Is ‘Social Justice’ a Christian Virtue?

Gulag Bound
Sourced with comments by Janet Smiles


Jonathan Cusar’s blog on Freedom Torch Network has brought to light a very popular pastor’s deluding of the orthodox and reasonable interpretation of God’s Word, the Bible, which has led many otherwise “evangelical’ Christians to the brink of socialism.  We are warned that in the last days men will not tolerate sound doctrine, that time has come. Jonathan is a workman who needs not be ashamed as he has cut the Word straight.  Let he who has ears hear the watchman stands on the wall.

Tim Keller and ‘Social Justice’

I was so surprised to see an article posted here – on my own website about my former pastor, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York city!  I went to Tim Keller’s church for nearly 20 years and in fact I left just last year because of my growing concern that the church and Tim were far more liberal, theologically and ideologically than I had ever imagined.

However, I never intended to write anything about it here because it just didn’t seem like a relevant topic on FreedomTorch.  But since conservative FreedomTorch members are writing about him and doing so in a most positive way, I feel I must warn my conservative political and conservative Christian friends that Tim Keller, despite all claims to the contrary, is not a theological or an ideological conservative and he is most definitely not a traditional Evangelical.  He is in fact very liberal on both counts.  And this is something of concern, because as J. Gresham Machen so well put it in his book “Christianity & Liberalism” liberal Christianity really isn’t Christianity at all.  And I might add the corresponding political statement that liberal Americanism isn’t Americanism at all either!

Timothy J. Keller, seemingly burdened of mind

The Christian media is fond of telling us that Tim Keller is an Evangelical Christian… just like us, they seem to imply.  So one thing Christians need to know about Tim’s teachings is that they are really anything but what we have come to know as “Evangelical” Christianity.   To sum it up most succinctly, you should know that Keller says “the primary purpose of salvation is – cultural renewal – to make this world a better place.”  Whether you agree or disagree with that statement – it’s certainly not an “Evangelical” or conservative Christian belief.

As if to prove the point that he is in fact not an Evangelical Christian, Keller goes on from there to actually attack traditional Evangelicals for what he believes is their wrong emphasis on helping people see their need for a way out of their sin by introducing them to Christ as the only way to personal salvation.  He suggests that Christians need to put a lot less emphasis on that – because as he says derisively, Evangelicals with all their emphasis on evangelizing are just “building up their own tribe.”  He says this is not doing any good for people who aren’t in the “tribe”, (like secularists, Buddhists and atheists).

In 2006 at an “Entrepreneur’s Forum” sponsored by Redeemer, Keller said:

Conservative churches say ‘this world is not our home — it’s gonna burn up eventually and what really matters is saving souls… so evangelism and discipleship and saving souls is what’s important’.  And we try to say that it’s the other way around almost. That the purpose of salvation is to renew creation. That this world is a good in itself. … And if you see it that way, then the old paradigm if you’re going to put your money and your time and your effort as a Christian into doing God’s work in the world, you wanna save souls which means the only purpose of your ministry and your effort is to increase the tribe, increase the number of Christians.  …

In the past Christians have tended to do things that only Christians would be interested in and only Christians would give to. I mean who else besides a Christian would give money to get something started that’s going to win many many people to Christ? Just pretty much only Christians.

BUT, when you have something that’s going to improve the schools in a particular city for everybody. When you have a venture that’s going to reweave creation physically — that’s going to deal with health problems that’s going to deal with poverty. When Christians do that – out of their theology – they do that effectively because they’re dealing with the common good… you’re going to find that all kinds of non-Christians are not only going to invest in that and want to partner with you in that but a lot of them are also going to be attracted to the gospel because of that. …

Most Keller devotees will really get on me for being too harsh on him here.  But if you didn’t get it, read that quote again and look how harsh Keller actually is on conservative and Evangelical Christians.  He’s actually mocking them and their “traditional” ideas that saving souls is important, and suggesting that their only interest is to “increase the tribe”.  That expression “increase the tribe” is terribly derisive and insulting.  He’s actually suggesting that Evangelicals had no sincere desire to see people come to Christ, but their only concern was building up their numbers and their own earthly empire.  I cannot think of anything more insulting that a Minister of God could say about another group of Christians.

