Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Social Justice & the Doctrine of Sin

Biblical Justice  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Strong beliefs + bad strategy = big problem
Peanut allergies used to be relatively rare up until the mid 1990s. Although few children had peanut allergies, a small number of severe cases were causing many doctors, scientists, educators, and parents to be concerned. They developed a strong belief that this was a bad thing.
But what could be done? For many, the strategy was obvious: Protect kids from peanuts, peanut products, and anything that has been in contact with nuts of any kind.
A few years later, it became obvious to many this strategy was actually a bad strategy and the results created a big problem.
In their book, The Coddling of the American Mind Greg Lukianoff (“loo-key-on-off”) and Jonathan Haidt (“height”) write: “It was later discovered that peanut allergies were surging precisely because parents and teachers had started protecting children from exposure to peanuts back in the 1990s.” (Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind, 20)
Today, some estimate that 1 in 50 children have a peanut allergy, compared to a study in the mid 1990s that found only four out of a thousand children under the age of 8 had such an allergy. (Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind, 20)
Strong beliefs + bad strategy = big problem
That same formula is posing a different type of disaster in our world today. . .
Strong beliefs (racism is bad)
From the lynching trees in America to the smokestacks in Auschwitz, racism is a horrible evil
PBC agrees! For the past four years we’ve faithfully and repeatedly discussed the evils of racism every January at PBC.
Most people on the planet would agree that racism is bad. And yet in America we’re experiencing. . .
Big Problem (greater race tensions, greater division, greater unrest, greater fear)
Lifeway recently reported that Protestant pastors in America believe their churches are significantly less likely to welcome a sermon on racism than they were four years ago.
Our own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, is more divided on racial issues than we were 20 years ago.
These are ways the church is looking like the world! Why?
We’ve adopted a Bad strategy to combat the evils of racism: Social Justice Worldview
Strong beliefs + bad strategy = big problem
What do you mean by worldview?
Sounds really good! Justice is a biblical world! It’s all over Scripture! To call it social justice should simply mean that it’s justice impacting society.
But in the words of Inigo Montoya“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The term Social Justice doesn’t refer to a biblical conception of justice, working its way into the public square. It refers to an entire worldview.
Thaddeus Williams—I am convinced that social justice is one of the most epic and age-defining controversies facing the twenty-first-century church. In the twentieth century you would encounter the term social justice while auditing a sociology course or perhaps joining the chapter of a local activists’ group. Now it is in our coffee shops, our ads for soda, shoes, and shaving cream, our fast food establishments, our Super Bowls, our internet browsers, our blockbuster movies, our kindergarten curricula, our Twitter feeds, our national media, and our pulpits. It’s everywhere.” [[Page 1 >>]] | Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask about Social Justice
Non-Christian progressive critics like James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Andrew Sullivan call it the religion of social justice
Scott David Allen calls it ideological social justice
Elizabeth Corey, a political science professor at Baylor, calls it a “quasi-religious gnostic movement”
But what is it?!?
What is “Social Justice Worldview?”
“This is a worldview that centers social and cultural grievances and aims to make everything into a zero-sum political struggle revolving around identity markers like race, sex, gender, sexuality, and many others.” —James Lindsay & Helen Pluckrose, Cynical Theories
The world is divided into two tribes: oppressors and victims. The job of the victims is to overthrow the traditional structures and systems that keep the oppressors in power and redistribute power and resources to the victims.
Today I want to show you why Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism. I want to do this by contrasting the Social Justice Worldview with the Christian worldview on one point: their doctrine of sin.
Every worldview has a doctrine of sin. They may not use the word sin, but every worldview from Atheism to Islam answers the question “what is wrong with the world.” And their answer to that question is their doctrine of sin.
Many people promoting Social Justice worldview may have a genuine desire to correct a serious problem. Like parents trying to protect their children from peanut allergies, many of these men and women mean well. But Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism.
Turn to Romans 3:9
Paul is near the beginning of a long and detailed exposition of the Good News, the Gospel
But before we can receive the Good News, we need to understand the bad news. We need to understand what the Bible teaches about sin.
We won’t tackle every idea in this passage, but together let’s consider six truths about the Christian doctrine of sin and contrast them with Social Justice Worldview.

