Last week, John MacArthur, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, led the signing of a statement that condemned evangelical's "newfound obsession with the notion of 'social justice,'" and was met with signatures from over 3,000 other evangelicals who supported the statement.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has responded to John MacArthur's recent claims that evangelicals' embrace of social justice is a threat to the Gospel.
“The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” asserts that the Bible's teachings are being protested against by "the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for 'social justice,” stating that "values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality."
When asked if he believed the separation of the Bible and social justice was helpful, Moore responded by saying, "No, because the Bible doesn't put those two things in separate categories." He continued, "Sometimes what people want to do is to essentially do with public justice what other people do with personal morality."
"You will have people who will say anytime someone starts talking about the imperatives of Scripture — like being sexually pure — 'That is legalism and all that matters is who I am in Christ,'" Moore continued. "Is there such a thing as legalism, of course. If someone were to say, 'Maintain sexual purity in order that you may be acceptable before God,' well that is legalism. But that is not what the Scripture is teaching."
Moore notes that it would be unsound to argue that because legalism – the dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith – can happen in personal morality, that personal morality is and should be separate from the Gospel.
On this Moore said, "Of course not. The same thing is true with what we do together. The Bible doesn't make these artificial distinctions between what we are doing privately and personally and then what we are gathering together and doing.”
He continued, “The people who would say that, don't really believe it [because they] don't act that way when it comes to the issues they care about and in most cases rightly care about."
The statement led by MacArthur, comes after an unsuccessful push earlier this year, by some in the Southern Baptist Convention to get the Protestant denomination to denounce the social justice movement.
Moore added that it is "disheartening" to watch the Church repeat the same issues of the past with the "same talking points."
"So, if you were in the Southern Baptist or Southern Presbyterian context in 1845 and the question of slavery comes up, the response is going to be 'You are distracting us from the Gospel. We need to be the people who are sharing the Gospel and evangelizing the world and not to get involved in these social issues like slavery,'" Moore said. "Well, if you stand up and call people to repentance for drunkenness and adultery but you don't call them to repentance for participating in or applauding the kidnapping, rape, forced servitude of image-bearing human beings, then you have spoken to it. You have said, 'This is an issue to which you will give no account at judgment.' That is not what the Bible teaches."
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