Marxism in Drag

His book, “Generous Justice” is literally dripping in the language of the Left.  Although Keller apparently perceives himself as one who is neither Left nor Right.  But his words reveal something quite different.  The book will leave you with a definite distaste for America – because of all the evil that has come from America.  Another very leftist man who calls himself an Evangelical Christian, Jim Wallis would be very pleased with Keller’s work.

The post that I’m responding to here on FreedomTorch heralded Keller as one who has “reclaimed” the term social justice for the Right!  However there is nothing to reclaim.  The term has always originated only from within liberal/socialist/progressive thought.

Socialists and Progressives pushing for Communist societies use this phrase most enthusiastically.  They use it to agitate the people and motivate them to revolution.  And it can’t be overlooked that it is today’s Communists and radical liberals who constantly use this phrase to make us feel that things here in the most just society on earth – are horribly unjust.  (If you doubt this just check out the Communist party website   http://cpusa.org – and search on “social justice”).

In fact, this quote from the CPUSA site would be perfectly consistent with Keller’s take on “social justice”:  “We fight for the daily needs of working people … as a matter of social justice…”  (http://cpusa.org/club-educational-study-guide-reflections-on-socialism/) No, I’m not calling Tim Keller a Communist!  I am only pointing out that his use of the term “social justice” has a historical context and that context is decidedly on the far Left of the political spectrum.

With that history behind the term “social justice”, there really is nothing for conservatives to “reclaim” or claim at all!  It has never meant anything else.  When Keller says ‘conservatives have suspicions about the term’ – he’s right, we do – and for well-founded historical reasons.

“Just” Confusion

Why does Keller call what have traditionally been ministries or acts of mercy – “justice”?  Throughout his book I was confused on why he was using the term “justice” when it seemed “mercy” or “compassion” would be more appropriate.  Possibly it is because “mercy” and “compassion” are something more along the lines of what individuals can do and apparently Keller wants to look beyond individuals to the entire society.  This would be in keeping with his belief that “the primary purpose of salvation is cultural renewal.”  But when you talk about “justice” you’re talking about societal structures.  A single individual cannot effect society-wide justice.  Justice is a function of public policy and politics.

Rob Haskell who is the Director of Senderis – a teaching mission to Latin American pastors, wrote in a blog post last year the following about “justice”:

“Why not look to the Bible, if we really want to find out what “justice” means?  The first operational definition I can find is in Exodus 23: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.”

When people talk about “justice” in context above, they typically mean “good works.” Yet the Bible seems to be completely devoid of any such meaning. Instead, as in the verse above, “justice” refers (unsurprisingly) to a judicial context: giving someone what they are legally entitled to.

Note that where (social) “justice” usually means reflexively siding with whomever seems to be weakest, the Bible’s first word on the matter is to call such a tendency a perversion of justice, based on a tendency to want to fit in with others. (We shouldn’t do the same with the rich either, mind you — see verse 6 and Lev 19:15).

To use such a term for handing out food, charity, etc. implies that people are legally entitled to such. Yet the bible calls this “mercy”. For example, when hurting Jews approached Jesus asking for healing, they did not ask for “justice”, they asked for “mercy” (see Matthew 9:27, Luke 10:37, the parable of the good Samaritan).

So why do we want to call “justice” what God calls “mercy”?  What is this language doing to our conceptions?

Mercy implies unwarranted favor, justice implies you deserve it. So mercy is eliminated by “justice”, since no one should be grateful to receive what they’re owed.

Further, anyone can show mercy, but only a judge can hand out justice. So this formulation makes us believe we must sit in the seat of the judge (running society, deciding who really gets what) before we can begin to deal with the poor and downtrodden as we’ve been commanded.

I don’t see what is Christian at all about this conception. Nearly every aspect of it seems to fly in the face of the Bible’s teachings on the subject.”

