A Biblical Analysis of the Black Lives Matter Organization by Eric Davis

Courtesy of The Cripplegate

BLM

It’s a phrase that has been heard often in these recent days of sorrow and unrest. Black lives matter. No decent person can disagree. Certainly not Christians. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, David Dorn, Breann Leath, David Patrick Underwood. We could add more. Their lives mattered. Like every person ever born, they have all been created in the image of God. We all have God’s stamp on us. When life is lost, we are to weep with those who weep.

Black Lives Matter is an organization that began in 2013, and has been growing ever since. However, there is a difference between the fact that black lives matter and the organization, Black Lives Matter (BLM). BLM is an organization with a belief system; an ideology; some might argue it parallels a religion. It describes itself as an “ideological and political intervention” and is largely rooted in black feminist theology, black liberation theology, and critical race theory. With a 3000-word doctrinal statement, the organization is more than an idea. Among other things, BLM has a desire for racial equality and the end of police brutality. Those are good things which all of us should desire. Micah 6:8 expresses it well: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

As it concerns Christians, we must ask the question: how does the BLM doctrine line up with the Christian’s source of faith and practice; the Bible? The purpose of this article is to answer that question.

First, what this article is not saying. This article is not asserting that everyone who ascribes to the BLM movement ascribes to its doctrinal statement. Some may not be aware of BLM’s finer points of doctrine. Nor does this article claim that those who hold to the fact that black lives matter simultaneously hold to the BLM doctrine. Rather, the purpose is to compare the stated beliefs of the BLM organization with God’s word. 

BLM teaching will be compared with Scripture in seven categories.

Salvation

BLM’s ideology is largely fueled by Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Permeated with standpoint epistemology, CRT/I is a growing ideology akin to a religion. Most religions and ideologies present a “gospel,” or a way of salvation-rescue from a perceived problem. In short, CRT/I, whether explicitly or implicitly, teaches that salvation is needed from inherent racism and privilege innate to the original sin of whiteness. In other words, a swath of humanity is congenitally depraved due to whiteness. Salvation for this population, therefore, is mostly impossible. Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to a standard of righteousness that is unattainable (e.g. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Matt. 5:48). Unlike Christianity, CRT/I provides no grace by which righteousness may be imputed by faith (c.f. Rom. 3:21-26). One cannot be objectively declared righteous from whiteness.

Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds that those with original sin must experience a change of nature to escape their depraved condition (e.g. “we were by nature children of wrath,” Eph. 2:3). Unlike biblical Christianity, CRT/I provides no ability for a supernatural, new birth out of one’s inherent, natural predicament (cf. John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17). You cannot be objectively reborn out of whiteness or privilege.

Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to an individual’s inherent uncleanness due to the stain of original sin (cf. Jer. 2:22, Isa. 64:6). Unlike biblical Christianity, however, CRT/I provides no impeccable substitute or method by which the stain of original sin can be permanently cleansed (cf. Heb. 9:22). You cannot be cleansed by the stain of whiteness.

Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to an individual’s dominion under a sinful, guilty family and race (e.g. “In Adam all die,” 1 Cor. 15:22). Unlike biblical Christianity, CRT/I provides no ability to be transferred out of that guilty family and adopted into a righteous one (cf. Eph. 1:5, Gal. 4:6-7). You cannot be adopted out of whiteness.

Unlike biblical Christianity, therefore, BLM provides no objective, historical basis of hope for eternal life in a sinless, sorrowless, deathless world. BLM offers no grace of justification, no mercy of redemption, no power for regeneration, and no hope of eternal life. On the contrary, its system is one that places crushing guilt on individuals, while featuring, ironically, a built-in ideology of partiality and prejudice. There is no salvation in the BLM movement.

Parenting & Family

BLM is confessionally opposed to the nuclear family structure. On the family, they state the following:

We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

This is part of the growing movement which rejects God’s good design of loving male headship in the home. Scripture teaches that God’s plan for the home is a man and woman united under the monogamous covenant of marriage. The first family God created was that very thing (Gen. 2:18-24, Mark 10:6-9). As head of the home, a husband is commanded by God to love his wife sacrificially; as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). God’s high calling for wives is to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, as the church does to Christ (Eph. 5:22-24). To oppose God’s orderly, caring nuclear family structure is to oppose God’s best for children and the human race. To reject God’s design for the family is an attack on God. And rejecting God’s design for the family will not be without consequences.

Studies have demonstrated that homes without a father often put a child at risk for adverse outcomes. For example, children living in female headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent, over 4 times the rate in married-couple families. As BLM states that it fights for “poor Black people,” it would do well to reverse its view of the family in that fight. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.” Another study demonstrated that fatherless homes had significantly fewer externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems than children living with at least one non-biological parent. Children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Studies also have shown that the absence of a father renders youth more likely to commit crime and engage in early sexual activity. Not all children raised in fatherless homes will experience these adverse outcomes. God is gracious in such circumstances. However, to oppose his design for the family is an attack on God and rejection of his common grace for children and society.

Human sexuality

BLM teaches the following on human sexuality:

We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

Cisgender refers to one’s gender which corresponds to God-given, anatomy. By working to “dismantle cisgender privilege,” BLM opposes God’s created design of biologically based gender. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Gender was invented, created, and assigned by God. To oppose the idea of biological gender is to oppose God.

BLM teaches further:

We foster a queeraffirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

“Heteronormative” sexuality in the context of marriage is God’s beautiful design and gift to the human race (Gen. 2:24, Heb. 13:4). Homosexuality opposes God’s design for human sexuality, and therefore is sin against him (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor. 6:9). To “foster a queer-affirming” lifestyle opposes God’s purpose and plan for sexuality.

Reconciliation & Forgiveness

BLM demands reparations in five ways. Here are a few:

We demand reparations for past and continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of the harm they have inflicted on Black people — from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration, and surveillance — must repair the harm done. This includes:

Reparations for the systemic denial of access to high quality educational opportunities in the form of full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education including: free access and open admissions to public community colleges and universities, technical education (technology, trade and agricultural), educational support programs, retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.

Reparations for the wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism in the form of corporate and government reparations…

An exhaustive discussion of the issue of reparations is beyond the scope of this article. Many have recognized that the problems with reparations are innumerable.

First, how and to whom will reparations be distributed justly and in proportion to alleged injustices? Will those who lived through the days prior to the Civil Rights movement receive more than those who did not? Will someone with a black mother and white father receive less? What about those with a half-black father and white mother? What about recent immigrants from Burkina Faso or the Ivory Coast? What about those whose parents were from Vanuatu or Madagascar? What about immigrants who have violated United States law from Africa, but later receive legalization? What about black criminals? Will they receive reparations and how much? What about wealthy individuals like Lebron James and Lil Wayne? And what about individuals who did not contribute to alleged injustices? How will it be justly determined who owes what?

