A new fad is starting to make inroads into the reformed and evangelical world. The fad of “social justice”.
The ideology of “social justice” has long been the preserve of socialists and progressives–folk who believe in omni-competent government and that the duty of the state is to enforce a progressive equality in wealth, health, education, and income. In this context justice means equality of outcome or result: the role of the state, as the institution of justice, is to ensure (usually through the taxation system) that equality is progressively achieved.
The ideology of “social justice”–as contrasted with civil justice and criminal justice–is the spawn of Fabian (or gradualist) socialism. One is left wondering how on earth Christians could get tied up in such a pagan Unbelieving ideology.
The answer, however, is ready at hand.
There are two motives: one is a genuine, biblically inspired compassion for the poor, the indigent and the needy. The second is a motive for Christians and the Church to be meaningful and relevant in the world. Both motives are misplaced and misdirected.
Let’s deal with the issue of compassion upon the poor. Upon this subject the Scriptures have a great deal to say. In Israel, special care was to be taken of the widow and the orphan and the stranger or alien in the land. The reason is that these were exemplars of those who were likely to be poor, vulnerable, and needy. Hannah’s Song captures the matter:
The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings low, He also exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash hap
To make them sit with nobles,
And inherit a seat of honor.
I Samuel 2: 6–8
It is clear that Hannah is foreshadowing the rule and reign of the Davidic kingdom which was soon to emerge in Israel, which, in turn, foreshadowed the Kingdom of Messiah–which has now come. Hannah’s theme is picked up by Mary in her Magnificat–thus foreshadowing the Messianic Kingdom:
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of the heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
Luke 1: 51–53
We believe, worship, and serve a God and His Christ Whose hands are stretched out to bless and provide for the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable. Therefore, it follows, that we, His servants would be busily engaged in extending our compassion and help to the poor.
So far, so good. The Devil (literally) is in the means. How we help the poor must be as much under the command, direction, and appointment of God as the original objective and duty. We must never forget the subtlety of the Devil in all things. When Christians read of their duty in Holy Scripture, the larceny of the Devil and the gods of this world leads them not to deny or contest the point. Rather, the Screwtapes employed by the god of the world busy themselves encouraging Christians to employ pagan methods and means to perform godly duties. Get the means wrong, and the duty is nullified. The end result is inevitably a bigger mess than ever. You cannot do God’s work by using the Devil’s means.
To illustrate the point: we are commanded by the Lord of heaven and earth to go forth and disciple the nations, teaching and commanding them to obey the teachings of Christ. OK, we say. Since we have a powerful army, let’s invade our national neighbours, subjugate them under the gun, kill off the hardened recalcitrants, and force everyone into churches where we will teach them the commands of Messiah. The Great Commission done and dusted.
Everybody knows the end result would be a scandalous travesty of the Kingdom, resulting in far greater evil than before. God’s Kingdom and God’s work must be done in God’s way or it will end up extending the dominion of the god of this world. The means we employ must be as subject to the Bible as the ends we seek. It is precisely because the Kingdom of God and His Christ has come that we must never mix biblical duties with worldly, pagan means.
Compassion for the poor and seeking to help them is a God-given duty for Christians and the Church. How we seek to do this must be just as much subject to God and honouring of His Christ as the duty itself.
The ideology of “social justice” is the world’s method of dealing with poverty and degradation. It has turned to the godless State as Messiah, looking to law, expropriation, theft, and brute power to bring in its version of the Kingdom. It has the Devil written all over it. The end result is greater damage and affliction and injustice than ever before. The Devil smirks. It is ever his way–enticing to do evil so that good may come. “Social justice” is the Devil’s way of doing business, of extending “compassion” to the poor.
Christians must have nothing to do with it; they must oppose it with might and main. Fabian socialism–in all its satanic guises and masks–has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.
In our next piece we will endeavour to argue that a generation which is seduced into confusing biblical charity with employing the pagan ideology of social justice will be followed by a generation that denies the Gospel itself.