Pastor and author John MacArthur appears to be doubling down on his recent anti-social justice comments. A few weeks ago, he released a blog called “Social Injustice to the Gospel” in which he made the claim, “Over the years, I’ve fought a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel. This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of ‘social justice’ is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.”
Now, MacArthur is the lead signer—so far about 4,400 pastors and leaders have joined him—of a document called “For the Sake of Christ and His Church: The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel.”
Here are some of the most controversial lines:
Early on in the statement, the signers say, “We deny that the postmodern ideologies derived from intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory are consistent with biblical teaching.” The statement also tries to separate the concept of “living justly,” with a biblically prescribed Christian lifestyle: “Implications and applications of the gospel, such as the obligation to live justly in the world, though legitimate and important in their own right, are not definitional components of the gospel.”
They’ve also added a line that seems to imply that changing or reforming laws—presumably to address social injustices—isn’t all that valuable: “We deny that laws or regulations possess any inherent power to change sinful hearts.”
In a section on “Sexuality and Marriage,” the statement says, “We reject ‘gay Christian’ as a legitimate biblical category.” And in a section on Complementarianism, they write, “ In marriage the husband is to lead, love, and safeguard his wife and the wife is to respect and be submissive to her husband in all things lawful. In the church, qualified men alone are to lead as pastors/elders/bishops and preach to and teach the whole congregation.”
When discussing race, the signers say that, “We reject any teaching that encourages racial groups to view themselves as privileged oppressors or entitled victims of oppression. While we are to weep with those who weep, we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.”
They also said this about simply teaching about racism, oppression or injustice: “We emphatically deny that lectures on social issues (or activism aimed at reshaping the wider culture) are as vital to the life and health of the church as the preaching of the gospel and the exposition of Scripture.”
There is a ton to unpack here, but the overarching theme seems pretty clearly aimed at teachers, Christian leaders and churches who are talking about social injustices and have undertaken measures to address injustices.
Purporting to address an alleged shift in evangelical circles away from the biblical gospel towards a false social gospel, the new Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel is driven by people I would like to believe are well-meaning but frankly not at all “getting” what those whom it primarily addresses are saying. That is at best. At worst, it represents a toxic agenda to discredit and undermine godly men and women crying out for biblical social justice, national and ecclesiastical repentance, and meaningful reconciliation.
All of the document’s listed “Initial Signers” are men.
For those interested in knowing the genesis of the #Statementonsocialjustice you can find a short statement outlining how it came to be in the 2nd addendum after the 14th article here https://t.co/gMBMafNbn5
— tom ascol (@tomascol) September 6, 2018
In an amendment to titled “History and Formation,” Tom Ascol says, “The intent of the framers of this statement has been from the beginning to address ideas and doctrines, not people and organizations. Some of these ideas are being promoted from sectors of the evangelical world that we and others have greatly esteemed and respected. We have tried to highlight the views that we find dangerous to and incompatible with the teachings of Scripture by clearly stating what we affirm and what we deny …
“The statement makes no claim of any ecclesiastical authority. It is issued for the purpose of calling attention to and clarifying concerns. We have spoken on these issues with no disrespect or loss of love for our brothers and sisters who disagree with what we have written.”