1) Sin Has a Fixed Standard

Romans 3:9—What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.
What is sin?
Paul describes sin beginning in verse 11. It’s a failure to seek God, failure to do good, deceitfulness, cursing, bitterness, shedding blood, a failure to fear God and more.
But he moves closer to defining sin in verse 20—by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Meaning: the law is the fixed standard that shows us what sin is
1 John 3:4—Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
What is sin?—Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 14)
Sins of omission and commission
What is the standard for sin according to Social Justice Worldview?
Scott David Allen writes, “For believers in social justice, the answer can be expressed in one word: ‘Oppression.’ In this worldview, evil doesn’t originate in the human heart. There is no doctrine of the fall or human depravity. Rather, evil is sourced outside of man, in society, and specifically in social structures, systems, institutions, laws, and cultural norms that perpetuate inequalities and grant one group power and privileges at the expense of others.” (Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice, 64)
Problem: This is an ever-changing standard!
As Hitler is losing power, days before the collapse of Nazi Germany, is he less guilty because he has less power to oppress?
Who decides what’s considered oppression? Opinions on what constitutes oppression have changed drastically just in the past few decades!
To be clear: the Christian worldview teaches that oppression is sinful! But it’s not the definition of sin, it’s one type of sin.
The Christian worldview has a fixed standard of sin. Social Justice Worldview does not.
The bad news in the Christian worldview is actually worse than the bad news according to Social Justice:
If you judge yourself according to Social Justice Worldview, you might be able to call yourself “Not Guilty” if you’re not in an oppressive group
Apart from Christ no one can call themselves “Not Guilty” in the eyes of God
Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism because it lacks a fixed standard for sin.

2) Sin is the Work of Individuals

Romans 3:10-11—as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Paul carefully and clearly condemns individuals. Yes, it’s true the entire human race has fallen into sin together through Adam’s sin
But every human being who has ever lived since (except for Christ) is also an individual sinner.
Apart from Christ, no one is righteous, no one understands, no one seeks for God, no one does good, every individual is a sinner.
Who does the work of sin according to Social Justice Worldview?
Sin is systemic, you are a sinner by your participation in an oppressive tribe.
Scott David Allen— “There is no more far-reaching belief in idealogical social justice than its denial of the individual. Based on this radical presupposition, your personal history, life expereinces, choices, and deeply held beliefs don’t matter. The only things that matter in defining who you are, are your group affiliations.” (Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice, 61)
In March 2019, Ekemini Uwan (ee-kim-in-ee ooh-wan) addressed the Sparrow Conference for Women in Dallas, Texas. At this Christian conference meant to inspire Christians to be peacemakers, Uwan said this: “When we talk about white identity, then we have to talk about what whiteness is. Well, the reality is that whiteness is rooted in plunder, in theft, in slavery, in enslavement of Africans, genocide of Native Americans.… It’s a power structure, that is what whiteness is.… Because we have to understand something—whiteness is wicked.”
Let’s be clear: white people have committed plunder, theft, slavery, genocide, violence, and more.
If you have committed these or other sins, you need to repent.
If these or other sins have been committed against you, you can be restored.
But rather than condemn specific racist acts and attitudes committed by individual persons, Social Justice Worldview chooses instead to lob grenades at a system called whiteness.
The Christian worldview says sin is the work of individuals. Social Justice Worldview says sin is the work of corrupt systems.
The bad news in the Christian worldview is actually worse than the bad news according to Social Justice:
If you judge yourself according to Social Justice, you can breathe easy because it’s the system, not you, that’s being judged
The Christian worldview teaches that people, not systems are going to give an account before God on Judgment Day. You are. I am.
Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism because it misunderstands the individual nature of sin.

3) Sin Condemns Everybody

Not only is sin committed by individuals, sin condemns everybody! This is the main thrust of Paul’s argument beginning in Romans 3:9. He wants his readers to understand that every group, every tribe is equally condemned because of the curse of sin.
Romans 3:9-12—What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Romans 3 puts everybody into one tribe: sinner
White and black, oppressor and oppressed, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, male and female, Gentile and Jew—all of us are sinners
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts.”
Who does sin condemn in Social Justice Worldview?
Certain sins can only be committed by certain tribes
Consider, for example, the sin of racism. . .
Our definition—Racism is any belief or behavior that elevates one race or ethnicity over another.
Racism = Prejudice + Power
Only whites can commit racism because only whites can have power
Is the KKK lest racist because it has less power in society?
Some people take this even further. Some say not only that only white people can be racist, but white people are always racist.
Robin DiAngelo in her NYT best-seller, White Fragility writes: “racism is “a complex, interconnected system” into which all white people are socialized to such a degree that “racism is unavoidable and … it is impossible to completely escape having developed problematic racial assumptions and behaviors.”
The Christian worldview says sin condemns everybody from every group. Social Justice Worldview says sins like racism only condemn certain groups.
The bad news in the Christian worldview is actually worse than the bad news according to Social Justice:
If you judge yourself according to Social Justice Worldview, you can work to be accepted if you repent of your implicit racism and help overthrow systemic racism
The Christian worldview teaches there is no work you can do to be accepted. Nothing. In fact, even your best works aren’t enough:
Isaiah 64:6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism because it refuses to recognize that sin condemns everybody.

