Pastor Eric Anderson: Creeds, Convictions and Commitments on Sola Scriptura as related to The New Social Justice Movement
I am committed to The reformation practice of Sola Scriptura; as articulated through the Historic Christian Creeds and Confessions (II Tim 3:15-17).
LBC 1689 1.6 The whole counsel of God concerning everything essential for his own glory and man’s salvation, faith, and life is either explicitly stated or by necessary inferences contained in the Holy Scriptures.
The Bible declares; and thus I believe, that God has created differing ethnicity’s/cultures of people (Gen 10:5,20, 32; 11:1-8) under one human race/blood (Acts 17:26)
I am committed to preach the Word of God in and out of season (II Timothy 4:1-5). Therefore, though, in any local context, the different patterns of groups may be considered in evangelism (to the Jew I became a Jew, Titus 1:10-16), we ultimately must leave the ethnic make up of Christ’s church to the workings of His Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:5-7); through whom a new Christian culture is created among all regenerate people in every local church (Galatians 5-6, I Cor 13)
LBC 26:5 In exercising the authority entrusted to him, the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of his Word, by his Spirit, calls to himself out of the world those who are given to him by his Father.9 They are called so that they will live before him in all the ways of obedience that he prescribes for them in his Word.10 Those who are called he commands to live together in local societies, or churches, for their mutual edification and the fitting conduct of public worship that he requires of them while they are in the world.11
I believe The Good News that makes The Gospel Good News: That the body of Death, the old man was paid for at Calvary. (Romans 6:5-11) We believe that all Christians are living in light of the Resurrection and awaiting our glorification of all that is Sin-cursed and fallen; this already/not-yet reality is a tension in all Christian ministry. (Romans 8:12-39)
I believe that real justice comes from and can only be defined by a commitment to Truth: Sola Scriptura. Any political strategy, social or personal attempts, which are not rooted in the Fear of God and wisdom flowing from His Word will only undermine the church and harm people.
I believe, principally from Scripture, that, while God judges the heart (I Samuel 16:7, Matthew 5:17-30, 7:21-23) the justice we are called to steward is objectively verifiable, rooted in Truth (Exodus 20:1-17, Isaiah 1:16-17) and provable by the establishment of two or three witnesses ( Matthew 18:15-20, Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 19:15)
lBC 21:2 God alone is Lord of the conscience,12 and he has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to his word or not contained in it.13 So, believing such doctrines, or obeying such commands out of conscience, is a betrayal of true liberty of conscience.14 Requiring implicit faith or absolute and blind obedience destroys liberty of conscience and reason as well.15
I believe the current Evangelical Social justice movement, acutely trending within traditionally historically reformed partnerships, is, as a whole and in the final analysis, deeply damaging to the church because it is driven by an over-fascination with the world–both the sins which Jesus paid for, and the praise of the words, definitions and values of the fallen cultures of men.
I discern that the root of this is under-realized eschatology; which fans man-fear and anger (Proverbs 29:25); leading to the confusion of some fundamental and basic Biblical-Gospel categories and definitions (Identity in Adam/Christ—old man/new man, definitions of sin, extent of Atonement, implications of resurrection and regeneration, etc); as well as an obsession to return to the very land of Egypt the Lord Jesus Christ has freed the elect from; and warns against coveting afresh. (Romans 8:12-15; James 3:14-18).
LBC 25.3 The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error.4 Some have degenerated so much that they have ceased to be churches of Christ and have become synagogues of Satan.5 Nevertheless, Christ always has had and will have in this world to the very end a kingdom of those who believe in him and profess his name.6
I further observe that although this current movement seems to mirror a Socialist/Marxist philosophy, it is not dis-similar from any number of historical “Evangelical-Utopian” promises which have infiltrated the church visible and undermined her gospel work and witness. Through depending upon human effort, the praise of men, pragmatic numbers and quotients, these disorderly-trends divide by demanding sacrifices from certain people for favor of others. This includes, but is not limited to, the church-growth, prosperity, gay-christian and feminist movements of the past 50 years.
LBC 15.4Repentance must continue throughout our lives, because of the body of death and its activities. So it is everyone’s duty to repent of each specific, known sin specifically.7
As it is deems wise and necessary, Christians should and must talk about specific sins and patterns of idolatry we inherited from our forefathers (I Peter 1:18), and are now participating in.
For example, the sin of prideful favoritism, which James explains in 2:1-13, should be discerned, rebuked and changes made, to the extent to which the secret sins of the heart (pride) have become visible (division/favoritism);
Yet, I do not dwell upon those; whether this is public or in private counseling; since a Christian is under condemnation, but under grace; and the eternal debt is paid for and canceled.
Instead I commit to person-to-person peacemaking and counseling which involved Gospel declaration, specific sin-repentance and forgiveness; which includes specific commitments to change and reconcile, in all relationships where pride, anger, and fear manifests itself to separate people from one another; of which racism is only one example.
LBC 26:4aThe Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church. By the Father’s appointment, all authority is conferred on him in a supreme and sovereign manner to call, institute, order and govern the church.7
This has been a growing concern among individuals in our fellowship for some time, and while we hope to not “respond” to every trend, we discern this is a serious enough threat to The Gospel and True Unity to re-affirm what we believe with polemic underpinnings.
The timing and the gravitas of this paper came from the concerns surrounding the direction of Evangelicalism and the Neo-Reformed movement (including institutions) specifically related to articles, blogs and talks surrounding TGC/ERLC MLK 500 Conference. Although the New Social Justice movement’s official positions and definitions can be fluid and hard to pin down,much of our concerns can be seen and summarized through listening to the talks from the MLK 500 and T4G2018 including, but not limited to, the talks from David Platt and Matt Chandler.
There is a wealth of podcasts and articles analyzing the Spiritual and Ecclesiastical Dangers of this movement: easily accessible from a variety of Apologists and pastors, including James White, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Darryl Harrison, P. Andrew Sandlin, Samuel Sey, Todd Friel, Todd Pruitt and Douglas Wilson. A google search will yield much fruit.
For academic, yet accessible articles, see Paul Helseth Elect from Every Nation, Ardel Caneday Let’s Get Biblical: Moving from Scripture to Theology Concerning Racial Reconciliation, Neil Shenvi Critical Theory and Christianity, and Peter Jones Revoice: Sliding into Heresy
Lifespring Church hosted a recent conference on the Doctrine of The Christian Mind, which devoted two talks to this subject as related to historical deconstruction of terms. See www.visitlifespring.com, under “Sermons” from April 2018. In addition, Dr. Caneday came and spoke with a recent pastors fellowship we hosted about these trends and the need for Biblically grounded language.
Furthermore, I am concerned this new infusion of Biblical and worlds terms will necessary lead to re-definitions of morality including gender and sexuality; for this may as well be called the church growth/seeker movement 2.0, in which the world demands, not big programs and contemporary music from the church, but social, sexual and gender pragmatic affirmation.
Finally, we love our fellowship and unity. For many of us what we have enjoyed as a network we have not had before to this extent. We are thankful to our God and King, who has seen fit to draw us together, during these divisive times.