Odd Interpretations

One thing I found especially disturbing about Keller’s book, “Generous Justice” is that in footnote #15 in Chapter 1, he says that while he normally uses the NIV (New International Version) translation of the Bible that, “Sometimes I provide my own translations.” This was stunning to me when I read it.  I’ve never seen a Christian writer provide “their own” translation of the Bible!  Not that they couldn’t if they’ve learned Hebrew and Greek, but I’ve just never seen anyone else do that.  Normally a writer will use whatever translation he uses and then expound upon it if he has some broader insight that he has gained from reading it in the original languages.  But Tim, in the instances where he quotes Scripture, simply provides his own translation at various points without bothering to notify us of when!

This sets a dangerous precedent because one, it insinuates that there’s something fundamentally flawed with the existing translations.  And it leads people to treat them as less dependable than they deserve to be treated.  And two, the official translations have a whole system of checks and balances in place to insure that they are done as accurately as possible and with as little bias as humanly possible.  When a single author decides to provide his own translation, what checks and balances keep his biases out of the process?  Who is he accountable to? And how can we the readers ever challenge the author when his personal translations make it seem as if the Bible is in complete agreement with his views?

Keller provides us a couple examples of his personal translations.  One is taken from Psalms 33:5 which in the NIV says:

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”

And Keller retranslates it to say this:

“The Lord loves social justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”

A Socialist reading this would think the Bible was in perfect alignment with socialist thought.

Keller did two disturbing things here. First he took out the word “righteousness” altogether (which conveniently removes the idea of sin, something Keller tends to avoid) and he replaces the word “justice” with the term “social justice” which when looked at from its historical usage is most definitely NOT what the Lord loves!  There’s a reason the Bible translators have not used the phrase “social justice” there!  Because they are presumably aware of its socialist connotations derived from the historical context and usage of the phrase.  However, by providing his own personal translation, Keller makes it appear as if the Lord is in complete agreement with a socialist view of justice.

At this point anyone familiar with Keller’s teachings would scold me for saying he has a “socialist” view on anything.  Because he fastidiously tries to remain above the political fray by never revealing his true political leanings.  And he is fond of saying that the Right gets some things wrong and the Left gets some things wrong, making it appear that he is evenhanded when it comes to politics.

However, a closer look will show that he is indeed quite liberal politically – even though I believe he himself is probably not even aware of how much.  I know from personal experience that it is easy living in New York for a radical liberal to believe he is in the mainstream and for a moderate liberal to believe he’s downright Texas-style conservative!

There is a lot in this book that all Christians would agree on – including the importance of justice in the Christian’s life.  But for the purpose of this article, I really wanted to get to the heart of Keller’s political philosophy which is most outspokenly contained in Chapter 6 “How Should We Do Justice?” I was curious if Keller would maintain his near complete silence on politics and talk only of private individual acts of justice or if he would get into the public aspects of justice.  The concept of justice almost necessarily connotes something that’s in the public sphere.  And “social” justice definitely does because the word “social” makes it about society.  So it would be a surprise if he didn’t address the public/political aspects of “social justice”.

And we are not to be surprised!  He does touch on the political aspects, although he never mentions politics overtly.  It’s all very subtle and if you’re not a careful reader you might miss it altogether.

In Chapter 6, Keller gives several examples of individual Christians working for “social justice” in their personal lives, (although that’s a bit of an oxymoron as the word “social” in “social justice” implies it is a public, society-wide matter – not just a personal matter).  He tells of a business owner who does wonderful things for his employees and community.  These are things that everyone, conservative and liberal alike, would applaud.  But when he gets into public policy – that’s where conservatives should begin to take issue.

He tells of how his own church (my former church) works through the Diaconate to provide care for the needy.  And I know from personal experience they do an excellent job.  They don’t just throw money at people, but they help people get back up on their feet materially, mentally and spiritually.  (However, they tend to refer people to government programs first, when they can).

A Matter of “Rights” and Wrongs

In Chapter 6, Keller appeals to Christopher Wright who he says is an Old Testament scholar and he quotes Wright telling us how we should apply Old Testament principles to our own time.  He quotes Wright as saying:

“God’s law asks us… to find means of ensuring that the weakest and poorest in the community are enabled to have access to the opportunities they need in order to provide for themselves.  ‘Opportunities’ may include financial resources, but could also include access to education, legal assistance, investment in job opportunities, etc.”  (Emphases mine)

That’s all well and good as long as it remains a private and voluntary matter.  However Wright adds one last sentence that Keller endorses – and this last sentence changes everything.  In the last sentence, Keller quotes Wright as saying:

“Such things should not be leftovers or handouts, but a matter of rights

The minute you say something is a “matter of rightsyou are making a profound political statement.  Here Keller is no longer talking about individual private behavior but he is advocating for radical political change. He is asking that the structures of society be profoundly altered.

