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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 03, 2020, 09:24:22 AM

Title: Social Gospel
Post by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 03, 2020, 09:24:22 AM
On Thursday, Pr. Rolf Preus asked about Rep. John Lewis' description as a Christian hero.  None of us know Rep. Lewis' personal beliefs, but how he expressed them publicly especially in terms of his political career does raise questions about how Christian encouragement to help others and act rightly can sometimes overshadow and as that below here shows even deny the importance of Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Rev. Austin has written here on this thread that the recently deceased U.S. Representative John Lewis was “as great a Christian hero of our time as we will ever see.”  Lewis gave the benediction at the National Prayer Breakfast a few months ago.  He spoke to the audience as his “brothers and sisters” and said that we are a “people of faith.”  Then he added, “It does not matter whether you worship one God, many gods, or no gods.  We are all brothers and sisters.”  Later on, near the end of the benediction, he said that we must believe in one another.  We need not all believe in the same God, but we must believe in one another.

Rev. Austin, this is what I found after spending about a half an hour of my time searching the internet to find something from John Lewis that would indicate what his religion was.  I could not find anything he had said about Jesus as the Savior of sinners who died for us and rose again.  He said much about Jesus’s moral teaching, but I was not able to find anything he said about who Jesus is and what he has done to save us sinners from our sins.  You know much more about this man than I do.  Perhaps you can share with me something Lewis said that actually communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ.


This is the social Gospel; how we act is presented as more important than the God we believe in.  This brings up Two Kingdoms' theology.  How do we best work with others who believe differently to help one another while remaining true to our belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation?  The day of Rep. Lewis' funeral was not a proper day to discuss that; the time may be proper now although I still believe it best not to specifically focus on Rep Lewis in discussing the matter.

Interestingly enough, while not containing a call to social action is so much of a way, NBA player Jonathan Isaac has shown us that this can be done:

One NBA player, Jonathan Isaac, is showing courage by standing up to the mob; he is not kneeling during the anthem or wearing a BLM shirt.  His thoughtful explanation during a post-game Q&A is worth consideration by us all:

Reporter:  So you didn’t kneel during the anthem, but you also didn’t wear a Black Lives Matter shirt? Uh, do you believe that black lives matter?
Isaac, who is black:   Absolutely. I believe that black lives matter. A lot went into my decision.  And part of it is, my first thought, is that kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt don’t go hand in hand with supporting black lives.  My life has been supported through the Gospel, Jesus Christ and that everyone is made in the image of God and that we all fall short of God’s glory and that each and every one of us, each and every day do things that we shouldn’t do. And say things that we shouldn’t say. We hate and dislike people that we shouldn’t hate and dislike. Sometimes it gets to a point where we point fingers about whose evil is worse. And sometimes it comes out as whose evil is most visible. So I felt like I just wanted to take a stand on, I felt like we all make mistakes but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that there’s grace for us. That Jesus came and died for our sins and that if we all would come to an understanding of that and understand that God wants to have a relationship with us, that we can get past skin color, we can get past all the things in our world that are messed up, jacked up. I think we need to look around. Racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation, that plagues our world.

Here's a link to the video:  Link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=211&v=_y4yM2wgmk8&feature=emb_title)
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 03, 2020, 09:45:26 AM
We say: "Actions speak louder than words."
Jesus said: "By their fruits you will know them."
James wrote: "Faith without works is dead."
Verna Dozier in The Dream of God, writes: “The important question to ask is not, ‘What do you believe?’ but ‘What difference does it make that you believe?’ Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” (p. 105)


Walter Brueggemann said something like this in a lecture: "There's no such thing as works-righteousness when you're the covenant people. They are God's people because God said so. They strive to keep the 613 commands of the Torah to show the rest of the world that they are God's people."


How we act is the witness to what we believe.
How we act proclaims our faith louder than our words.
If our faith does not influence our actions, it's a dead faith.
The gospel without social gospel is like a barren fruit tree - it's good for nothing.


Trying to make a distinction between the gospel and "social gospel" is a false dichotomy. In Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, nothing is said about faith; only their actions towards "the least of these." In addition, the phrase in the parable: "all the nations" is always used in Matthew of  unbelievers. (It could be translated, "all the pagans."

Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Terry W Culler on August 03, 2020, 10:31:13 AM
The phrase "social gospel" has a distinct meaning in American theological discussions and it is impossible to divorce what went before from what is now when using the term.  For many of us the phrase signifies what Richard Niebuhr means when he described liberal theology as where a God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.  The American social gospel can legitimately be charged with ruining the faith of many thousands (maybe millions) of people
Title: Proclaiming The Gospel In a Pluralistic Society
Post by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 03, 2020, 11:15:21 AM
The phrase "social gospel" has a distinct meaning in American theological discussions and it is impossible to divorce what went before from what is now when using the term.  For many of us the phrase signifies what Richard Niebuhr means when he described liberal theology as where a God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.  The American social gospel can legitimately be charged with ruining the faith of many thousands (maybe millions) of people

Fair enough.  I doubt that I'll change the thread title, but I've changed it here.

