A few years back Pastor John MacArthur and a number of other pastors and Christian leaders put out the Social Justice and the Gospel Statement, and since then there has been growing awareness and discussion of the dangers of the “social justice” movement infiltrating various aspects of the Church and culture. The guys down at Founders have been particularly busy with continuing this project. I’m very grateful for all of that. Go team.
At the same time, while there is necessary work to be done in statements and messages and conferences and documentaries, the most essential work of the Kingdom takes place right in front of you, in the local church, in your neighborhood, in your city. Our great rallying cry is Jesus is Lord. Because He died for our sins and rose from the dead to reconcile us to God and one another, He is the only way to the Father. He is the only way to justice and peace. This is why He is the Lord of justice, politics, economics, healthcare, as well as education, science, sexuality, and everything in between. He is Lord because He is the Master of those subjects, and those subjects only have consistent, coherent meaning in Him.
So what I want to say is that this COVID moment is the social justice fight right in front of you. If Jesus is Lord, then He must be obeyed when it comes to pandemics. If Jesus is Lord, then He must be obeyed when it comes to shutdowns, bail outs, mask mandates, seating capacities, civil disobedience, and the multi-layered jurisdictional Jenga involved in all of that decision making from your Thanksgiving dining room to city hall up to the Supreme Court.
Jesus is Lord Not Marx
The fundamental objection we have with so-called “social justice” is at this point: Jesus is Lord, not Freud, not Marx, not Darwin, not MLKJ, not FDR or LBJ, and certainly not the current endowed Chair of White Sodomite Fragility Studies at the local Crackpipe University. But far too often, Christians say, “Jesus is Lord,” and then lap up whatever gruel is currently being offered by the cool kids cultural cafeteria. But “Jesus is Lord” means that His word is supreme and authoritative. It is not suggestions for a better life or happy thoughts for your morning devotions or a sexy tagline for your Instagram selfie. The Bible is authoritative in all that it addresses, and it addresses everything in principle.
My problem with the so-called social justice proposals for racial reconciliation is not the goal of reconciliation but with the starting point of Darwin, the plot points of Marx and Engels, and the exclamation points of Foucault and Derrida. Christians must begin with Bible, continue with Bible, and finish with Bible. We begin with Christ, continue with Christ, and finish everything with Christ. And if we’re doing it right, we will find all kinds of corroboration with natural law and common grace, but as one feisty German monk once put it, no thanks to them, God’s word abideth still.
And to get right down to my point: Jesus gives civil magistrates certain authority and jurisdiction, pastors and elders certain authority and jurisdiction, and families certain authority and jurisdiction. All human authority is derived from and limited by Jesus, and that is the foundation of any discussion of justice. The civil magistrate has been given the authority of the sword, the power and authority to punish criminals (as defined by the law of God) and in so doing protect the lives and property of law-abiding citizens. The church has been given the authority to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments and teach the nations everything Jesus commanded, including the power to discipline and excommunicate persistent, high handed, unrepentant sinners. The family has been given the authority to oversee the health, welfare, and education of those under its care.
Magistrates may not decide to add various matters to their job description, neither may pastors or fathers. Magistrates may not ordinarily be in the education, healthcare, or education business, nor may they administer sacraments. It is not the civil magistrate’s job to tell anyone what to wear or what to eat. The only place for health codes and emergency health orders is when there is immanent mortal danger.
We’ve used the example for months but we can add a few: if there is a bomb in the building, if there is an active shooter across the street, if there is a fire in the building, or if there is a bubonic plague or some health danger the equivalent of an active shooter, the civil magistrate may temporarily interrupt the other jurisdictions. The other jurisdictions do not relinquish their authority, they merely submit to the other authority in that moment, assuming their good intentions and better judgment. This is like the man who shoves a little kid out of the road, prepared to be hit by a car in his place. However, when the civil magistrate says there *might* be a shooter, but we’re not really sure if he has a gun or whether he’s even a good shot or whether he will even show up, for the third month in a row, the church government may respectfully tell the civil magistrate to come back when they have better information. When you’ve been shoved out of the roadway a half dozen times in the last month and no sign of a reckless driver barreling down on you, you can tell the crazy man to stop shoving you (no matter all the statistics he cites about people hit by cars). Likewise, the family government need not submit to nutrition nannies at the health department, and this includes the lawful businesses families run and operate. It doth not matter how officious she seemeth. Just because somebody makes up rules and has an office at the local courthouse doesn’t mean those laws are just, legitimate, or lawful.
