Statement on Social Justice

Just because I don't want to discuss this on the Victim Culture thread, particularly as Russ has said only a small part is applicable to the thread he started, and I do want to discuss this, I'm being a pain and splitting this out as a separate issue.
Carys wrote: »
Interestingly, I came to the ship this evening to see if anyone had posted a thread on the Statement on Social Justice (and whether it was in Purg or Dead Horses)*. I've not found a thread on it, but it strikes me that this one comes from a similar place to the authors of that statement which includes in Denial 12:
While we are to weep with those who weep, we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.

The thing which struck me about the statement was that there were so many assumptions behind it which need to be unpicked further for a meaningful conversation to occur. The statement does some of that, but because it is framed as this is only way to see the Gospel, the debate cannot be had equally.

I am also reminded of a series of Lenny Henry sketches from the 90s, where his character is turned down for something and then asks "is it 'cos I am black?" and so he is included even though it is patently obvious that he is unsuitable for some other reason - the one I most clearly remember is about auditioning babies to advertise something. But Lenny Henry could send it up because he himself is black and it doesn't mean that there isn't a real problem to be tackled.

Carys

*As some of the affirmations/denials are on Dead horses but others are not.
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Comments

  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    Carys

    Forgive my stupidity, but which organisation issued that statement?

    @Barnabas62 digging, because I was interested, the site references
    1987 Danvers Statement
    2017 Nashville Statement

    There's a long YouTube introductory video here from Alpha to Omega Ministries, by James White, that says this statement comes from a meeting back in June in Dallas between the initial signatories, Apparently Alpha to Omega Ministries is a evangelical Reformed Christian apologetics organisation.

    (No I didn't listen to all the 1 hour 40 minutes YouTube video, I had enough quite quickly.)
  • I do rather like how many signatories are from churches with Grace in the title. Irony.
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    While we are to weep with those who weep, we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.
    While to some extent that one is perfectly true, reality shows that say the Lenny Henry examples do belong into a comedy show (and if he thought otherwise it would have been a documentary about the perfect world). I suspect that the actual claim becomes, we shouldn't look.
    In any case while I'm sympathetic to the Grace Baptist's feeling of offense and oppression it's no evidence that the 'PC world' is guilty of sinful behaviours, oppression or prejudice.

    I'm not sure of the rest, they might put it into a better light (e.g. if it had gone "we deny the KKK's right to oppress. We ...") or confirm it in it's worst. But I don't want to pollute computer finding out.

  • I fall at the first hurdle...
  • I'm falling even before I get to the first hurdle, because the button to "sign now" is more prominent than the button to actually read the statement.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    And there was I thinking the title meant this was going to be a thread about the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent intervention on economics, banking and taxation. I only opened the thread to see what shipmates might be saying about that.

    Three things I've got to say about this "Statement",

    1. It is an odd mixture between statements which I'd have thought most people ought to agree with - even if we don't reckon much to the style of expression, e.g
    "Imago Dei

    WE AFFIRM that God created every person equally in his own image. As divine image-bearers, all people have inestimable value and dignity before God and deserve honor, respect and protection. Everyone has been created by God and for God.

    WE DENY that God-given roles, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, sex or physical condition or any other property of a person either negates or contributes to that individual’s worth as an image-bearer of God."
    and statements that require a person to identify themselves with theological traditions most of us don't agree with. It's very all or nothing.

    2. It's clear this is from a tradition I don't know as I've never heard of any of the people listed as important signers. Have you? Is there something wrong with me that I haven't. And

    3. Why do these people always seem to express even ideas one might agree with in a tone, 'now put that in your mouth and smoke it' - we of course, being people who don't smoke anyway?

    I suspect that may be all I'm going to contribute to this thread.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited September 9
    Further reading just has me shaking my head.

    For a start, they have a really odd understanding of the word "deny".

    To carry on with, as @Carys suggests, it seems to me that even making a statement about social justice is in and of itself a culture-bound exercise, which is the very thing they "deny".

    To deny (declaration III) that there is a cultural component to the administration of justice is, well, I can't even begin to describe it.

    They seem to think Scripture exists in some kind of vacuum from any culture that surrounds it, rather than being the product, of the Holy Spirit granted, but also a human, cultural context itself.

    (I also discover that biologically intersex people apparently don't exist (declarations X and XI - and what's with the Roman numerals, anyway, do they make the declarations holier somehow?) - and men and women's distinct roles are not just for the church or marriage, but also "not irrelevant in other spheres of life" - presumably why one was right not to vote for Hillary).

