Month: September 2018

On Social Justice and False Prophets

IMG_67244,400 American pastors have signed on to a “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel,” whose introduction states that social justice is “nebulous” and anti-gospel. It’s such a lie it’s hard to believe anyone could say it with a straight face. Those 4,400 are not reading their Bibles. Social justice does not undermine scripture. It’s rooted there. Listen to Proverbs: “Do not rob the poor because they’re poor or afflict them at the gate”.  It’s right there in black and white. Do not afflict the poor at the gate. Who’s at our gates? At Philipsburg, or south of Winnipeg, who is standing at our borders, facing the police? The global poor. The ones in fear for their lives. Do NOT AFFLICT THE POOR AT YOUR GATES. Couldn’t be clearer. Why not? Because, the Lord himself pleads their cause. Sounds pretty social justice to me. Or if you don’t like Proverbs, listen to the Psalm: Do not put your trust in princes (we might say, in prime ministers and presidents). Put your trust only in the LORD, who “cares about doctrine?” No. Who brings justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry, who sets prisoners free, who opens the eyes of the blind, who lifts up those who are bowed down. Bowed down because they are women, maybe, or gay, or immigrants, or because they have mental health issues. Those are the people, in our world, this Psalm is talking about. Those 4,400 false prophets who signed that declaration – and by the way – EVERY ONE OF THE ORIGINAL SIGNERS WAS A MAN – those so-holy men are up against no less than the Lord on this one. Proverbs 22 tells us social justice is not nebulous, but divine. That God has a special interest in, and in fact a preferential treatment for, NOT American preachers, and not middle-class white Christians like me, although – thank God – there’s grace for us too. God has a special interest in the stranger, the foreigner, and the outsider. It’s there in the scriptures again and again. God cares especially about what happens to outsiders like our ancestor in faith, the Canaanite woman in Mark’s Gospel. Proverbs even goes on to put a curse to anyone who ignores the special blessing: Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity. This kind of public statement is proof. It will just breed more anti-gospel hatred and injustice where there’s too much intolerance already bubbling up.