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When it comes to the matter of “social justice” – a term I personally disavow but will use for the sake of this commentary – Lev. 19:15-18 is one of the most comprehensive passages in all of Scripture.

It reads:

(15) “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. (16) You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord. (17) You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. (18) You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

When properly understood, particularly against the seemingly ubiquitous backdrop of the current infringement of the “social gospel” on the evangelical church we, as believers in the one true God (Jn. 17:3), realize that there is no category of person, whether believer or an unbeliever, to which the precepts established in the above-mentioned passage do not apply with regard to the universal principle of the imago Dei (Gen. 1:27).

In other words, notwithstanding the ever-expanding vocabulary of hyphenated descriptors and subjective personal identifiers that permeate much of the language of social justicians today, those whose hearts and minds have been regenerated by the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16, 12:2; 1 Thess. 2:13) understand that such aesthetic qualifiers are wholly unnecessary, as every human being – by virtue of having been created in the image of God by God Himself (Jn. 1:3) – is inherently worthy of being treated equitably without regard to ethnicity, sex, or socio-economic station.

But in observing the contemporary social gospel movement today, particularly within Protestant evangelicalism, I find it to be one that continues to evolve yet never matures.

Despite the seemingly incessant string of racial reconciliation and social justice conversations, roundtables, summits, and conferences being conducted and facilitated by various evangelical churches and entities, the fact is not much has changed in terms of their core objective: that sinful human beings consistently treat one another as God has commanded us in His Word (Ps. 106:3; Prov. 21:15; Zech. 7:9). But this begs the question: what part of “sinful” do these beloved brothers and sisters not understand?

Admittedly, I pose that question with just a hint of sarcasm, but only because it is believers who, more than anyone, should be ever-mindful that sin – our sin – permeates and encompasses every facet of our existence in this world, including our relationships and interactions with one another, but who seem to so quickly consign that reality to oblivion when confronted with the injustices and inequities this world presents, as if they were somehow behavioral anomalies (Jn. 16:33). Or, to state it differently, why should we, as Christians, expect anyone’s behavior to change whose heart has not first been changed (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:11)?

In asking that question, I am reminded of the words of the 17th-century Puritan theologian, Thomas Watson who, in The Doctrine of Repentance, asks soberingly: “Is it not strange that two should live together, and eat and drink together, yet not know each other? Such is the case of a sinner. His body and soul live together, work together, yet he is unacquainted with himself. He knows not his own heart, nor what a hell he carries about him. Under a veil a deformed face is hid. Persons are veiled over with ignorance and self-love; therefore they see not what deformed souls they have.”

“…have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”Jas. 2:4

In recent months, I have been privileged to have been asked to participate in several discussion forums on the topic of social justice. I have declined the vast majority of those invitations because, simply put, God has already spoken on the issue.

So what more is there to be said?

Do you want more laws enacted so sinful people can break those laws as well as the ones they’re already breaking (Rom. 7:14-20)? Do you desire that unethical politicians resign or be impeached only to be replaced by other unethical politicians who will mimic their transgressions (Eccl. 5:8)? Do you want sinful police officers fired only so they can be replaced with other sinful police officers (because we’ve all sinned) Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23)?

My point is there is nothing you or I can say on the matter of “social justice” that would heighten or strengthen or make more authoritative what an omniscient, almighty, and sovereign God has not already declared. As the prophet Micah declared, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly before your God (Mic. 6:8)?”

An interesting thing about Micah 6:8, is that it is a favorite text of many evangelical social justicians. They particularly regard the middle portion of that passage – “to do justice” – as being especially integral to their apologetic that social justice is in fact a “gospel issue” (whatever that means). But it is in the same spirit in which God spoke to His people through Micah regarding our practicing justice, kindness, and humility that He speaks to us today in other areas of our life.

Consider also that:

In other words, God has spoken.

He has spoken not only on matters of justice and injustice, but on marriage, parenting, leadership, work, finances, abortion, and others. Yes, God has spoken. And since He has spoken, it is our responsibility as believers, as did the prophet Micah in his day, to proclaim His word to a sin-saturated world, knowing that, in God’s sovereign providence, there will be those who, upon hearing the truth of the gospel, will respond in obedience and those who will not, for such is the nature of the human heart (Matt: 13:18-23; Mk. 7:17-23).

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”Eze. 36:26-27 (NASB)

Yes, God has spoken.

The only question now is whether you and I will obey Him in what He has said.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

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Written by Darrell B. Harrison

Darrell Harrison is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He currently resides in Covington, Georgia (about 45 miles east of Atlanta). Darrell attends Rockdale Community Church, a Reformed Baptist congregation located in the Atlanta suburb of Conyers, Georgia. Darrell is a 2013 Fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute (BTLI) of Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and is a 2015 graduate of the Theology and Ministry program at Princeton Theological Seminary. Darrell studied at the undergraduate level at Liberty University, where he majored in Psychology with a concentration in Christian Counseling. Darrell was the first African-American to be ordained as a Deacon in the 200-year history of First Baptist Church of Covington (Georgia) where he attended from 2009 to 2015. He is an ardent student of theology and apologetics, and enjoys reading theologians such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, and B.B. Warfield. Darrell is an advocate of expository teaching and preaching, and has a particular passion for seeing expository preaching become the standard within the Black Church.

11 comments

  1. Brother, glad to read your article. This may not apply to God’s will for your life, but you never know. Your bio says that you have a “particular passion for seeing expository preaching become the standard within the Black Church.” Have you heard of the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, TX? You may want to look into it, potentially to be a professor there, or even to refer other black men pursuing careers in ministry. It was founded for the specific reason that you speak of. It is interdenominational and probably would look somewhat like Moody Bible Institute in that regard, but I think you would really like the school and many of the professors there. I believe Voddie Baucham has taught courses there as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have just begun to read your blog. This “Food for thought” is helpful to me today and I look forward to what tomorrow brings. Thank you, Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brother Darrell, once again you’ve stuck to the True and Living Word and explained what should be oblivious to anyone walking with our Lord Jesus Christ! When we were born again, we became new creations 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, we should be walking as Paul wrote in Romans 12-15:13; Ephesians 3-6; Philippians 1-4 and in just about all his epistles, the Holy Spirit gave him instructions to let us know how to live. As if that wasn’t enough James, Peter and John all left us with instructions on how to live in Christ! And before all of them our Lord set the example while here on earth and left instructions through the Gospel writers! And as you pointed out our Heavenly Father gave instructions on how to live in the Old Testament! We don’t need a social gospel because we have the Holy Spirit living within us and we are not our own! We are His and as you pointed out, are to be obedient to Him!
    In Christ,
    Your brother Grady
    Colossians 3:15-17

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some folks fixated on Mic 6.8 sometimes forget that doing mishpat isn’t divorced from kind love (hesed) and walking humbly. In other words what Micah wants isn’t just passion for ‘social justice’ but also a longing and effort for ‘personal virtue.’ Besides, Critical Theorists look at justice as revenge on unfavorable races, classes, genders, and ages. This is quite a different view of ‘justice’ as you well note, Mr Harrison. Thank you for this article.

    Liked by 1 person

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