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Social Justice

 

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By Gerry Wagoner

I'm going to take a risk in this article. You see, there is a danger in talking about social justice-if you aren't blatantly for it you are branded as being against justice. That is the power of the position.

"Social Justice" is currently becoming the soup du jour of our progressive millennial world. The problem is there has not been enough critical reflection on it. And, some folks are pursuing it in a way that promotes a utopian collectivism. More about that later

It is also an ill-defined term. There have been whole books written about it that never defined it. All that some people know is that it is a "moral imperative" to promote it but they are helpless to explain why it is a moral imperative.

I would like to look at three aspects of this growing phenomenon called social justice. They are: Helping the Poor, Utopian Social Justice, and Religious Liberty Implications. Let's look first at a positive aspect of social justice.

Helping the Poor

Outreach in the Christian life is not optional. It is not saying, "Hey I have some extra time, let's do something nice for someone. It'll make God feel good." No.

Helping the poor is not only a legitimate part of being a Believer; it can be a barometer of compassion for us individually. Let us have compassion on the poor/oppressed and let us demonstrate that compassion through action. But who are the poor that we should help?

Right here I need to make a distinction. God does not look favorably on all the poor. That could sound blasphemous to a modern social-justice devotee. Yet it is true. God does not look favorably upon the lazy poor. God does not look favorably upon the disobedient poor. God looks favorably upon the humble poor. Helping them is something we should be about individually. And that is different from the utopian pseudo-political social justice phenomenon that is currently sweeping the earth. Very different.

Utopian Social Justice

The utopian tendency in man's mind is very strong. After all, the original temptation was a utopian one. By eating the forbidden fruit Eve thought to attain a higher level of divine enlightenment. She could be as God. Problem is, she was already in Paradise and had nowhere to go but down.

Since then, mankind has often sought to create a wonder-world where people's needs are few, their desires limited, and there is no motive for war or oppression. In such a fairy world there would be instinctive harmony between man and nature (basis for environmentalism). To social justice zealots, the highest goal, indeed the Babel Tower of their socialist dreamland is the egalitarian redistribution of all goods and wealth. This is code language for Communism, friends. And one-ism.

Modern social justice is a rallying cause for one-ist ideologies. What do I mean by that? One-ism is the belief that all distinctions must be eliminated, including creation and Creator. One-ism worships and serves creation as divine. Through enlightenment we discover that we are also divine. I repeat-you radically redefine yourself — you become divine through enlightenment. And if you are divine-you have to be just. Are you starting to see the connection? Since everyone shares in the "divine power," if we unite we can bring the world to a new level of happiness and peace. That is the utopian vision. Think you haven't rubbed elbows with one-ism? Let me give you its oft-cited mantra-"I'm spiritual, but not religious."

True to this vision, activists (even in the church) want us to correct every problem out there. In their determination to create a utopian world, utopian one-ists say we have to apply their brand of justice to:

Health care
Abortion
Tax Increases
Gun Control
Feminism
Racism
Carbon emissions
Homosexuality
Welfare
and others

Liberal Protestantism has largely embraced this agenda as its central message. But the Bible doesn't say this. The Bible does not say it is our duty to fix every problem out there. In fact, some problems that we experience are consequences-tied to choices we have made. God allows these consequences and gives us the Gospel that we might experience freedom from sin, and rest in the hope of His promise to "make all things new" on That Day (Rev. 21:5). The church's main message must be the Everlasting Gospel, accompanied by the pragmatic warning of His imminent return. As believers we look forward to a better city and a better country, "in the renewal of all things" (Matthew 19:28). The New Testament is stunningly silent on any plan for governmental or social action. The apostles launched no social reform movement. Instead, they preached the Gospel of Christ, planted Christian churches and took care of their own. Our task is to follow Christ's command and the example of the apostles.

Justice in the Bible is s lot less sexy than what we hear today. It manifests itself as concern for the poor, primarily the poor in spirit. It quite often refers to the people of God oppressed by their enemies.

And that brings us to the fact that the Bible is absolutely clear that injustice will not exist forever. There is a perfect social order coming, but it is not of this world. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ in its fullness spells the end of injustice and every cause and consequence of human sin. We have much work to do in this world, but true justice will be achieved only by the consummation of God's purposes and the perfection of God's own judgment on That Day.

Religious Liberty Implications

In the wake of communism's history and collapse, the terms "Marxism, socialism, and collectivism" became unsellable and a "new and improved" substitute was needed. Enter the term "social justice" which is socialism in Skinny Jeans™.

