Should We Sacrifice the Gospel on the Altar of Social Justice?

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Last weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia, the Red Letter Christians hosted a seminar, “Red Letter Revival: A Revival of Jesus & Justice.” The idea behind this conference “is to show white conservative Christians . . . and society that believers can be evangelical and care about the environment, the poor and the immigrant.”

According to their website, their mission is to mobilize believers “to live out Jesus’ counter-cultural teachings.” They are committed (as their name implies) to doing, first and foremost, what Jesus said (the “red letters” of the Bible).

Now, this movement has something right—we are called to care for the poor, to be good stewards of the environment (though if they are just following Jesus’ teachings from the Gospels, I don’t know where they get that idea as it comes from Genesis—man has dominion over creation but to use it for man’s good and God’s glory), and to welcome the stranger. Many places in Scripture (not just the words Jesus spoke while on earth) make these principles clear:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17–18)
You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:10–11)
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)

Pardon Me, I Think You Forgot Something

But they also have many things wrong, and I would caution people to stay away from this group. Missing entirely from their “about us” page is something rather important—the gospel! There’s not one mention of repentance or placing your faith in Christ. The gospel is utterly absent and replaced, instead, with the social gospel.

The social gospel is all about solving temporary problems such as poverty or racial division. Christians should be (and usually are) on the forefront of fighting these things, but they aren’t the most important issues. They are temporary consequences of the Curse and will pass with this world. Our primary focus, as we care for the poor and needy, is to preach the gospel so people will have their biggest problem—sin—solved! What good does it do to feed someone if you don’t tell them about the Bread of Life? Or give them a drink without telling them about the Living Water? Jesus himself didn’t do that (John 4:13–26, 6:25–35).

It’s no surprise that on their website they have a blog post criticizing biblical creationists and arguing that the Bible only teaches that God created, but doesn’t teach how (it does—read Genesis 1). They’ve abandoned God’s Word as the ultimate authority beginning in Genesis, so why not pick and choose which parts of the Bible you like and which parts you want to ignore?

The “Red Letters” Aren’t Jesus’ Only Words!

And it’s important to note that the “red letters” of the Bible aren’t the only words of Christ. Jesus is called the Word (John 1:1). All of the Bible is the Word of Christ! And “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

While it’s fine for a ministry to have a narrow or specific focus (i.e., feeding the poor or combatting racism) or even to focus largely on certain parts of the Bible (as we do), ignoring the rest of God’s Word as if it’s not important or rejecting it all together is dangerous and ignores what God’s Word teaches about how vital both the Old and New Testaments are. Remember, it’s God’s Word that equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17)!

Feed the poor, care for the environment, love the stranger, contend for life, and open your home to the broken. And always, always, always preach the gospel. Give this broken world a hope that doesn’t fade but lasts for eternity.

For example, through the Answers in Genesis VBS program, kids have given enough money to provide millions of meals to needy children around the world through an organization called Children’s Hunger Fund—but at the same time they are also provided spiritual food with the message of the saving gospel.

And by selling fair trade items at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, missions are supported so under privileged people will have jobs and food and also hear the truth of God’s Word.

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed on Answers News today with regular cohosts Bodie Hodge and Dr. Georgia Purdom and guest AiG staff writer Avery Foley. Answers News is our twice-weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page. They also discussed the following topics:

  • Is life on Venus an absurd thought?
  • Should people be able to change their birth certificates?
  • And more!

Be sure to join us each Monday and Thursday at 2 p.m. (EDT) on my Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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