I was struck by the contrast between Rep. Lewis' comments and Jonathan Isaac's.  We need to continue to proclaim Christ even as we proclaim mercy.  We understand that others believe differently.  We can work with them on temporal matters of care even as we continue to proclaim the truth regarding eternal matters.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: RDPreus on August 03, 2020, 01:22:31 PM
There is nothing wrong with using traditional Christian theological categories metaphorically to refer to something else.  The problem comes in when the biblical gospel is ~replaced~ by a social gospel that cannot give the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that the biblical gospel can give.  We can speak of moral redemption, societal redemption, etc. without thereby denying redemption by the blood of the Lamb.  The question that rose in my mind when I was reading the accolades of Rep. Lewis, especially after learning that he had graduated from the seminary, was whether Lewis proclaimed the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins and rose from the dead with life and immortality to give in the gospel.  I asked Rev. Austin if he could show us where Lewis actually proclaimed the Christian gospel.  He could not answer my question.  I am still waiting for someone to show me where Lewis confessed the gospel.  I'm talking about the gospel that Jonathan Isaac confessed when he said that Jesus came and died for our sins.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: David Garner on August 04, 2020, 10:23:39 AM
A friend of mine recently commented, wisely I think, that "social justice" is neither social nor just.  In broad, general terms, I tend to think the same of the so-called "social gospel."  Since "social justice" must mean societal justice, it is notable the "social justice movement" seeks not actual justice, but power. See, for example, the way in which it divides us into classes and seeks to delineate their disparate treatment, which is the opposite of what Christianity teaches.  In the same way, the so-called "social gospel" in my observation, and again speaking perhaps over-broadly since people can self-define as they wish, seeks not the application of the Gospel of Christ to society, but rather worldly improvements.  Worldly improvements are certainly worthy goals apart from the Gospel, but the problem with "social gospel" activists is they so rarely use the Gospel to bring about those improvements.  If you want evidence of this, you need only visit the websites of the mainline churches and look at their solutions.  While they certainly are couched in language of Christian morality, they too-often seek political solutions.

That is, too often, they seek imposition of power, which is emphasized more strongly than change of the human heart.  Not to the exclusion of the latter, but certainly in greater emphasis. 

I do think the same could be said of evangelical conservatism, for what it's worth.  One thing I really appreciate about the Orthodox Church is the lack of naked partisanship from the Church leadership.  You have it -- often detrimentally -- from individual Orthodox Christians, sometimes priests, and rarely bishops.  But for the most part the Church stays out of power politics and simply addresses societal issues.  Perhaps that is due to her long history of living under oppression, but I would argue that is a feature, not a bug.  We have learned to be the Church even in a world that opposes us, and so we do not feel the need to seek political power to impose the Gospel on a dying world. 
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 10:40:56 AM
Making things right and just have to do with making things equitable.  To even out the playing field of indebtedness which most human transactions are about:  I give you something and you give me something in return.  Indebtedness means that the scales are tipped in someone’s favor.  Someone then has more than me.  Or some group possesses more rights than my group.  The indebtedness quotient goes off the charts.  This is life under the law, God’s law.  Evening out the debtor quotient is the way disputes are resolved.  The values of the so-called social “gospel” are simply matters dealt with under the law, seeking resolve through the mechanisms of the law.  It is hardly gospel in the Christian sense.

The Christian Gospel and it’s teaching are diametrically opposite to this.  Someone who knew no sin was made to be sin in our place.   Someone who was always just was made to be our injustice for us so that we might be freed from serving justice to serving the One who is always for you and never against you.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: D. Engebretson on August 04, 2020, 10:43:39 AM
It seems to me that the "social gospel" has become more popular in mainline denominations as mission and outreach efforts, in the traditional sense of proclaiming the gospel, have waned.  It also seems like the latter occurred, in part, when the distinctiveness of Christ as the sole means of salvation was downplayed in an effort toward closer ecumenical relations with non-Christian religions.  Perhaps those more familiar with, say, the curriculum of the ELCA seminaries, could better show if there is indeed an emphasis on evangelism and mission today in their offered courses.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 10:48:23 AM
We say: "Actions speak louder than words."
Jesus said: "By their fruits you will know them."
James wrote: "Faith without works is dead."
Verna Dozier in The Dream of God, writes: “The important question to ask is not, ‘What do you believe?’ but ‘What difference does it make that you believe?’ Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” (p. 105)


Walter Brueggemann said something like this in a lecture: "There's no such thing as works-righteousness when you're the covenant people. They are God's people because God said so. They strive to keep the 613 commands of the Torah to show the rest of the world that they are God's people."


How we act is the witness to what we believe.
How we act proclaims our faith louder than our words.
If our faith does not influence our actions, it's a dead faith.
The gospel without social gospel is like a barren fruit tree - it's good for nothing.


Trying to make a distinction between the gospel and "social gospel" is a false dichotomy. In Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, nothing is said about faith; only their actions towards "the least of these." In addition, the phrase in the parable: "all the nations" is always used in Matthew of  unbelievers. (It could be translated, "all the pagans."

The covenant people referenced above are the nation of Israel.  We are not that nation.  So there is a false attribution made by Brueggemann.  Secondly fruits happen when the tree is first made good.  Good trees bear good fruit.  So being and relationship are prior to actions.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 04, 2020, 11:03:06 AM
We say: "Actions speak louder than words."
Jesus said: "By their fruits you will know them."
James wrote: "Faith without works is dead."
Verna Dozier in The Dream of God, writes: “The important question to ask is not, ‘What do you believe?’ but ‘What difference does it make that you believe?’ Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” (p. 105)


Walter Brueggemann said something like this in a lecture: "There's no such thing as works-righteousness when you're the covenant people. They are God's people because God said so. They strive to keep the 613 commands of the Torah to show the rest of the world that they are God's people."


How we act is the witness to what we believe.
How we act proclaims our faith louder than our words.
If our faith does not influence our actions, it's a dead faith.
The gospel without social gospel is like a barren fruit tree - it's good for nothing.


Trying to make a distinction between the gospel and "social gospel" is a false dichotomy. In Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, nothing is said about faith; only their actions towards "the least of these." In addition, the phrase in the parable: "all the nations" is always used in Matthew of  unbelievers. (It could be translated, "all the pagans."

The covenant people referenced above are the nation of Israel.  We are not that nation.  So there is a false attribution made by Brueggemann.  Secondly fruits happen when the tree is first made good.  Good trees bear good fruit.  So being and relationship are prior to actions.

