Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thinking about Social Justice, anti-intellectualism and the gospel.

I was directed by a friend recently to read a series of blog posts by Kevin DeYoung on his blog at the gospel coalition. Kevin is a guy who from what I can tell has jumped to a wide audience in the "I'm not emergent" crowd because of his books. His intent as a young pastor to take the gospel and the reformed faith in general seriously is something I respect. . . and while I don't live or interact with folks in a context where I have to tell anyone that I'm not "emergent". . . I'm not.

Kevin decided to do a series of posts this year about the careless way that passages of scripture are regularly used by those that are activist-oriented among the growing "social justice" movement among young evangelicals. 3 Cheers from me! Let's be careful with the word of God!

I am a huge fan of CCDA, regularly attend the conference for the past decade and regard myself as enormously influenced by John Perkins. I am also concerned about the direction of the movement theologically once Dr. Perkins passes away. I sincerely hope that the theological commitments of Dr. Perkins are retained within the larger body of the movement after his passing. With Kevin, I too am concerned about the way scripture is used by many coming into the movement of CCDA and/or "social justice".

The current generation of young believers is simultaneously doing 2 things -- taking social justice, racial reconciliation and beloved community seriously and . . . . leaving the church in hoards. I don't believe that this is sustainable. So while I cheer on those who want to wade into the deep waters of social justice, I don't think they are gonna last long. . . unless they hold on to the core truths of the Christian faith, particularly as it understands the nature of the Atonement and the message of the gospel. . . writ not just "large" or "wholistic" but with specificity, care and thoughtfulness. . . a theological rigor if you will.

The current movement of many who use the term "social justice" is in fact all to often careless, even reckless with scripture and theology. Too often what is now making up the Christian left is just mimicking the Christian right and moving to re-write scripture to assume that through the blood of the Cross Jesus isn't "making all things new" but rather making all things political!

So I'm with Kev D on this: we need to use scripture carefully. Much more carefully in fact.

But that said, his series has initially struck me as an comfort for folks who already agree with him. Is his church and primary audience really using scripture recklessly in THIS regard?

I sense that his audience (in part based on my own Reformed/Evangelical heritage) already revolts against "social justice" first and foremost due to political philosophy. Is Kevin's goal to give careful thought to what the bible says about justice? Or is it to add theological/scriptural ammo to political convictions already established? I would say that he would have to work hard to not do the latter. . . more to come.

Check out his series here.