American cities are on fire, and police are being shot while trying to keep the peace.
“Conservative” evangelical thought-leaders, with their churches still closed, are marching along with radical leftists in support of a mass paranoid delusion, the vicious lie that most people and most institutions in America do not sufficiently care about the wellbeing of black people.
In large part, the mainstream of the Christian movement in America has bought into this new, false religion. It is “social justice” as Christianity.
Here we briefly present the main argument Christians should use against this social justice trend in order to better defend Western Civilization—and in order to preserve the gospel itself.
The argument is simple, but it is one that far too few voices are making.
Social justice (as the term is treated today) is not merely a “distraction” from the gospel. The idea is antithetical to the gospel. Where social justice is accepted, the gospel is twisted.
Here is why: The gospel depends on the concept of justice. If you turn the concept of justice on its head and accept an inversion of the proper concept, then that lie will change your understanding of God and the gospel.
That is exactly what the advocates of “social justice” are doing today. Their concept of justice is incompatible with the God of the Bible. Briefly, let’s see why this is the case.
Whenever you speak of justice, there are at least two parties involved: the executor of justice, and the recipient. A theory of justice will provide guidance to both parties to understand what they ought to be given or receive, and why.
A theory of justice answers two questions:
“To whom is due what?”
“Who owes it?”
There are two dominant theories of justice in the world today. The predominant theory among the culture is the need-based theory. It says that you answer the above two questions based on needs.
On the need-based theory, if someone needs something, then it’s owed to them. That’s justice. From whom? From those who don’t need it. From those who have it in abundance—from the able.
You may recognize this theory within the Marxist slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” If you possess great ability, then justice means we take from you and give to those who have need.
The Marx-approved view of justice is what you find among the cultural left today and among many Christians. Timothy Keller is probably the most prominent evangelical advocate of this view of justice. In his book Generous Justice he says, “If you do not actively and generously share your resources with the poor, you are a robber. You are not living justly.”
On this view, the failure to share is robbery. It’s theft. It’s unjust. Keller makes a similar claim in his article The Gospel and the Poor, saying, “To fail to share what you have is not just uncompassionate but unfair, unjust.”
Keller is operating off of this need-based theory of justice. On his view, the failure to share with those in need is an injustice. (“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”)
Keller's view of justice contradicts the justice of God in the gospel. Let’s look at why this is the case.
One of the most important distinctions in the gospel is the distinction between justice and grace—the distinction between what God owes to you and what he does not owe to you but gives to you freely. We might call it the distinction between justice and charity, the way we usually use the modern word charity.
Think about what the needs-based theory of justice would mean if we were to apply it to God and the gospel. What does Paul say about justice and the gospel in Romans? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As a sinner, do you want justice from God, or do you want grace from God? If you want justice from God, he will give it to you: eternal wrath in hell. If you want grace from God, the only way you will get it is to prostrate yourself before him, by faith, and admit that you don’t deserve it, even though you need it. That’s the biblical picture that Paul paints of the gospel.
This needs-based view of justice—this Marxist view of justice that says, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”—turns the gospel on its head. It makes the God of the Bible out to be a moral monster: a greedy miser.
God is infinitely able. There’s nothing he can’t do. And we sinners are infinitely needy. There’s nothing we don’t need from him. Are we going to go up to him and say: “We need what you’ve got, therefore you owe it to us; hand it over”? You don’t want to do that.
Perhaps some are confused because of thinking only about the mercy of God displayed on the cross. But don’t forget that Jesus rose from the grave and that he’s coming back. On that day when he comes back, he’s not going to give a care about your needs if you try to present them to him as a claim against him.
God’s grace is undeserved. It’s not justice. The only way that you’re going to get what you need from God is by admitting that you don’t deserve it—that you only deserve his wrath, and that your hope is not in him giving you justice, but undeserved grace.
We would go so far as to say that most important thing that Christians need to learn and preach loudly in today’s culture is that needs do not constitute a right. The idea that a need constitutes a right—that a need gives you a just claim against someone else, just because they are able to fulfill that need—is the most dangerous popular threat to the gospel today. It must be done away with.
There can be no compatibility between the worldview taught by Scripture and a worldview that holds that need—as such—constitutes a moral claim.
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
(2 Thess. 3:10b)
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Then compare these ideas to the Timothy Kellers of the world. While Keller (and Antifa, and Black Lives Matter, by the way) are telling you that unequal distribution of wealth in a society is mainly a result of “unjust distribution of opportunities and resources at birth,” and therefore, “to fail to share what you have is not just uncompassionate but unfair, unjust,” just think about what Scripture has to say instead...
“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?
And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?”
“You shall not steal.”
Scripture upholds the principle of private property: Individual people have ownership of that which they produce or are given. Inequality, in itself, is not an evil, nor an indication that some evil has occurred.
We are not morally obligated to end all poverty in the world before ever using our own resources for the things we value most. To disagree with this principle is to side with Judas over Jesus:
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
The idea that needs constitute a right is not merely missing from Scripture—it is refuted by Scripture. If a man embraces the needs-based theory of justice, then he has rejected Scripture. That is the argument we need to be making.
Those who try to combat the social justice trend by saying, “That is a distraction,” or “You are putting too much emphasis on social issues,” are incompetent for this fight.
The problem with the social justice trend is not that it adds to the Bible. The problem is that it rejects the Bible and that it advocates a new and unrecognizable religion while calling it Christianity.
That is the Christian answer to social justice.
If you have been following our argument so far, I want you to ask yourself a question:
How can I help more Christians understand these truths?
It is a matter of urgency. The church needs voices entering on the right side of this battle to protect those who are vulnerable to deception and to stop the social justice preachers from continuing to fleece the flock for their own Judas-like purposes.
You have the knowledge. But it’s what you do AFTER gaining the knowledge that matters. And that’s where most people get stuck.
How do you join into a battle of this kind? To figure this out on your own can feel like quite a puzzle. We know. We have been there.
That's why we want to invite you to get on the phone with us this week.
You’ve taken the time to read this guide, so you’re the kind of person we want to connect with.
This is a 1:1 Planning Session with Cody Libolt. It is specifically for people passionate about combating the social justice trend in the church and who are ready to take action.
Together we will look at the specific message you can be bringing to the world and then walk you through the strategies you can use to get your message out.
Cody will share what he knows, based on what he has learned from advising and working with many writers and communicators, including some of the top voices speaking out against so-called social justice today.
Your voice matters. It's time to get into the battle...