Social Justice and Justification
It follows, therefore, that the two predominant systems of social justification must fight a long and painful “religious” war. And, on the pointy end of every stick will be the biblically-distinct Christians.
Brandon, it often works out that way.
McDurmon should take his own advice . . . What happened between McDurmon version 2010 and McDurmon version 2018?
Jonathan, not sure why it is happening. What is sure is that it is happening.
Re: American Vision and the Word that Justifies—the worst part about this piece is the cliffhanger of a last sentence when you tease your need to develop these things more. Oh, and another bad point was when you also tease another deeper post on the deeper meaning of Trump. But other than that . . . wow! The English language can’t do how great this post is justice (see what I did there?). And I can’t speak or understand foreign languages to know whether or not any of them would do it justice. So we’ll just have to assume all human languages will be incapable of describing how incredible this post is to the contribution of this debate. Thank you, brother!
Trey, brother, thanks for the kind response. But actually I honestly have to say that I believe I am pointing in the right direction, and am on to something. Other than that, pretty much everything is inadequate and insufficient.
Just wanted to say that your words here and in the past about justification and sanctification as features of every religion and its culture have been immensely helpful to me in making sense of the current scene. While everyone at Fox News is still wringing their hands over the hypocrisy, asking ad nauseam “But if a white man had done this, then . . . ,” , we can simply nod our heads in sad acknowledgement of the current religion at its work. And preach true justification to those merely “justified.”
Kevin, right. All systems of justification necessarily result in some sort of double standard. The problem arises when the double standard is ungodly.
I had a few nits to pick on “the statement,” and was wondering if you could weigh in for me. Under the Denial of statement VI (on the Gospel) there is this nugget: “applications of the gospel . . . are not definitional components of the gospel.” Maybe I’m overestimating the power of this statement, but it seems to imply to me that a gospel locked up in a glass capsule, not doing anything to anybody is just as much a gospel as one that has broken through and is actively changing lives. The affirmation of statement VIII (on the Church) reads, “when the primacy of the gospel is maintained, this often has a positive effect on the culture . . .” Why qualify with the word “often?” In the denial portion of this segment, it starts by speaking against political and societal activism, but really only goes into detail on political part. I agree that social activism is not integral to the gospel, but I think it can be (as long as activism is defined properly) considered one of the primary missions of the church (James 2:15-16). In statement XII (on race/ethnicity) the denial reads, “We reject any teaching that encourages racial groups to view themselves as . . . entitled victims of oppression.” I feel like this is using a universal hammer to strike at a particular nail. The current nail being aimed at, may need to be hammered (and I’m not even really considering that at all), but the hammer being used could have some collateral damage later. Certainly any group could misuse the Exodus story, but it is a story, and it can be used in the same manner that any other biblical story can. One way would be to find your place in it. Though perhaps I am under-estimating the import of the word “entitled” in that denial. The denial of XIV (on racism) includes this: “We deny that the contemporary evangelical movement has any deliberate agenda . . .” The noun “contemporary evangelical movement” is too unspecific of a noun. There could be a “contemporary evangelical movement” around the corner that does have an agenda unbeknownst to some wider “contemporary evangelical movement” that does not. There could be some danger in the imprecision here.
Brent, your last point about imprecision is a reasonable one. For the rest, I would just reiterate a point from my post yesterday—which I believe the drafters of the Statement would have no problem with. Fruit of the gospel is necessary fruit. If it does not produce fruit, it is not the gospel. But the fruit of the gospel is not the gospel.
“To reiterate: do I believe that the authority of Jesus Christ must eventually be brought to bear on economic policy, race relations, misogyny, quality health care, climate change, affordable housing, sewage treatment, just war theory, water rights, poverty, and globalization? I absolutely do. But I do venture to suggest that, contrary to what our bright thinkboys are currently up to, His authority will not weigh in on the stupid side of these issues.” This is a good example of what I keep seeing with this controversy: you (and others) seem to be accusing those on the other side of compromising the gospel because they disagree with you on a political issue. If they were doing the same thing but “bringing the authority of Jesus Christ to bear” on your side of the political issue, I have a hard time believing this controversy would exist. If there is injustice happening, surely there is cause to get involved as we do with abortion. Can’t we disagree with the facts of such issues without accusing each other of compromising the gospel?