On the other hand, the Epistle of James.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 11:10:11 AM
We say: "Actions speak louder than words."
Jesus said: "By their fruits you will know them."
James wrote: "Faith without works is dead."
Verna Dozier in The Dream of God, writes: “The important question to ask is not, ‘What do you believe?’ but ‘What difference does it make that you believe?’ Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” (p. 105)


Walter Brueggemann said something like this in a lecture: "There's no such thing as works-righteousness when you're the covenant people. They are God's people because God said so. They strive to keep the 613 commands of the Torah to show the rest of the world that they are God's people."


How we act is the witness to what we believe.
How we act proclaims our faith louder than our words.
If our faith does not influence our actions, it's a dead faith.
The gospel without social gospel is like a barren fruit tree - it's good for nothing.


Trying to make a distinction between the gospel and "social gospel" is a false dichotomy. In Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, nothing is said about faith; only their actions towards "the least of these." In addition, the phrase in the parable: "all the nations" is always used in Matthew of  unbelievers. (It could be translated, "all the pagans."

The covenant people referenced above are the nation of Israel.  We are not that nation.  So there is a false attribution made by Brueggemann.  Secondly fruits happen when the tree is first made good.  Good trees bear good fruit.  So being and relationship are prior to actions.


Are we not the people of the new covenant? Thus we are now the covenant people.


Yes, being and relationship with Christ are prior to actions; but the actions witness to our being in relationship with Christ. Jesus tells us to let our lights shine (= do good works). How does the world know that we are "good trees"? By our fruits.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 04, 2020, 11:13:37 AM
We say: "Actions speak louder than words."
Jesus said: "By their fruits you will know them."
James wrote: "Faith without works is dead."
Verna Dozier in The Dream of God, writes: “The important question to ask is not, ‘What do you believe?’ but ‘What difference does it make that you believe?’ Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” (p. 105)


Walter Brueggemann said something like this in a lecture: "There's no such thing as works-righteousness when you're the covenant people. They are God's people because God said so. They strive to keep the 613 commands of the Torah to show the rest of the world that they are God's people."


How we act is the witness to what we believe.
How we act proclaims our faith louder than our words.
If our faith does not influence our actions, it's a dead faith.
The gospel without social gospel is like a barren fruit tree - it's good for nothing.


Trying to make a distinction between the gospel and "social gospel" is a false dichotomy. In Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, nothing is said about faith; only their actions towards "the least of these." In addition, the phrase in the parable: "all the nations" is always used in Matthew of  unbelievers. (It could be translated, "all the pagans."

The covenant people referenced above are the nation of Israel.  We are not that nation.  So there is a false attribution made by Brueggemann.  Secondly fruits happen when the tree is first made good.  Good trees bear good fruit.  So being and relationship are prior to actions.

On the other hand, the Epistle of James.

Dave Benke

I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.

At the same time I am not prohibited as a Christian citizen from working and voting for greater justice in our society when called to do so. An orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social and economic conservative.    :)

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Terry W Culler on August 04, 2020, 11:15:53 AM
John: Your argument above implies that social and economic conservatives are not interested in justice--some would consider that a slur
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 04, 2020, 11:28:31 AM
Social justice depends on treating people according to a group identity, which is inherently unjust. For example, people who attack police officers in retaliation for the Floyd killing are engaged, in their minds, in social justice-- they're not attacking an individual but a representative of an oppressive group. Which is injustice in every instance. Even in warfare, where the individual is often unavoidably treated according to membership in a group, it remains injustice and is in fact a war crime to treat non-combatants as combatants or to punish innocent individuals for the deeds of other people in their group.

 

 
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 04, 2020, 11:28:45 AM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.

At the same time I am not prohibited as a Christian citizen from working and voting for greater justice in our society when called to do so. An orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social and economic conservative.    :)

Peace, JOHN

I agree with this.  The Bushes' "1000 points of light" and "compassionate conservativism" appealed to me.  More liberal efforts to care for the least among us whether through government programs or privately do appeal to me.   Mercy is one of LCMS President Harrison's strongest themes, and his past career work epitomizes that.

Outside of caring for others though, I do have problems believing that an orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social conservative.  I agree that we are to comfort and care for those who have chosen abortion, but we do not need to become pro-choice to do so.  I agree that we are to act in love towards those in the LGBTQ+ community, but we do not need to affirm their lifestyles as God-pleasing to do so.

Perhaps you disagree with me on those positions and want to discuss that with me. Or perhaps you don't believe someone who holds these beliefs is necessarily a right wing social conservative.  My perspective is that society does believe that is right wing social conservatism.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Michael Slusser on August 04, 2020, 11:58:02 AM
"Social justice depends on treating people according to a group identity, which is inherently unjust."
"A friend of mine recently commented, wisely I think, that "social justice" is neither social nor just."
     Of course it is possible to define social justice (or anything else) in a way which automatically makes it abhorrent and incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That seems to me to be sophistry. I don't see why anybody does that.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 04, 2020, 11:58:33 AM
John: Your argument above implies that social and economic conservatives are not interested in justice--some would consider that a slur

Not intended at all. Sorry that you inferred that.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 04, 2020, 12:04:54 PM
Speaking of social Gospel, Pete Buttigieg has taken a faculty post at Notre Dame.

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/pete-buttigieg-takes-a-faculty-post-at-notre-dame/
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 04, 2020, 12:05:31 PM

Outside of caring for others though, I do have problems believing that an orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social conservative.  I agree that we are to comfort and care for those who have chosen abortion, but we do not need to become pro-choice to do so.  I agree that we are to act in love towards those in the LGBTQ+ community, but we do not need to affirm their lifestyles as God-pleasing to do so.

