By Aaron Earls
On September 4, several prominent pastors and Christian leaders released a statement outlining their concerns about a growing social justice movement.
In the introduction to “The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel,” signatories say they are “deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality.”
Those who were initial signers of the statement include John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church; Voddie Baucham, dean of theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia; Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You; and James White, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries.
They expressed concern that biblical teaching is being challenged “under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for ‘social justice.’”
The signers say the statement is needed right now because of the speed at which these ideas “have spread from the culture at large into churches and Christian organizations.”
The website includes 14 affirmations and denials of topics such as Scripture, justice, heresy, and racism.
Thabiti Anyabwile, who has been publically criticized by many of the signatories for his perspective on social justice, tweeted that he read the statement and, “I think I agree with everything that’s in it.”
This is a wonderfully designed website and a great statement. I think I agree with everything that's in it.
— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) September 4, 2018
Because of this, Anyabwile said that this could mean critics don’t understand his views, the statement doesn’t clarify as much as the writers would hope, or the conflict is overblown.
“Perhaps what the statement reveals is that the differences are not matters of formal theology,” he wrote. “The differences arise in application and emphasis and the privileging of certain texts. It’s not an ‘argument’ about what the Bible says but about how we apply what it says.”
Anyabwile and Tom Ascol, another of the original signatories of the statement, interacted on Twitter about the document.
Ascol, executive director of Founders Ministries, wrote, “If we can have clear understanding of what we do agree on, then, by God’s grace, perhaps we can have fruitful, sanctifying conversations on what we see differently.”
Agreed. And I am grateful for you. If we can have clear understanding of what we do agree on, then, by God’s grace, perhaps we can have fruitful, sanctifying conversations on what we see differently. Keep pressing on!
— tom ascol (@tomascol) September 4, 2018
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.