The unbroken line from The Communist Manifesto to its contemporary adherents is the belief that economic inequality is the monstrous injustice of the capitalist system, which must be replaced by an ideal of "social justice"-a "classless" society created by the elimination of all differences in wealth and "power."

It is thus concluded that it is the choices of the masses ("the market") that create the inequalities of fortune and fame – and the only way to correct those "injustices" is to control those choices (restrict liberty).

To further the illusions of social justice, it cannot be conceded that the "haves" are responsible for what they have or that the "have nots" are responsible for what they have not. When I was young, men of achievement were admired for their ambition, risk taking, and work ethic. Today, the class-envy ideas coming from Washington causes successful individuals to be regarded as "privileged" at best and dishonorable at worst. The flip side of this is the insistence that the "have nots" are in fact, "the underprivileged" who have been denied their due by an unjust society. The intrusion of this thinking opens the door for state redistribution as the logical adjudicator of resources. Two ominous things happen at this point. Social justice assumes a façade of religious authority and the role of the state is elevated to oppressor. It is the point at which theory ends and history begins.

The goal above is the project of a growing number of leftist legal theorists including Cass Sunstein and Catherine MacKinnon, the latter opining that the "law of [substantive] equality and the law of freedom of expression [for all] are on a collision course in this country." Wow. Such statements rightly energize a lot of opposition, for they are tied to a diminished God and acceleration of state power. Make no mistake "freedom of expression for all" includes religious freedom. When you kill off God and elevate the role of the state, social justice is born and the result is an enforced love of one-ism. What is "socialized" is state-controlled.

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In summary, the term social justice is not Biblical. Having compassion on the humble poor and the poor in spirit is very much Biblical. God's justice does not require a forced redistribution of wealth through auto developed temporal social justice. It is communism in code, and socialism in Skinny Jeans ®. Because of that, I believe the risk I took in writing this article is worth it.

GerryW

Gerry Wagoner is the president of WRI Applications LLC, a commercial & industrial roofing company.  He is also the founder and director of One Achord, a counseling ministry operated by him and his wife, Nancy.  The Wagoners have two grown sons and live in Piqua, Ohio.

 

 
 

9 Comments

  1. If we just stick to what Jesus said: 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.

    37 Then these righteous ones will reply, Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?

    40 And the King will say, I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[c] you were doing it to me!

    41 Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.[d] 42 For I was hungry, and you didnt feed me. I was thirsty, and you didnt give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didnt invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didnt give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didnt visit me.

    44 Then they will reply, Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?

    45 And he will answer, I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.
    The writer says that God does not look favorably on all poor.. where does he find this in the Bible? Jesus reserved his most scathing comments for the church leaders. Those that were not poor. And they certainly were not humble..the writer wants the poor to be humble but not the wealthy…From all the things that Jesus said about it being very hard for a rich man to enter heaven and how he called those church leaders hypocrites then he tells his followers to feed, clothe, give drink and visit those that are poor in especially poor in spirit.
    This essay smacks of Ayn Randianism. As Adventists we are told that the day is coming when it will be too late to give of our means. Our money won't be worth anything and it certainly will not save us. But we are to be liberal and that means generous as long as we have the chance. All this talk about communism is way beyond silly. We are not warned about communism or even social justice we are warned about those that are determined to turn this nation into a theocracy. The disconnect between those that proclaim they are Christian and at the same time refuse to behave Christ like and those that are poor and downtrodden is getting wider and wider. EGW warns against pride and selfishness and hanging onto our material wealth. From all her writings I see only Social Justice and that is what Jesus taught.

  2. Here is a chart that really shows us what is going on here in the USA. There is no socialism. There is no fairness or ideal. All one needs to do is take a good look at Revelation and see what God has in store for the wealthy…those that are not humble.

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/Wealth-Inequality-in-America-viral-video-Politizane/?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl1|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D278339