Second, Scripture requires reparations for specific biblical infractions committed by an individual against another (Lev. 6:5, Num. 5:8). In these cases, a stolen item, and the value thereof, is tangible and therefore can be objectively determined and recompensed. Doing so in reparations will be quite difficult, if not impossible, for alleged injustices.

Third, the New Testament did not require reparation for God’s people, or any people. History records that the first century Roman Empire, under which Christianity existed, systematically extracted excessive taxes from citizens (cf. Luke 3:12-13). Though God is a God of perfect justice, he does not require the Roman Empire to make reparations for doing so. Nor does he command Christians to protest or lobby for reparations. In fact, Christians under a system with far more injustices, partiality, and corruption than modern-day America were commanded to “submit to governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1), “pay taxes” (Rom. 13:6-7), live a quiet and prayerful life towards civil authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-2), avoid seeking vengeance while trusting God for justice (Rom. 12:17-21), and even honor the emperor (1 Pet. 2:17).

Government & Civil Authorities

Regarding government and civil authorities, BLM teaches:

We are Abolitionist: We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.

Defunding the police has become a signature motto of BLM. In a June 5th tweet, BLM wrote, “Black Lives Matter means defund the police. @emilymbadger say it with us.” In a response, they said, “#defundpolice is a demand full stop.”

Scripture does not justify eradication of law enforcement on the grounds of flawed law enforcement for at least three reasons.

First, the most loving and just individual in history, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the recipient of colossal injustice at the hands of law enforcement. He was the object of the most unjust and corrupt arrest, trial, and execution in world history. Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus was the object of extraordinary police brutality. False witnesses were used to convict him (Matt. 26:60). After his arrest, he was stripped naked, humiliated, mocked, spit on, punched, beaten, and scourged by an angry mob of law enforcement (Matt. 26:47, 27:27-31). Then, they paraded him carrying his own cross before a jeering mob, during which he collapsed in the street from his injuries (Matt. 27:32). Finally, they laid him on the cross, nailed him to it, and raised it for all to see (Matt. 27:35). There, law enforcement and other officials continued to mock him as he suffered the most horrific and humiliating of deaths (Matt. 27:41, Luke 26:36). Despite these never-to-be-matched injustices and police brutalities, Jesus commanded submission, paying of taxes, and prayer on behalf of the very government that murdered him (Mark 12:17, Rom. 13:1-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:17). Does this mean the Bible is ok with wrongs committed by civil authorities? Not at all (Luke 3:14). Jesus commands the highest level of love and justice towards one another (Matt. 22:37-39, Phil. 2:3-5).

How will needed police reform occur then? Through things like additional training, prayer, gospel preaching, regenerate hearts, peaceful activism and legislation, and building relationships with civil authorities, while recognizing that this is not heaven (Gen. 3:18-19). God will make right all wrongs. For all who trust in the Person, death, and resurrection of the biblical Jesus, they can count on it (Rev. 21:3-4). Until then, this world groans, and so do we.

Second, Jesus’ followers also suffered frequent unjust treatment at the hands of law enforcement (e.g. Acts 4:3, 4:21, 5:18, 5:41, 7:58-60, 8:1-3, 9:1-2, 12:1-5, 13:50, 14:19, 16:22-25, 16:37, 18:17, 19:29, 21:29-32, 22:25, 24:27, 26:31, 28:16; 2 Tim. 4:6; Heb. 13:23; 2 Pet. 1:14; Rev. 2:10, etc.). Police brutality was a common thing for them. Thousands more examples could be cited from the late first century into the fourth century, the Protestant Reformation, and up to the present day. Christians were used as human candles, thrown to wild beasts for sport in the Roman coliseums, tortured, burned, drowned, and subjected to other despicable atrocities. Even so, and knowing all of this, God recognizes the legitimacy of government and law enforcement (Rom. 13:1-6). Christians are commanded, not to overthrow it, but pray for it, submit to it, and be respectful (Rom. 13:1-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, Titus 3:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:17). Flawed law enforcement is never the grounds for no law enforcement. The reason we can embrace this is because we understand that God is sovereign and, by faith in Christ, we will one day live under the perfect, loving, just rule of Jesus Christ.

Third, albeit flawed, law enforcement is ordained by God for the protection of humanity. All humans are flawed (Jer. 17:9), thus flaws will surface in law enforcement. For that reason, they must work to continually improve practices and procedures. Even so, God decrees the existence of law enforcement for the greater good of society (Rom. 13:3-5). Without it would be disastrous.

Defunding the police is not a new idea. In modern times, it seems to have originated with the Black Panthers in the late 60s and early 70s. But the need for improved police training and community relations does not merit dismantling of police altogether. Doing so would backfire in catastrophic ways (cf. Eccles. 8:10). The book of Judges is a terrifying case study of what happens in a society without law enforcement (cf. Judg. 17:6, 21:25). The injustices occurring now will multiply by disastrous magnitudes should police be defunded.

Value of Human Life

Pro-abortion BLM says:

We deserve and thus we demand reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies and our identities while ensuring that our children and families are supported, safe, and able to thrive.

Unborn babies are unquestionably living human beings. They are valuable creations of God, made in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). Abortion is the unjustified ending of a baby’s life. Therefore, abortion constitutes the sin of murder (Ex. 20:13).

In 2018, Planned Parenthood performed 345,672 abortions. Given that about one-third of those patients are black women, Planned Parenthood alone aborts about 100,000 babies per year.

According to the 2010 US Census, 79 percent of the Planned Parenthood surgical abortion facilities are placed within walking distance of communities largely comprised of minority groups.

One source says:

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, there have been over 15.5 million abortions performed on African Americans. These 15.5 million Black lives lost to abortion outnumber the deaths of Black people due to AIDS, violent crimes, accidents, cancer, and heart disease combined.

In 2019, 235 black people were killed by police (compared to 370 whites). Even if every one of those was unjust, the unjust killing of black people by abortion would be 425 times higher than deaths by police. So, to be consistent, where should BLM direct their advocacy for black lives?

BLM teaches, “We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter,” and, “In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.”