Perhaps you disagree with me on those positions and want to discuss that with me. Or perhaps you don't believe someone who holds these beliefs is necessarily a right wing social conservative.  My perspective is that society does believe that is right wing social conservatism.


I do not believe that abortion and same sex marriage is right. It is most unfortunate that some lump that together with better social justice.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 12:23:27 PM
Social justice depends on treating people according to a group identity, which is inherently unjust. For example, people who attack police officers in retaliation for the Floyd killing are engaged, in their minds, in social justice-- they're not attacking an individual but a representative of an oppressive group. Which is injustice in every instance. Even in warfare, where the individual is often unavoidably treated according to membership in a group, it remains injustice and is in fact a war crime to treat non-combatants as combatants or to punish innocent individuals for the deeds of other people in their group.

 

 

Yes!  This!
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Michael Slusser on August 04, 2020, 12:24:24 PM
RC bishops have connected evangelization and social justice in various documents. From the USCCB website:
Quote
In Need of Evangelization: Civil and Political Life
"In this sector [civil and political life], the Gospel must be transmitted in the following endeavors: the duty to seek peace; the development and liberation of peoples; improvement in forms of world and national governments; the construction of possible forms of listening, living together, dialogue and collaboration by various cultures and religions; the safeguarding of the rights of persons, entire peoples and, above all, minorities; support for the most vulnerable in society; and the stewardship of creation and the commitment to the future of our planet."

- Synod of Bishops, "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith," no. 57

Likewise, the U.S. Catholic bishops identify particular areas in need of the hope of the Gospel, including current instances of war, injustice, the erosion of human rights, including religious freedom, disparity in economic development, and unequal distribution of goods. They note that "the new evangelization offers hope" in the face of these problems. We must be witnesses, the bishops say, to the "transformative power of the Gospel and the mission of the Church to sanctify society" (Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization).

But is that what is meant in this thread by "Social Gospel"?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: David Garner on August 04, 2020, 12:30:51 PM
"Social justice depends on treating people according to a group identity, which is inherently unjust."
"A friend of mine recently commented, wisely I think, that "social justice" is neither social nor just."
     Of course it is possible to define social justice (or anything else) in a way which automatically makes it abhorrent and incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That seems to me to be sophistry. I don't see why anybody does that.

Peace,
Michael

I don't think it's semantics at all, much less sophistry.  I'm talking about "social gospel" and "social justice" in application.

What do "social justice" advocates do?
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 12:34:19 PM
We say: "Actions speak louder than words."
Jesus said: "By their fruits you will know them."
James wrote: "Faith without works is dead."
Verna Dozier in The Dream of God, writes: “The important question to ask is not, ‘What do you believe?’ but ‘What difference does it make that you believe?’ Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” (p. 105)


Walter Brueggemann said something like this in a lecture: "There's no such thing as works-righteousness when you're the covenant people. They are God's people because God said so. They strive to keep the 613 commands of the Torah to show the rest of the world that they are God's people."


How we act is the witness to what we believe.
How we act proclaims our faith louder than our words.
If our faith does not influence our actions, it's a dead faith.
The gospel without social gospel is like a barren fruit tree - it's good for nothing.


Trying to make a distinction between the gospel and "social gospel" is a false dichotomy. In Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, nothing is said about faith; only their actions towards "the least of these." In addition, the phrase in the parable: "all the nations" is always used in Matthew of  unbelievers. (It could be translated, "all the pagans."

The covenant people referenced above are the nation of Israel.  We are not that nation.  So there is a false attribution made by Brueggemann.  Secondly fruits happen when the tree is first made good.  Good trees bear good fruit.  So being and relationship are prior to actions.


Are we not the people of the new covenant? Thus we are now the covenant people.


Yes, being and relationship with Christ are prior to actions; but the actions witness to our being in relationship with Christ. Jesus tells us to let our lights shine (= do good works). How does the world know that we are "good trees"? By our fruits.

We Christians are people of the promise arising through Abram and his progeny.  We are not of “Moses” attributed to identity through circumcision, “blood” or race.  Those latter attributions may be included but do not define our inheritance.

Sure Epistle of James is in the canon but barely so, imo.  James elevates human agency at the expense of its grounding in Christ’s forgiveness of sins (so that good fruits might develop and be shared, ie. Do the good)


Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 04, 2020, 12:35:49 PM
RC bishops have connected evangelization and social justice in various documents. From the USCCB website:
Quote
In Need of Evangelization: Civil and Political Life
"In this sector [civil and political life], the Gospel must be transmitted in the following endeavors: the duty to seek peace; the development and liberation of peoples; improvement in forms of world and national governments; the construction of possible forms of listening, living together, dialogue and collaboration by various cultures and religions; the safeguarding of the rights of persons, entire peoples and, above all, minorities; support for the most vulnerable in society; and the stewardship of creation and the commitment to the future of our planet."

- Synod of Bishops, "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith," no. 57

Likewise, the U.S. Catholic bishops identify particular areas in need of the hope of the Gospel, including current instances of war, injustice, the erosion of human rights, including religious freedom, disparity in economic development, and unequal distribution of goods. They note that "the new evangelization offers hope" in the face of these problems. We must be witnesses, the bishops say, to the "transformative power of the Gospel and the mission of the Church to sanctify society" (Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization).

But is that what is meant in this thread by "Social Gospel"?

Peace,
Michael

Father Slusser,

Since I started the thread, I believe it is fair for me to say that, yes, it is what is meant.

The Gospel indeed shows through in these actions.  The concern which I wanted to discuss in this thread is when these social actions overshadow the proclamation of Jesus Christ as our Savior and at times even lead us to the impulse to deny the proclamation of the true Gospel in order to make progress in these social goals.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: David Garner on August 04, 2020, 12:39:27 PM
For what it's worth, Father Michael, when I criticize "social justice" and the so-called "social gospel," I do not have the Catholics in mind.  I have said many, many times that I would love to see a sufficient re-alignment of the American political parties so at least one of them would embrace Catholic social policy, which is basically my own worldview, even though I am Orthodox.