There is no provision for financial resources, education, legal assistance or opportunity – as God-given rights in our political system.  In fact, if you’ll think about it, you’ll realize that God-given rights – like the rights to speak and worship freely or the right to no search and seizure of your home without a warrant – those rights don’t cost anything.  Government doesn’t have to tax anybody so you can speak your mind.  Government doesn’t have to tax anyone so you can worship as you see fit.  God-given rights are given by God and only have to be exercised.  They don’t come at the financial expense of someone else.

But the kind of rights Keller is advocating are the kind where money has to be taken from someone to be given to someone else.  And that’s political.  If he were only advocating that individuals give this money of their own free will, that would be one thing.  But to say these benefits should be a right to which certain groups are entitled at the expense of other people, is a profound political statement – especially for someone who refuses to publicly divulge what his political leanings are. If he’s going to be this political in his writings, doesn’t he owe it to the public to tell us what side of the political aisle he’s on?  At least for those who can’t see the obvious already?  Is it too much to ask for that much honesty or that much transparency?

To those who believe that Keller and other politically liberal pastors stay out of politics, this statement on “rights” is a profound repudiation of that belief. To conservative pastors who are intimidated by liberals into silence when it comes to politics, this should provide you with all the permission you need to speak out.  If Tim Keller can make calls for such sweeping and radical political change, you should never be intimidated into silence by those on the Left who might typically tell you something like, Jesus didn’t get involved in politics so you shouldn’t either! Or that, politics has no place in the pulpit.

Keller endorses the idea that “opportunity” and “financial resources” should be a right to which each and every “disadvantaged” group is entitled.  Yet Keller never addresses how these rights should be paid for.  Whose salaries should be confiscated?  And what principles of justice might possibly be violated by the confiscation of those salaries?  Does confiscating income from the non-poor to give to the poor, unfairly favor the poor?  The Bible says that the rich and the poor should both be treated fairly.

Leviticus 19:15 says, “Always judge your neighbors fairly, neither favoring the poor nor showing deference to the rich.”

Keller who publicly at least, pretends to have no affinity for either liberal or conservative ideologies, really opens a can of leftist political worms here.  Because to make such things “rights” in American society necessarily means getting politically involved on the very far left side of the political spectrum.  It would be a fundamental transformation of everything America has been.  And very much along the lines of the kind of fundamental transformation Barack Obama promised during his campaign.

No one could really fault someone for wishing for such a society where all problems were effectively remedied by Government-issued rights, had systems that guaranteed such rights and remedies never been tried and failed.  Or, had they ever been tried and succeeded.  However, such societies have been tried and they’ve all – without exception – been abysmal failures.  Societies that have attempted to make such things rights have not ended in social justice but they have ended in massive injustice and many times in millions of unjust deaths.

Did you know for instance that under Soviet Communism, the following rights were guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution:

Right to protection of the family (family members could be hauled off to the Gulag for having unacceptable ideas)
Right to privacy
(everyone was spied on by their neighbors and nothing was private at all)
Right to work
(forced labor)
Right to rest
(after working 7 days a week)
Right to leisure (in a Siberian death camp)
Right to health care
(using 18th-century medical technology)
Right to care in old age
(for the few who happened to live past 50)
Right to housing
(if you don’t mind 12 people per room)
Right to education
(in government indoctrination centers called schools)
Right to cultural benefits
(if you were lucky enough to be a member of the ruling Politburo)

All these things sound great!  And if we didn’t know better, we might want to give that kind of system a try.  But, it has already been tried.  And it didn’t end pretty.  There is no excuse for a man as brilliant and well-educated as Tim Keller not to know the history of these systems that promised the kinds of rights he says society should provide.

