“Specifically, we are deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality. The Bible’s teaching on each of these subjects 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.” — The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel
The topic of so-called “social justice” has exploded on the evangelical scene in recent months. There has been a subtle yet dangerous conversation growing amongst evangelical leaders, including many conservative evangelical pastors and theologians for whom I have great respect, concerning the issue of social justice—tying it perilously close to the very essence of the gospel itself.
In some ways, this has been going on for several years, with leaders like Tim Keller and Russell Moore being on the cutting edge of evangelical compromise with progressivist ideology. But the roots have spread into almost every corner of the evangelical world of late, making the issue of social justice something significant enough, and often complicated and confusing enough, that a few strong, conservative men have found it necessary to take a stand for the pure gospel.
A few of those men, including Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Josh Buice, and Phil Johnson, recently met in Dallas to compose a statement of official affirmations and denials, in the format of the Chicago statements, addressing their primary concerns and the dangers of the social justice movement, the biblical truth of the gospel, and the proper Christian response to this growing movement. This will probably become a very important statement (already being dubbed by some “the Dallas Statement”—I hope that sticks), and it will certainly separate out those who are willing to stand for the truth of God’s Word over against man’s word, and those who are willing to reinterpret God’s Word for the sake of “respectability” and having a seat at the secular table.
The one critique I have, at this point, is the way they use the term “racism” in article XIV, with little definition or clarification. This is a word that’s been weaponized to make Christians, white people, and men, feel guilty for being so, and thus required to apologize perpetually for sins they didn’t commit in order to atone for their existence in a condition they didn’t choose (and if you have the combination of all three—Christian white man—you’re probably the literal spawn of Satan). Anyway, racism is a rather muddled word these days, so some clarification would have been helpful. For a good discussion of the issue of racism and racial “reconciliation” or harmony, see Doug Wilson’s book of essays entitled Black and Tan.
For more information on the issue of social justice from a biblical perspective, I’d recommend this series from John MacArthur, and this article from Religious Affections. Religious Affections also has some links to other relevant articles in that post; I promise if you follow the links you will find a goldmine of information on the Christian perspective on culture, cultural engagement, and related issues. You may also find this article helpful, in which Josh Buice explains why he partook in the project and attached his name and reputation to the statement. Doug Wilson has posted his thoughts on the statement and related issure here. And, lastly, I have a post coming up soon in which I’ll point you to a number of articles that deal well with the question specifically of the church’s responsibility to the poor.
There will, undoubtedly, be a great deal of criticism aimed at this statement and the men who’ve written it. I’m sure there are some critiques that will be legitimate. It would have been beneficial if they had gone deeper into several of the issues addressed; but overall, the statement is well-written as far as it goes, and it will be helpful in what it does touch on. There have already been accusations of divisiveness hurled at these men, and certainly there will be some division as a result of this statement and the surrounding conversation—after all, doctrine divides precisely because truth is, by definition, exclusive.
Yet I’m thankful for the stand these men have taken, and I think this statement, despite any potential shortcomings, will still serve as an important document to spark conversation and reflection, and give valuable expression to the biblical worldview that many Christians know in their hearts to be true, but would have a difficult time articulating themselves had not wise men come together to clearly defend the purity of the gospel in an age when believers want their ears tickled and their feelings validated.
The other unfortunate reality you may notice is the lack of any more of the prominent, respected pastors and theologians as drafters or signers. The sad reason for this absence is that these very same prominent and respected Christian leaders are the ones who are giving in to the compromise, and leading the slide toward progressive, soft, trendy, “respectable” Christianity. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many Christian leaders have not signed the statement. They are the reason a statement like this is even necessary in the first place.
I’ll come back to update this post as I learn more. There’s also now, due to popular demand (myself being one of those who requested a copy to share), a PDF copy of the statement available for download to save, share, post at your church, etc.
I encourage you to take the time to read this important statement, and, if you’re a pastor and you believe you’re able, to add your name to it.
“Our hope is the clear sounding of the gospel. We must be heralds of truth—not political ideas or cultural trends… Far too often people are unwilling to stand for the gospel publicly because they are afraid of rebuke, criticism, and the loss of support for their ministry. Many people are willing to work long hours on their ministry strategy in order to protect their brand and their image, but they’re unwilling to subject themselves to heavy criticism that could potentially cause their brand to lose support in the end. Interestingly enough, Jude never says to protect your ministry strategy. The calling for Christians is to contend for the gospel. Jesus never promised us an easy life without trouble. In fact, he promised us much worse.” — Josh Buice