By Richard Haas
Social Justice is the mantra cry of the Emergent church and its leaders like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Mark Batterson, Joel Osteen, Jim Wallis, and others to name a few, the list is way too extensive to list everyone on it . This leadership pushes their agenda of trying to right the supposed wrongs of the mass culture; the poor and down and out people that don’t have a voice of their own. While at first glance this may seem like a good cause and a great mandate that every Christian should be a part of, it's anything but the case. What could be wrong with this since the bible states in Mark 12:30-31 that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, after all wasn’t Jesus for Social Justice?
The two questions that I poised at the end of the above paragraph; what could be wrong with Social Justice and wasn’t Jesus for Social Justice, actually show exactly what is wrong the Emergent Church and its Social Justice agenda in a reversed format. The Emergent Church is actually operating under several major false premises when it comes to its battle cry of social justice.
First, they believe that it is the job of the “Christian” church to take care of those who are outside the body of the church. While this is good in theory, there are several things severely wrong with line of thinking. To begin with the bible is clear in 1 Timothy 5:1-16 that we are to be taking care of fellow Christians not everyone outside of the body of Christ. Secondly and more importantly, when we lose our focus on taking care of those within the body of Christ, as the Emergent church has, we lose the focus on what is important; the Gospel. Many times Emergent churches are so busy doing and helping overcome a social injustice that they forget the main purpose of what outreach; preaching of the Gospel not fixing temporal issues. This is not to say that those issues are not important and at some point should not be addressed but this should be done so after that person is a believer in Christ and is part of the body of a church, not before hand.
The second false premise that the Emergent church is operating under comes from a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the different wills of God. (Click here to see the article The Wills of God for full explanation of the different wills of God). What the Emergent church is trying to do in short is supersede God’s will for people by inserting its self into every social injustice and problem that society encounters. In other words, leaders of the Emergent church are trying to play god over God and tell Him what is best for society.
Many in favor of the Emergent Church’s Social Justice movement will argue that Jesus, Himself was an advocate for Social Justice. This claim by the Emergent church and its disciples couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Yes, I will not argue that Jesus hung around the poor, tax collectors, prostitutes and the lame. However, I will point out that He never preach that those people were wronged by others nor did He preached a social justice agenda to rectify their conditions.
I am sure at this point many of you reading this are upset with me for saying this and may think that I am being cruel. Well before you stop reading let’s take a closer look at what Scripture says about who Jesus came for. Did Jesus come for everyone as the Emergent Church would have us believe or is there more to this than what they are teaching? If we can understand who Jesus came for we can understand if the Emergent Church and Social Justice advocates are wrong when it comes to their agenda.
In Matthew 15:24 we see that in Jesus own words who He came for; the lost sheep of Israel. This means that he did not come for everyone; instead He only came for His elect, the believers or church. If Christ only came for the believers then Emergent churches agenda of helping everyone everywhere is not scripturally based and goes against what Jesus, Himself said He came for; The “church” or body of believers which is the lost sheep of Israel.
So how can the Emergent church justify its willingness to promote a social justice agenda? The simple answer is they can’t biblically do it without twisting and distorting the Word of God to fit their agenda. Every verse they quote is misguided because their underlying theology of who Christ came for is wrong. So therefore they misapply verses in the Bible and who they are applicable for.
The Emergent Church’s philosophy of Social Justice is nothing more than a vain attempt at a man centered philosophy not a biblical approach to caring for the needy and down and out. Which is based on a false premises and lack of proper knowledge of the will of God and a misguided understanding of who Christ came for.