One of the reasons Christians have fallen prey to a social justice narrative is a previous capitulation to humanist ethical categories imposed on Christian concepts. Most of these shifts predated the current movement, but laid a linguistic foundation for it to succeed.
For example: Where does “the sin of racism” rank among biblical categories for sin? Racism, as it was defined, represented sin as it stood for arrogance on the basis of ethnicity. Unfortunately, biblical categories like “arrogance,” “pride,” and “partiality,” in their textual contexts became less used in favor of the catch all, and increasingly harder to define, “racism.”
Is racism a preference, attitude, action, idea, or innate characteristic of privilege? If someone is romantically attracted to only certain ethnicities are they racist? If someone benefits from alleged systems of oppression without knowing it, are they racist?
The word is easily untethered from biblical sin categories, yet many Christians seem to insist it is among the chief sins, along with misogyny, intolerance, homophobia, and general bigotry. In fact, these sins are so evil that, like the apostle said, it is a “shame” to even “speak of them.”
You will not find Christian accountability groups for recovering racists or misogynists, let alone these sins numbered with the church prayer request list. Pornography and alcoholism, actual biblical sins that have been redefined as “diseases,” are even more acceptable.
Behind the etymological war stand two worldviews. Both compete to define man’s great problems. One says man’s problems arise from internal evil. The other, that they come from external inequities. Christians have increasingly confused symptoms for diseases, and accepted the egalitarian scheme for addressing man.
This is the essence of today’s social justice. It will be the nature of tomorrow’s socialism. Most self proclaimed Christians will accept the second because they’ve allowed the definitions and terms of the first to replace biblical definitions.
Jonathan Harris lives with his wife in Lynchburg, Virginia. He has a B.A. in history from Thomas Edison State University and an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jonathan enjoys outdoor activities (he is a member of the Catskill 3500 club, an honor he values more than any of his academic accolades), playing guitar, and fixing furniture. Jonathan, growing up in a the home of a pastor, gave his life to Jesus Christ at a young age and has been involved in music and college ministry since he was 18.