However, by supporting abortion, BLM cannot be said to have an unqualified position on the value of black lives. In no way can the organization “desire freedom or justice” for all black individuals. By failing to oppose abortion, they deny justice and freedom to the most defenseless, helpless, and innocent of the black community. A catastrophic inconsistency exists in the fact that BLM protests the tragic death of George Floyd, for example, but gives a pass to the deaths of some 100,000 black babies each year. The greatest atrocities; the greatest violence against blacks is not by the police, but abortion clinics. Despite the name, “Black Lives Matter,” the organization is hard-pressed to affirm in an unqualified manner that black lives matter. If they are going to defund an institution which is most harmful to blacks, it is abortion clinics which must be defunded.

Unity

As observed from BLM’s teachings, it appears that they seek unity around their own, self-developed doctrine. The aforementioned principles seem to be that around which the organization seeks unity.

The Lord Jesus offers a superior, more gracious unity, however. His death on the cross unequivocally tears down disunity between sinners and God and sinners with one another, regardless of melanin content:

Ephesians 2:11–16 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

During the first century, great ethnic-social hostility existed between the Gentiles and Israelites. But the gospel completely dismantled that. What a glorious, loving work of unity that the darker-skinned Person of Christ has performed for all ethnicities through his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus already has reconciled all who put faith in him. How then, could finite man outdo a reconciliation by human efforts what Christ, infinite God, has accomplished? Let us not seek to resurrect barriers which Christ has already destroyed.

Conclusion

God requires love for all people since all are made in the image of God and in need of the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:14). Regardless of one’s differing views, Christians are commanded to love others, including those in movements which disagree with Scripture. However, to love every person does not mean affirming the practices of every person. In fact, it is unloving to affirm the sin of others (cf. Gal. 6:1-3). Scripture teaches that those who fail to embrace the Person and work of the biblical Christ remain at enmity with God and face eternal consequences (John 3:36, 2 Thess. 1:7-9, Rev. 20:11-15). Love means we say something.

BLM opposes God’s teaching on salvation, parenting and family, human sexuality, reconciliation and forgiveness, government and civil authorities, the value of human life, and unity. Therefore, though Christians must love those in the organization, they cannot embrace the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is an ideology (and perhaps a religious movement) which clashes at critical points with God’s word.

Though BLM’s concept of justice, equity, and reconciliation is flawed, God’s people resonate with their desire for those things. However, BLM will not achieve those things through its doctrine and practice. Instead, we point the BLM movement towards the loving, sovereign, compassionate God of justice; the God of the Bible.

God will flawlessly deal with all injustices in history (Rom. 12:19). However, he will also see to the injustice in our own hearts and lives (Rom. 6:23). God’s moral standard is far higher than ours: he demands perfect holiness even down to the level of our motivations and thoughts (Matt. 5:21-48). On God’s criteria, therefore, it’s clear: we all have sinned and fallen short of his glory (Rom. 3:23). We all stand condemned before the Judge of all the earth (Rom. 3:10-20). But the happy news is that God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be punished in our place for our injustices, inward and outward (Isa. 53:4-6, 1 Pet. 2:24). Incredibly, God offers complete forgiveness towards us (Eph. 1:7). He does so justly, by transferring the penalty for our sins to the sinless Person of Christ, when he died on the cross (Rom. 3:21-26). For all who bow the knee in faith to Christ, God justly declares us, the unjust, just, on the basis of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Rom. 3:25-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 2:8-9, 1 Pet. 3:18). All who do will be reconciled to God and spend eternity in the blissful, joyful heaven. In that place, all injustice, violence, and death will be forever eradicated (Rev. 21:3-4). The peace, justice, and life that BLM seeks doesn’t compare to that which God promises through Christ.

Jesus, His Life – Episode 4: Caiaphas: The Raising of Lazarus

Each part of this film series is more difficult to watch. Although spurred on in my quest to answer the question “Where’s the gospel?”, my hopes are dwindling that it will make an appearance. We have yet to be presented the good news that Christ died for the sins of men. So, onward we go.

The Caiaphas episode revolves around the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas’ attempt to assess the threat Jesus poses to the status quo. Some commentators appear to be sympathetic to Caiaphas, as we will see. Note that much, if not most of this episode is taken from the Gospel of John

Once again, the same format is used, but this time we are provided Caiaphas’ possible thoughts and emotions about Jesus. I won’t give you all the names of all of the commentators, but try and provide an accurate account of what transpired in the film. I will try and not correct the narrative this time, but instead challenge you to examine scripture yourselves.

We are told that Caiaphas, High Priest 18 – 36 A.D., is extremely important, because without him Jesus cannot be arrested.

We begin with the Feast of Tabernacles. Thousands of people are gathered in Jerusalem for the occasion and Caiaphas is the ‘star’ of the festival as he presides over the activities. At one point he is standing on a balcony, pouring life giving water out of a pitcher onto plants below as some sort of ritual. Jesus appears and disrupts the ceremony by speaking: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

The commentator tells us that Jesus is really saying that “Rituals aren’t important, I’m the only one that can bring eternal life.”

We are treated to a short history lesson about the Romans having granted Jewish High Priests quite a bit of power, which is true, but Pilate was ‘large and in charge’. Pilate and Caiaphas talk about the previous Feast and Caiaphas tells Pilate that things are still peaceful, but he knows how quickly things can change.

Flash back several years earlier when Pilate wanted to build an aqueduct using funds from the Temple. An uprising ensued  that the Romans forcefully put down. Caiaphas is worried another such revolt and the Romans again reacting with violence toward the Jews. This fear naturally affects the way he views Jesus.

We travel to Bethany, about 2 miles outside of Jerusalem. Bethany is a place where Jesus can experience normal daily living. Bethany is also the home of Mary and Marths, the sisters of Lazarus, who had a very close relationship with Jesus. While there, Jesus also teaches the people. We see Jesus teaching about the good Samaritan. We are also told that Mary and Martha travelled with Jesus as he travelled; female disciples with the same status as the other disciples.

The fact that Jesus and Lazarus are such close friends tells us that Jesus had friends outside of his closest disciples, demonstrating Jesus’ humanity,

We head back to Jerusalem and Caiaphas fear of Jesus’ healing miracles causing trouble and maybe even Roman violence. Caiaphas is, after all, most concerned with the welfare of the Jewish people and being allowed to practice Jewish religion.

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and this time heals the man born blind, on the Sabbath, a really big no-no. The story presented in the film is accurate, including the man’s parents being brought in before Jewish leaders to confirm their son was born blind, as well as the healed man saying “All I know is that I was blind, but now I see.”

Caiaphas thoughts at the time: “If so many people can fall for Jesus’ tricks, how can I ignore him?” He KNOWS Jesus is dangerous. He cannot ignore him, especially when Jesus goes to the Temple.

