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04 November 2008

Social Justice?

As I stand in line to vote, I think of a conversation in which I participated at a friend's Facebook page yesterday.

I get the impression from that conversation and others that a segment of the American population feels that the government needs to step in and basically operate as Jesus to the poor, because the Church supposedly isn't doing it.

Regarding your own study of the Bible, ever found a mandate in Scripture for or against government agencies administering this sort of aid? What I find in the Word is that you and I as individuals are to be seeing to these needs. Are we?


Preston N said...

This has really concerned me in the recent weeks. It is apparent there is a shift occuring in Christianity where the Emergent Leaders (ie. McLaren, Bell, Eugene Cho, Shane Clainborne, etc) have shifted from tradition conservative views of the faith to a more liberal one and therefore they are voting for Obama. Why? Because they feel that Obama embodies the principles of Jesus concerning the poor and social justice. Essentially they are doing what your saying here and that is "Well, if the church isn't going to do its job somebody has to and the governement then is next best thing".

An example Eugene Cho gives on his blog yesterday is he says (I am paraphrasing here) "The Bible mentions poverty over 2000 times, but only homosexuality 14 times, therefore we (the church) need to be more concerned about have the poor and than about homosexuality and that's one of the reasons I am voting for Obama". The problem here is this is a strawman arguement. What Cho really needs to do is to look up "sin" and compare it to how many times God talks about sin versus poverty. The real issue with our world is not poverty or feeding the poor - its Sin, selfishness. If we solve the problem of sin, then the remaining side-effects will go away. Sadly, it seems many of these folks have the cart before the horse or are trying to attack windmills here.

Anonymous said...

I liked what Preston said. But I have a different thought. When God spoke about caring for the poor (Sharing the wealth); it was to be a gift of love as we reach out to help them. In my humble opinion; Obama wants the Government to mandate this idea (Sharing the Wealth). This will not work for many reasons, but one more than others stands out. Take a look New Orleans after the hurricane; the government sent Billions of dollars to help those who lost their homes rebuild their homes and communities; yet there is so much red tape involed in getting the money that many neighborhoods are still devasted today. So what will happen with the 'wealth' that is collected? Probably line someone's pockets, instead of helping those in need.

This is my opinion. Ted Stroup

Jeff said...

I'm gonna have to go out on a limb here, and disagree with a few things I have read in this thread. Although, at the risk of being the "bad guy," I'm going to speak the truth in love.

I believe that Ted has presented an important dichotomy to consider: that while government WANTS to mend what's broken, they are trying to do it through a "broken bureaucracy," which only makes it more broken, and ultimately never solved...particularly not without the body of Christ helping in that endeavor.

The remarks of preston n, however, may have missed the mark. I can think of two principles here with which I cannot concur, as a fellow brother-in-Christ:

1) Emergent church leaders (or any church leaders, for that matter) should never be collectively painted with the same brush, and certainly not by other believers. We should avoid "group condemnation" to promote our own personal bias; it's not healthy for a Christ-follower. This particular group of leaders about which 'preston n' has generalized actually encourage us as believers to embrace our president-elect. They acknowledge "how far we've come" from a racially-discriminating, newborn country to a seemingly more compassionate nation that embraces its 'melting-pot' culture. I could believe our Savior is pleased with those faithful servants who fought to rid the injustice which stereotyped our country for so long.

2) The reason Eugene Cho emphasizes the poor and deflects the "infatuation with sin" that so many believers have, is because HE'S RIGHT! Christians are so obsessed with sin, we don't know how to get off the band-wagon and focus on what Christ called us to do: Love God, and love our neighbors. Preston, forgive me, but your belief that "The real issue with our world is ... Sin, selfishness" is completely off-base. You said, "IF we solve the problem of sin, then the remaining side-effects will go away..." and I could not disagree more. Biblically speaking, NOWHERE in the scriptures does Chris ever ask us to "solve the issue of sin." My Bible tells me Jesus already did that. Christ simply asked us to share the "solution to sin" (Himself) with everyone, but not to spend our sleepless nights trying to figure out how to solve it ourselves (just look to the history books to see the outcome of that endeavor). But to share Christ, we sometimes have to consider the poor first and above our own needs. But not JUST the poor: we will also have to consider the needs of homosexuals, muslim-extremists, liberal-anti-God media-mongers, pornographic artists/producers, and various others of the same ilk, who seek to destroy and remove God from our country. I am here to profess Christ to as many as I can and as often as I can. Sin is not for me to solve, and I have to learn to accept God's will for this land...not my own. I don't know what he's going to do with our country, but I believe that at the end of time, for Him to be able to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," I should be doing something other than trying to "solve the sin-problem;" especially after He went to such great lengths to already do that.

