• Joe Harper

The Social Justice Movement in the Evangelical Church: An Introduction

Updated: Oct 15

by Joe Harper and Nicholas J Mattei


The Contemporary Situation

by Joe Harper


The evangelical church is experiencing massive turmoil today as a result of the social justice movement. This movement is very broad in scope and has many points of advocacy under its banner. Despite this, almost all of the ideas of the social justice flow from a neo-Marxist perspective and worldview. This is not incidental but an intentional working of the cultural Marxist agenda. The social justice movement in the evangelical church is merely an outgrowth of the cultural Marxist agenda. This does not mean that all individuals who advocate social justice beliefs are Marxists. Many professing Christians and even some true Christians have come to be influenced by worldly ideologies. However, this doesn't change the fact that there is a Marxist agenda at work in the United States and many individuals who are working to advance it. The agenda that has been at work in secular society and in many professing Christian denominations is now entering the evangelical church.


The many components of social justice make it a movement with wide barometers and at times makes it difficult to define. Social Justice is the idea of implementing justice on a societal level and righting the wrongs of the “oppressed.” The term justice is often used differently than how it is defined scripturally. Social Justice is often used to advocate wealth distribution, reparations for historically oppressed peoples, and the advocacy of the “rights” of marginalized groups. These ideas are essentially socialist in nature. The broad stream of social justice could be divided into three major tributaries. These divisions are race, gender roles, and homosexuality. The ideas of social justice are not new to our society and did not emerge in evangelicalism. Social Justice has been taught in our country for some time through the means of academia and media. The ideas have also been present in non-evangelical denominations for some time. We are now seeing these trends enter evangelicalism at an alarming rate.


The ideas of social justice are now very prominent in evangelical churches, seminaries and denominations. Race, gender roles and homosexuality are all parts of the social justice movement in evangelicalism. For example, in 2018 the Gospel Coalition put on the MLK 50 conference. At this prominent evangelical conference there were multiple speakers who spoke on critical race theory. Critical race theory is an offshoot of the older critical theory, and examines the relationship between the “oppressed” and “oppressors” through the lens of race. Critical theory has always been a neo-Marxist concept. Critical race theory is therefore also essentially Marxist in its thinking. Timothy Keller, one of the founders of the Gospel Coalition, has pushed many Marxist ideas throughout his many books. He himself admits in his book The Reason for God that he was heavily influenced by the Frankfurt School and critical theory. The Gospel Coalition is an extremely prominent evangelical organization and is pushing Marxist ideology.


The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest evangelical denomination, has also been host to critical race theory. In 2019 the convention passed Resolution 9 which called critical race theory an “analytical tool” for the assessment of ideologies. This resolution affirmed critical race theory as a valuable tool and therefore gave it legitimacy in the eyes of many. This shows how prominent these racial ideas have become in evangelicalism.

The overthrow of traditional gender roles has also become prominent in evangelical churches. Today there is an increasing call for female leadership in the Church and for women pastors in particular. The teacher Beth Moore is one example of what is going on today. Beth Moore has walked a tight rope by at times claiming to affirm traditional teaching on gender roles (complementarianism) while at the same time acting in a manner which overthrows these teachings. She has preached in churches on Mother’s Day and tweeted about it. This says much about her convictions since there are times when she thinks it is appropriate for women to speak publicly during church services. She also recommended a pamphlet by Roy Honeycutt which pushed for women preachers. Beth Moore has also partnered with woman "Pastor" Joyce Meyer, which shows that she does not have an issue with Joyce Meyer claiming to be a pastor. Another example is Kathy Keller, the wife of the pastor Timothy Keller. In her book Jesus, Justice, and Gender roles, she says that anything an unordained man can do a woman can do also. This type of teaching has been called "soft complementarianism." It is very deceptive and is a trojan horse of gradual change.

There has also been a call for increased tolerance for homosexuals in evangelical circles as well. Movements such as the Spiritual Friendship Movement and Gay Christian Movement have become more prominent. The idea that someone can be both a homosexual and a Christian has become more acceptable. There has also been increased demand for compassion and tolerance towards homosexuals. The call for change in evangelical thinking in regards to homosexuality is another deceptive trojan horse.


All of these ideas can be traced back to cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxism can be traced back to the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci and the German intellectuals of the Frankfurt school. Men such as Max Horkheimer, Eric Fromm, Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse were German intellectuals from the 1930's who came over to America and established what became known as the Frankfurt School. These thinkers believed that Marxism would not be brought forth by a violent revolution but by the overthrow of traditional ideas and thinking in non-communist societies. They advocated the freedom from traditional sexual morals, the elimination of gender roles, the promotion of homosexuality, and the promotion of the idea of oppressed and oppressors. The idea of critical theory which examines society through the lens of “oppressed groups” was formulated by the Frankfurt school. These ideas line up exactly with what we see going on in evangelicalism today. They promoted the entering of established institutions such as universities, churches, and seminaries and promoting their ideas from within. They knew that this process would take decades if not longer to accomplish, so they were willing to patiently take the long road toward the accomplishment of their plans.