I do, however, have in mind a lot of mainline liberal protestant churches and their attendant political activity.  I suppose we could locate their fellow-travelers in the Catholic Church (or in my own communion), but in the main, I think you all do this correctly.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 04, 2020, 01:11:02 PM
RC bishops have connected evangelization and social justice in various documents. From the USCCB website:
Quote
In Need of Evangelization: Civil and Political Life
"In this sector [civil and political life], the Gospel must be transmitted in the following endeavors: the duty to seek peace; the development and liberation of peoples; improvement in forms of world and national governments; the construction of possible forms of listening, living together, dialogue and collaboration by various cultures and religions; the safeguarding of the rights of persons, entire peoples and, above all, minorities; support for the most vulnerable in society; and the stewardship of creation and the commitment to the future of our planet."

- Synod of Bishops, "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith," no. 57

Likewise, the U.S. Catholic bishops identify particular areas in need of the hope of the Gospel, including current instances of war, injustice, the erosion of human rights, including religious freedom, disparity in economic development, and unequal distribution of goods. They note that "the new evangelization offers hope" in the face of these problems. We must be witnesses, the bishops say, to the "transformative power of the Gospel and the mission of the Church to sanctify society" (Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization).

Peace,
Michael

The U.S. Catholic bishops make an excellent example of what I stand for also.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: James J Eivan on August 04, 2020, 01:22:18 PM

Outside of caring for others though, I do have problems believing that an orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social conservative.  I agree that we are to comfort and care for those who have chosen abortion, but we do not need to become pro-choice to do so.  I agree that we are to act in love towards those in the LGBTQ+ community, but we do not need to affirm their lifestyles as God-pleasing to do so.

Perhaps you disagree with me on those positions and want to discuss that with me. Or perhaps you don't believe someone who holds these beliefs is necessarily a right wing social conservative.  My perspective is that society does believe that is right wing social conservatism.


I do not believe that abortion and same sex marriage is right. It is most unfortunate that some lump that together with better social justice.

Peace, JOHN
”Some lump together “??

It would seem that pro abortion and pro gay ideologies and theologies are a major and required tenant of the social justice agenda.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dan Fienen on August 04, 2020, 01:31:25 PM
In considering social justice and the social gospel, I think that we need to look to Jesus' example. He came to usher in the Kingdom of God, and the beginnings of that Kingdom could be seen in His work. His ultimate goal was to die and rise again for our salvation, but He spent several years preparing for and working towards that goal.


What did Jesus do in His ministry? He went about preaching and teaching about the Kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons, healing the blind, deaf, lame, and mute, and on occasion feeding the hungry and raising the dead. Most specifically, look at the majority of His healings when the Gospels go into detail about what happened. Jesus does not fail to deal with the spiritual needs of the people. He pronounces forgiveness, He encourages faith, but He also actually deals with their spiritual needs. If nothing else, the setting right what was wrong about their situation was a sign that the Kingdom of God was at hand.


In our proclamation of the Gospel, we are proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. That Kingdom is seen most preeminently in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the calling of people to faith in Jesus. Our "doing" of the Gospel dare never neglect that. But as Jesus cared also about the physical wellbeing of the people with whom He interacted, so part of our "doing" of the Gospel needs to be care for the physical wellbeing of the people to whom we preach. That care should also be a sign of the Kingdom breaking into our world. To neglect caring also for the physical needs of people as well as their spiritual truncates the Gospel message.


I would note, however, that caring for the physical needs of people does not necessarily mean that we must do so according to the doctrine and teachings of Marx, Adam Smith, Democrats, or Republicans. Nor is it an adequate proclamation of the Gospel when human, temporal needs are met without also giving spiritual aid. Jesus did not say that simply giving a cup of cold water was praiseworthy and deserving of reward, but giving a cup of cold water in His name.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Michael Slusser on August 04, 2020, 01:43:43 PM
RC bishops have connected evangelization and social justice in various documents. From the USCCB website:
Quote
In Need of Evangelization: Civil and Political Life
"In this sector [civil and political life], the Gospel must be transmitted in the following endeavors: the duty to seek peace; the development and liberation of peoples; improvement in forms of world and national governments; the construction of possible forms of listening, living together, dialogue and collaboration by various cultures and religions; the safeguarding of the rights of persons, entire peoples and, above all, minorities; support for the most vulnerable in society; and the stewardship of creation and the commitment to the future of our planet."

- Synod of Bishops, "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith," no. 57

Likewise, the U.S. Catholic bishops identify particular areas in need of the hope of the Gospel, including current instances of war, injustice, the erosion of human rights, including religious freedom, disparity in economic development, and unequal distribution of goods. They note that "the new evangelization offers hope" in the face of these problems. We must be witnesses, the bishops say, to the "transformative power of the Gospel and the mission of the Church to sanctify society" (Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization).

But is that what is meant in this thread by "Social Gospel"?

Peace,
Michael

Father Slusser,

Since I started the thread, I believe it is fair for me to say that, yes, it is what is meant.

The Gospel indeed shows through in these actions.  The concern which I wanted to discuss in this thread is when these social actions overshadow the proclamation of Jesus Christ as our Savior and at times even lead us to the impulse to deny the proclamation of the true Gospel in order to make progress in these social goals.
Thank you--I was hoping that you would be the one to confirm what is meant, and you are.