Covid Social Justice
When we talk about “social justice” in its broadest sense we’re simply talking about justice applied to society. But if Jesus is Lord, what we’re talking about is biblical justice. But if Jesus is Lord, the first question that needs to be answered whenever there’s a problem is: whose problem is it? Whose jurisdiction is it under Christ? You can’t tell the score without a score card, and you can’t play a game if there are no agreed upon rules. If a pitcher suddenly objects that the batter is offsides, he doesn’t know what game he’s playing. So do you want biblical justice or not? Do you want the justice of God applied to society? Then what are you doing about the massive government overreach happening right in front of you? What are you doing about the civil magistrate’s involvement in healthcare, education, and now mask mandates, seating capacity limitations, shutting businesses down, and fines and misdemeanors? If you’re rolling over and taking it, then you’re not interested in real social justice at all.
On the other hand, if you’re up in arms about specious forms of social justice, the redefinition of human beings, the confusion of categories of sin and grace, and the resulting gospel confusion, but you can’t bring yourself to take any kind of stand on these matters of masks and kovid regulations, then you don’t understand what you’re talking about either. There is gospel confusion being smuggled into the church, but it turns out the smugglers can use more than one door. And you cannot stand there repeating your mantra about the evils of critical theory without recognizing the fact that critical theory has run right into your bedroom and is wrapping gags around your mouth in the name of “science.” Critical theory has run into your church and is barking orders about 50 percent capacity.
And how’s that, you ask? Well, what is a person, a man, a woman? Are we merely members of classes of people? Are we merely essential workers or non-essential workers? Are we merely engaged in essential services or non-essential services? Are we essentially infected or infectious? Are we masked compliant or non-masked uncompliant? And which drinking fountain am I allowed to use? Where am I allowed to stand? How far apart? And who am I allowed to stand close to? This is not based on science, but worse still, it is not based on biblical categories at all. It is entirely capricious and tyrannical. It is unjust to treat people as infectious without proof. It is unjust to treat people as criminals without proof. It is unjust to criminalize normal human behavior. But what is driving all of this? A false social gospel. If you really love your neighbor you will mask up, cower in your basement, and report your neighbors for anything that looks like they’re having fun. That is defined as love. Why? Because the good news of the Covid gospel is that if everyone will just submit to whatever new draconian measure they make up, then we will all survive and peace and harmony will break out everywhere like Biden speaking in tongues or a bad rash, or something.
Postmodernism taught us that everything is fundamentally a power play, and what we should have noticed is that that metanarrative (everything is a power play) was itself a power play. There is no objective truth, and truth, morality, and reality must be all constructed, they insisted, planning to construct their own truth, morality, and reality as soon anybody gave them the time of day. All of this is the necessary consequence of marinating in the sewage pond of Darwinism for a couple of centuries. If we are merely bags of protoplasm on stilts, then the rock bottom truth is that force and power is what runs the world. But it was always a lie, a stunt, a feigned ignorance to get Christians and all sane people to let down their guard for a minute. They deconstructed truth, goodness, and beauty with coy expressions of concern for the weak, and we let them run our universities, seminaries, and schools, and now some of them have been elected to office and are running the Covid clown show.
They have been tearing down Western civilization for decades in the academy, and so we can hardly be surprised when they continue the same project in the public square. Shut down churches? Muzzle the populous? Destroy businesses? Crater the economy? What an opportunity. Social justice and all its philosophically inbred kinfolk feign weakness and oppression in order to grasp power. They also opportunistically prey on the actual weak and oppressed in order to weaponize that weakness against the truth. But the cure is always worse than the disease. Is there true racism in pockets of America? Of course. Is it the widespread cancer that our overlords insist that it is? Not even close. But we are getting the full chemo treatment anyway. And this is because Darwin taught us that order arises magically out of the chaos. And lo, what has happened in 2020? We have a real disease that is dangerous for a relative few, and that is being leveraged to destroy freedom and create chaos for all. Why? So they can be in charge, so they can construct truth, morality, and reality according to their own whims and imaginations.
So you want true, biblical justice in the public square? You want the shrines of intersectionality and critical theories smashed? Then gather for worship, do not go along with the mask mandates, open your businesses, and speak up for the truth that is currently being crushed by capricious statist policies. At this point, the science is so manifestly clear (that the hyperventilating was not called for), that all the governors and city councils continuing to demand compliance are running their little commie wards on the basis of myth and fear and power tripping.
Remember: Covid-19 only spreads at church, Psalm sings, and Trump rallies. There is no Covid threat at BLM protests, Biden election celebrations, or when my mayor performs a private wedding ceremony.
Here is the social justice fight right in front of you.