G3, Shepcon, and Social Justice – Clarity Needed from Phil Johnson and Josh Buice
There is a reasonable amount of controversy surrounding the speakers at the recent G3 Conference in Georgia (associated with Pastor Josh Buice of Prays Mill Baptist Church) and the upcoming 2019 Shepherds’ Conference in California (associated with Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church). The controversy does not concern the theological orthodoxy of these speakers (paedobaptism notwithstanding) but rather their stance on social justice. The specific speakers who have been variously accused of having social justice sympathies are as follows:
- David Platt
- Mark Dever
- Albert Mohler
- John Piper
- Ligon Duncan
Notably, none of these men are among the 10,361 signers of the Dallas Statment on Social Justice and the Gospel which was recently released by Josh Buice with John MacArthur and Phil Johnson (John MacArthur’s right hand man) as initial signers. Clearly these men view the quest for social justice in the visible church as a big problem. Of this quest, John MacArthur has written:
Over the years, I’ve fought a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel. This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180813
Buice, Johnson, and MacArthur have gone out of their way to declare that social justice advocates are not neccessarily heretics. Nevertheless, “not being a heretic” has not historically been the only demand G3 and Shepcon have had of their conference speakers. Everyone knows that the speakers listed above are able to eloquently speak about a range of theological issues other than social justice (which was not the theme of G3 and is not the theme of Shepcon); no one would expect them to go to G3 or Shepcon and advocate social justice.
If these men are advocates of something as insidious and dangerous as social justice, why (friendship and popularity notwithstanding) give them a forum at all? But this question and the debate over its answer can be avoided altogether. These speakers can be declared by the men who know them well as Christians who are not in any way advocates for social justice or its proponets. I’d like to see this declaration made, one way or the other.
This isn’t a big ask. Josh Buice and Phil Johnson are both popular bloggers with strong social media presences. Phil Johnson, in particular, has never had a problem naming names when it comes to condemning popular Bible teachers (from NT Wright to Beth Moore). Surely, Phil would have no problem vouching for his popular friends and associates in a postive way.
So, Josh, Phil, my brothers, what is it? Will you make the declaration? Call this theological McCarthyism if you wish, but social justice seems like as big of a problem as Marxism to me. What say you?
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of Jordan Hall, any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.