How the Social Gospel is Becoming the Dominant Theology in Evangelicalism
There is a dangerous trend that is sweeping throughout churches, especially in America. The church has largely redefined the gospel from its most basic tenets to something tends to have a mass appeal to outsiders.–the “social gospel.” The social gospel comes in many different flavors and is advanced by those of various theological traditions, but it appears to be most prevalent in the cabal of New Calvinism. However, they are certainly not the only ones. The Gospel Coalition, which should be rightly renamed The Social Gospel Coalition, is by far the most prominent outlet for the advancement of social justice in the Church.
The social gospel advances ideas such as racial justice, open borders, and left-wing political ideology that has a facade of Christlikeness, but under the surface, merely replaces the gospel with social activism. The social gospel is different from the culture war, as the culture war tends to try to instill and enforce conservative and religious ideology through the use of boycotts and other “take-overs” of the culture. The social gospel, on the other hand, is an attempt to appease the world and the culture by encouraging Christians to adopt political social justice ideas through the guise of “gospel mandates.”
These so-called “gospel mandates” are becoming increasingly popular in the neo-Calvinist camp of evangelicalism. A “gospel mandate,” in the context of the social gospel, is when the gospel is invoked to prescribe a directive to accept one of these progressive ideologies. In other words, obeying the gospel means believing in and helping to advance this social justice idea.
A glaring example of this would be Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC), who regularly pushes racial reconciliation and open borders as mandated from the gospel.
Recently, he tweeted the following regarding their official open borders stance for Islamic Refugees,
Of course, this is a blatant twisting of the Great Commission mandate which is to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. –Mathew 28:19-20
However, the social gospel wants to do the opposite–it wants to open the borders and allow mass floods of refugees into the U.S., and the excuse is, “this will be a great opportunity for the church to evangelize these people.” But the question becomes: what makes them think that if people aren’t willing to go out into the world to evangelize, that they’re all of a sudden going to do it at home? Feeding, clothing, and sheltering lost people is not the gospel.
Yet, many well-meaning Christians are buying into the social gospel propaganda because of these so-called “mandates.” Christians are being guilted into believing that if they don’t jump onto the social justice bandwagon, they are being disobedient to the Great Commission. This is simply a false and it’s underhanded.
Interestingly enough, a Lifeway Research poll indicated that more than three-quarters of white pastors (77%) strongly agree that racial reconciliation is a gospel mandate, while only two-thirds of African American pastors (64%) say the same. This speaks volumes about the propagandizing of white evangelicals into the acceptance of social justice racial reconciliation ideology.
Social justice is not a missing piece of the gospel that has been recently discovered by progressive elitists in evangelical leadership positions. It’s a mass effort to appease large numbers of people who view biblical Christianity negatively by appealing to their sense of self-entitlement. Progressive entitlement ideology is rampant in liberal circles. It’s all about what society can do for me, and how society, instead of me, can take the blame and responsibility for my wrongdoings. This is exactly what these social justice “gospel mandates” are trying to achieve. The driving position behind the racial reconciliation push is to shift the blame for the wrongdoings in the African-American community onto society. It’s society’s fault that blacks commit violent crimes at a higher rate than other racial groups.
Similarly, these same social gospel ideologues wish to alleviate abortive mothers from any criminal charges against committing abortion against their unborn children. While giving lip-service to the notion that “abortion is murder,” the blame, they say, should be shifted to the doctors, fathers, and society, who persuade them into their decision.
Al Mohler, on his April 1, 2016, issue of The Briefing, stated,
The big background of [the Trump] story is the fact that the pro-life movement has never, ever called for the criminalization of abortion when it comes to the woman. The pro-life movement actually emerged out of the early feminist movement, something that many people in modern America do not remember. The early feminists argued among other things that abortion was something that was inflicted upon women by men at their own convenience and women, argued the early feminists such as Susan B. Anthony, were the victims of abortion along with the unborn children who were aborted.
This social justice rhetoric only serves to oppose the true gospel–the gospel that says you must acknowledge your sin before a Holy God, and repent of it, in order to receive forgiveness. This social gospel rhetoric says, “it’s not your fault, you don’t need to repent. You’ve done nothing wrong.” Yet, this is quickly becoming the prevailing and most vocal attitude in evangelicalism. The social gospel may appeal to rightly noble causes in many instances but does so apart from the true gospel. Thus, in avoiding the true gospel, it serves only to feed our natural fleshly sense of legalism and to assuage our “working our way to God” mentality.
Nowhere in Scripture is there a call for the Church to become political activists, lobbyists, or otherwise promote any political agenda. The gospel isn’t found in politics. The gospel isn’t found in social justice. The gospel is found only in Christ who was crucified on our behalf so that we could live, and there is but one gospel mandate.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” –Romans 10:14-15
[Contributed by Jeff Maples]