In recent times we have seen a gradual promotion of these ideas. They have been taught in our academic institutions for some time now. We have also been bombarded with cultural Marxism on our TV sets. Melvin Tinker, in his book That Hideous Strength: How the West was Lost, Tinker lays out how homosexuals in particular have had a huge influence in the entertainment industry and have pushed their ideas through our sitcoms and dramas. In the mainline protestant denominations, there has been already been acceptance of women pastors and homosexual church members. What is now being pushed in evangelical churches was pushed in the mainline denominations decades ago. The Anglican Church and the Presbyterian Church USA are examples of this. In the Roman Catholic Church there has been for decades the promotion of liberation theology. Liberation theology is the redefinition of the gospel by claiming Christ came to liberate the oppressed. Liberation theology has been used to support socialism and communism all over the world. It has historically been very prominent in Latin America. Catholic priests have been instrumental in the promotion of liberation theology throughout the world. Liberation theology has been present in protestant circles as well. It is now entering into evangelicalism as a part of the social justice movement.

These examples of cultural Marxist thinking both in the evangelical and non-evangelical worlds are but the tip of the iceberg for the amount of evidence that could be brought forward. It is evident that what has been progressing in society in general is now entering evangelicalism. It is important to recognize that this is not an organic progression of ideas but an intentional push for change. The difficulty is that we do not know who is intentionally pushing the agenda and who is merely deceived. Although the Church must be both compassionate and discerning, it must stand for the truth and throw out the ideologies of the world.



The Historical Progression

by Nick Mattei


Marxism and Communism in all their forms have been a plague on society since their inception. Not only have they been poisonous to society in general, but these ideologies have also been trying to work their way into the Church to influence it, and now here in the 21st century they have found a way into the Evangelical church in America through the Social Justice movement. Infiltration from the outside world and compromise from leaders in the Church has caused the Church to be commandeered to further the Marxist cause by manipulated church leaders to propagandize for the Marxist ideology without these leaders being aware of the Marxist’s end goals.


To understand where we have come to, we must first look at two key men from the past; their names are Georg Hagel (1770-1831) and Karl Marx (1818-83). George Hegel was a German philosopher who is most well known for a concept that he put forward called the Hegelian Dialectic. [1] According to Hegel, the universe is steadily unfolding and so is man’s understanding of it. No single proposition about reality can truly reflect what is the case. Rather, in the heart of the truth of a given proposition one finds its opposite. This, where recognized, unfolds and stands in opposition to the thesis. Yet there is truth in both thesis and antithesis, and when this is perceived a synthesis is formed and a new proposition states the truth of the newly recognized situation. But this in turn is found to contain its own contradiction and the process goes on ad infinitum. Thus the universe and man’s understanding of it unfolds dialectically. In short, the universe with its consciousness, "man" evolves.[2]


As we can see truth is not objective but subjective or fluid, and it evolves as time progresses. One truth (thesis) and an opposite truth (antithesis) come into conflict or dialogue, and the result is the new truth of synthesis. This process continues on and on down the centuries. This Hegelian Dialectic was adopted by Karl Marx, the founder of what is now called Marxism. This dialectical process is the basis for all Marxist thinking.


Karl Marx was a German economist and philosopher who was best known for his publication The Communist Manifesto (1848)[3]. The philosophy from this work has come to be known as Marxism. Marxism's basic tenet and worldview is that society and the world at large are divided into two classes: the oppressed and the oppressors. In classical Marxism these distinctions were solely based on economic status like poor vs. rich, or as Marx put it, the bourgeois vs. the proletariat. Marx hoped that the world would go through a revolution against capitalism where the proletariat would take the means of production from the capitalist bourgeois and society would be equalized. This worldwide revolution never occurred, however. A new way had to be found. A chilling quote from Julian Huxley would seem to point in that direction.

