In his Nov. 8 Point of View “About perspective, not party,” William Barber II, head of the N.C. NAACP, claimed “ ‘evangelical’ is a label that has been hijacked and manipulated” by Christians on the right. True evangelicalism, Barber said, was spoken from the lips and words of Jesus placing “concern for the poor and the broken at the center of faith.”
The fact is, “evangelical” is a term bandied about by Christians on both the political left and right. But in reality, the term that best explains the differences between Barber and believers to the right of him is the tag “social justice.” Barber uses the phrase repeatedly.
Erick Rush, a black social commentator, accurately explains: “ ‘Social justice Christians’ are those who profess Christianity, but who adhere to politically entrenched concepts of equality and redistribution of wealth. These ideas are ostensibly rooted in their faith, but in truth, they have been incrementally and insidiously insinuated into many American churches by Marxists, progressive politicians and pastors whose religion has been tainted by the aforementioned parties.
“How can this be? Well, through the misrepresentation of the Gospel messages in the areas of charity and egalitarianism, such Christians have been led to believe that: Government has a right to enforce religious doctrines (such as those of charity and egalitarianism), and Jesus Christ, as a threat to the existing paradigm, was the ‘first radical’ and essentially commanded this in his teachings. A preposterous extrapolation, to be sure, but that’s what they espouse. And, of course, government only has the right to enforce the religious doctrines of which these folks and their leaders happen to approve.”
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Gary DeMar, president of American Vision, in a 2009 essay “Do We Need Social Justice?” argued Christians who oppose “social justice” policies are not against treating people justly. It’s just that “they firmly believe that most, if not all ‘social justice’ policies that involve the state are wrong and, in the long run, do more harm than good. Attaching the ‘social justice’ label to a program does not make it a just and helpful program any more than attaching a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament to a Volkswagen will make it a luxury car.”
The heart of the Gospel is that the impoverished of spirit, those broken by sin’s power, can be made free in Jesus Christ – not the flawed socialistic dogma and other courses of action pursued under the slogan “social justice.” And that’s totally “evangelical.”
Executive director, Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the POV.