    And finally, I just can't get over how far up their arses their heads are. This is an agenda for maintaining white straight male dominance covered by a figleaf of pseudo-spirituality.

    The people of God don't need "affirmations" and "denials" running into thousands of words and putting unbearable burdens on their backs. They need good shepherds.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Eutychus wrote: »
    And finally, I just can't get over how far up their arses their heads are. This is an agenda for maintaining white straight male dominance covered by a figleaf of pseudo-spirituality.

    The people of God don't need "affirmations" and "denials" running into thousands of words and putting unbearable burdens on their backs. They need good shepherds.

    That'll do nicely!

  • I read that Social Justice Statement in horror, then went looking for its provenance.

    @Enoch you're right, there is an interesting discussion to be had on Prosperity and justice: A plan for the new economy - The final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice and the Archbishop of Canterbury's launch speech for this document, which he concludes:
    In this report the Commission sets out these arguments in more detail and concludes with a new vision of a good economy. The Commission’s conviction is that most people want the same from the economy – the opportunity to flourish, decent living standards, good work, justice and environmental sustainability.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I read that Social Justice Statement in horror, then went looking for its provenance.

    @Enoch you're right, there is an interesting discussion to be had on Prosperity and justice: A plan for the new economy - The final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice and the Archbishop of Canterbury's launch speech for this document, which he concludes:
    In this report the Commission sets out these arguments in more detail and concludes with a new vision of a good economy. The Commission’s conviction is that most people want the same from the economy – the opportunity to flourish, decent living standards, good work, justice and environmental sustainability.

    Yes. I was away all week and haven't had a chance to look at it properly yet. It looks quite interesting. But even a cursory report suggests there are good things there and at least one idea in it I think is nonsense. I'm also a bit uneasy about anything with Dame Helena Morissey's name on it. She's a Brexit Flat-Earther. But she's only one name among over 20.

    And unlike the "Statement on Social Justice" I was rude about above, it doesn't appear to be written from the standpoint that you've got to accept every word of it or else you're a godless heathen and enemy of the true faith as now revealed to us - but not you.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    According to this article in Relevant Magazine*, the Statement on Social Justice comes from John F. MacArthur:
    an American pastor and author known for his internationally syndicated Christian teaching radio program Grace to You. He has been the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, since February 9, 1969.


    *A stupid name, I feel compelled to add. Why not "Interesting Magazine", or "Compelling Magazine"? They probably just call it "Relevant", but that's not much better and anyway their URL is relevantmagazine.com.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    And finally, I just can't get over how far up their arses their heads are. This is an agenda for maintaining white straight male dominance covered by a figleaf of pseudo-spirituality.

    The people of God don't need "affirmations" and "denials" running into thousands of words and putting unbearable burdens on their backs. They need good shepherds.

    A number of them the initial signatories have uh .. rather combative online presences, and it seems to me that the statement is in a similar vein - even where it is somewhat uncontroversial, it states things in as offensive a manner as possible. I'm bemused that in 2018 someone sat down and decided that the biggest threat to the church was ... social justice.

    I assume that this is going to be a regular event from that part of the church - a kind of neo-creedal equivalent of the marching season.
  • It's actually quite hard to find anything about social justice in it.

    And after some thought, I think they mean "repudiate", not "deny".
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    It's actually quite hard to find anything about social justice in it.

    The background to this is that there have been calls for racial (and to a lesser extent gender) justice within those circles. To which the statement represents a reaction.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    It's actually quite hard to find anything about social justice in it.

    The background to this is that there have been calls for racial (and to a lesser extent gender) justice within those circles. To which the statement represents a reaction.
    "Don't tell us how we gotta treat queers, niggers and wimmun, god hates them too"
  • The "Statement on Social Justice" does seem to be churning American Evangelicals. The lead signer, John MacArthur, is president of The Master's University (which recently got put on probation by its accreditor). Among the signers is Douglas Wilson, a reactionary evangelical minister from Idaho who has written an apologetic for US slavery.

    The proponents are writing things like "On June 19 of this year I had the privilege of meeting in the iconic Herb’s House coffee shop in Dallas with 13 other men to discuss our common concerns about some teachings and practices being advocated in the name of “social justice”" (no women invited? were any non-white?) (https://founders.org/2018/09/04/the-statement-on-social-justice-and-the-gospel/).

    Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, seems to be opposed.
  • I missed the edit window, but as an example see this kind of article for instance:

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/await-repentance-assassinating-dr-king/

    and a response by one of the initial signers:

    https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2018/04/09/the-racialist-lens-disrupts-true-christian-unity-a-response-to-thabiti-anyabwile/

    If you search the internet you can find many more such responses, if you want a flavour of how things are on the ground you can read the comments.
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    I heard a bit on it on the radio. There seemed to be a lot to like. I really liked the idea of the church buying Wonga's debt books (I think that was a separate thing), though suspect the practice would not be as good.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    The background to this is that there have been calls for racial (and to a lesser extent gender) justice within those circles. To which the statement represents a reaction.

    This is not a new conflict and goes back (at least) to the Civil Rights Movement. Denial XIV summarizes this fairly adequately.
    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.

    The late Billy Graham represents one side of this conflict in the mid-twentieth century, refusing to get too deeply involved with civil rights because doing so would interfere with promulgating the Gospel. Graham's father-in-law, the ardent segregationist L. Nelson Bell, gave a good summary of where this kind of thinking was in his day:
    The race problem is not the great problem facing the Church, but many think so. To some, integration seems synonymous with Christianity. To others the reverse seems to be the case. But the real Christian problem is that men of all races shall become new creatures in Christ, and to be brothers in Christ does not mean racial mixing any more than it means the breaking down of the conventions between the sexes.

    Have we not been following a red herring of secondary social import rather than the maintaining and preaching of the simple Gospel of God’s redeeming love?

    The other side was advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. He believed that justice and brotherhood were the Gospels and omitting or minimizing them from Christianity meant you weren't advancing the Gospels at all.
  • Dave W wrote: »
    According to this article in Relevant Magazine*, the Statement on Social Justice comes from John F. MacArthur….
    MacArthur’s was the one name among the signatories I recognized. Seeing that name forecast fairly well what I’d find in the document itself.
    Eutychus wrote: »
    The people of God don't need "affirmations" and "denials" running into thousands of words and putting unbearable burdens on their backs. They need good shepherds.
    When I saw the “affirmations” and “denials” format, I couldn’t help but think of the Theological Declaration of Barmen, with its positive statements of faith each followed by “We reject the false doctrine that….” The Confession of Belhar has a similar structure (“We believe …, Therefore, we reject….”)

    This Statement is no Barmen or Belhar.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    The background to this is that there have been calls for racial (and to a lesser extent gender) justice within those circles. To which the statement represents a reaction.

    This is not a new conflict and goes back (at least) to the Civil Rights Movement.

    Sure, I just meant that the immediate cause of this statement appears to be a number of recent calls to justice within those circles - some of which have indeed drawn from previous attempts to do the same thing

    And Bell's sentiments are being echoed by the detractors of this approach along with some variant of 'the poor will always be with you'.
  • CarysCarys Shipmate
    I find it interesting that the statement is quite strong on condemning racism but completely opposed to women in minisitry and gay marriage given that it is written originally by 13 men. I hadn't particularly heard of any of them, but I've so far discovered that Voddie Baucham is black. So, where they have experience of being one of the oppressed groups, they at least begin to get it, but because they exclude women (and I'm guessing gay men), they are happy to continue oppression.

    Carys
  • Carys wrote: »
    I find it interesting that the statement is quite strong on condemning racism but completely opposed to women in minisitry and gay marriage given that it is written originally by 13 men. I hadn't particularly heard of any of them, but I've so far discovered that Voddie Baucham is black.

    He also has some bizarre opinions on bringing up children generally, and daughters in particular.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    The other side was advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. He believed that justice and brotherhood were the Gospels and omitting or minimizing them from Christianity meant you weren't advancing the Gospels at all.

    The whole of the Old Testament, according to some first century Palestinian Jew, could be summed up in two commands, one of which was "love your neighbor as yourself." If that's not relevant to someone's "gospel" then they have got the wrong "gospel."
  • Yesterday I preached on the RCL reading from James. Do not show favouritism. Do not discriminate. Do not judge between people by appearance. For all these are evil. Instead follow the royal law "love your neighbour as yourself".

    Even if someone was to follow one of the Reformers and consider James an "epistle of straw" they'd have no excuse, because James is only repeating what is said elsewhere - including the words of Jesus himself.