Danny, not exactly. There are people putting forward policies I agree with that I believe are making the same mistake. Sane minimum wage laws are not a definitional part of the gospel any more than insane ones are. I prefer the sane ones, but not as part of the gospel.
Reductionistic Baptist here. So in spite of agreeing with every word in the statement, I won’t sign it. You know, I agree with the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and I never signed that. In a huge part, I can’t in good conscience sign onto these things because, being a reductionistic baptist and so on, the gospel. That is to say this: the gospel never assumes something co-equal with (or, heaven help us all, greater than) Jesus to be the savior. That’s why we are Protestants, right? Somehow a Catholic church in the sense that the Pope means (or has meant anyway until very recently) is out of the question because it has to be co-equal to Christ in the scheme of saving people. That’s why we believe in local churches, right? Somehow the divine method is word calling out workers, and then there is a context in every local place where God’s Word calls out these workers in this place who are then bringing the word with them to those people—and if someone leaves that place to go someplace else to call out more people, he is sent with the word and the means God has ordained for that mission (and maybe some pocket money if we are in any way not miserly). What that framework doesn’t need is a constitutional convention or an electoral college to take a vote—in fact, we know historically that this is how we always screw up the gospel: we start voting on it. We start making our own Magisterium which starts making its own rules for how we can or cannot gospel it up in good post-mil congruency. And what has happened in this case is that the SJW’s first had their congress, and now we are convening our counter-congress, and what is actually happening is that we look more like fighting political parties than ambassadors of reconciliation. It looks more like mid-term elections than it does filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which we became ministers according to the stewardship from God that was given to us for the sake of others, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. I think the statement is all truth, no love—and the only way to cure that is for it to have a local context of a local church which has the gospel, declares the gospel, and then lives as if it is true. A church like that is exceeding the requirements of the law with love, and confounding those who would say that somehow the gospel is not enough. God be with you.
Frank, thanks for your thoughts on it. But remember that we Presbyterians can get whizzed up about synods and councils. That’s our wheelhouse.
Follow up letter . . .
(That “Amen” I just testified was for “Despite our Thinkboys”)
The statement you signed means to guard and uphold the Scriptures which do not say woman is made in the image of God though the statement affirms that this is so. This couldn’t be more clear from 1 Corinthians 11:7 and Gen 1:26-27. My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.
Matt, I am surprised you cited Gen. 1:26-27, which plainly states that women are created in the image of God. The Hebrew word Adam is not just a personal name, but is also the word for mankind. And mankind is created in the image of God, and mankind is created male and female.
Thanks for this strong reminder. As a good Westminster Presbyterian myself, I find it highly disturbing that so many of our Knox-following brethren are so quick to adopt the latest intellectual fad. It does make me wonder how much of this relates to socioeconomics and culture. It is an overgeneralization, to be sure, but I get the sense that many of the Reformed thinkers who are quick to jump on the latest secular trend tend to be wealthier, urban, more educated, and sophisticated. Whereas many of those Baptists who are sticking to the “reductionist” version of the gospel are more likely to be poorer, more rural, less educated, and less highbrow. I know this to be true in the debate over six-day creation, and their attitude about the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter (which is local for me). It also tends to be true in the case of whether they support Trump or not. Is it perhaps the case that the tendency toward gospel compromise with secular thought is more a sociological phenomenon than a theological one?
BJ, I do think they are related. Jeshurun waxes fat, and kicks.
Some Kudos and Korrections
Doug, you are such a fantastic writer
Brad, thanks for noticing that I am at least trying.
Thinkboys: I remember the old Credenda article entitled “Our Baptist Betters.” What was the line that reminded me of the veiled insult from my producer? “I like what you’re trying to do.” Something like that . . . good on you for signing. If a person can’t grasp and agree with the bone-headed biblical simplicity of the “SSJWG” document, then yeah—too clever by a percentage point. Blessings, dear brother!
You referred to “Hill” a couple of times where I think you meant “Perry”—her married name rather than her maiden name.
Kyriosity, thanks. Oops. And merry cupola.
Fresh water for a weary soul. Thank you.