My concerns on this issue are more that (1) social injustice can contradict and undermine the proclamation of Jesus and (2) many people aren't primarily verbal, so verbal proclamation can be noisiness that does not impart conviction or recommend and elucidate the message.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 04, 2020, 01:44:27 PM

Outside of caring for others though, I do have problems believing that an orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social conservative.  I agree that we are to comfort and care for those who have chosen abortion, but we do not need to become pro-choice to do so.  I agree that we are to act in love towards those in the LGBTQ+ community, but we do not need to affirm their lifestyles as God-pleasing to do so.

Perhaps you disagree with me on those positions and want to discuss that with me. Or perhaps you don't believe someone who holds these beliefs is necessarily a right wing social conservative.  My perspective is that society does believe that is right wing social conservatism.


I do not believe that abortion and same sex marriage is right. It is most unfortunate that some lump that together with better social justice.

Peace, JOHN
”Some lump together “??

It would seem that pro abortion and pro gay ideologies and theologies are a major and required tenant of the social justice agenda.

Not required of me; nor the U.S. Catholic bishops; nor . . . .
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 02:26:10 PM
"Social justice depends on treating people according to a group identity, which is inherently unjust."
"A friend of mine recently commented, wisely I think, that "social justice" is neither social nor just."
     Of course it is possible to define social justice (or anything else) in a way which automatically makes it abhorrent and incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That seems to me to be sophistry. I don't see why anybody does that.

Peace,
Michael

I don't think it's semantics at all, much less sophistry.  I'm talking about "social gospel" and "social justice" in application.

What do "social justice" advocates do?

I think Mr. Garner nailed it here.  At least, that is, for me.  What do social workers and politicians do that is different from Christianity?  Or do Christians influence value within their secular vocation differently than say Jewish social workers, etc?
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: James J Eivan on August 04, 2020, 02:29:31 PM

Outside of caring for others though, I do have problems believing that an orthodox Christian is not required to be a right wing social conservative.  I agree that we are to comfort and care for those who have chosen abortion, but we do not need to become pro-choice to do so.  I agree that we are to act in love towards those in the LGBTQ+ community, but we do not need to affirm their lifestyles as God-pleasing to do so.

Perhaps you disagree with me on those positions and want to discuss that with me. Or perhaps you don't believe someone who holds these beliefs is necessarily a right wing social conservative.  My perspective is that society does believe that is right wing social conservatism.


I do not believe that abortion and same sex marriage is right. It is most unfortunate that some lump that together with better social justice.

Peace, JOHN
”Some lump together “??

It would seem that pro abortion and pro gay ideologies and theologies are a major and required tenant of the social justice agenda.

Not required of me; nor the U.S. Catholic bishops; nor . . . .
There was never any intent to imply or associate Rev Hannah or any organization with these ideologies/theologies.


At the same time, to deny that these anti scriptural theologies are major tenants of the social justice movement is to misrepresent the goals of the social justice movement.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 04, 2020, 02:30:26 PM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 02:36:26 PM
In considering social justice and the social gospel, I think that we need to look to Jesus' example. He came to usher in the Kingdom of God, and the beginnings of that Kingdom could be seen in His work. His ultimate goal was to die and rise again for our salvation, but He spent several years preparing for and working towards that goal.


What did Jesus do in His ministry? He went about preaching and teaching about the Kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons, healing the blind, deaf, lame, and mute, and on occasion feeding the hungry and raising the dead. Most specifically, look at the majority of His healings when the Gospels go into detail about what happened. Jesus does not fail to deal with the spiritual needs of the people. He pronounces forgiveness, He encourages faith, but He also actually deals with their spiritual needs. If nothing else, the setting right what was wrong about their situation was a sign that the Kingdom of God was at hand.


In our proclamation of the Gospel, we are proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. That Kingdom is seen most preeminently in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the calling of people to faith in Jesus. Our "doing" of the Gospel dare never neglect that. But as Jesus cared also about the physical wellbeing of the people with whom He interacted, so part of our "doing" of the Gospel needs to be care for the physical wellbeing of the people to whom we preach. That care should also be a sign of the Kingdom breaking into our world. To neglect caring also for the physical needs of people as well as their spiritual truncates the Gospel message.


I would note, however, that caring for the physical needs of people does not necessarily mean that we must do so according to the doctrine and teachings of Marx, Adam Smith, Democrats, or Republicans. Nor is it an adequate proclamation of the Gospel when human, temporal needs are met without also giving spiritual aid. Jesus did not say that simply giving a cup of cold water was praiseworthy and deserving of reward, but giving a cup of cold water in His name.
Yes,  “...a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name” makes all the difference between secular humanistic values
of justice and goodness, and those of Christianity.   What is that difference?
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dan Fienen on August 04, 2020, 02:58:33 PM
The water remains the same in either case, and each will quench physical thirst as well as the other. The difference is that giving that cold water in Jesus name, makes the person receiving the water more aware of other thirsts that need quenching, specifically spiritual thirst, and begins to point the person to where those thirsts also can be satisfied i.e. Jesus. It also indicates that the person giving the water is aware that his motivation is not only human kindness, social awareness, guilt, or any of the other human motivations, some good, some less so, that may motivate such a kind deed, but that he is giving the water as part of his vocation as a disciple of Jesus.


Reminds me of the old "give a man a fish" saying. Give a man a fish and you fed him for a meal, teach a man to fish and he'll be out of your hair for hours on end. More completely, compare to Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well. He asked for water to quench His thirst. When she wondered that He a Jew would ask her a Samaritan woman for water, He directed her to contemplate that He could give her living water (Himself) the would quench a thirst for eternity. By giving the water in Jesus name, we also offer living water.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 04:35:56 PM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.