    When we pray "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", those words need to be backed by action. That includes working to counter the social injustices of people being treated different on the basis of irrelevant characteristics - and we are all one in Christ Jesus so anything such as race, nationality, gender, sexuality, social class etc are irrelevant within the Church, and the gospel compels us to work towards them being irrelevant in wider society.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited September 10
    What a vast tragic constituency of missing the point. I get the unnerving feeling that evangelicalism this side of the pond is just as bad by engaging in the opportunity cost of piety and being away with the fairies.
  • CarysCarys Shipmate
    The big thing I felt was missing from the statement was anything about the kingdom of God. What does it mean to the writers to pray "your kingdom come"?

    Carys
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Carys wrote: »
    The big thing I felt was missing from the statement was anything about the kingdom of God. What does it mean to the writers to pray "your kingdom come"?

    Carys

    Everyone behaving themselves according to the writers' standards? All the wicked liberals, queers and atheists roasting in Hell and out of the way?
  • Carys wrote: »
    The big thing I felt was missing from the statement was anything about the kingdom of God. What does it mean to the writers to pray "your kingdom come"?

    Carys
    The trouble with that is that too many see it as being purely eschatological. The whole petition needs to be taken together - “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven”.
  • I suspect the writers lean towards Reconstructionism: millenarian rather than eschatological. They want the "Biblical" equivalent of sharia. Think Republic of Gilead.
  • There is a certain comfort in knowing that one is a force of injustice in their world.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I suspect the writers lean towards Reconstructionism: millenarian rather than eschatological. They want the "Biblical" equivalent of sharia. Think Republic of Gilead.

    Yes. It has nothing to do with kingdom values and their impact on our understanding of social justice.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    I suspect the writers lean towards Reconstructionism: millenarian rather than eschatological. They want the "Biblical" equivalent of sharia. Think Republic of Gilead.

    A few of them do (Doug Wilson for instance) - though I think more of them implicitly assume that as far as cultural context goes, mid century capitalism is 'as good as it gets' as long as a heavy dose of moralism is layered over the top, because after all 'the poor will always be with us' and so therefore all social reforms will always end in failure so we shouldn't even try particularly hard (the parallel with the struggle against personal sin seems to have passed them by)

    In any case we can mostly agree that it's varying degrees of awful. But in the interests of getting some constructive debate, perhaps along the lines of the previous thread, I'd be interested in getting some unpacking and reactions to Eutychus' previous post:
    To carry on with, as @Carys suggests, it seems to me that even making a statement about social justice is in and of itself a culture-bound exercise, which is the very thing they "deny".

    To deny (declaration III) that there is a cultural component to the administration of justice is, well, I can't even begin to describe it.

    I think (especially in the context of the previous post) it might be useful to explore what we feel the cultural components of justice are.
  • Carys wrote: »
    I find it interesting that the statement is quite strong on condemning racism but completely opposed to women in minisitry and gay marriage given that it is written originally by 13 men.

    What I find interesting is the parallel language in Affirmation XI (Complementarianism) and Affirmation XII (Race/Ethnicity). Affirmation XII states that "[ people ] are ontological equals before God in both creation and redemption" regardless of their ("social[ ly ] construct[ ed ]") race. Affirmation XI claims "there is no difference between men and women before God’s law or as recipients of his saving grace" but then goes on to explain that being equals before God is not the same as being equals anywhere else, particularly the family and the church. In other words, a position on gender that more or less matches up with Nelson's segregationist views I cited earlier that "be[ ing ] brothers in Christ does not mean racial mixing". A cynical person such as myself might think that such a theological shift occurred because overt racism is no longer socially acceptable while overt sexism is still kind of okay, but that's impossible since "socially-constructed standards of truth or morality, and notions of virtue and vice that are constantly in flux cannot result in authentic justice" according to Denial III.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Well spotted.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited September 10
    it might be useful to explore what we feel the cultural components of justice are.
    Take plenty of provisions: the journey of exploration might turn out to be (very) long and involve unexpected questions.

    Just for starters, and to consider only criminal justice, would anybody like to suggest the biblical basis for imprisonment as an instrument of criminal justice?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    I don't think there is one.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Just for starters, and to consider only criminal justice, would anybody like to suggest the biblical basis for imprisonment as an instrument of criminal justice?

    That's an interesting one - if only because on the death penalty a lot of the signatories would refer back to Gensis 9:5.

    Though I actually meant something slightly different. I assume a large part of their statement are a reaction against calls for racial justice in the US - so would be interested in thoughts for how multiple cultural components interact within a single nation.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    it might be useful to explore what we feel the cultural components of justice are.
    Take plenty of provisions: the journey of exploration might turn out to be (very) long and involve unexpected questions.