Douglas, you are welcome. Thanks for paying attention.
With love from Nigeria! Your words are always striking. Soli Deo Gloria.
Judge Kavanaugh’s Senate hearings will be over by the time you get this, but may be worth answering anyway. When asked whether Roe was correctly decided, Kavanaugh has said something like, “Roe v Wade set an important precedent that has been confirmed by later court decisions.” But he has neglected to say if Roe was correctly decided at the time. Now I’m hoping that Kavanaugh wants to overturn Roe and is just trying to improve his odds of confirmation with his answer that dodges the heart of the question. But as a Christian (Kavanaugh is Catholic) is it right for him to be squishy in his answer? If he really does believe that abortion is murder, should he come out and say it bluntly, knowing that it would likely kill his nomination? Or do the ends justify the means in this case? I don’t want anyone who calls themselves a Christian to be wishy-washy about abortion. Should I expect less from a Supreme Court nominee?
Roger, it doesn’t bother me at all that Kavanaugh was coy in his answer. I think everyone understands the code, and he was simply refusing to give the opposition something to flame him with. If he votes to strike down Roe, I don’t think he would have anything to apologize for, and he would need to seek forgiveness if he doesn’t.
A while back Collegiate Reformed Fellowship, a ministry of Christ Church, invited Sam Allberry of Living Out to speak at the University of Idaho. Video of the talk is still on Canon Wired’s website. For a long time I took that as a sign that you approve of his approach to dealing with homosexuality. But it’s clear that you do not agree with him. If that is so, why did you invite him in the first place? Has his approach changed over the years? Has your thinking changed since then? Thanks for the clarification.
Brent, I think Sam is a good guy, and means well. That said, I believe his approach has been shifting of late, and has been drifting in a worrisome direction. We would like to help out.
Another Word on Appropriation
I checked with my resident millennial (who outshines Torquemada in detecting and reproving thought crime in the elderly) about the rules governing cultural misappropriation. Dominant and privileged cultures may not appropriate from those less dominant and less privileged unless hundreds of years of history have intervened. So I can dress up as Scheherezade (although it would be a bad idea, productive of laughter and derision) but not as an Afghani lady in a burqa. This got me puzzling about my daughter’s annual thanksgiving pageant in elementary school where dozens of little Catholic mestizo children were dressed as Puritans and the handful of white kids were made to wear headbands with feathers. I can’t think of any way of casting this pageant without violating the current rules! A lot of the fuss is indeed ridiculous, but I am not willing to give cultural appropriation a totally clean bill of health. Doug mentioned frat boys in sombreros. I have read about some of these frat parties, and I can’t consider them innocent fun with no intention to offend. Hitler-themed parties with pledges playing terrorized Jews, parties billed as Colonial Bros conquering Nava-Hos, and parties where frats attend wearing blackface or KKK regalia shouldn’t be getting a pass from decent people. That many cultural misappropriation claims are ridiculous shouldn’t blind us to the fact that there is such a thing as deeply offensive appropriation.
Jill, I trust that your resident millennial does not employ the methods of Torquemada . . .? And of course, I agree with what you are arguing against, but still find trouble in the name cultural appropriation. Why can’t we just disparage cultural mockery or cruelty? Appropriation is far too broad a term.
Pain Free Repentance
“So the process of sanctification includes what Tim Bayly calls the grace of shame. Real Christians start to understand the maggot bed that we used to lie in. We start to understand it for the first time. And such an understanding is something that your shrink will try to give you medications for. Because, after all, everyone must feel good about themselves.” Bingo! I wonder how good the publican in the corner felt about himself, and what counsel today’s evangelical elite would give him today, and how that counsel would compare with Christ’s proclamation about the publican.
grh (may I call you grrr?), yes, exactly. We want repentance without pain.
Re: Truth Off The Bay Thank you for your post. What I don’t understand from the article by Jackie Hill Perry (as well as comments by others on this subject) is this claim of Jesus loving us and making us His, as well as us being holy, but leaving out what God tells us He will do in Romans 8:29. God predestined is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Christ fulfilled the law, and if we are being confirmed to His image then we should be made to keep the law more closely. Which means we should not be desiring things that God declares abominable. Which applies to anything unholy, whether it be telling lies, covering what others have, sexual desires for anybody who we are not married to (marriage is defined as one man and woman by God), or witchcraft. We would be much better served to bring our thoughts and desires under subjugation to the Scriptures instead of vice versa. The OT is full of examples of the disastrous results of twisting Scripture and our worship to suit our desires. And God gave us that history for a good reason . . . May we not waste the opportunity to learn from what He has provided.