It is irresponsible that Tim Keller, writing a book on “social justice” could ignore the history of systems where his ideas have already failedIt is inexcusable that he could ignore the stunning real-world success of the American system in bringing about the most just society in all of human history. It is inexcusable that he didn’t spend ample time in his book looking at the American system and applying the lessons from its successes.  With imperfections, flaws and all – the American system, based primarily on Judeo-Christian principles, has been the most just society in history.  To suggest that the system that has worked best needs to be radically transformed is an example of poor scholarship.  Because no comparative look at the history of the United States and the history of nations that have tried Keller’s suggestions turns up a speck of evidence that they have created more just societies.

There is no scholarly attempt in Keller’s work to show evidence that his solutions have actually ever brought about real justice on a societal-wide basis.  And if you’re going to make a case that a society run on certain principles is a better society – you owe it to your readers to take a historical look at societies that have tried what you’re suggesting and showing that it worked.  However, Keller takes no such look.

To ignore the history of human experience and the realities of humanity’s sinful and flawed nature is irresponsible when one purports to give us a better way – a more Biblical way.  To pick ideas that have been tried and proven abysmal failures (resulting in famine, death and murders of more than a hundred million of people) and then to suggest that this is God’s way while ignoring the historical, real-world track record, is not only irresponsible, it’s downright dangerous.  The experience of history should not be ignored when suggesting new societal structures – but Keller effectively ignores it.

Instead, the underlying tone and implication of Keller’s book is that America is a fundamentally flawed place where millions of people are cheated daily out of what should be rightfully theirs.  As early as the Introduction, Keller begins to slam America as an unjust society.  A story he’s told many times from the pulpit, he repeats in the Introduction:

“When I went to seminary to prepare for the ministry, I met an African-American student, Elward Ellis, who befriended both my future wife, Kathy Kristy, and me.  He gave us gracious but bare-knuckled mentoring about the realities of injustice in American culture.”

He continues on to describe how their new African-American friend went on to relate that all white people are racists – whether they mean to be or not.  The Arican-American man tells them “You’re a racist, you know… you can’t really help it.”

So Keller comes to the same mistaken conclusions that all liberals do, and instead of looking to America as a beacon to the world and an example of how best to form a just human society, he sees it as just the opposite.  The book leaves the reader with the distinct impression that America is so fundamentally flawed that she must be radically transformed.

I believe just the opposite is the case.  America has been a light in human history like no other.  America showed the world how a free society leads to human flourishing.  America showed the world what a fair and just society really is.  Most ethnic minorities are treated far more fairly and far more justly and kindly here than they are even in their native lands.  America has been the greatest beacon of hope to mankind in all of history.  And that’s why hundreds of millions of people from around the world would give their life’s savings to come here.  Yet Keller sees it as a terribly unjust place – whose example must be avoided at all costs.

Make no mistake, “Generous Justice” is just another in a long line of attempts to promote the idea that God supports ideologically liberal solutions to humanity’s problems.  I almost hear the author asking, “What would Jesus do?”  And the answer would no doubt be that, Jesus would use government to take from the non-poor and give to the poor (to pay for all those rights that Keller advocates).  Of course there is no Biblical basis for such a view.

Redistribution

Rewording! Tim Keller is a master at using language to persuade.  He knows how, for instance, to reword the term “social justice” to make it “Generous Justice”.  He knows that conservatives find the term “social justice” alarming and offensive.  So he brilliantly rewords it as “Generous Justice”!  This appeals to the Christian’s fondness of generosity and justice, without all the historical baggage.

But make no mistake, it’s the same old social justice.  Or as it was called in Christian circles early in the 20th century – the social gospel.  Whatever you want to call it – there is no Biblical mandate that societies make financial resources, access to education, or legal assistance rights, as Keller’s Old Testament “scholar” suggests!  And if there were, then no society has ever come closer to doing it than American society.

Doesn’t everyone have access to education in America?  Everyone has access to legal assistance if they’re accused of a crime and can’t afford a lawyer – it’s a Constitutional right.  So you would think Keller might spend some time in his book praising all the good that America has done and acknowledging how close America has come to being what Keller believes a just society should be.  But no, instead, “Generous Justice” asks us to consider radically overturning the American model and implementing something that more resembles the failed Soviet model.