    Just for starters, and to consider only criminal justice, would anybody like to suggest the biblical basis for imprisonment as an instrument of criminal justice?

    It's either restorative justice or death isn't it? But why are we considering imprisonment as a factor, a facet of social gospel justice?
  • Because some sort of criminal justice is a pretty universal component of social justice these days, and as I appear to have just demonstrated, it provides a suitably glaring example of just how culturally (rather than "biblically") conditioned our assumptions about "justice" are.
  • thoughts for how multiple cultural components interact within a single nation.
    Take more provisions, and start here (note this is a UK government website! I can hear the French having a collective heart attack).

    I haven't read up on this much at all, but as things stand I'm really conflicted about it.
  • I see criminal justice as largely an effect of the lack of social justice. Can we afford - politically - to get all enlightened on the effect in the hope it will affect the cause?

    The Bolger case spikes in my mind. The Norwegians had their own and handled it in a completely Le Guin way. Britain couldn't possibly do that.
  • I think the last people to seriously envisage doing away with the criminal justice system were the Soviet Communists; one is declared "mentally ill" instead, which has the added advantage of no fixed sentence but only being let out when one is declared "cured" (give me a criminal trial any day compared to "criminally insane").

    Even the wildest-eyed advocates of restorative justice that I know recognise the need for punitive justice in some cases.

    Besides, so far as I know, restorative justice doesn't actually work any better than punitive justice. There are huge arguments about how that is measured (the usual metric is the recividism rate but there are huge arguments about how that should be measured, too), but I think the most honest experts would do no more than argue that it doesn't work any less well and is in theory cheaper. Dutch prison officers are taking industrial action because the country's severe shortage of prisoners* is threatening their livelihoods.

    And what on earth is "social justice"? Everyone gets the same? Everyone gets what they deserve in return for the work they do? Positive discrimination?

    ==

    *The Netherlands is so desperate for prisoners that it rents prison places out to Norway and Belgium.
  • You're the expert here. Aye, bad buggers need banging up. Doesn't restorative justice work better for victims and society's sense of justice? I'm sure it has no quantifiable impact on criminality. It might even encourage it as a soft option.

    Social justice is surely a genuine attempt to create equality of outcome without shrinking the cake. And may be with shrinking the cake We consume too much.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited September 10
    The thing is that all of these things are social constructs. The current emphasis in most of the West on repressive, security-obsessed prisons reflects a certain social consensus of what justice looks like. Restorative justice is struggling hugely here in France because people simply don't believe it would deliver a better sense of justice. Justice is increasingly expected to be vindictive and increasingly so.

    And even most security-obssessed prisons rest massively on social constructs. The only reason most prisons are not in a permanent state of riot is because virtually everybody plays the game. This is a constant source of amazement to me. The ratio of inmates to on-duty guards in my jail must be something like 60:1. Order simply cannot be maintained by force. It can only be maintained by the vast majority accepting their lot as "just" to at least some extent, or at the very least playing along with the idea.

    [abused editing privileges to actually make sense. Sleep needed]
  • It's a fair cop.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    Well spotted.
    Good on Crœsos for doing the legwork, but you really expected better from that group?
  • CarysCarys Shipmate
    I've been blogging responses to the statement's articles tonight and I've just done a rough calculation on the proportion of the Gospels included in their definition of the gospel from article 6
    <quote>the gospel is the divinely-revealed message concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ—especially his virgin birth, righteous life, substitutionary sacrifice, atoning death, and bodily resurrection—revealing who he is and what he has done with the promise that he will save anyone and everyone who turns from sin by trusting him as Lord</quote>

    that those things mentioned in the especially account for 18 of the 89 chapters of the four Gospels (including the visit of the Magi and the institution narratives), which is about one fifth of the total. So they define "the gospel" very narrowly and then deny you can add anything to that. I want to include the other 80% of the Gospels, especially what they have to say about the kingdom. I'm back to the acronym I used to use round here of the ILTPDRaAoOLaSJC - you need the whole lot. I also notice that none of their scripture references for the gospel come from the gospels. Epistolairians!
  • Enoch wrote: »
    I don't know as I've never heard of any of the people listed as important signers. Have you?

    I have. There's a certain Gavin Peacock in there. I remember him hitting the crossbar in an F.A. Cup final. He went on to be a BBC pundit before theology got the better of him.
  • It's very hard to go checking the full list of signatories because they are arranged by first name. What you quickly realise is that the vast majority are men.
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