Evangelicals and the Rise of the Social Justice Contras

On March 6, 2019 a tempest in a conference tea cup broke out at John MacArthur’s popular Shepherd’s Conference (“ShepCon”). The buzz hasn’t died down yet. “Wretched” personality Todd Friel (who seems like a great guy!) called it “painful” and “awkward.” The storm erupted at the panel question and answer session, hosted by MacArthur’s assistant Phil Johnson, with Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson and John MacArthur. The issue was “social justice.”

Last September, John MacArthur, with Johnson and others, spear-headed “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” (“the Dallas statement”). Of the men on the panel, notably none of them, except MacArthur himself and his aide, signed on to it. None, like in no one. The moderator, Johnson, decided that was a good opportunity to ask why. The gentlemen on the panel didn’t answer.

Herein lies the tempest: some immediately demanded an answer, protested that their unwillingness to explain themselves is some kind of moral cowardice, that they are MIA in our newest front in the culture war, the front against the social justice/cultural Marxist/victimology/”intersectionality” leftist ideology they claim is infiltrating even stalwart evangelical institutions and, like commandos dynamiting bridges behind enemy lines, bringing them down. Evangelicalism is about to collapse, they claim, because of the insurgent social justice warriors. But they are bravely stepping up to counter these insurgents. They are Social Justice Contras.

That siren warning spiked at the end of that same week (March 9) when Reformed apologist James White, himself a leading drafter of “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel,” tweeted, “Social justice/cultural Marxism/intersectionality/victimology thinking has taken over Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary” (SEBTS), the Southern Baptist seminary at Wake Forest, North Carolina. This is a remarkable claim for an official seminary of a conservative, evangelical denomination; a seminary that not only requires its professors to adhere to the conservative Southern Baptist Faith and Message (the denominations’ creed) but also the “Abstract of Principles” (the same statement of faith originally drafted for the conservative Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky); also the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (that precisely defines belief in the Bible as without error), the complementarian Danver’s Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that asserts Biblical principles in contrast to feminist ideology and a seminary that bills itself as committed to the Great Commission.

In spite of what appears to be an impressive and strictly conservative set of regulating articles of faith and commitments, James White charged that SEBTS is now overcome with “cultural Marxism.” Indeed, he stated, “This is a given.” His evidence: SEBTS’s “Kingdom Diversity” program. That program exists, according to SEBTS, for “equipping groups who have been historically underrepresented on our campus to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.” Part of it offers scholarships to minorities so that they can take part in short-term mission trips. That may sound innocent enough to most but to White it’s incontrovertible evidence that SEBTS has fully succumbed to leftism, to “cultural Marxism.” Since SEBTS has already fallen, he said on a “Dividing Line” program the same week as ShepCon, and Al Mohler is now wobbly, as he supposedly demonstrated at the Q & A, then Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary may soon fall too and with it the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

If he and those now denouncing Dever, Mohler, and Duncan sound like Chicken Little, please don’t insult panicked chickens by associating them with such hysteria. What’s going on?

I believe it is Social Justice Contras striking back. It’s true that some evangelical Christians have gone too far in their embrace of “social justice” concerns, picking up catch-phrases, if not whole arguments, pregnant with unbiblical, perhaps out-right leftist, philosophies. They sound much like their secular “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs), constantly harping on racism like Uncle Tom’s Cabin was current events, while conveniently ignoring abortion and either silently complicit with the LGBTQ agenda or even embracing it. Evidence: Sojourners. We’ve always had a problem with worldly Christians who are swept along by the current cultural trends.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John B. Carpenter