Why I Signed The 2018 Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel

The Bible at Galatians 3:28 declares that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no more clear a statement of the fundamental equality of all men and women in all of human literature, whether ancient or modern. As a follower of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I affirm Galatians 3:28 with all of my heart and seek to live that reality every day.

Sadly, despite our Declaration of Independence’s affirmation in its Preamble that “all men are created equal,” America has too often failed to live up to its founding ideals. But compared to every other government ever instituted among men, America has and continues to embody its defining ideal most faithfully, and, crucially, provide its citizens with regular, peaceful and effective means of redressing its failures.

The issues of racism and slavery have been perennial sources of controversy in America. This country sacrificed the lives of hundreds of thousands of its citizens in a great war that, thankfully, ended slavery in 1865. But racism has continued to rear its terrible head in many ways among us. It is a sin that every Christian recognizes as such and condemns.

Yet questions are raised these days about how Christianity, and Christians, can and should relate to the sin of racism. To that end, and because I believe readers of HillFaith should know clearly the perspective I bring to these pages on issues like racism, I encourage all to read the following “Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel,” first written and affirmed by 14 evangelical Christian leaders in September 2018. Since then, nearly 14,000 other evangelicals, including this one, have signed it.

While it is my hope that readers will examine each of the Affirmations & Denials contained in the statement, of particular interest to those HillFaith readers who work on Capitol Hill will be the following Affirmation & Denial regarding racism:

WE AFFIRM that racism is a sin rooted in pride and malice which must be condemned and renounced by all who would honor the image of God in all people. Such racial sin can subtly or overtly manifest itself as racial animosity or racial vainglory. Such sinful prejudice or partiality falls short of God’s revealed will and violates the royal law of love. We affirm that virtually all cultures, including our own, at times contain laws and systems that foster racist attitudes and policies.

WE DENY that treating people with sinful partiality or prejudice is consistent with biblical Christianity. We deny that only those in positions of power are capable of racism, or that individuals of any particular ethnic groups are incapable of racism. We deny that systemic racism is in any way compatible with the core principles of historic evangelical convictions. We deny that the Bible can be legitimately used to foster or justify partiality, prejudice, or contempt toward other ethnicities. We deny that the contemporary evangelical movement has any deliberate agenda to elevate one ethnic group and subjugate another. And we emphatically deny that lectures on social issues (or activism aimed at reshaping the wider culture) are as vital to the life and health of the church as the preaching of the gospel and the exposition of Scripture. Historically, such things tend to become distractions that inevitably lead to departures from the gospel.