We then see Jesus confronted by the Pharisees who ‘legitimately’ question his identity as the Son of God.  Jesus tells them “My sheep know me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish.” (John 6). Jesus tells the Pharisees that he and the Father are One. They pick up rocks to stone Jesus, but he escapes through the streets of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, we return to Caiaphas and his fears about Jesus. Caiaphas remembers another time, years ago, when he was just a child, another revolt that was crushed by the Romans and 2,000 Jews were crucified (this was mentioned in an earlier episode also). After all, Caiaphas is the defender of the Jewish faith and Jewish people (a common thread of this episode.

Jesus and his disciples have escaped to the ‘other side of the Jordan’, where John had baptized. At the same time, Lazarus becomes very sick at his home with Mary and Martha in Bethany. A messenger is sent to summon Jesus to come and heal him. Jesus is conflicted about what to do, but remains by the Jordan. Lazarus dies and by the time Jesus gets to Bethany, he has been dead four days and has been lying in a tomb, wrapped in linen, as was customary in Jesus time.

We know the story. Jesus shows up and confronts both Martha and Mary, in that order. Martha is angry Jesus did not come sooner. Jesus says Lazarus will live and Martha thinks Jesus is talking about the final resurrection. gives her a lesson about the final resurrection. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and that the one who believes in him, though he dies, yet shall he live. He asks Martha “Do you believe this?” Martha confesses that she believes he is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Jesus goes to Mary and responds in a very human manner. Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus and knowing the pain of Mary. Mary takes Jesus to the tomb. To Mary and Martha’s surprise Jesus tells Lazarus to come out of the tomb (but not with the loud voice spoken of in John’s Gospel). The crowd (Mary & Martha included) were stupefied,

A commentator tells us that Jewish theology would have believed the since Lazarus died and had laid there four days, it was what God ordained. Therefore Jesus was overturning what God ordained, which ways that maybe Jesus’ claims to be the Don of god were believable. This was an enormous threat to the religious establishment.

Spies are sent to Bethany to watch Jesus and find out what his intentions are. After all Jesus threatened the religious establishment in Jerusalem. Malchus, whose ear was cut off in the Garden was among them. If fat, Malchus has appeared throughout the series, having been a servant of Caiaphas.

It was this miracle that convinced Jewish religious leaders that Jesus was a real problem and must be dealt with. This is a major shift and places Jesus on a trajectory of death.

We see Malchus watching Jesus in the crowd at Bethany, wondering how Jesus raised Lararus miracles. Malchus muses: “After all he is not a sorcerer, but just a man, a man made of flesh and blood, and I must not be frightened of him.”

Malchus slips through the crown and returns to Jerusalem to report to Caiaphas. From that day on, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin try and come up with a way to deal with Jesus. There are arguments, but in the end, Caiaphas makes the hard call to get rid of Jesus. There is the risk of another revolt and to silence one man is not too much of a risk to preserve the religious establishment and the Jewish nation.

The End

Dan’s Final Comments:

There is a lot I could say, but as I said, I challenge to the reader is to investigate for themselves. This isn’t because I’m lazy, I just know that interested believers, when they search the scripture for themselves, come away tremendously enriched for having done do!

I will mention something that was omitted from this episode that I think was a tremendously significant part of the final discussions between Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. We find in John’s account an actual God given prophesy made by Caiaphas about Jesus, while they were plotting to kill Jesus:

47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (John 11:47-52)

This prophecy is clearly about Jesus dying for the sins of the Jews and not only the Jews, but for Gentiles also – ALL of the true children of God everywhere.

On one hand I am personally upset this was omitted, but on the other hand, it fits perfectly with the social justice narrative we have seen, as opposed to Jesus dying for the sins of people, not their earthly welfare. The ‘social justice’ theme is intact.

Next up: Judas: The Betrayal

 

 

The Injustice of Social Justice

Here is the fifth in a series of blog posts by Dr. John MacArthur concerning the social justice movement and its relationship to the the Gospel, posted at GTY. Here are the links to the first four posts.

Social Injustice and the Gospel by John MacArthur

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2

Is the Controversy over “Social Justice” Really Necessary? by John MacArthur

On to The Article:

The Injustice of Social Justice

by John MacArthur

Friday, September 7, 2018

The besetting sin of pragmatic, style-conscious evangelicals has always been that they shamelessly borrow fads and talking points from the unbelieving world. Today’s evangelicals evidently don’t believe the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God (1 Corinthians 3:19). Virtually any theory, ideology, or amusement that captures the fancy of secular pop culture will be adopted, slightly adapted, perhaps cloaked in spiritual-sounding language, propped up with specious proof texts, and peddled as an issue that is vital for evangelicals to embrace if we don’t want to become totally irrelevant.

That’s precisely how evangelicals in the mid-twentieth century became obsessed for several decades with positive thinking, self-esteem, and “Christian psychology.” After that, it was marketing savvy and promotional strategies. By the beginning of the twenty-first century it was postmodernism, repackaged and aggressively promoting itself as the Emerging Church movement.

Today, critical race theory, feminism, intersectional theory, LGBT advocacy, progressive immigration policies, animal rights, and other left-wing political causes are all actively vying for evangelical acceptance under the rubric of “social justice.”

Not every evangelical leader currently talking about social justice supports the full spectrum of radical causes, of course. Most (for the moment, at least) do not. But they are using the same rhetoric and rationale of victimhood and oppression that is relentlessly employed by secularists who are aggressively advocating for all kinds of deviant lifestyles and ideologies. Anyone who claims victim status can easily and effectually harness the emotional appeal of a plea for “social justice” both to gain support and to silence opposition.

Indeed, as social justice rhetoric has gained currency among evangelicals, just about every cause that is deemed politically correct in the secular world is steadily gaining momentum among evangelicals. It would be folly to pretend the social justice movement poses no threat whatsoever to evangelical conviction.

Evangelicals seldom explicitly define what they mean by “social justice”—possibly because if they gave an accurate definition of where that term came from and what it means in the secular academy, they might lose a lot of evangelical support. Countless critics have pointed out that the rhetoric of “social justice” is deeply rooted in Gramscian Marxism. For many decades, “social justice” has been employed as political shorthand by radical leftists as a way of calling for equal distribution of wealth, advantages, privileges, and benefits—up to and including pure Marxist socialism.

The rhetoric has been effective, and nowadays the typical social justice warrior is convinced that equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law are not sufficiently just; we haven’t achieved true social justice until we have equality of outcome, status, and wealth. That’s why we hear so much about income comparisons, racial quotas, and other statistics suggesting, for example, that systemic oppression by a male oligarchy is conclusively proved by the dearth of women who pursue careers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Marxists, socialists, anarchists, and other radicals purposely use such arguments to foment resentment, class warfare, ethnic strife, tension between the genders, and other conflicts between various people groups, because in order to restructure society to fit their ideologies, they must first break down existing societal norms.