Keller’s prescription for the “just” society very much mirrors those of admitted Socailist Jim Wallis who says he believes in redistribution of wealth.  Keller is very careful not to actually say that though.  Although, in Chapter 6 there is a section called “Relocation and Redistribution.” In it he cites John M. Perkins author of “Welcoming Justice”.

John M. Perkins, also propping up his cranium

Keller says this of Perkins:

“Perkins also spoke of ‘redistribution,’ something others have called ‘reweaving a community.’”

So Keller is “rewording” the word “redistribution” and calling it “reweaving”.  Again, it’s a term that means the same thing as “redistribution”, however, it is a term with no historical baggage.  It doesn’t alarm or offend anyone – because it’s never been used until now.  Who doesn’t think there are a few things that could use some “reweaving”?  However, keep in mind Keller is referring to Perkins’ talk of “redistribution.” Keller continues on to say this:

“John Perkins saw that simply putting welfare checks in the hands of the poor in small towns only ended up transferring capital into the accounts of the wealthy bankers and store owners on the other side of town.”

Just as you may have thought he was going to bring in a Biblical principle or two about the dignity of work or the indignity of taking handouts that aren’t earned, Keller says the real problem with putting a welfare check into the hands of the poor is that it only ends up in the accounts of “wealthy bankers” and “store owners” on the other side of town! Not that it keeps the recipient in life-long poverty, or that it takes away the recipient’s dignity, but that it enriches those filthy bankers and store owners.

No, he didn’t use the word “filthy”, but can there be any doubt he’s expressing hostility and disdain towards “wealthy bankers” and “store owners” (i.e. small business people, such as myself)?  I really wonder how all the wealthy, successful Wall Street bankers who fill the membership rolls of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and who are made to feel most welcomed by Keller and the other leaders of the church, and who are some of its largest contributors, feel about their pastor demonizing them with this kind of pejorative language?  Perhaps they are on a liberalism-induced guilt trip and feel the group demonization is deserved.

But how can Keller maintain his pretense to political neutrality when he writes in the same language as Barack Obama and the Democrats (and by the way, the Communist Party too)?

One paragraph down Keller goes on to explain the evils of the free-market system when he says, “Typically, in blighted neighborhoods there are few jobs, and the businesses that are there (even the banks) are those that take capital from local consumers to spend and invest it in other neighborhoods.”

Please note Keller’s use of the phrase “take capital from local consumers”.  Apparently Keller believes that when a consumer voluntarily engages in a commercial transaction (i.e. purchasing a product or service) that the business is taking money from them. “Taking” implies something wrongful such as stealing.  Most people understand a voluntary transaction such as this – not as a taking on the part of the business but as an “earning”.  The business did not steal money from the consumer, the business “earned” money from the consumer by providing a product or service in exchange for the consumer’s capital.

This reveals a startling hostility to the American free-market system on the part of Keller and puts him squarely on the side of radical liberals and socialists who believe exactly the same thing he said here.  They believe that commercial transactions involve a wrongful and unfair robbing of the consumer.  At least when it involves consumers from “blighted” neighborhoods.

In 1977 President Carter acted on Keller’s convictions that companies should spend and invest in the neighborhoods where they “took” money from consumers.  Carter also believed the banks were cheating consumers by earning revenue from blighted neighborhoods but refusing to make loans in those same neighborhoods.  It didn’t concern Carter and apparently it wouldn’t concern Keller that those consumers didn’t have the credit worthiness to repay the loans.  (Again, this brings into question Keller’s concern for the fair treatment of the non-poor – something that is Biblically mandated.  Does he care whether or not borrowers can repay their loans?  Surely that’ too is an aspect of Biblical justice).  The Credit Reinvestment Act that Carter signed in 1977 and Clinton used in the 1990s to force banks to make loans to consumers in these neighborhoods led directly to the financial collapse of 2008 – as too many of the recipients of these mortgage loans defaulted.

