John MacArthur has been leading the charge against a new breed of Christian social justice activism that attempts to disassociate itself from the Gospel.
MacArthur has expressed his concern with what he describes as the Church’s “newfound obsession” with social justice that is not rooted in the Scriptures.
“Evangelicalism’s newfound obsession with the notion of ‘social justice’ is a significant shift — and I’m convinced it’s a shift that is moving many people (including some key evangelical leaders) off message, and onto a trajectory that many other movements and denominations have taken before,” he wrote in a blog post last month, noting such shifts often lead to “spiritually disastrous results.”
Now, MacArthur is putting his name to an official statement on social justice, signed by over 3,000 believers. The statement issues 13 affirmations and denials regarding justice as it relates to the Gospel.
The first section is all about Scripture:
“WE AFFIRM that the Bible is God’s Word, breathed out by him. It is inerrant, infallible, and the final authority for determining what is true (what we must believe) and what is right (how we must live). All truth claims and ethical standards must be tested by God’s final Word, which is Scripture alone,” it reads.
“WE DENY that Christian belief, character, or conduct can be dictated by any other authority, and we deny that the postmodern ideologies derived from intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory are consistent with biblical teaching.”
On issues of justice, the statement declares that “true justice” cannot be “culturally defined” and that “socially constructed” standards of justice cannot “be imposed with the same authority as those that are derived from Scripture.”
“WE AFFIRM that God’s law, as summarized in the ten commandments, more succinctly summarized in the two great commandments, and manifested in Jesus Christ, is the only standard of unchanging righteousness. Violation of that law is what constitutes sin,” the statement continues.
The statement generated mixed responses from from Christian leaders, lay people and cultural critics on Twitter:
A Statement on Social Justice from James, Jesus’ Brother:
“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
— J.A. Medders (@mrmedders) September 4, 2018
Sees there's a social justice statement released. Skips directly to signers. 1st name – John MacArthur. Closes browser window. Nothing left to read here
— Steve Patton (@StevenPatton) September 4, 2018
The statement has only been up 8 hours or so and we have signatures from at least 30 different countries including UAE, Zambia, Nigeria, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, S Africa, India, Czech Repub – so encouraging to see! Read and sign at…https://t.co/EMaVi5hmuG
— Justin Peters (@JustinPetersMin) September 4, 2018
Here’s The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. It’s clear, well written and biblical. https://t.co/ZTeUUbcReU
— Gavin Peacock (@GPeacock8) September 4, 2018
We shouldn’t let the craziness of the news cycle let this newly released Statement on Social Justice be swept under the rug. It is spot on. Read. Pray. Read again. https://t.co/GqLVy3jLCC pic.twitter.com/7Y7YfcNjCW
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) September 5, 2018
There is no Christian gospel apart from tangible hope for, and relentless working toward, justice and flourishing for all (ALL) people. Any belief system which divorces Jesus from the pursuit of justice is a perversion.
Thank you for reading my social justice statement.
— Megan Westra (@mwestramke) September 5, 2018
The statement also tackles the issue of human sexuality.
“WE DENY that human sexuality is a socially constructed concept,” it reads. “We also deny that one’s sex can be fluid. We reject “gay Christian” as a legitimate biblical category. We further deny that any kind of partnership or union can properly be called marriage other than one man and one woman in lifelong covenant together.”
When addressing the issue of racism, the authors of the statement do not mince their words: “Racism is a sin rooted in pride and malice which must be condemned and renounced by all who would honor the image of God in all people,” they note. “WE DENY that treating people with sinful partiality or prejudice is consistent with biblical Christianity.”
Signatories of the statement include James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, Rev. Justin Peters and Pastor Tom Ascol.
The declaration follows the controversial 2017 “Nashville Statement” which laid out an outline for a traditional evangelical view on sexuality.
“WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church,” the statement reads. “WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.”
Read the full statement on social justice and the Gospel here.