Thursday, February 7, 2019

5 Point Social Justice Warrior (Continued)

The Mistake of the Mega Church

I spent almost a decade in a mega church (and left when it joined the Willow Creek association because that’s a bridge too far) and it was very good to me and mine. But there was always something that bothered me in the back of my mind that I couldn’t put my finger on. The music was good, the child programs were awesome, the ministers were great, the preaching was encouraging, and they never said anything I disagreed with—even when Pastor Derek was on rotation. The church was in the business of helping people get their finances in order, the local college students brought into community, the children taught their AWANA verses, and was especially in the business of worshipping loudly and warmly on Sunday morning. So what was I so uneasy about? It took me the better part of a decade to realize it wasn’t anything they were saying, it was what they weren’t saying. They weren’t preaching Christ and Him crucified. Oh they’d talk about the Scriptures sure, but they didn’t delve deeply into them. They didn’t totally submit to them, but instead pulled one or two verses out of context and talked about them on a Sunday. I learned after a long time that often it’s not what is being said that’s the problem, it’s what’s not being said. 

There’s No Christ There

This is the main problem I’ve seen with the Social Justice Warrior crowd: they never seem to be talking about Christ. I can’t recall a time I’ve heard them explain the need for Christ’s resurrection, or magnify His forgiving graces, and consequently it seems to me as though Christ is afterthought to their paradigm. Not that there’s no Bible mind you—there’s usually a quote from Amos about our need to do justice, or the command from Micah to walk humbly—but more often I see how anger and intolerance is a useful tool for societal reconstruction. The old timey talk of bleeding sacrifices and miserable sinners going on to heaven because their sins against a Holy God have been paid for is conspicuously absent, and that bothers me tremendously.

Now I recognize that this is an argument from silence, and that arguments from silence are rather weak things. But I stand by this as the most important critique that I can offer, and I believe this is the reason MacArthur may be right about the charge of liberalism. Liberalism turns you away from Christ by pressing the immediacy of the here-and-now over the there-and-then, and the SJW agenda turns your eyes toward the current problems and not the once-for-all solution of your misery offered by Christ. I don’t learn from the SJW that I have personally offended a holy God, that He sent His only son to bear the wrath due me, and that if I believe in Him I will be saved. And because I don’t hear that I suspect this is plain old liberalism. 

A Point of Clarification

Don’t hear me saying something I’m not. I’m not saying that everyone in the SJW movement has no faith or that the movement itself is nothing more than a wild herd of godless heathen rampaging across an otherwise acceptable society. Not a bit. I’m wise enough to know that personal preference is not the same thing as salvation, and that God is a very big God. A man may be an odious SJW who cruelly lashes out at people sympathetic to him may still be more securely saved than I. People in the Roman Catholic church can be saved, as can the people in the Churches of Christ, or the godless liberal mega churches, because faith like a mustard seed is all it takes, and a small faith is not the same as no faith.

Secondly, I’m not saying that the issues raised by the SJW crowd are not Biblical issues. Justice is absolutely a Biblical issue, and Christian’s who won’t practice it are in trouble with their God. As it is written, “If a man say, “I love God,” and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21). Building a more just society is a worthy goal, and those who through patient endurance bring it to pass are doing what is commendable. 

A Restatement

What I am saying is that the SJW movement has displaced Christ as the top priority in daily living. True Christianity first magnifies Christ, then builds its society. First we internalize the indicative then we obey the imperative. Social justice is at the periphery, not the center, of the Christian message. It’s not what Peter announced at the day of Pentecost. It’s not what Philip said to the Ethiopian official, nor what Paul said to the Philippian jailor. If we put something that belongs downstream from the cross in place of the fountainhead (the cross itself) then we will inevitably wind up with a Christless Christianity (read: liberalism).

What I’m saying is that the social justice movement looks like the modern American megachurch that has good commendable goals and completely ignores the beating heart of Christianity. Social Justice, like the megachurch has largely compromised with the world to win people, and like liberalism in every age is now finding out that Satan never keeps his end of the bargain. Before we do anything else we need to own the fact that Christianity is a stupid, foolish religion that says the almighty omnipotent God sent His Son to die for sinners because there was no way for them to earn God’s favor otherwise. It has a limited appeal and we need to accept that and own it. We need to keep our eyes on Christ first, last, and always if we’re going to make it out of here alive. 

What I'm saying is that I'm barely hanging on here, and need to be filled moment to moment with the truth of who Christ is and what He's done or I will be lost. I'm a leaky bucket. Insofar as I'm full of Christ I can do the things that justice requires of me toward society, but take Him away and I can do nothing but become furious that I haven't gotten my way.
Now, as I was thinking about how the social justice movement tends to push Christ to the periphery I remembered C.S. Lewis writing something about this in The Screwtape Letters. As it turns out, he wrote a lot about it, indeed it composes nearly the whole book. So I’ve taken the best quotes, dialed them in, and used them as the source for the next few posts. It says what I’ve said, but because it's Lewis it makes a great deal more sense.        

Next: Screwtape Letters On Social Justice Part 1


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