Carter Clinton Conspirare - White House photo, 1978

As a result of the recession, times have been most difficult for the poor around the world.  Those whom Keller purports to help with his political advice.  It’s too bad that he can’t connect the dots and see that when his prescription was tried by Carter and Clinton – it led directly to the most difficult financial times in a generation for the poor he set out to support.  But like socialized attempts to help the poor always do, this one backfired too.  A scholar who looked for historical examples to support his political ideas would have seen this coming a mile away.

When a pastor offers political advice he has a responsibility to look at history to determine if and when his advice has been tried and whether or not it succeeded or failed.  It’s not enough to offer solutions that sound good in theory – you must show evidence in history where your proposed solutions have been tried and worked.  In the case of Keller and “Generous Justice” – no attempt is made to show where his proposals have been tried and correspondingly no attempt to show evidence that they have ever actually led to a more just society.

We Conservatives on the other hand see plenty of evidence that his proposals have been utter and dismal failures every time and everywhere they’ve been tried.  They’ve been tried in one way or another in Communist countries around the world where they were murderous failures.  They’ve been tried in our own country where they have achieved the exact opposite of social justice for the poor.  In fact, today millions of American poor still suffer, more than anyone else, as a casualty of the Great Recession – that was caused as a direct result of two presidents and a Democratic party who all shared the same convictions Tim Keller expresses in “Generous Justice”.

It’s a real shame that someone as brilliant, articulate and persuasive as Keller has gotten so bogged down in the Leftist propaganda that totally surrounds him in New York City that he can’t see these historical realities.

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

– II Timothy 4: 1-5 NASB

Images other than Jonathon Cusar’s photo and their captions added by Gulag Bound

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16 thoughts on “Is ‘Social Justice’ a Christian Virtue?

  1. As a christian chaplain I will put it very simply; there is nothing in the good book that teaches these insane ideals of Social Justice which are little more than organized theft of the wealth of those individuals who have been able to make something of their own efforts and abilities in America.

    Anyone who claims to be a pastor and says Social Justice is one of the biblical tenants is a communist of the first order and a fraud as well.

  2. I was under the impression that when Jesus instructed his followers to feed my flock, He meant that they should do it themselves. Not by organizing a comittee and taking someone else’s resources against their will.

    Wuz I wrong?

    1. yes you are. you forget the supreme authority. God commands you. That means you are a puppet of God’s will. Examine yourself. See if the reasons that you refuse to help others is out of obsequiousness to your selfish desires or out of biblical authority. if you have to question it, you may find that your conscience is getting the better of you.

  3. Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.
    Deut. 26:12. When you have finished paying the complete tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and the widow, that they may eat in your towns, and be satisfied.
    Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”

    Is. 10:1-3. “Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights… Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar?”
    Luke 16:19-25. “Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
    Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’
    But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony…’”

    Prov. 29:7. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.

    Acts 2:44. All those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began to sell their property and possessions, and share them with all, as anyone might have need.
    Acts 4:32-35. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need

    the answer is yes. those passages from acts sound like god wants us to live in communes. believe in whatever you want. but don’t tell me that God doesn’t like communism

    1. You miss the entire point of that though by bringing up Communism. Those acts which pointed out were to be done *by the individual person based on their individual hearts* No where, not ONCE do you ever see the Law of Moses or the teaching of Christ or the Apostles imply in any way shape or form *government* involvement in these actions.

      God wants us to take care of the poor and downtrodden among us out of the kindness and mercy of our own hearts; *not because some of a government mandate to do so*

      Let me be perfectly clear again, God wants us to take care of the poor and needy out of our own *personal desire to do so* not because we are forced to do it.

      And think not that Communism is anything but a measure of forced works.

      1. But if your tax dollars are helping out the poor, then shouldn’t your christian conscience tell you that those things are good? All I am saying is ask someone who is receiving benefits from the government, who is poor, who is sick, who is old, who is needy and tell them that they shouldn’t receive these benefits. Take them away.

        tell them that christianity believes they shouldn’t receive foodstamps so that they can feed their family.

        Look, I understand that you too believe that it is the duty of every christian to make sure the hungry are fed and the sick are healed. Jesus broke the sabbath, one of the ten commandments, to heal the sick. Imagine, the dealth penalty was given out for the violation of the sabbath. But Jesus defied that so as to help someone in need. That teaches us that the needs of people come before our preconceived notions of the law.

