Famed pastor John MacArthur warned in a blog post this week against allowing our politics to supercede our commitment to the gospel, and now he’s facing some criticism for it.
MacArthur argued evangelical Christians have kindled a “newfound obsession” with “social justice,” a political wave he claimed is moving believers away from the centrality of the gospel message found in Scripture.
The only long-term solution to every brand of ethnic animus is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ alone are the barriers between people groups broken down, the enmity abolished, and differing cultures and ethnic groups bound together in one new people. https://t.co/P4A2d9EFqZ pic.twitter.com/i9gXwI0f4S
— Grace to You (@gracetoyou) August 13, 2018
“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, noting such shifts often lead to “spiritually disastrous results.”
MacArthur, who began the post chronicling his own history pushing back against racism and discrimination in the 1960s as he traveled through Mississippi preaching alongside black church leaders, said he’s spent years fighting “a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel.”
Throughout the entire piece, the California-based pastor warned Christians against letting politics bend their theology and instead encouraged readers to allow the gospel to shape their politics. While the goal of “social justice” is certainly noble, MacArthur seemed to suggest many have allowed worldly mechanisms, like political movements and ideology, to take precedent over the gospel message.
“This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of ‘social justice,’” he wrote, “is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.”
Though it garnered quite a bit of praise on social media, MacArthur’s message — the first post in a forthcoming blog series — wasn’t without its detractors.
Anthony Bradley, chair of religious and theological studies at The King’s College in New York City, described MacArthur’s analysis as “a pile of ideological conservative rubbish.”
This. John MacArthur face plants in a pile of ideological conservative rubbish. If evangelicalism is going to have a future that reflects the Bible’s teachings, nearly everything about this post must be in its past. Terrible. https://t.co/6PwpEEvSMy
— Anthony Bradley (@drantbradley) August 13, 2018
Ed Stetzer, chair of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, seemed to suggest MacArthur might not be fair in his critique of “social justice.”
John MacArthur is starting a new series on social justice and evangelicals. It will be interesting to see if he is as fair, nuanced, and accurate with that as he was with the charismatic movement… or the seeker movement… or the emerging church…
— Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) August 16, 2018
MacArthur’s new series comes as many leaders within the evangelical movement have set their sights on “social justice,” particularly as it pertains to racial reconciliation.
“I deplore racism and all the cruelty and strife it breeds. I am convinced the only long-term solution to every brand of ethnic animus is the gospel of Jesus Christ,” MacArthur wrote toward the end of his post.