Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, August 08, 2005

Liberty and Justice for All: Examining the Values of the Christian Alliance, Pt. 5

I come again to my review and critique of the values shaping a newly formed group called the Christian Alliance for Progress. Their key goal as a group is to be a blast against the so-called right wing take over of the Christian faith. They suggest throughout the various articles on their website that fundamental, right minded Christianity does not represent the true, God honoring Christianity founded in the ministry of Jesus. I believe they are sorely misinformed on what constitutes true Christianity, and would even say intentionally deceptive with their overall campaign against "fundamentalists." I believe I operate under the correct understanding that “fundamentalism” is biblical Christianity.

The CAP highlights their core convictions in seven values, and I have taken up the challenge to compare the worth of those stated values with the Bible to determine if they do represent the biblical Jesus as the CAP claims.

I come this time to values 4 and 5. I treat them together because they both address varying aspects of radical egalitarianism: the belief in equality of outcomes rather than opportunities. The full statements can be read at the CAP website. For the sake of brevity, I have noted the key points:

4) Justice for All
Jesus stood against human injustice in his world, ... Jesus teaches us to seek God's justice as he did. Some of his harshest words were for those who treasured "personal holiness" while ignoring the pain, poverty, and suffering of their fellow human beings ...Following Jesus' example, we work to shape our present world to reflect the just order of things.


5) Equality and Inclusiveness
He [Jesus] always welcomed people who society said were lowly and despised. By his actions, Jesus affirmed the equal value of all people. We seek to live as Jesus did when we hold that all people are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. We strive to follow his example by eliminating hurtful, exclusionary distinctions between "us" and "them."

On the surface, these two values appear to be noble. Who doesn’t want society to exercise proper justice or affirm the equal value of all people? The problem, however, is these values are birthed from a matrix of leftist, radical egalitarianism. Simply put, an egalitarian worldview emphasizes the equality of outcome. That being, the “fair shake” all people are entitled from society. All people regardless of their station in life, whether poor or rich, in spite of ability or talent, effort applied or lack of effort, etc., should receive the same reward at the end of the day.
The egalitarian emphasis upon the equality of outcome, in turn, de-emphasizes equality of opportunity. All people should have the opportunity to achieve on a personal level so as to be rewarded for that achievement. The opportunity for individuals to achieve, however, implies many other individuals, though they have opportunity, may not be able to achieve in the same manner as those others, and hence do not obtain the same amount of reward.

Rather than believing the inequality of reward is due to personal character flaws, dysfunctional religious values, or just a genuine lack of God given ability, the egalitarian worldview will blame mitigating factors in society, like bigotry, self-righteous prejudice, greed, racism, sexism or any number of perceived exclusionary injustices. In order to eliminate these unjust factors and ensure the equality of outcome, egalitarians seek to coerce the equality of opportunity so as to limit the achievers, because it is believed by the egalitarian that their achievement was and is obtained by corruption by exploiting those hurtful, exclusionary factors. Hence, laws will be enforced either legally or psychologically upon the society in order to allow those thought to be at a disadvantage to now share in equality of reward.

These two expressed values of the CAP are basic egalitarianism, but with an attempt to place a Christian spiritual spin upon the worldview. In reality, the Bible nowhere teaches the egalitarian idea of a “justice for all” and “equality and inclusiveness” as stated in these two values. It is apparent the apologists for the CAP are reading a set of leftist politics into the Bible. Their carelessness in handling God's Word in this manner, however, tells me their spirituality is phony. They are not seeking to know God's Word, so as to have it shape their thinking. They already have their egalitarian agenda in place and now only abuse the Bible by creating an artificial proof-text to support it.

Did Christ come to bring justice for all or to eliminate exclusionary distinctions in society?

Beginning with justice first. Biblical justice is simply defined as a person getting what he or she deserves. This definition implies two things. First, there is an ultimate standard by which justice is measured out, and second, each individual is personally responsible for the actions and behaviors by which they are determined just or unjust.

In the Bible, God is the ultimate standard to measure justice. For example, Deuteronomy 32:4 reads, “…For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” All justice, then, is based upon God’s attributes and character: His holiness, righteousness, immutability, impartiality and truthfulness, to name a few, and they are meant to serve as a rod for societies to dispense justice to men.