4) Sin Corrupts Totally

Romans 3:13-18—“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Total depravity—not that every person is as depraved as they could be, but that every part of every person is totally corrupted by sin. Your mind, will, emotions, heart, body, soul, all of it is corrupted by sin.
What does sin corrupt, in the worldview of Social Justice?
Social Justice believes in total depravity, but not in a total depravity of persons but a total depravity of oppressive cultures, systems and groups
“Why Can’t We Hate Men?” by Suzanna Walters (WaPo)
Law professor Ekow Yankah’s “Can My Children Be Friends with White People?” (NYT)
Michael Harriot’s “White People are Cowards.”
The same logic is being applied against churches: David Gushee (who six years ago made headlines when he affirmed LGBTQ+ as compatible with Christianity) writes—“You are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions. Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”
The bad news in the Christian worldview is actually worse than the bad news according to Social Justice:
If you judge yourself according to Social Justice Worldview, you can open up your eyes to the total corruption of evil systems and become woke.
The Christian worldview teaches that you are so corrupt you cannot wake up. You’re not asleep, you’re dead. And unless someone resurrects you there is no hope for you at all.
Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism because it refuses to recognize that sin corrupts totally.

5) Sin Will be Punished

Romans 3:19—Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
The Christian worldview understands that every evil will be punished in the end. Nobody really gets away with it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t care about punishing evildoers now. We should. But we don’t feel the same pressure to right every wrong now when we understand that the King is returning.
George Sher and Approximate Justice
How must sin be punished in the worldview of Social Justice?
Cancel culture
“Death threats at a donut shop—it’s a new reality at Amazing Glazed in Chesapeake.”
Why? The owner posted a picture on her personal Facebook page of her husband and friends before they left to attend the rally for President Trump near the White House on January 6. Her husband left before the rioting started at the capitol, but because she posted the picture online, she’s been accused of being racist, being a terrorist, and has even had threats against her 9-month-old grandchildren
The bad news in the Christian worldview is actually worse than the bad news according to Social Justice:
Social Justice Worldview can take away your popularity, fame, wealth, and more. But it cannot touch your soul.
The Christian worldview teaches that God has the authority to punish your soul forever in hell
Matthew 10:28—Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Social Justice Worldview is a bad strategy to combat the evils of racism because it fails to understand how sin will be punished.
Before we move to our final point, which is the Good News, understand that if you get the bad news wrong, you won’t get the Good News right! This is why Christians MUST have a clear and biblical doctrine of sin!

6) Sin Can Be Forgiven

Conversation with Derick—redemption
Verse 21—But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it
God’s going to reveal His righteousness to His people apart from the OT law
But the OT law prophesied about it
What is this righteousness?
Verse 22a—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
God gives this righteousness to everyone who believes in Jesus
But who deserves to receive His righteousness?
Verse 22b-23—For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Nobody. We’ve all sinned. None of us are righteous
Verse 24—and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
Declared righteous . . . by grace . . . as a gift!
Through redemption in Jesus. . . HOW?
Verse 25awhom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Propitiation—appeasing of wrath
Jesus died on the cross to bear our punishment!
We receive His gift righteousness by faith
Verses 25b-26—This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Only the Christian worldview is sufficient to combat the evils of racism, or any other evil, because only the Christian worldview has the Gospel.
How should we respond?
Repent and believe the Gospel
Talk to someone more about this, head to the white flag after the sermon and someone will sit down with you and talk/pray with you
Resist any and every false worldview
Everybody has a worldview and they’re always communicating in light of it. The media, the arts, and the academy are deliberately attempting to persuade you to adopt their worldviews
Romans 12:1-2—I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Strengthen your biblical worldview
Study the doctrine of sin
Study the Gospel
Read your Bible!
Evangelize the lost
Adrian Rogers“Don’t preach against sin with anger, but with anguish!”
Francis Schaeffer—“I need to remind myself constantly that this is not a game I am playing. If I begin to enjoy it as a kind of intellectual exercise, then I am cruel and can expect no real spiritual results. As I push the man off his false balance, he must be able to feel that I care for him. Otherwise I will end up only destroying him and the cruelty and ugliness of it all will destroy me as well.” Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There (Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), 127.
Captives not combatants!
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