So, being forgiven, receiving the abundant life and salvation from Jesus makes no difference in the way one treats other people? Shouldn't there be at least a different motivation in believers than non-believers for seeking to improve the plight of others?
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 04:40:32 PM
Social justice depends on treating people according to a group identity, which is inherently unjust. For example, people who attack police officers in retaliation for the Floyd killing are engaged, in their minds, in social justice-- they're not attacking an individual but a representative of an oppressive group. Which is injustice in every instance. Even in warfare, where the individual is often unavoidably treated according to membership in a group, it remains injustice and is in fact a war crime to treat non-combatants as combatants or to punish innocent individuals for the deeds of other people in their group.


"Treating other people according to a group identity" is precisely what the biblical world was about. Being born again meant having a new group identity. One was born into this new community. The old identifiers no longer mattered: male, female, slave, free, Jew, Gentile.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 04:44:53 PM
We Christians are people of the promise arising through Abram and his progeny.  We are not of “Moses” attributed to identity through circumcision, “blood” or race.  Those latter attributions may be included but do not define our inheritance.

Sure Epistle of James is in the canon but barely so, imo.  James elevates human agency at the expense of its grounding in Christ’s forgiveness of sins (so that good fruits might develop and be shared, ie. Do the good)


The bareliness of James only came from Luther. For 1500 years there was no question about including it in the canon - moreso than Hebrews or Revelation.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 04, 2020, 07:56:08 PM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Terry W Culler on August 04, 2020, 07:58:39 PM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.


So, being forgiven, receiving the abundant life and salvation from Jesus makes no difference in the way one treats other people? Shouldn't there be at least a different motivation in believers than non-believers for seeking to improve the plight of others?


No one here has either stated or implied what you are accusing them of--and you well know it.  Your position seems to confound justification and sanctification dragging us back into the very place we left.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 04, 2020, 08:40:21 PM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.


So, being forgiven, receiving the abundant life and salvation from Jesus makes no difference in the way one treats other people? Shouldn't there be at least a different motivation in believers than non-believers for seeking to improve the plight of others?

So what is that difference?  The cup of cold water can be given by a Christian and non-Christian with the same result:  someone who is thirsty and they are being given water to quench their thirst.  Either way the good work is being done: either by a believer or unbeliever.  I would say Jesus in these cases doesn't really make a difference to the thirsty person.  Either way the thirsty one is getting their thirst quenched.  Social justice is about needs being alleviated and injustices being righted by justice.  To me that is not the unique Christian Gospel of the New Testament.  Social needs can be alleviated by the empire sometimes better than the Church.  Judaism has their own social "gospel" I'm sure of it. 

No the Body of Christ means something different and the writing of James in the New Testament could be discarded without endangering the Gospel as kerygma.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: James J Eivan on August 04, 2020, 09:11:33 PM
I was taught that a good work in the sight of God is primarily a work motivated by faith and trust in God.

The same action not motivated by faith and trust in God is simply an act of civic righteousness.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 04, 2020, 09:31:21 PM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice? 
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 04, 2020, 10:07:27 PM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice?

So I and really tens of thousands of people around the country have been working in community organizations representing mostly houses of worship that cross all the various ecumenical and interfaith as well as racial lines for decades for the things I mentioned in my post as well as many others.  And the faith leaders across those lines have always said we were interested in social justice and social change across all those boundaries.  Because affordable housing on a large scale - say 10000 units, say a national housing act, is an example of social justice.  More opportunity for more people without access to decent and affordable housing to have that access.  It's worked, it's working now, it's demonstrable, it's quantifiable.  That's for one example. 

You asked if someone not committed to your description - identity politics - could point to social justice issues that affect more than individuals on a large group scale with policy implications that affect groups of people.   That's what I've done. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 04, 2020, 10:41:13 PM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice?

So I and really tens of thousands of people around the country have been working in community organizations representing mostly houses of worship that cross all the various ecumenical and interfaith as well as racial lines for decades for the things I mentioned in my post as well as many others.  And the faith leaders across those lines have always said we were interested in social justice and social change across all those boundaries.  Because affordable housing on a large scale - say 10000 units, say a national housing act, is an example of social justice.  More opportunity for more people without access to decent and affordable housing to have that access.  It's worked, it's working now, it's demonstrable, it's quantifiable.  That's for one example. 

You asked if someone not committed to your description - identity politics - could point to social justice issues that affect more than individuals on a large group scale with policy implications that affect groups of people.   That's what I've done. 

Dave Benke
I get that use a term—social justice— to refer to various programs that assist people. But not all things that help people. Walmart does more for poor people than either of us will ever do, but I never hear Walmart described as an agent of social justice. What makes you call some things social justice and not other things that help people? Where is the injustice? I have foster kids— am I doing social justice? Again, I get that Alinsky disciples and leftist churches use the term all the time. And I can sort of predict what they’ll use it on and what they won’t use it on. But why they call helping people in need a matter of social justice and not simple charity stems from a particular diagnosis of society that is purely political, power-obsessed, and false. 999 out of 1000 people who use the term social justice regularly also support group identity politics. I’m glad to know you are the exception who sees group identity politics as inherently unChristian and unjust.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 10:52:28 PM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.


So, being forgiven, receiving the abundant life and salvation from Jesus makes no difference in the way one treats other people? Shouldn't there be at least a different motivation in believers than non-believers for seeking to improve the plight of others?


No one here has either stated or implied what you are accusing them of--and you well know it.  Your position seems to confound justification and sanctification dragging us back into the very place we left.


My seminary taught that sanctification was nothing more than daily justification. Thus, there is no difference. What I'm talking about is witnessing to the world that we are believers in Jesus Christ.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 10:56:21 PM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.


So, being forgiven, receiving the abundant life and salvation from Jesus makes no difference in the way one treats other people? Shouldn't there be at least a different motivation in believers than non-believers for seeking to improve the plight of others?

