I don’t know where you got your information from; most of the material I pulled was from before the election, but it is hard to see how their opinions would have changed in the last two years. But maybe you have some updated information on the guys I quoted?

    “If these fourteen men were being at all honest with themselves and with us, here’s the real statement that they’d have made this week:
    We are terrified.”

    First, why not read the statement to understand what they are really thinking? The main focus of these men is to defend the Gospel. You might disagree with what they think the Gospel is, but at least read what they wrote instead of trying to mind read. This is a dishonest tactic.

    “We’ve made our bed politically”
    See the above.

    “We will do anything to resist equality, curb diversity, and keep marginalized people where they are—even betray the very heart of the Gospels.”
    This part is just silly. Voddie Bacham moved to Uganda. Do you think he went there to escape black people? John MacArthur was arrested during the civil rights area in Mississippi. I could go on, but this is so factually wrong (and you offer no support of this ridiculous claim) that it seems very dishonest.

    Since you didn’t actually tell us which parts of the statement you disagree with, I will try to read between the lines of the rest of your post.

    You use the passage in Luke 4. Which parts of the statement does this contradict? And are you going to ignore the texts where Jesus calls people to repentance?

    The gospel is not about social justice – social justice is an effect of the Gospel, but it is not the Gospel. The Gospel is that there is no way to make ourselves right with God; that God judges the secret sins of our hearts and the only way to avoid this is to humble yourself before God and acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross to take way your sins and give you his righteousness.

    You mention the sermon on the mount. Fine, let’s talk about it. Jesus says that those who lust are guilty of adultery and those who are angry with their brother are subject to the punishment due to murderers. He taught that we should hate our sin so much that we should cut our hands and eyes off to avoid going to hell. He warns that there will be many people who will be cast away from him because they did not do the will of his Father in heaven.

    Yes, the sermon on the mount tells us how to behave, but it is a burden we are incapable of carrying and it is impossible (in our fallen state) to fulfill the law in the way that we are required. Jesus fulfills the requirements of the law for us and unless we acknowledge that, we are going to die and go to hell.

    Now, which parts – specifically – of the statement contradict anything in the sermon on the mount?

  7. Jesus sought justification through the vertical plane – between God and man, which when given, produces justice here on earth by one’s obedience to God. Social justice seeks a horizontal component of justice, that between men alone, which then hopes for justification through the vertical plane, between man and God. But that system will not work. God doesn’t justify a person based upon our efforts, but upon grace, through faith in His Son alone, and not works (earthly justice). Social justice and Heavenly justice are two very different things.

    • Faith without works is dead.

      James 2:14-26 New King James Version (NKJV)
      Faith Without Works Is Dead
      14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

      18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [d]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [e]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

      25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

      26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

  8. Beautifully stated, John. I sure love the Jesus in the scriptures! It’s a challenge for me to live up to those directives. Thanks for your work on earth, John. You certainly have the gift of discernment.

  9. I think I will just stick with the original statement:

    “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    They might want to do the same, especially since they deny “that anything else, whether works to be performed or opinions to be held, can be added to the gospel without perverting it into another gospel.”

    Their own words condemn them.

  10. I’m far from being a supporter of Trump, though I pray for him and honor him as my national leader, as I did Obama, as scripture teaches us to. One of these “old white men” is my pastor, and is not over 50 years of age and is friends with a black man that was also a part of that meeting. My pastor has not mentioned any support for Trump during the elections and has not justified any behavior, but instead takes the time he has in the pulpit to preach the word of God, faithfully, verse by verse, expounding the gospel of Christ. Quite frankly, you seem to preach more of your emotions than from properly handling scripture, which has lead you to make some slanderous claims about these men. Deal with the issues of the statement, and respond to the statement with scripture. If you can prove by scripture where these men err, I gaurantee they will change what needs to be changed, if anything needs to be changed.

  11. Spot on! What I’m calling The “Forgotten” Gospel of Jesus has been redefined as meaning what Jesus didn’t say or do with evangelical zeal that began as emphasis on the salvation gospel, including hindsight reinterpretation of the life of Jesus, and in today’s evangelical dogma requires crushing the gospel Jesus came to share to protect their power and status.

  12. As I mentioned in a previous comment, your claim that “these same 14 dudes, are among the most ardent supporters of this President” is demonstrably false (and I provided evidence).

    So is your assertion that they thought they were “hearing revelation from the Almighty” (e.g. John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, James White, Vodie Baucham are all reformed and don’t think there is on going revelation).

    You also said that they are “Fourteen…dudes over 50”. Again, they are not all over 50 as is easy to see with a quick google search.

    “These men, renting out their pulpits to shill for an amoral predator like Donald Trump”. Again, this is demonstrable false for the same reasons I listed above.

    Since so much of your post is based on these inaccuracies, I think the only honest thing to do is to revise your post. Hopefully that is what you have been working on this past week (since my last comment).

  13. Actually, what Jesus was preaching was repentance and faith. But just as you are ignorant of the gospel and its message, you (falsely) assume and assert that the creators of the Statement are “shills” for Trump, when the fact is that many, if not most of them, are active critics of the president.

  14. Another judgemental Trump bashing using the Miley Cyrus definition of social justice.

    Unfortunately for J.P., this administration is doing more to pull the lower and middle “class” of citizenry out of poverty with JOBS. JOBS give a person self-worth versus being cast into the welfare state of control and thst, my friends, is the real sin.

    What used to be done by churches and other fraternal organizations has been hijacked by big brother and the welfare state wherby manipulation and fraud can be perpetrated for political gain- under the banner of social justice.

    The time-tested schemes of creating problems with ready made solutions in hand when the folk cry “do something” has corrupted and has been the cry of SJW because in the end, they do not want to really get involved… They have been programmed to believe that it is the governments job.

  15. Oh look, another mental defectives site ….. yes, America has a cancer killing it …. the mooks like pavlovitz and her ilk
    ….
    But, you loons can keep hating the Real Americans…. as YOU live the easy life that WE made possible for You …….

    You mooks should just say THANK YOU to US and go back to your pitiful self imposed existence

    • Why should we “keep hating the Real Americans…” when they are supposedly providing us with: “the easy life that WE made possible for You …….”? That’s be like killing the golden goose, yeah?

  16. I have often used the parable of the good Samaritan as an example to my friends who are extremely fundamental in their beliefs. The Good Samaritan represents those who are DIFFERENT. And the example Jesus is giving us is to show us that the Good Samaritan, who in his day was considered the scum of the earth (you could replace that with Muslim, gay, atheist, transgender, liberal, conservative, etc.) is the very person who helped the stranger.

    He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
    36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
    37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    How can anyone argue with that?

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