Am I alone in feeling this way?

Dean Lusk said...

Jeff! Welcome to the comments! :) I had no idea you had a blog.

I won't be a peacemaker here; I'll let Preston explain where he's coming from, but the idea, to me, is that we need to be preaching repentance along with doing good things, and I certainly agree with that.

But being consumed with one segment of our Christ-life winds up making us lopsided.

That last sentence may be a great over-generalization, but I think it sums it up well.

Headed over to

Preston N said...

Jeff - First let me say I have no problem calling a spade a spade. As a matter of fact I will be more than happier to back that up with scripture. McLaren, Bell, Claiborne,Donald Miller are all post-modernist/emergents. They all claim the title and thus if the shoe fits so be it. Emergent's are teaching nothing more than a perversion of truth - well actually they don't believe in truth because truth to them is simply relative or is to be defined according to one's own terms. Truth is not something one defines according to their own definitions or according to their culture. A good example is Rob Bell who preaches universalism (just listen or watch his video "God's are not angry" series) because of how he "interprets" his version of the atonement of Christ.

Besides, I said nothing in my post about race or denying that this country hasn't come along way in its diversity and acceptance of different races. And just because these so called church leaders embrace diversity doesn't necessarily make them godly or right in their theological views. I embrace the fact Obama is a black man,I am very happy to see our country has overcome great barriers of hatred, but I refuse to embrace what he stands for or that he is wicked in his stance on the sanctity of life and that he promotes lifestyles that God see's as an abomination and self-destructive.

As for your "sin solution" comments I actually agree with you to some extent. Your absolutely right in saying I personally can not solve the problem of sin. But I can share with as many people the solution and that is through sharing the gospel and the life and death of Christ with as many people as I can. It is also to make sure that I exhibit that love in my own life as well.

Side Note: BTW - The death of Jesus did not resolve the problem of sin. The last time I looked sin is still very much alive and well in the world today. The atonement was to address the issue of God's forgiveness of sin and reconciliation. It is up to man to repent and turn to Christ - this then will resolve the problem of sin.

The thing is Jeff, sinners are selfish. If all I do is go around telling sinners "ONLY" God "loves them" then really we are feeding further into their own selfishness. For example, it is a sinners top priority to love himself as the highest good. As a matter of fact it is a sinners only priority. If all I am doing is going out telling sinners "God Loves You" he's thinking great "I love me too and so why wouldn't God love me also". This is why we need to balance love with sharing the Gospel and message of repentance. Please don't get me wrong here - I am not saying we need not share the love of God with others, but that we need to have balance in our message. In Mat 4:17 says "From that time Jesus began to preach and say "REPENT for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". Note it didn't say he preached God loves you "ONLY", but that he made it clear that we are to come to repentance. Jesus spoke of Hell more than in any other person in the bible. Why? Isn't preaching of Hell unkind? No, its probably the most loving thing a person could ever do. So let's make sure we have a proper balance in our approach to the lost and not do more damage.

All I am saying about Eugene Cho is he seems to be imbalanced in his attempts (as are a lot of emergent's in this area). We cannot be all about the love and yet not show people they are wicked and sinful and are in desperate need of a savior and of an atonement. It is only when men come to the knowledge of their sin and how loving and merciful God truly is that men's hearts will break and enter into reconciliation with the Father.

Jeff said...

hm...maybe I shouldn't go out on limbs... :)
Thanks for you thoughts, Preston. Keep 'em coming.

Preston N said...

Ummm I hope my response wasn't overkill Jeff. Sorry if I said too much. I have a tendency to be a little wordy at times. :) Thanks for the limb and welcome to the blogsphere!

Leroy said...

Group hug!! Now let's all go battle sin (with love), tell others about Jesus' love, and DO the good works we are called to do upon salvation!

Jan said...

So what is taking "protecting the unborn" - isn't that social justice? Don't we long for that as believers? Some things require gov't involvement as we ourselves could not do them.......

I agree that it is the church's responsibility but truly the church should affect society too. While we cannot always mandate morality, we can speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I believe that we've seen this happen again and again - and in many instances it requires more than I am able to do. The Holocaust, abortion, even children's advocacy laws etc. all are examples of times we hope the govt will get involved in issues that are - at heart - social justice.

It's a difficult issue but I think it's sort of simplistic to say "all church" or "all govt".....

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