You may categorize the two philosophies as two super-nationalisms, or as individualism versus collectivism; or as the American versus the Russian way of life, or as capitalism versus communism, or as Christianity versus Marxism. Can these opposites be reconciled, this antithesis be resolved in a higher synthesis? I believe not only that this can happen, but that, through the inexorable dialectic of evolution, it must happen... [4]

Decades later this synthesis would begin to take place as Marx’s disciples began to look at his philosophy in a new way and developed what would be called Neo-Marxism or Cultural Marxism. Am important player in this new philosophy was an Italian man by the name of Antonia Gramsci. He taught that the cultural was the reason why the revolution did not occur. So he began to develop the concept of Cultural Hegemony, which is defined as domination or rule maintained through ideological or cultural means.[5] This is achieved through social institutions that influence the worldview and behavior of the rest of society.[6] As he saw it the hegemony in the West was that of white Christian males. So in Gramsci’s view these institutions, like the churches, courts and schools, must be commandeered to bring down this cultural hegemony of white Christian males. In a similar fashion another key player in this development was the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School was a group of German Jewish intellectuals who began their work in 1923.[7] They also saw the need for cultural upheaval in the West. To achieve this revolution, they added the aspect of controlling the media in a society to bring about this change. The Frankfurt school, fleeing the Nazis in the 1930’s came to America and settled at the universities of Princeton, Brandies and Berkeley to begin this cultural revolution. [8]


Over sixty years later, the Western culture has seen the effects of the ideologies of Neo-Marxism. Three of these ideologies that have done the most harm are critical theory, political correctness, and intersectionality. The tenet of Critical Theory was to view society in terms of sub-groups and each sub-group is identified by race, gender, and sexual orientation.[9] The sub-groups in the minority would then engage in a never-ending critique of the majority sub-group, or hegemony, and this critique would basically badger the majority group to death. Political correctness follows closely on this concept by trying to manipulate and control speech and making certain words and phrases and worldviews become ‘bigoted’ in society that belong to the hegemonic powers therefore enacting a hidden censorship of all words and views that oppress minority groups and therefore don’t fit into that which is politically correct. And finally, intersectionality teaches that there are intersections of people’s identity, whether that be race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, etc., that make a person more oppressed than another by adding up how many sections of their identity are opposite to that of the majority in society. An example of this being that you are oppressed if you are a black, gay, poor, atheist female because the privileged oppressors of society are white, straight, rich, Christian males. All of this has created a society of divided, angry people. The Church in the West has not been spared from all this as it, too, was in the sights of the Neo-Marxists as a cultural institution that must be influenced and used to bring about a cultural revolution. All the ideologies mentioned above have come into the Church. Christians who are black have imbibed this view that they are a part of an oppressed sub-group in society and that also within the church they are oppressed. They claim that white Christians need to make penance for the crimes of other white Christians in the past and invest money into black churches to make up for it. Women in the church now believe that they are oppressed and that male leadership in the churches is just another form of cultural hegemony and that this structure needs to be torn down to allow women to lead and preach. Men and women in the church who have struggled with homosexual impulses are now identifying as gay Christians and are claiming they are oppressed, and they don’t seek help to overcome their wounds from the past. They demand that they be allowed to share family life with moms and dads and their kids because they will never have that because they are ‘born this way’.


The situation in the Church in the West is a wholesale disaster and it's only getting worse. This all comes back to the Hegelian dialectic mentioned in the beginning. Objective truth is being put aside in the church and anti-Christian Marxist ideologies like that of Critical theory and intersectionality are being brought into ‘dialogue’ with orthodox theology and a new ‘synthesis’ is produced. This is the Devil's M.O., mixing light with darkness, truth with error. The venom needs to be sucked out of this wound inflicted on the Church by Neo-Marxism. The scriptural exhortation to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them” (Eph 5:11) needs to be followed. But until we expose the devilish roots of this worldview infecting the Church and as a whole “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor.), we will never be able to rid ourselves from this plague.

Bibliography


[1] Francis A. Schaeffer, The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture: How Shall We Then Live? (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1976) 162.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Karl Marx,” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Karl-Marx/Brussels-period.

[4] Brannon S. Howse, Marxianity: How the evangelical Deep State and their “Useful Idiots” are Merging Marxism and Christianity through Social Justice, White Privilege, Cultural Marxism, Illegal Immigration, Interfaith Dialogue and More (Collierville, Tennessee: Worldview Weekend Press, 2018) 20.

[5] Voddie Baucham, “Cultural Marxism” (sermon, Southeast Founders “Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly” regional conference, Cape Coral, FL, January 3, 2019).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Brannon S. Howse, Marxianity: How the evangelical Deep State and their “Useful Idiots” are Merging Marxism and Christianity through Social Justice, White Privilege, Cultural Marxism, Illegal Immigration, Interfaith Dialogue and More, 11.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Voddie Baucham, “Cultural Marxism” (sermon, Southeast Founders “Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly” regional conference, Cape Coral, FL, January 3, 2019).


Resources

  1. That Hideous Strength by Melvin Tinker

  2. Social Justice in the Christian Church by Ronald Nash

  3. Social Justice vs. Biblical Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel by E. Calvin Beisner

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