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Social Justice

Is social justice a valid principle? Or, is it just a means of justifying the stealing of something in order to give to another individual or group that lacks the same product due to poverty, lack of work or who just refuses to work? Politicians use it regularly to try and convince voters that they are the candidate that cares about the plight of the poor. They insist that the rich should be made to pay their "fair" share. Yet, when pressed to define what they mean by a "fair" share they often cannot give an intelligent answer. The following video presents the issue and discusses the ethics behind the ideology.

Social Justice


How The Gospel Coalition is Killing The Gospel With“Social Justice”

 Words matter. Because ideas matter.Particularly theological ideas. There are few theological words which havegreater significance in the history of the church than the word, justice. It’s the root of justification the doctrine, according to Calvin, which isthe hinge upon which the faith turns. But there’s a deeper foundation to thedoctrine of justification: the justice of God. This was His motive in offering His Son as apropitiation for our sins: that He would be just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus(Rom.3:26). With such profound theological and historical significance to thevery heart of the Gospel, itself, it’s difficult to imagine that aconservative, evangelical organization called The Gospel Coalition would carelessly misuse the concept of justice. And yet that is precisely whatthey’ve done in the latest article by Greg Forster.

Charity =Justice?

“Economic justice,” Forster claims,was the answer from Jonathan Edwards on how to pursue truly spiritualdiscoveries. “Economic justice” isn’t Edward’s term, though. Edwards wasn’t assloppy a theologian as that. No, “economic justice” is Forster’s term for what Edwards rightly called charity aid to the economicallypoor. If Forster wants to inform the Church of Edwards’ position, though, whynot call it charity, like Edwards does? Why use an entirely new term,which is foreign to the author whose position you are trying to present? Ican’t read Mr. Forster’s motives, but I can tell you the obvious result of thisterm-shift, regardless of what his intentions were.


To see the danger (and remarkabletheological negligence!) here, one need only consider the meaning of theterm being replaced (charity), and the term replacing it (economicjustice).

What is charity? It is helping those in need. It’s giving to those who have not earnedit. It’s a picture of the gospel. It’s grace in action, on a human level. It’sa wonderful thing. What is justice? It’s getting what one deserves. It’s balanced scales.An even transaction. Getting what one is due. So, economic justice is meant to communicategetting what one deserves, economically. It means getting the money one is due. If charity is helping the poor, andif Mr. Forster refers to helping the poor as “economic justice,” then Mr.Forster is telling us that the poor deserve the monetary help not as a gift, but as a right. If charity is justice, then the lack of charity is unjust.If money is owed to the poor because they need it, then need instead of property rights is the new standard ofjustice; and the extent to which you do not give to those in need, is theextent to which you are a criminal, guilty of an “economic injustice”. If it sounds Marxist,that’s because it is. And this article is just the latest Marx-inspiredarticles on “public justice,” “social justice,” and who knows what otherperversions of the concept of justice TGC can have dreamed up.

Grace is NOTJustice

But the problem with this equivocationbetween charity and justice is not merely that it’s inspired by culturalMarxism. That’s actually relatively insignificant when compared to thetheological fall-out which is sure to come if this atrocity isn’t corrected,and fast. Remember that I said charity is a picture of the gospel? That’swhy it’s such an important practice for the Church: it demonstrates the graceof God. Now, ask yourself this: if charity is a picture of the grace of God inthe gospel, then what message are we sending about the grace of God, andabout the gospel, when we preach that charity is deserved? Answer: We are teaching that God’s grace is,likewise, deserved. When we teach that we owe money to the poor, we are teachingthat God owed us the cross. When we teach that the poor deserve monetary assistance, we are teachingthat we deserved what Christ accomplished for us. Whenwe teach that “economic justice” consists of giving to those in need, we areteaching that divine justice consists of the same and theinevitable result is a grace-less universalism in which everyone gets all theblessings of heaven, because they need it. You cannot pervert the meaning of justice in “society”or in the “economy,” and not expect it to bleed over into theology. You cannothave one standard of justice in Church on Sunday morning, and another for theworld the rest of the week. No doubt The Gospel Coalition has good intentions, but we all knowwhat they say about good intentions and the road to hell. Far be it fromconservative evangelicals to join in that paving project. If we have anyhope of preserving the integrity of the gospel for the next generation, thiswicked equivocation between charity and justice needs to end. Now.

Moving Forward

It’s true that we ought to practicecharity, but we must not say that we owe it to those in need. If we owe it toanyone, we owe it to God but only in a voluntary fashion. We must not say that the poor deserve charity. They don’t. That’s why charity is a picture of the gospel. Wedeserve to be denied the charity of Christ if we deny charity to others but that’s not because weowed it to them. It’s because we owed it to Christ to love Him enough toshare that love with others. We, as Christians, must participate in charity not to meet therequirements of “economic justice,” but to demonstrate the grace of God in thegospel. We can’t communicate the grace of God, though, if we insist on callingit justice. In our zeal to do what’s right, we must be careful not to undermine thevery purpose of what we’re doing. We must not, in the name of the gospel, gut the veryessence of that gospel. We must not equate grace and justice.

Jacob Brunton