Social Justice and the Counterfeit Christian Gospel

If you watch cable news at all (no matter the channel), you’ve heard of Jim Wallis and the issue of “social justice” pop up. Mr. Wallis appears on MSNBC, Huffington Post and of course his own blog. No matter your leanings, you’ve likely heard his comments about social justice and the Gospel; allow Jim Wallis to define the gospel the way he sees it:

… The issue here is he actually said social justice is a perversion of the gospel. I believe it is at the heart of the gospel. (MSNBC Countdown)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677//vp/35845729#35845729

You said social justice was a “perversion of the gospel,” and I countered that to assert that, instead, it is at the heart of the gospel and part of the core meaning of biblical faith.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/another-invitation-to-gle_b_497278.html

Social Justice is integral to Biblical faith, it’s at the heart of the Gospel. (MSNBC)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoD0ceZxRH4

… I invited him to a public dialogue to discuss the true meaning of social justice, which I said was at the heart of the gospel and integral to biblical faith.

http://blog.sojo.net/2010/05/06/glenn-beck-immigration-and-social-justice/

Mr. Wallis repeatedly states social justice lies at the heart of the gospel he promotes. The first question becomes what is social justice? After finding out what social justice is, the next question becomes is it the essence of the Gospel? These questions become surprisingly easy to answer — in other words, it’s not a gray area or disagreement of opinion, it’s a matter of fact.

Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice

Economic egalitarianism is a state of economic affairs in which equality of outcome has been manufactured for all the participants of a society. It is a founding principle of various forms of socialism, communalism and cooperative economic organization.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_egalitarianism

Allow the Center for Economic and Social Justice to weigh in with their definition:

Social justice encompasses economic justice. … Within the system of economic justice as defined by Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler, there are three essential and interdependent principles: The Principle of Participation, The Principle of Distribution, and The Principle of Harmony … The principle of participation describes how one makes “input” to the economic process in order to make a living … The principle of distribution defines the “output” or “out-take” rights of an economic system matched to each person’s labor and capital inputs … The principle of harmony encompasses the “feedback” or balancing principles required to detect distortions of either the input or output principles and to make whatever corrections are needed to restore a just and balanced economic order for all.
http://www.cesj.org/thirdway/economicjustice-defined.htm

In other words, social and economic justice can be summarized as “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, with some group deciding how much “output” you’re allowed to have from your “input”; you’ll frequently hear this expressed as someone stating a group or person doesn’t “need” something — or so much of something — and it should be taken from them and given to another. To do so is “justice” and “fair”, at least in their eyes.

Mr. Wallis’ views are clear — he believes the foundation of Christianity (oops, he said Biblical faith, not Christianity) begins with social justice, and exists as the heart (i.e. essence) of the Gospel. Unfortunately Mr. Wallis’ opinion is factually incorrect. Before continuing, ask yourself what is the Gospel?

When Jim Wallis associates social justice with the Gospel, we don’t have to accept his opinion as the Bible (specifically Paul) exactly defines the Gospel.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures … (1 Corinthians 15:1–4 NKJV)

Strange. No mention of social justice, or regulating inputs and outputs; Paul must have been negligent in failing to mention the heart of the Gospel.

Paul negligent? I don’t think so. Every word, every detail of the Bible exists by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It’s not the Bible in error, it’s those attempting to redefine the Biblical Gospel to fit their political goals; social justice isn’t anywhere to be found in the Biblical definition of the Gospel. In case it’s not clear, here’s the Gospel:

  1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
  2. He was buried.
  3. He rose again, according to the Scriptures.

Now that’s the good news; no mention of social justice.

Mixing social justice with Christianity (economic justice, equality of outcome, etc) eliminates God from the Gospel. In the social justice view of the Gospel, God isn’t even required at all (just government or other agency enforcing social justice). Is eliminating God now part of the Gospel? Where did Paul say that?

Obviously mixing social justice with the Gospel isn’t just wrong, it’s waaaaay wrong. Factually. Without possible disagreement. As wrong as claiming the sky is pink. Or 2+2=5. Or the earth is flat. Or the moon is made of cheese. Those are errors of fact, not disagreements of opinion. This doesn’t mean taking care of the poor, or church potlucks, are bad. They’re not necessarily (that should go without saying), but the church must fight against replacing the Gospel as groups attempt to achieve political ends, not spiritual ones.

In light of the attempt to substitute the Christian Gospel with a false one for political aims, we must consider the seriousness of re-defining the Gospel, as Paul warned the Galatians.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6–9)

Or in the New Living Translation:

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed.

For those replacing Paul’s (and thus the Bible’s) Biblical Gospel with a social one which doesn’t require God, a review of 1 Corinthians 15 is in order to understand what the Gospel is, the nature of sin, the need for salvation, and then heed Paul’s warning to the Galatians regarding the error of accepting those who twist and change the truth into another gospel sharing little with the true Gospel but the name.

Christians are called to share the eternal life though Christ, not social justice, thus social justice can’t be the essence of the Gospel as a matter of fact. For those mixing social justice with the Gospel, you’re following an ideology which pretends to be the Gospel (good news), but lacks truth. You’ve been fooled (and who is the father of lies?); it’s time to return to the truth as social justice has nothing to do with the Gospel — not even a little.

What do you think? Have you heard a phony Gospel preached? Leave a comment with your experience, we’d like to hear about it. As always, comments are invited as long as they’re polite (read our comment policy if you’re unsure).

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