All of that is true, and the connection between Marxism and postmodern social justice rhetoric is surely a valid and important point. But it is even more vital that we as Christians employ the light of Scripture to scrutinize and evaluate the ideas currently being promoted in the name of social justice.

No Justice but God’s Justice

The Bible has much to say about justice. In the English Standard Version of the Bible, the word is used more than 130 times. It is never preceded by an adjective, except in Ezekiel 18:8, which speaks of “true justice.” It is occasionally paired with possessive pronouns. God Himself speaks of “my justice” twice in Scripture. Twice in prayers addressed to God, we read the expression “your justice.”

The point? There are not different flavors of justice. There is only true justice, defined by God Himself and always in accord with His character.

It is a fact that the Bible puts enormous stress on the charitable aspects of justice—goodwill toward all; compassion for the underprivileged; assistance for the fatherless and the widow; love for foreigners; and care for the poor, especially providing needy people with the necessities of life (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 140:12; Ezekiel 22:29).

But biblical justice is not a one-sided affair, showing partiality to the poor or disenfranchised in an effort to even the scales of privilege. In fact, Scripture expressly condemns that mentality as unjust (Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15).

Justice in Scripture is often paired with the words equity and righteousness. Equity means equal treatment for everyone under the law. Righteousness signifies that which is consistent with the demands of God’s law—including punishment for evildoers (Jeremiah 5:26-29); obedience to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7); penalties that fit the crime and are applied without partiality (Leviticus 24:17-22); and a strong work ethic, enforced by the principle that able-bodied people who refuse to work shouldn’t benefit from public charity (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Those aspects of true justice are conspicuously missing from the recent evangelical dialogue touting “social justice.” Instead, what we hear is an echo of the same accusatory rhetoric and political slogans being shouted by secular social justice warriors. That fact ought to awaken the Berean urge in every Christian.

Widening the Gospel

Even more troubling are statements that have been made by certain evangelical thought leaders who claim that anyone who doesn’t advocate for social justice is preaching a truncated gospel. Some say that those who reject their social justice ideology don’t have any gospel at all. Anthony Bradley, Chair of Religious and Theological Studies at The King’s College, recently posted this remark online:

“Here’s the problem (and this will be hard): from a black church perspective, evangelicals have never had the gospel. Ever. Read the book Doctrine A[nd] Race. Here then is the actual Q: When will evangelicals embrace the gospel for the first time ever?”

Those who say such things typically bristle when critics compare their views to Walter Rauschenbusch and the social gospel. But the argument and most of the rhetoric are identical. Rauschenbusch was an early twentieth-century liberal theologian and author of a book titled A Theology for the Social Gospel. He taught that Christians need to repent not only for their personal transgressions but also for “social sins.” Like most of today’s evangelical social justice advocates, Rauschenbusch insisted (at first) that he had no agenda to do away with any vital gospel truth; he just wanted to widen the focus of the gospel so that it would encompass social evils as well as the issue of individual sin and redemption. But soon Rauschenbusch was saying things like this:

“Public evils so pervade the social life of humanity in all times and all places that no one can share the common life of our race without coming under the effect of these collective sins. He will either sin by consenting in them, or he will suffer by resisting them. Jesus did not in any real sense bear the sin of some ancient Briton who beat up his wife in B.C. 56, or of some mountaineer in Tennessee who got drunk in A.D. 1917. But he did in a very real sense bear the weight of the public sins of organized society, and they in turn are causally connected with all private sins. [1] Walter Rauschenbusch, A Theology for the Social Gospel (New York: MacMillan, 1917), 247 (italics added).”

Several of America’s largest mainstream Protestant denominations eagerly imbibed Rauschenbusch’s ideas. All that did quickly drifted even further into liberalism until they had abandoned any commitment they might have had to the authority of Scripture. By then they had long since lost the gospel completely.

Why? Because those who let the culture, a political ideology, popular opinion, or any other extrabiblical source define “justice” for them will soon find that Scripture opposes them. If they are determined to retain their perverted idea of justice, they will therefore have to oppose Scripture.

Furthermore, every attempt to widen the scope of the gospel will ultimately put the gospel so far out of focus that its actual message will be lost.

The message of social justice diverts attention from Christ and the cross. It turns our hearts and minds from things above to things on this earth. It obscures the promise of forgiveness for hopeless sinners by telling people they are hapless victims of other people’s misdeeds.

It therefore fosters the works of the flesh instead of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit.

Let Us Not Provoke One Another or Envy One Another

Christians are the last people who should ever become offended, resentful, envious, or unforgiving. Love “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The mark of a Christian is turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, praying for those who mistreat us. Christ is the example whose steps we are to follow: “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

Hatred, envy, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, hostility, divisiveness, bitterness, pride, selfishness, hard feelings, vindictiveness—and all similar attitudes of resentment—are the self-destructive works of the flesh. The beneficial fruit the Spirit produces are the exact opposite attitudes: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  The NIV translates 1 Corinthians 13:5 this way: “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.”

Such qualities, frankly, are in short supply in the rhetoric of those advocating for social justice.

Doing justice (i.e., biblical justice, not the secular substitute) together with loving mercy and walking humbly with God are all essential virtues. Those are the chief practical duties incumbent on every believer (Micah 6:8). Constantly complaining that we are victims of injustice while judging other people guilty of sins we cannot even see is antithetical to the Spirit of Christ.

As Christians, let’s cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities named in the Beatitudes, the virtues outlined in 2 Peter 1:5-7, and the characteristics of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13. Any notion of moral equity that omits or minimizes those righteous qualities has no right whatsoever to be called “justice.”

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Is the Controversy over "Social Justice" Really Necessary? by John MacArthur

Here is the fourth  in a series of blog posts by Dr. John MacArthur concerning the social justice movement and its relationship to the the Gospel, posted at GTY. Here are the links to the first three posts.

Social Injustice and the Gospel by John MacArthur

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2

On to The Article:

Is the Controversy over “Social Justice” Really Necessary?

by John MacArthur

Monday, August 27, 2018

I do not relish controversy, and I particularly dislike engaging in polemical battles with other evangelical Christians. But as my previous posts in this series demonstrate, when the gospel is under attack from within the visible church, such controversy is necessary. And if it seems fierce disagreements within the church have been the rule rather than the exception, that’s because relentless attacks on the gospel from people professing fidelity to Christ have come in an unending parade since the very beginning of the church age. There has never been an extended period in church history when it has not been necessary for faithful voices to mount a vigorous defense of one or more cardinal biblical principles.

None of the controversies I’ve described in my previous posts sprang up suddenly. The lordship controversy, for example, was a conflict many of us saw coming more than a decade before I wrote The Gospel According to Jesus. The twisted gospel of the prosperity preachers has its roots in the Pentecostal movement going back to the early twentieth century. Normally we can see storm clouds brewing and anticipate where the next major assault is coming from.

But occasionally a new threat to the simplicity or clarity of the gospel seems to erupt with stunning force and suddenness. The current controversy over “social justice” and racism is an example of that. Four years ago, I would not have thought it possible for Bible-believing evangelicals to be divided over the issue of racism. As Christians we stand together in our affirmation of the second great commandment (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”—Leviticus 19:18). We therefore stand together against every hint of racial animus.

Racism is a stain on American history that has left shame, injustice, and horrible violence in its wake. The institution of slavery and a costly civil war left a deep racial divide and bred bitter resentment on every side. No sensible person would suggest that all the vestiges of those evils were totally erased by the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century. Civil rights legislation now guards the legal principle of equal rights for all Americans, but no law can change the heart of someone who is filled with prejudice or bitterness.

Thankfully, however, much progress has been made. Racial relations in secular America are not what they were even fifty years ago. The American attitude has changed. White supremacy and all other expressions of purposeful, willful, or ideological racism are almost universally condemned.

As Christians we know that the human heart is evil, so undoubtedly there are still people who secretly harbor animosity against ethnicities other than their own. But any open expression of acrimony, ill will, or deliberate antagonism across ethnic lines will be scorned and emphatically rejected across the whole spectrum of mainstream American life today.

Of course, people everywhere still tend to be oblivious to or inconsiderate of customs, traditions, community values, and ethnic differences outside their own culture. Culture clash is a universal problem, not a uniquely American quandary—and it’s not necessarily an expression of ethnic hostility. But Americans’ contempt for racial bigotry is now so acute that even accidental cultural or ethnic insensitivity is regularly met with the same resentment as blind, angry racism—and even a simple social gaffe is likely to be treated the same as bigotry. There are people—increasing numbers of them—so obsessed with this issue that they seem able to find proof of racism in practically everything that is said or done by anyone who doesn’t share their worldview.

I understand when fallen, worldly people filled with resentment lash out at others that way. I don’t understand why Bible-believing Christians would take up that cause. I thought the evangelical church was living out true unity in Christ without regard for race. That has certainly been my experience in every church I’ve ever been part of, and it’s also what I have seen in the wider evangelical world. I don’t know of any authentically evangelical church where people would be excluded or even disrespected because of their ethnicity or skin color. Just last Sunday night—as we do every month—we received about a hundred new members into Grace Church. It was another testimony to God’s love crossing all ethnic lines, as the group was composed of Hispanics, Filipinos, Chinese, Ugandans, Nigerians, Mongolians, Koreans, Ukrainians, Armenians, Lithuanians, Russians, Austrians, people of Arabic descent, as well as black and white Americans.

As Christians we are reconciled with God and united with Christ. To understand that doctrine is to be reconciled with one another. This is a major emphasis in all the Bible’s teaching about forgiving one another as God has forgiven us. Christians should not be the ones dividing over race in a racially charged environment. We are the peacemakers and the lovers of all men. We don’t seek vengeance. We forgive seventy times seven.

And yet, as the issue of racial division has become more and more a focus in the secular academy and in the news media, evangelicals eager to engage the culture have taken up the issue. Unfortunately, many who have spoken on this issue have simply echoed the wisdom of this world rather than addressing the issue in a truly gospel-centered way. As a result, rancorous discourse over ethnic differences has eclipsed the gospel and divided the church—even among those evangelicals who might be most likely to self-describe as “gospel-centered Christians.”

It’s quite common these days for Christian leaders addressing this issue to call for people who have never harbored a racist thought to confess the guilt of racism because their ancestors may have been racists. Expressions of repentance have been demanded of white evangelicals for no actual transgression, but because they are perceived to have benefited from “white privilege.” Supposedly, their skin color automatically makes them culpable for the racism of the past. One influential evangelical leader, in an article titled “We Await Repentance for Assassinating Dr. King,” suggested that racial reconciliation in the church cannot even start until white Christians confess their parents’ and grandparents’ complicity in “murdering a man who only preached love and justice” (meaning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).

So by this view of “social justice,” a person’s skin color might automatically require a public expression of repentance—not merely for the evils of his ancestors’ culture, but also for specific crimes he cannot possibly have been guilty of.

There’s nothing remotely “just” about that idea, and certainly nothing related to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The answer to every evil in every heart is not repentance for what someone else may have done, but repentance for our own sins, including hatred, anger, bitterness, or any other sinful attitude or behavior.

As Christians committed to the authority of Scripture and the truth of the gospel, we have better answers than the world could ever give to the problems of racism, injustice, human cruelty, and every other societal evil. We have the cross of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who grows and leads us in all love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

In the days to come, I want to discuss those answers, and specifically how Scripture says we should respond when we suffer wrongly at the hands of unrighteous people, corrupt governments, or hostile persecutors. The New Testament’s answer to that dilemma is not the least bit obscure or mysterious.

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The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2 by John MacArthur

Here is the third in a series of blog posts by Dr. John MacArthur concerning the social justice movement and its relationship to the the Gospel, posted at GTY. Here are the links to the first two posts.

Social Injustice and the Gospel by John MacArthur

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1

On to Part 2:

 

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Monday’s blog post focused on some of the past few decades of conflicts within the evangelical movement that have provoked me to preach and write in defense of the gospel. It wasn’t an exhaustive list—that would be tedious, I suspect. Evangelicals as a group have shown an unsettling willingness to compromise or unnecessarily obfuscate all kinds of issues where Scripture has spoken plainly and without ambiguity.

For example, despite the clarity of 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man”), leading evangelicals have been debating for several years whether women qualify to be elders or pastors in the church. Many capitulate to cultural preference rather than submitting to biblical authority on this and other similar issues. Some have tried to redefine the role and proper functioning of the family. Others seem to want to deconstruct—or simply ignore—what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage.

More disturbing yet, over the past few years some evangelicals have begun to borrow moral rationalizations from secular culture in the wake of America’s sexual revolution. For years there has been a slow but steady softening of evangelicals’ stance against sex outside of marriage. More recently, and more ominously, several vocal evangelicals (including some in positions of leadership or influence) have been tinkering with novel ideas regarding gender fluidity, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and homosexual marriage. Those are issues that generations of believers would never have dreamed of putting on the table for debate or redefinition in the church. But at this very moment there is a burgeoning campaign to reconsider and abandon the church’s historic stance on LGBT issues under the banner of “social justice.”

