Social Justice is a hot topic both in our culture and the church. I recently gathered with hundreds of other FIEC church leaders at our annual conference in Blackpool to encourage one another to minister faithfully in today’s culture. It was an historic occasion as delegates voted to strengthen our doctrinal basis to define marriage according to Scripture rather than culture.
The conference was entitled ‘Ministry of Justice’ and it raised a key question in my mind: does adopting the language of Social Justice provide a useful connection point with the culture or does it lead us to compromise biblical definitions?
As our culture becomes increasingly opposed and even hostile to biblical truth, evangelicals are right to look for points of connection. We can find them, particularly when we recognise that the law of God has been written on the human heart (Romans 2:15). A shared concern to protect the life of the unborn and elderly is one important connection we might be able to make with some.
But to be clear, Social Justice is not a wise connection point with our culture. The problem is that when the term ‘Social Justice’ is used, it carries with it a framework and worldview that is far removed from biblical Christianity. It’s like using the term ‘red card’ in a conversation about behaviour management. Although you might not be talking about football, using the word carries with it the idea of how a red card is used and what it means in a game of football – so a red card offence implies someone is going to be removed from an activity.
What does Social Justice mean? Voddie Baucham defines it as ‘the redistribution of wealth, privileges, and opportunities. Social justice is about equity, not equality…so it is redistribution with a view toward achieving equal outcomes for various specified groups.’
Some might say, ‘We just use the term and redefine it for our own purposes.’ Dr Sharon James sounds the alarm about that approach when she says, ‘We need to understand that the single most powerful strategy adopted by the architects of Critical Theory was to hijack the word “justice”, and subvert its true meaning.’ True biblical justice is grounded in the character of God and his moral law. The concerns of Social Justice are worldly and not Christian.
To use the language is to accept the framework of Critical Theory, a neo-Marxist anti-Christian worldview. If we say biblical justice is similar to Social Justice, we at best confuse our hearers and at worst we could mislead them into serious error about God’s true and righteous standards. Here are five reasons why Social Justice is very different to biblical justice: