What Does Biblical Social Justice Look Like?

By Justin Steckbauer

Let’s talk about social justice.  What exactly is social justice?  Depending on who you ask you might get any number of definitions.  But we see that justice ministry is an important subsector of the historic Christian church, and an important teaching in the pages of the Bible.

From the book of Isaiah chapter 1 verses 16 and 17: (NIV)

16 “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Again in Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV) “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

These old testament scriptures are telling, and we also see modeled by Jesus in the New Testament, his seven woes to the pharisees (Matthew 23) and his teachings to care for our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37) and to be salt and light to civilization (Matthew 5:13-16).

Justice ministry is certainly a biblical practice.  But what exactly should it look like?  What issues should we speak out on?  And how do we go about doing it?

Historically in the church, Christianity has in the protestant vein been a force for liberty and freedom for the western hemisphere. God given rights were enshrined in the American founding, as well as other similar democracies throughout the west. The freedom of religion, the right of assembly, and other personal liberties were largely fought for and enshrined in law by Christians active in human history.

Christians were on the front lines of justice conflicts like the fight to abolish slavery in the United Kingdom, with William Wilberforce successfully defeating the slave trade.  In the United States abolitionist societies cropped up everywhere, and produced the underground railroad, ferrying escaped slaves to freedom.

Today justice ministry continues in many ways. Many churches practice these ministries, including pro-life causes, religious liberty groups, feeding programs, utility assistance, child care, hospitals, and orphanages.

If I were to apply a simple definition to Christian justice I would define it as: “The process by which the body of Christ tactfully advocates for the lost, hurting, and marginalized of society, by activities that preserve, protect, and build up human civilization.”

Justice ministry, however, in the past 10 to 20 years has morphed slightly into “social justice.” In the recent past we’ve seen the growth of “social justice warrior” culture on college campuses across the United States and Europe.  We’ve seen these social justice warrior groups holding protests, preventing certain ‘controversial’ speakers from visiting campuses, and promoting ideas like “wealth inequality,” “rape culture,” “institutional racism,” and “white privilege,” among other things. We see the concept being taught that “white supremacy” is a growing danger in the west.  We see concepts like “intersectionality” being taught on college campuses.  We see a sort of political correctness taking hold in these institutions.  We see the curtailing of freedom of speech and the development of hate speech laws that often target people with viewpoints that dissent against the current prevailing orthodoxy.  The west’s academic institutions have increasingly become places where things like trigger warnings and safe spaces are overriding freedom of speech, and free thought.

So we see these more secular social justice concerns have increasingly migrated from the universities, and have taken hold and been institutionalized as justice ministries within many churches and evangelical/mainline protestant movements.  So we see this wider umbrella ideology of social justice being intertwined with Christianity, and then we see churches beginning to advocate in similar ways to social justice warrior culture.  Is this a good thing?  Should we thoroughly embrace these secular social ideas?

The important question to ask ourselves is: Are these ideas truly Christian and biblical?  Or are they rooted in something else?  Unfortunately, many of these ideas are not rooted in historic Christianity. They are not rooted in natural law, or in any sort of underpinning of a worldview that sees God as the creator, and truth as inherently objective.  Instead, these sociological theories of oppression and systemic racism and intersectionality are rooted in a contrary worldview, that of cultural marxism.

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Source: Christian Post