Why have so many evangelicals openly embraced such compromises? The answer is very simple. It’s the next logical step for a church that is completely ensnared in efforts to please the culture. For decades the popular notion has been that if the church was going to reach the culture it first needed to connect with the style and methods of secular pop culture or academic fads. To that end, the church surrendered its historic forms of worship. In many cases, everything that once constituted a traditional worship service disappeared altogether, giving way to rock-concert formats and everything else the church could borrow from the entertainment industry. Craving acceptance in the broader culture, the church carelessly copied the world’s style preferences and fleeting fads.

In my book Ashamed of the Gospel, I warned that this was a slippery slope, because the world would not be content for the church merely to reflect its style—it would demand to dictate the substance as well. And the seemingly endless parade of evangelical compromises bears that out. Many believers have long been convinced that they first have to give the world what it wants in order to have any opening for the gospel. Evangelical style coaches have heedlessly followed wherever the world leads them. Having thoroughly absorbed the world’s methods, the church is now being forced to adopt the world’s message.

The common link in those continual compromises is pragmatism*, driven by a desire to reach the world and win its support and admiration by utilitarian means. Evangelicals of our generation seem pathologically addicted to the sin of desiring the praise of men. Indeed, that is precisely the brand of pragmatism that I fear points people down nearly all the paths of departure from the gospel mentioned in Monday’s post. Today it has penetrated deep into the culture of the church, and the end effect is disaster.

Every one of those deviations from sound gospel doctrine has been driven and advanced by evangelicals seeking acceptance in the broader culture. Some of the errors I have singled out (seeker sensitivity and the explosive growth of the charismatic movement) have been promoted by evangelicals who think that whatever attracts the world must be the right doctrine or strategy. Other errors (the embrace of psychotherapy, the ecumenical drift away from Protestant principles, and—yes—the recent rhetoric about “social justice” reflect a fear of being thought unsophisticated or out of step with contemporary “wisdom.”

“Social justice” (in the world’s usage of that term) entails political ideas that are deemed sophisticated—namely, identity politics, critical race theory, the redistribution of wealth, and other radical or socialist policies. Those ideas were first popularized and propagated in the secular academy, where they are now regarded as received wisdom and have become a dominating part of popular culture. Evangelicals who are chasing the culture are latecomers to the party of those who advocate “social justice.”

And I’m convinced the dominant motives are pragmatic.

In ministry, success cannot be measured numerically or by popular opinion. “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2, ESV)—not “famous,” “fashionable,” “filthy rich,” or whatever. If attendance figures are someone’s gauge of effectiveness, there’s literally no end to the crazy schemes that person will try to legitimize—as long as the schemes are successful in drawing appreciative crowds. That idea has been injecting poison directly into the evangelical mainstream for decades. 

Consider this: The maestros of missionary and church growth have been telling church leaders that they need to survey the unchurched people in their communities, find out what it would take to get them interested in their churches, and then give that to them. Let opinion polls tell the church how to preach, what to teach, and what not to say or do.

Is it any wonder that the unchurched world now expects to be able to tell the church precisely what she should believe and how she should function and teach?

And is it any wonder that people who grew up through several decades of evangelical pragmatism and have now come into leadership positions in the church are absolutely convinced that it is essential for Christians to both heed and parrot the world’s wishes?

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*Pragmatism, quite simply, is the notion that the truthfulness or value of any strategy, idea, or truth claim is determined by its practical results. If a tactic produces the desired effect, it is deemed good. In the realm of church growth and gospel ministry, pragmatism as a guiding philosophy is severely flawed—even dangerously detrimental—for a couple of reasons that should be fairly obvious.

Number one, pragmatism alone cannot define what “the desired result” ought to be. If the goal is bad and the strategy works, it’s a bad strategy. In fact, if the desired end is evil, the strategy used to achieve it is by definition evil.

Second, and more to the point, raw pragmatism is unbiblical. God’s Word itself is the only reliable test of how good or bad anything is.

Name This Heresy

Here’s the screen capture of real tweet  from  a student at Wake Forest Divinity School:

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There seems to be an interesting syllogism here that goes something like this:

Major premise: Reparations is an expression of repentance.

Minor premise: Repentance is part of salvation.

Conclusion: Where there is no reparations, there is no salvation.

Then we are told that this the “Bottom line.” If reparations are not made to those who have been oppressed, there is NO  salvation.

I remember John 3:16 telling us that all those who believe in God’s Son will have eternal life (salvation). II t doesn’t say that those who believe in Christ ‘and pay reparations’ will have eternal life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that  making reparations for wrongs done is never warranted. The Old Testament has at least 6 references to making reparation (See Numbers  5:7-8; Numbers 6:12; Numbers18:9; 2 Kings 12:16; and Proverbs 14:9).

In the New Testament, a tax collector named Zacchaeus, upon meeting Jesus, vowed to pay back what he had  wrongly taken from taxpayers, with interest. That’s making reparation.

So clearly, making reparation can be a very good thing to do. Note the DO part. The tweet from Me. Hughes just as clearly tells us that the ‘bottom line’ to obtain salvation is something that we MUST DO.

Can you name the heresy yet? Here’s a hint:

”O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?   Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?   Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?   Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—  just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? “ (Gal 3:1-6) (ESV)

OK. . . . .that was a bit more than a hint. Mr. Hughes is guilty of what has been called ‘The Galatian Heresy”. He has added works to faith for salvation.

Sadly, making reparations is being called a ‘gospel’ issue by many evangelicals today. But is it? that’s the question. Did Christ die for our sins, or did he die for wrongs done to some members of  our society by other members of our society?

Is social  ‘justice’ a gospel issue, or is the gospel the answer to all forms of social ‘injustice’?

Thoughts? Comments?

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1 by John Mac Arthur

Almost two weeks ago, on Monday, 13 August, Dr. MacArthur began what will be s series  of blog posts at Grace to You with  a post titled “Social Injustice and the Gospel”. You can read it at GTY by clicking the previous link, or you can read it here at The Battle Cry. Please read it before reading this post, the 2nd of the series. Dr. MacArthur has taken a lot of flack concerning his views concerning the relationship between the social justice movement  and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I, for one, agree with him. Again. please read the first article in the series at either of the links provided and without any more prattling on my part, here is the second of Dr. MacArthur’s  posts.