  3. Fabian says:

    The writer did not risk anything in coming up with his own definition of social justice. Too bad it is so grossly off the mark and so disconnected from Biblical truth. In spite of his premise, the writer seems more utopian and naive than the liberals he disdains. The Red Scare was 90 years ago and the Communist witch hunt ended 70 years ago. Perhaps no one informed the writer that the Cold War ended and that Russians now democratically elect their leaders. The writer does not think much of Christ's radical message and the thousands of bible texts regarding the physically poor (not just poor in spirit). Jesus didn't multiply loaves of bread and fish only because his listeners were spiritually discouraged. The writer uses the term "liberal" as if a worldview that encourages serving others is a negative. By differentiating between certain kinds of poor people and calling them lazy, the writer condemns others who are less fortunate through his own self righteousness. If Jesus would have judged the poor He fed, or the blind He healed, or the prostitute He restored, He would've had no ministry or gospel to proclaim. When He asked the father, "Thy Kingdom come," he meant here on Earth in very tangible ways. That's the piece of the puzzle that eludes those whose superiority complexes, because they are the Haves, leads them to judge those who are the Have nots. If equality isn't justice and if if justice isn't freedom and if freedom isn't Christ's radical teachings, what would be the point in following Him. If the world's problems will only be solved when Christ comes back, what's the point of practicing Christianity now?

  4. Gerry Wagoner says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful remarks, friends.

    The Bible has much to say about the poor, and the different causes of why anyone can be, or become, poor. The Scriptures are also quite clear about the different manner in which those who are not poor should respond to the true poor (where poverty is the result of disability or lack of opportunity) on one hand, and the self-inflicted poor (where poverty is the result of laziness or irresponsibility) on the other.

    "The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. (Proverbs 13:4 KJV).
    "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty" (Proverbs 28:19).

    Some people are experiencing poverty because of unresolved moral failure in their life. Think I'm making this up? Think again and think aright. "For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread;And an adulteress* will prey upon his precious life" (Proverbs 6:26). I have seen this chilling Biblical principle played out in technicolor in people's lives more times than I care to speak of. The solution is to Biblically resolve the moral sin that is causing financial loss, so that person can experience freedom and peace again.

    There are many different social levels and most Americans have been in many different. Levels. I have. The problem now is that many people want to stay on lower levels and profit at the expense and effort of others. That is sin – identified in the Bible as sloth.

    Redistribution is a misnomer – wealth is not distributed, it is earned by effort and producing things that have value (things that people want).

    When I started my business in 1984, I had to pawn a most precious thing to me, my grandfather's Winchester 12 shotgun that he gave to me before he died. I pawned it so I could have money to pay the electric bill during that first hard winter. I needed to take care of my family – that's what a man does. In the coming years, all that hard work and sacrifice paid off. The idea that we should look resentfully at what other people have is completely foreign to me.

    As to helping others, I'm a fan. I know some of you are too and I appreciate that. In the 1990's after resolving our own issues in marriage, a few individuals began coming to my wife and I for help in their marriage (funny how that works :)). We finally realized that there was a work to do in this field and we said two words to the Lord. "I'm available." People began coming to us. We added on to our house in 2003 in order to have room to minister to people. We have counseled well over a hundred couples in the last ten years, and dozens of pre-marital couples. I was also convicted early on that the Lord never intended for people to have to pay $90 an hour to resolve issues in their life. For that reason, we don't charge for our ministry.

    Peace unto you,

    G

  5. Doug Yowell says:

    I always find it ironic that so many of those who are quick to support the government's mandatory social policies as a natural expression of Biblical moral mandates are quicker to decry any governmental attempt to legislate the Biblical mandate to protect the unborn. Others argue that marriage cannot be defended by appealing to Biblical morality. I guess only certain kinds of social justice morality can be legislated?

  6. KPAB says:

    Gerry Wagoner's should be ashamed to sign his name to this absurdity. Let him spend his time separating the deserving and non-deserving poor. Fortunately, God is not limited by the generosity or lack thereof, of Wagoner's ilk.

  7. daniel rodela says:

    Gary- many people have sacrificed more than a weapon to attempt to achieve the American Dream. It was Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall that said that nobody has gotten to where they are by solely pulling themselves by their own bootstraps. It's very common to demonize the poor as lazy and to ignore how those at the top profit from the poor…and yet they are praised. Actually, your interpretation of the Everlasting Gospel falls short. Gospel evangelism as George Knight puts it, is to get people maladjusted to a culture that stands judged by the cross and found wanting; maladjusted to a culture that calls violence and illicit sex entertainment; maladjusted to a culture that pays tens of millions to ballplayers but puts elementary teachers on a starvation wage. To this I would add, maladjusted to a culture that focuses on economic pragmatism and ignores the fact that they have a duty to the poor regardless if they are always with us. We as Christians should be standing for things that are not only true but also important for the times in which we live just like Jesus did on His Sermon on the Mount. Its true that while on Earth the Church can only offer band-aid solutions but we must be faithful servants and balance Revelation 14 with Matthew 25 while we await His return.

 
 
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