At recent event called Compassion and Justice: The Kingdom at the Margins, part of the City Labs Series, author and Redeemer Presbyterian Church pastor Tim Keller was asked about the controversial anti-social justice statement signed by thousands of Christians.

The lead signer was theologian John MacArthur. The “For the Sake of Christ and His Church: The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” stated, “We deny that the postmodern ideologies derived from intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory are consistent with biblical teaching … 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.”

The statement has drawn strong reactions from a number of notable leaders, including Dr. Russell Moore, who said, “In almost every case, we are not really talking about ‘social justice’ and we are not even talking about social engagement broadly. We are almost always talking about race. I don’t even want to concede to the conceit that what we are talking about is a broader issue of social engagement because again, that is almost never the case.”

In a clip filmed at the City Lab event, Keller first explained the idea of speech act theory, saying, “You can’t just analyze words by what they say, you also have to analyze words by what they do.” He also said that the church is becoming increasingly polarized, and warned that churches arele becoming extensions of political parties.

He continued, ”It’s not so much what [the statement] says, but what it does. It’s trying to marginalize people talking about race and justice, it’s trying to say, ‘You’re really not biblical’ and it’s not fair in that sense … If somebody tried to go down [the statement] with me, ‘Will you agree with this, will you agree with this,’ I would say, ‘You’re looking at the level of what it says and not the level of what it’s doing. I do think what it’s trying to do is it’s trying to say, ‘Don’t make this emphasis, don’t worry about the poor, don’t worry about the injustice, that’s really what it’s saying.’ Even if I could agree with most of it … it’s what it’s doing that I don’t like.”