Social Justice and the Gospel: 3 – Justice Requires Disciplined Biblical Thinking


Unlike the world, the Christian is not allowed to take shortcuts in thinking when examining issues and coming to conclusions and calls to action. We are not allowed to take justice into our own hands, like the rioters and looters we have seen in the wake of the George Floyd killing. There is no logical or justice-based connection between what happened to George Floyd and destroying privately owned business or stealing goods from privately owned companies or murdering people in the vicinity of the riots and protests. The rioting and looting and murders are complete non-sequiturs. And even if one says the rioting and looting and murders were not only in response to the George Floyd incident, but also in response to historic widespread police brutality or racist-based policing, even then destroying privately owned businesses and stealing goods from privately owned companies and murdering people are complete non-sequiturs.

But we expect such thinking and action from unbelievers, for they are operating out of darkness. As people of the light, however, such thinking and action should not exist within our churches. If there is anything true within Social Justice, then we ought to be able to find it in the Bible in some legitimate way, and the call to action ought to make sense in comparison to the sin and injustice being addressed. There are illegitimate ways to tie things to the Bible, such as stating that because Jesus turned over tables in the temple and destroyed private property that angry rioters can do the same. We do not want that type of Biblical exposition undergirding our pursuit of Social Justice. Superficial and unsound Biblical arguments are, in essence, taking God’s name in vain and making Him say things He isn’t saying.

In my prior post, I examined the doctrine of ethnic diversity in the local church body. I chose that topic intentionally to demonstrate how easy it is to think a concept is Biblical (that neighborhood demographics should dictate congregational diversity) when in fact it is not. I presented a deductive argument, which means that if the premises of the argument are true, then the conclusion is necessarily true. There is no way the conclusion can be false if the premises are true. Here is a reminder of the argument presented:

Premises

  • The Bible says God will save from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Revelation 5: 9).
  • The Bible does not say that God will save an equal number of people from each tribe, tongue, people and nation.
  • The Bible does not say that God will save an equal percentage of people from each tribe, tongue, people and nation.

Conclusions

  • The Bible does not say how many people God will save from each tribe, tongue, people and nation.
  • Because the Bible does not say how many people God will save from each tribe, tongue, people and nation, we cannot say with Biblical certainty what the ethnic makeup of a particular local church body should be.

In light of this deductive argument, if someone wants to debate the ethnic makeup of a particular congregation, they are leaving the realm of deductive Biblical argumentation and are either expressing their own opinions or are inferring things from Scripture that may or may not be true.

Understanding the type of argument being presented is essential to properly responding to the various claims of Social Justice Advocates within the church. If there are explicit Biblical commands to do something or not to do something that are being ignored by the church, then indeed repentance is in order and we should thank the Social Justice movement for pointing such things out. But if Social Justice Advocates are prescribing actions based on their own opinions or inferences from Scripture that are debatable, then they ought to be recognized as such. The Christian is under no obligation to repent of a sin or injustice deriving from man’s opinion or a debatable inferential argument. We should repent of real sins based on God’s real word.

It is no small task to control one’s mind and think in a disciplined manner that is faithful to Scripture, especially when the subject matter is difficult. The Social Justice movement is raising issues and calls to action that are of a complex nature, and the current state of the American church today has trouble dealing with issues far less complex. Private biblical illiteracy and public pulpits that provide less than robust teaching have put many people in a position to not deal well in turbulent times such as this. But whether the times are good or bad, we are always required to compare all claims to the word of God. We are to accept what comports with Scripture and to reject that which does not. We must always let Scripture speak to us, and we ought not to be the ones telling Scripture what to say.

As we continue to work our way through various Social Justice topics, let us keep this admonition close to our hearts:

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority. (Colossians 2: 6 – 10)

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