Social Justice (Introduction)

Today we want to introduce our plan to begin speaking into the conversation about Social Justice as it relates to the church.

There are a lot of ways we could go with this, but we thought an introductory episode, where we lay out our plan, might be helpful to set the playing field.

Basically, the point of this episode is two-pronged:

(1) We want to give you the road-map we planned out for the next 10 episodes or so.

But most importantly, (2) we really want you to write in and let us know what is on your heart.

We want to hear the questions on your minds.

What are the pressing issues and questions that you have?

If it doesn’t fall under any of the topics that you will hear us give in a few minutes, please let us know. We want to address all that we can.

Let us begin by saying that addressing social justice has not been an easy or fun decision, nor is it something of particular desire for us. Neither of us has a personal interest in this.

In fact, as we have said multiple times, we have purposely chosen to remain silent on this issue for multiple reasons.

First, it is very undesirable to speak right now, as any statement you make will put you in one of two lanes. The conversation has become increasingly bifurcated.

That is to say, you are simply on one side or the other. Depending which “side” you are on, it also means that you are, therefore, overtly against the other.

That is just fact, and the state of the debate.

There is very little nuance. There is no true conversation.

Everyone is talking loudly, and past each other; and if you don’t agree, you are the enemy.

(And this is not just in reference to the culture at large, but increasingly so, a statement of the church.)

Second, very few people are seeking clarity, or are interested in thinking thoughtfully right now. 

(I would say that there was a much better attempt to think thoughtfully earlier on, but much of it has simply dissolved into anger, and reduced to attacks at this point).

Most people are listening, reading, and seeking to acquire a vast amount of knowledge and thought on these issues, but merely so that they can find more ammunition to bolster the arguments for the side that they already agree with.

And so, honestly, we are living in a culture of Prov. 18:2 -  “A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.”

The word for mind, there, is “lev.” It means, heart, or inner-desire. 

This is not only evident in the greater culture, but increasingly so within the church.

We live in  a proverbial tank of fools right now, because very few seem to be seeking a true understanding-- and this is true, in large measure, on both sides.

And that is very  disheartening.

We have chosen to remain silent because it is nearly impossible to speak thoughtfully into something so toxic.  We’re not certain how helpful this will truly be, or if it will simply add fuel to the fire. But we’re going to attempt to speak, nonetheless.

Third, in light of the current state of our culture, and how the conversation and issues keep morphing with such rapidity, it has been a challenge just to keep up with.

The conversation changes almost daily, and so it seems that there is a new “big” issue almost weekly.

A new event takes place somewhere in the nation.

A newest must-read book gets published.

A celebrity Christian leader makes a statement.

A mayor seeks to introduce a new policy.

And the list goes on.

So, with it being such a broad topic that has many facets, and tentacles, and aspects, and foci, the request for us to speak into this has been less than desirable.

Nevertheless, we understand that there is still value in speaking.

The reality is that most people have made up their minds, but there is still a small segment of people who have not.

In our conversations, it is not that they don’t want to make up their mind, rather it is just that they are not certain how to think on these issues as a Christian.

People are hearing many words, seeing many memes, seeing a lot of anger, seeing a lot of passion, but there has been little clarity for them.

Our simple hope is to try and bring a reasoned approach.

Now there are many good resources out there. We are not claiming to be the first, or only, or best resource on any of this.

We do know that we can help function as a stomach to process some of the issue, to help make it somewhat digestible. Further, we are pastors, and so we do have a responsibility to our own people. And so we want to speak as pastors.

In light of this, we have been amassing an arsenal of videos, articles, blogs, and statements that only we share with each other. The goal has to help us keep up with the current issues, and interact with the many voices that are being looked to by the culture and the church.

On top of this we have started reading the many books that everyone is claiming that everyone must read. These are books written by both Christians and secular people.

In fact, these are books, that unless you read, you are not allowed to speak… so they say.

We have begun reading them very carefully and critically. But more on that later.

The Basic Road-Map

(Defining and explaining key terms)

Before you talk, it is important to define the terms.

The fact there is so much angst, anger, and talking past each other, is proof there is not a lot agreement on the meaning of the terms.

As a result, if you don’t have common agreement on basic definitions, then the simple reality is you are not talking about the same thing. The final result is anger, frustration, muddier waters, and no solutions.

Some of the terms we want to define and discuss:

- Intersectionality.

- Marxism/Cultural Marxism.

- Social Justice.

- Critical Race Theory. 

- Prejudice, racism, and systemic racism. 

These are not the same things, but many use them interchangeably. There are technical definitions to these, but when we get sloppy with our terms and definition, it simply perpetuates the confusion.

Social justice vs. biblical justice? 

Are these the same thing, is there overlap, or are they two very different things?

What are the presuppositions at play?

What is the place of general revelation in this discussion? (i.e., how much, if at all, can we go outside the bible to let it inform our understanding of justice and what the church is supposed to be and do?).

Race, ethnicity, Imago Dei, and culture.

Again, these are not the same things, yet many keep using them interchangeably, muddying the discussion.