Monday, April 19, 2021

25. Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice

Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis.  Scott David Allen. 2020. [September] 205 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In recent years, a powerful ideology has made deep inroads into the very heart of the evangelical church. To its mainstream advocates, it is called “social justice” and is nearly always coupled with a commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

There are probably dozens--if not hundreds--of reviews that will do this book on justice actual justice. Reviews that may break down the book chapter by chapter and analyze its contents and provide readers with clues as to whether this is the book for them--or not.

The premise of this one is simple: justice has been coupled--for better or worse--with social justice. Coupled by people without the church (outside the church) certainly, but also coupled by people within the church. Social justice is eclipsing biblical justice. People looking for justice are turning not to God, not to the church, not to the powers that be, but to society, to specific sections of society. 

The truth of the matter is that ANY definition of justice that discounts, discredits, ignores, belittles, twists, or distorts God's definition of justice is wrong. Plain and simple. God is Just. God is Righteous. God is Good. God is Wise. God is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent. (In other words, all-seeing and all-knowing. He doesn't just know the outside actions--but the inward thoughts.) God is also the ULTIMATE (final) Judge. 

For Christians--those who profess to be Christians--to give more authority or credit to outside theories or world views when it comes to justice--or when it comes to anything really--is just all kinds of wrong. For example, Critical Race Theory, or CRT. CRT should not be used as a tool to reinterpret or "interpret" Scripture. (Neither should feminism or intersectionality). 

This book isn't written to persuade unbelievers--those outside the Christian faith--of the dangers of jumping on the social justice bandwagon. It is written primarily for those who profess to be Christ-followers (aka Christians, believers) to think biblically and with discernment about injustices in society. In other words, let the Word of God reign authoritatively in their lives--yes, even when it comes to living real life in a messy, messy super-fallen, soul-bruising world filled with tears, pain, and anguish. 

The truth is the Bible has a lot to say both in the Old Testament and New Testament about injustice and justice, about sin and righteousness, about right and wrong, about good and evil. The Bible gives us guidelines and principles, certainly, but it also gives us promises upon which we can base our hope. 

The book could have just focused on biblical justice--how the Bible treats the subject or doctrine of justice--but it also chooses to engage directly with the competition. It is all about comparing and contrasting the two: biblical justice AND social justice. It looks at them both from plenty of angles. It presents the flaws of social justice that Christians should be aware of before they open up their hearts and minds and embrace social justice. 

I would say one of the most important things is to be aware that even though both groups use some of the same words, the two groups mean very different things by those words. So though on the surface the two groups may appear to have much in common--a common goal that is of utmost important--there are major differences in play. People can with completely good intentions fall for it. Especially if they are more tuned into the news--TV, internet, radio--than the Word of God. 

The author does mention--and readers will already be aware--that both sides tend to resort (not even as a  last resort) to name calling and label-throwing. This isn't a kind, friendly debate--an exchange of ideas--but all out war. 

So the book is about dangers from the world, to a certain degree, but also about dangers within the church. It is the dangers within the church--coming from within--that prove costliest and feel like a betrayal. The Bible-believing Christian faces warfare from within and without--the church and the world. 

There isn't a quick solution. It isn't as easy as saying, well, we'll just skip this hot topic altogether and focus on the essentials. No, the author urges justice--BIBLICAL JUSTICE, justice on God's terms--is essential to a right practice of the faith. What we need is preaching and teaching on biblical justice. 

I definitely loved some of the chapters. I did. I found almost all of the chapters thought provoking. 

If I could change one thing about the book, however, it would be his historical discussion of Republicans and Democrats. I think he has perhaps intentionally left this vague and confusing. Instead of pointing out the labels "Democrat" and "Republican" have changed, transformed, evolved through the past hundred plus years, he acts as if they are still the same. For example, he goes on about how it was Democrats that were racists, that were pro-slavery, that were pushing all these racists laws, that founded the KKK, and that it was always Republicans who were the good guys, who stood in opposition to the hateful, despicable Democrats. If you are at all familiar with history, you know that you can't do that. Or perhaps you shouldn't do that. If you were to go back in time, what passes today for "Republican" and "Democrat" today would be unrecognizable and completely foreign. Policies, ideologies, beliefs, practices morph and change. The issues we argue and debate today would be completely foreign if not horrendously shocking to the past. And that's not because we're "better" people. The truth is the past would shock us and our values just as much as our "values" would shock the past. It works both ways. Anyway, to sum it up, the paragraphs were the author explores this argument weaken his argument--in my opinion. 

I did appreciate his argument not to conform to the world, not to accept the world's world views as your own, to cling to the Word of God, to fight the good fight, to live rightly by God's standards, to be the salt and light, the city on the hill. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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