The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1

by John MacArthur

Monday 20 August, 2018

From the earliest days of the apostolic era, faithful Christians have been called upon to contend earnestly for the truth of the gospel. The hardest battles have taken place within the visible church, among those who claim fidelity to Christ. That’s because the greatest threats to gospel truth have not come from atheists and other overt adversaries, but always from influential voices that arise within the church who speak twisted things (Acts 20:30). The evidence that this was happening in the very earliest era of the New Testament church is seen not only in Paul’s parting words to the Ephesian elders, but also in his admonitions to Timothy and Titus, and in Christ’s letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3.

When I was studying doctrine and apologetics in seminary, I thought I was equipping myself to defend biblical truth against an onslaught of attacks from the world. I envisioned answering atheism and confronting threats to the gospel that would arise out of secular culture, the entertainment industry, the academic world, and other places outside the church.

Sometime after I entered full-time ministry, it dawned on me (to my profound shock) that the greatest threats to biblical truth typically arise from within the fellowship of professing believers—and it is a relentless parade of attacks. Looking back through church history, I realized that’s how it has always been. There has never been a time when false doctrines, harmful methodologies, unwholesome practices, bizarre beliefs, poisonous ideologies, and false teachers weren’t troubling the church of God—often with seriously divisive and otherwise spiritually destructive results.

In retrospect, it should not have been a surprise to me that the worst troubles come from within. I was born into a pastor’s home. My father was the son of a pastor. Both were part of the historic denominational landscape of planet church. They were in the American Baptist Church (ABC) denomination.

By the time I was a teenager, my grandfather was in heaven, having served as a pastor until the day he saw the face of Christ. My dad left the faltering, compromising ABC to plant an independent church in a building sold by a failing Lutheran congregation.

My father took his stand in the liberal-fundamentalist conflict. The issue then was the inspiration and authority of Scripture. My dad was bold and relentless, always with grace, to defend the Bible as inspired by God in total. He was cut off from lifelong friends who stayed in the ABC, but he was never divided in his loyalty to the true doctrine of Scripture. He encouraged me as a teenager, as a college student, and as a seminary student to learn and acquire all the doctrinal and evidentiary proofs necessary to defend the Word of God against the modernist and liberal attacks.

Although he was a loving pastor, my dad was also an earnest, relentless, skilled, and thoughtful defender of the Bible.

By the time I finished seminary I had my own settled convictions about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. My beliefs were shaped by and solidly anchored in the testimony of Scripture itself—affirmed by the evidence of the Bible’s life-changing power, its accuracy in all details that are subject to examination, the precise fulfillment of so many of its prophesies, and the sheer glory of God’s self-revelation. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1.X), what I hear when I read my Bible is “the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

While in seminary I wrote papers defending the Bible’s authority, and I even debated at Fuller Seminary against the corrupted view of inerrancy put forth by two of its faculty members, Jack Rogers and Donald McKim. Theirs was a defective view of the Bible’s truthfulness, claiming the general thrust of Scripture is inspired but not the very words (ipsissima verba). They argued that there may be “technical errors” in the Bible, but it nevertheless is a “living witness” to what God has revealed. Together with some other evangelical leaders, I was invited (when Donald Hubbard was president) to speak to Fuller’s administration, faculty, and board on the issues of biblical inspiration and inerrancy. This was requested by concerned board members who had been told by faculty leaders that the views being taught at Fuller were perfectly orthodox—but when they spoke to students and other members of the faculty, those board members were hearing that unorthodox ideas were indeed being aggressively promoted in classrooms at Fuller.

I had always assumed that the defense of Scripture would be a lifelong battle (and it has been). What I did not anticipate, or even notice at first, was that the most damaging attacks on gospel principles tend to come in relentless waves and not mainly from secular skeptics and contentious unbelievers, but almost routinely from within the church—and from all sides.

I hadn’t been serving as a pastor very long when I was attacked by legalistic fundamentalists, and therefore was thrust into a conflict between works-based self-righteous religion and liberty in Christ. After that, an attack came from the opposite direction, claiming that gospel preaching that calls unbelievers to repentance and submission to Christ’s lordship is itself a form of legalism. I wrote The Gospel According to Jesus in response, and when the controversy intensified, I wrote a second reply, The Gospel According to the Apostles.

There was also the campaign to gain conservative evangelicals’ acceptance for Pentecostal views on the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and continuing revelation. The church I pastor is a short distance from the Episcopalian church in Van Nuys, California, where the charismatic movement had its inception. I wrote Charismatic Chaos in part to chronicle how that movement resulted in an influx of unorthodox ideas and false teachers in the evangelical mainstream.

We fought for the sufficiency of Scripture against the intrusion of psychotherapy into the church (attempting to integrate Christian doctrine with a horde of ideas based on godless presuppositions about the reasons for the human struggle). For a time, the evangelical movement was beset with, and almost overrun by, self-styled experts who belittled biblical truth as unsophisticated and inadequate for helping people with their “deep” psychological problems. They were convinced that sanctification couldn’t even start until a person went through the foyer of psychology. Our Sufficiency in Christ was my written response to that trend.

Throughout all those years, another somewhat subtle but very appealing—and very dangerous—trend was steadily gaining influence among evangelicals. It was the rank pragmatism of the so-called “seeker-sensitive” philosophy of church growth. Churches that followed this pattern moved away from biblical preaching and doctrinal instruction and generally used entertainment laced with spiritual-sounding themes as a means of drawing crowds. The stress was on reaching the “unchurched” rather than training believers for ministry. The result was that people remained untaught and did not grow spiritually. A handful of megachurches stood out as models that smaller churches everywhere attempted to imitate. Although countless small churches failed and even died when they adopted the model, a few glib, young leaders became very skilled at the pragmatic approach and saw their congregations grow to unprecedented sizes. Some of them numbered literally in the tens of thousands, giving observers the impression that this novel approach to ministry was reaching people on a huge scale. My book Ashamed of the Gospel analyzed and confronted that issue.

I have referred to those books not for the sake of self-promotion but to show that my best-known polemical works all have one basic aim: they were written to respond to subtle, in-house attacks on core gospel convictions. The fact that they span my whole ministry illustrates what I mean when I say, the battle for biblical authority rages constantly and on many fronts. I’ve never sought to be a controversialist, but my conscience and my commitment to Scripture compel me to contend earnestly for the bedrock principles of the gospel delivered once for all to the saints.

On Wednesday I’ll continue and conclude this retrospective with an explanation of what the current evangelical obsession with “social justice” has in common with all of those other issues. And I’ll begin to explain why it’s my conviction that much of the rhetoric about this latest issue poses a more imminent and dangerous threat to the clarity and centrality of the gospel than any other recent controversy evangelicals have engaged in.

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