        If there is a law that helps the sick, how can you tell me that god would want you to remove those laws because you are not doing it out of your own will? how does that make sense?

        If it is a question of “personal desire” than I recommend that you desire it.

        The government is not some separate entity. its you. you are government. We are a government. we are a social body that constitutes the government.

        look around your neighborhood. your sidewalks. clean water. fresh air (for now). if you are a pastor, who gives you a tax break. WE do. As a government. as a collective body we give to all of us so that our lives on this earth might be better. Those were the ideals that this country was founded upon. Government has never been something outside of you as a citizen of this country.

        don’t let the poor die out of some principle. Don’t kill off the old because you haven’t chosen to do it.

        What are you going to say to your maker when he asks you, “why were did you preach to your fellow, don’t help the poor until you want to?” He’s going to say to you, “I gave you those laws to take away your ability to choose otherwise. You don’t have free choice. your will is mine. You follow my rules my laws against your will.” The fall of man represents our inherent fallibility. The bible was given to humankind in order to guide humankind back to paradise. Once your will is tied to the bible’s you lose free choice. you become an angel acting submitting your will to god’s. Angel’s are God’s holiest servants because they have no will. they act in accordance to the will of god.

        our free will is only there so that we may break it in order to serve god.

        If the purpose of our will is to serve god, then we have to follow his commandments. That means you have to put the sufferings of others before your own. you have to give even when you don’t want to. sell all of your possessions. who wants to do that? you will never want to give.

        the reason why the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer is because we haven’t accepted god’s truth. The market isn’t truth. Acting against our selfishness is truth. That is the only truth. Until you realize that, you will never realize the true teachings of the bible

        Hillel, the great Rabbi once said, “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is the whole Bible, the rest is commentary.” That is the sublimation of will. Because if you ever realize that in this world what is hateful to you is the selfishness of others, you realize that your own selfishness is just as hateful. You don’t get to choose who you help. God does. God provides a test for you every day with someone in need whether you can see them or not. The test is if you will hate them with your selfishness. The test is if you can learn to learn that these words “government” are only keeping you away from realizing how to help the world. If the government provides for others how can you, as a follower of god, take that away?

  4. So, people choosing to share resources is the same as government taking your property and giving some portion of what they’ve taken to the poor (usually less than half, after fraud and administrative expenses)?

    No, I think God intends us to do good through our church communities, not through the government. I would be all for sharing resources, but none of those groups in Acts were 1) a nation, 2) so large that they didn’t know each other. Go to your church and share freely with them. I will do the same. That is the farthest that a commune should go in God’s eyes. Beyond the voluntary use of resources is theft, something God is openly against.

    Certainly, the aid a church community should offer is a more complex subject than this venue provides. There are many ways a community ought to help the poor, but communism as a government simply creates more poor and less who can help. Natural rights, my friend, are what helps God’s law provide justice. We should do our best to follow it, though we will have it just right.

    God bless you. I hope He will guide you through His Word to a more full understanding.

    1. Excellent point, mike. It grieves me to see those who are supposed to protect the flock prepping them for socialism which always leads to a totalitarian state that will not tolerate allegiance to a rival King.

  5. How about you learn to write before you interpret biblical passages to mean forced government mandates. Tithing is, by definition, a free act of a man OBEYING the will of God. You fail, heathen.

  6. Everyone here is stuck in semantics. The laws of the bible are not about these subtleties. They are about acts.

    Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

    You have allowed a word to come in between you and the needs of others. woe to all of you.

  7. THEN GIVE YOUR CLEAN WATER! BUILD YOUR OWN SIDEWALKS! I DARE YOU TO GIVE UP EVERYTHING THAT OUR GOVERNMENT PROVIDES. selfishness is the ultimate evil.

    but to some it is the ultimate good. Ask Ayn Rand. this is what she says:

    ‎”Reason is everything. Religion is a fraud. Selfishness is a virtue. Altruism is a crime against human excellence. Self-sacrifice is weakness. Weakness is contemptible. Objectivist ethics, in essence, hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others…” Ayn Rand

    that is the religion that you have prescribed to. she is your pagan god. the god of selfishness

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