Robert, thank you.
Slavery Once More
The Cripplegate has decided to come after you. https://thecripplegate.com/the-bible-condemns-american-slavery/
BJ, who are they? They don’t want to outlaw slaverys, do they?
“Servant leadership” is an oxymoronic term that does not appear in the Bible. All the verses used to fabricate it are instructions for the church. “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). This means that if somebody wants to lead the church they should serve the other men of the church by honoring them, and not tearing them down or chastising them in front of their wives and children. They should emphasize that only the man is created in God’s image, and as such is worthy of reverence. “Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph. 5:33). “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man” (1 Cor. 11:7). “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). The pastor should honor the men of his congregation, not run them down in front of their already disrespectful wives. By not showing honor to other men the pastor is helping Satan destroy marriages. The marriage is not to be run like the church to servant/pastor relationship, but to be run like the church to God in total submission. That is where you hirelings always go off the rails and end up subverting the husband’s role of Lordship/Leadership (Eph. 5:24). Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Sorry, it is only church leaders that are to be the servants of all men. Nowhere does the Bible say that the husband is required to submit to the wife except for sexually in 1 Corinthians 7:4, and that is it. Elsewhere he is commanded to rule over his family well, and that is a requirement for church leaders. Anybody teaching husband as helpers is flipping God’s order on its head like Satan would want. God created the wife to be the helper/servant. There is no excuse for being ashamed to teach the plain word of God in this evil Feminist generation. The wife is the subject, the husband is the Lord, that’s what God said. Preach it God’s way.
Elias, I am afraid your confusions are all tangled up together. Yes, the one who would be great in the kingdom must be the servant of all, and the first place this should be evident is in the leadership of the church. Yes. And then what? “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. 13:7). Rulers in the church should have rule in their own homes, anchored the way the Lord Jesus displayed when He washed the disciples feet without ceasing to be their Lord. And watching this, the men in the congregation should imitate such rulers, considering the outcome of their way of life. That would not include browbeaten wives.
But “keeping well shy of idolatry” we ought to be loyal to those affiliations assigned by God. I mean family, tribe, location, etc.” Would you include race in this? Is it unbiblical for blacks to act consciously to further the interests of other blacks, so long as such behavior does not involve violating the natural rights of others?
Armin, I would not include it, largely because it seems to me to be arbitrary and capricious—like trying to have solidarity with other people with brown hair, or blue eyes, or people who are six feet tall. A black man whose ancestors have been here for three hundred years is from a completely different tribe than another black man in Kenya.
Perhaps I have a misconception or mis-defined notion of conservatives. If it’s not the currently sliding into tribalism mindset of the talk radio host (Hannity/Limbaugh, pro-GOP at all costs), and it’s not about solving problems (see government institutions like education, fiscal and foreign policy), then what is it? Because we’re not seeing it marketed well.
Ron, another essential feature of true conservativism is that it is bad at marketing.
I appreciate your short and simple definition of biblical masculinity—the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility—which I first read in Father Hunger and saw pop up again in “The Great Servant Leadership Mistake.” Do you have an equally short and simple definition of biblical femininity?
Eric, sorry. Not yet.
The Catholic Thing
Can you give your response to the current crisis in the Catholic Church?
Paul, yes. In the hopper.
Here is the “Kuyperian-thick approach” original from Kuyper himself: “Finally Modernism, which denies and abolishes every difference, cannot rest until it has made woman man and man woman, and, putting every distinction on a common level, kills life by placing it under the ban of uniformity. One type must answer for all, one uniform, one position and one and the same development of life; and whatever goes beyond and above it, is looked upon as an insult to the common consciousness.” Abraham Kuyper, The Stone Lectures on Calvinism: Six Lectures Delivered in the Theological Seminary at Princeton (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1898), pg. 21 . . .
John, thanks much.