Additionally, the Bible further affirms all individuals are personally responsible for the works by which they are declared just or unjust. Psalm 62:12 reads, “Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his works.” This principle is also stated in Ezekiel 18 and in Romans 2. A person who does good will be declared just; one who does bad will be declared unjust and that person bares the sole responsibility for the declaration for either bad or good.

The Bible further explains and concludes that no person, regardless of how hard he or she will do good works, can earn a declaration of justified before God. Moreover, God, who is pure and holy, has every right to declare all men, without exception, unjust and to judge them accordingly. If God were to be entirely just, all men would get what they deserve: wrath before a holy God. However, the Bible also tells us God is gracious. Jesus came specifically to die in the place of sinners to redeem a people to Him self.

Value number 4 has two statements contrary to the biblical teaching on justice. First, the CAP suggests Jesus stood against human injustice in this world. Where exactly does the Bible tell us this? It is true Jesus rebuked and condemned the religious leaders of Israel for their perversion of God’s law, but the ministry of Jesus in this regard took place in the context of a theocratic religious nation. The socio-religious issues in Judea 2,000 years ago are hardly comparable to the fairness of the judicial-political system of 21st century America. Though a case can easily be made of the inconsistency with in the American judicial system, it is warping the teaching of Jesus to apply His rebuke to the religious leaders of His day as encouraging the radical egalitarian philosophy advocated by the CAP.

Secondly, Jesus did not model justice seeking from God as this value goes on to claim. He directed people to receive Him as the long awaited Messiah and to present the Kingdom of God. Most importantly, He came to save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:21). No where did he tell people to seek God’s justice, because as we have seen from the whole testimony of scripture, no man could deal with God’s justice and live.

This brings me to value 5. If biblical justice is based upon the character of God, the ultimate standard, and each person is personally responsible for the actions that declare him or her just or unjust, then it is obvious the Bible would teach some degree of exclusion. This is clearly revealed with a plain reading of the Bible. The biblical teaching of exclusion is something that cannot be denied. Take a major OT example: God only revealed Himself salvifically to the Jews, no one else. Only the Jews maintained the oracles of God as Paul calls His special revelation in Romans 3:2. All of that means only the Jews knew what was necessary to be in a relationship with God. Thus, all other heathen groups were left out – excluded – from a relationship with God. Furthermore, Paul writes emphatically in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that no unrighteous person will inherit the Kingdom of God. He then goes on to list those in the unrighteous category, which includes practicing homosexuals, murders, drunkards and a whole host of characters practicing all sorts of wicked vice. I am utterly stunned the CAP totally ignores these passages on exclusion.

Now, I will whole heartedly agree that all people will be treated with impartiality before the Lord. The Bible teaches this truth. Further, in like manner, I as a Christian should always strive to be impartial with my dealings with my fellow man. I am not to withhold Christian love from one person because he is, say, homeless; whereas I smother another person with love because he is a middle class white guy. James condemns such impartiality as being grievous sin (James 2:1 ff.). However, it is being dishonest with God’s Word to suggest there is no exclusion of some individuals, and their exclusion is due in part to their sinful character, not their particular station in life. This seems to be the CAP’s distaste with “exclusion.” The CAP is a big supporter of gay rights and the homosexual lifestyle and it is fairly obvious they desire to see homosexuality normalized. Fundamental Christians, on the other hand, people who honor and respect the teaching of God’s Word, firmly believe the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sexual perversion. A homosexual can certainly be a saved Christian, but a practicing homosexual life-style is incompatible with Christianity. The CAP wish to have their proverbial cake and eat it to by promoting the idea of Christian homosexuals who enjoy a fulfilling homosexual relationship as Christians. This is totally foreign to a proper understanding of scripture, and hence the reason the CAP re-interprets the homosexual condemnation passages through their egalitarian worldview.

Again, we can see an attempt to rewrite the Bible to fit a preconceived agenda, but a true Christian would never do this. All sincere Bible loving Christians will seek to handle God's Word carefully, especially if he plans to wield it with authority against anyone with whom he may disagree. Handling it carefully means the Christian seeks to interpret it properly so as to draw out the true meaning of what God revealed. That implies an appropriate application of hermeneutics and exegesis with the biblical text. Christians will seek to handle God's Word correctly, because they honor and respect God's Word. I fail to see the CAP honoring and respecting God’s Word in any of these two values.



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