So what is that difference?  The cup of cold water can be given by a Christian and non-Christian with the same result:  someone who is thirsty and they are being given water to quench their thirst.  Either way the good work is being done: either by a believer or unbeliever.  I would say Jesus in these cases doesn't really make a difference to the thirsty person.  Either way the thirsty one is getting their thirst quenched.  Social justice is about needs being alleviated and injustices being righted by justice.  To me that is not the unique Christian Gospel of the New Testament.  Social needs can be alleviated by the empire sometimes better than the Church.  Judaism has their own social "gospel" I'm sure of it. 

No the Body of Christ means something different and the writing of James in the New Testament could be discarded without endangering the Gospel as kerygma.


The difference is in why we are doing what we are doing. I also believe that the inner motivations are revealed in the actions. A waitress who considers it just a job to earn money comes across to the customers differently than a waitress who loves the job and considers it a calling to Christian ministry. That difference comes across even without saying a word about Jesus Christ. I've sensed it in waitress, only later had my suspicions confirmed - they were Christians active in their churches.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2020, 10:59:59 PM
I was taught that a good work in the sight of God is primarily a work motivated by faith and trust in God.

The same action not motivated by faith and trust in God is simply an act of civic righteousness.


I would go a little further and say that a good work in the sight of God is also a work motivated by our knowledge of God's love and sacrifice for the other person. I need to do loving deeds for them because I know that Christ did his supreme act of love for them as he did for me.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 05, 2020, 07:33:01 AM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice?

So I and really tens of thousands of people around the country have been working in community organizations representing mostly houses of worship that cross all the various ecumenical and interfaith as well as racial lines for decades for the things I mentioned in my post as well as many others.  And the faith leaders across those lines have always said we were interested in social justice and social change across all those boundaries.  Because affordable housing on a large scale - say 10000 units, say a national housing act, is an example of social justice.  More opportunity for more people without access to decent and affordable housing to have that access.  It's worked, it's working now, it's demonstrable, it's quantifiable.  That's for one example. 

You asked if someone not committed to your description - identity politics - could point to social justice issues that affect more than individuals on a large group scale with policy implications that affect groups of people.   That's what I've done. 

Dave Benke
I get that use a term—social justice— to refer to various programs that assist people. But not all things that help people. Walmart does more for poor people than either of us will ever do, but I never hear Walmart described as an agent of social justice. What makes you call some things social justice and not other things that help people? Where is the injustice? I have foster kids— am I doing social justice? Again, I get that Alinsky disciples and leftist churches use the term all the time. And I can sort of predict what they’ll use it on and what they won’t use it on. But why they call helping people in need a matter of social justice and not simple charity stems from a particular diagnosis of society that is purely political, power-obsessed, and false. 999 out of 1000 people who use the term social justice regularly also support group identity politics. I’m glad to know you are the exception who sees group identity politics as inherently unChristian and unjust.

I know a lot of people who think this way about social justice, Peter.  And act on those thoughts.  The Bible distinguishes between justice and mercy.  Mercy is the way charity is parsed as a term.  Justice is the way equity across the board is parsed as a term.  Eleemosynary institutions - mercy institutions - are called social service institutions or agencies.  There is corporate service to a group of senior citizens in a nursing home, etc.  The Bible often speaks of "the poor" and "the rich" as groups and calls for justice for "the poor and the oppressed" in society - i.e. social justice.  That's the distinction I make and have made for most of my adult life, in collaboration with people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds. 



Dave Benke
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Terry W Culler on August 05, 2020, 08:12:43 AM
I recognize that the "social gospel" is NOT the Gospel of Jesus whose death and resurrection was for forgiveness, life, and salvation. I lament that some Christians have wrongly substituted one for the other.


So, being forgiven, receiving the abundant life and salvation from Jesus makes no difference in the way one treats other people? Shouldn't there be at least a different motivation in believers than non-believers for seeking to improve the plight of others?


No one here has either stated or implied what you are accusing them of--and you well know it.  Your position seems to confound justification and sanctification dragging us back into the very place we left.


My seminary taught that sanctification was nothing more than daily justification. Thus, there is no difference. What I'm talking about is witnessing to the world that we are believers in Jesus Christ.


then what your seminary taught was wrong and Roman rather than Lutheran
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: David Garner on August 05, 2020, 08:54:15 AM
I know a lot of people who think this way about social justice, Peter.  And act on those thoughts.  The Bible distinguishes between justice and mercy.  Mercy is the way charity is parsed as a term.  Justice is the way equity across the board is parsed as a term.  Eleemosynary institutions - mercy institutions - are called social service institutions or agencies.  There is corporate service to a group of senior citizens in a nursing home, etc.  The Bible often speaks of "the poor" and "the rich" as groups and calls for justice for "the poor and the oppressed" in society - i.e. social justice.  That's the distinction I make and have made for most of my adult life, in collaboration with people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds. 



Dave Benke

Were this the predominate definition, I doubt many would have an issue with the term.  I know I would not.  In this, "social justice" is really just "Christianity."

Unfortunately, a lot of the "social justice" movement is unchristian, and in some cases, anti-christian.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 09:30:32 AM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice?

So I and really tens of thousands of people around the country have been working in community organizations representing mostly houses of worship that cross all the various ecumenical and interfaith as well as racial lines for decades for the things I mentioned in my post as well as many others.  And the faith leaders across those lines have always said we were interested in social justice and social change across all those boundaries.  Because affordable housing on a large scale - say 10000 units, say a national housing act, is an example of social justice.  More opportunity for more people without access to decent and affordable housing to have that access.  It's worked, it's working now, it's demonstrable, it's quantifiable.  That's for one example. 

You asked if someone not committed to your description - identity politics - could point to social justice issues that affect more than individuals on a large group scale with policy implications that affect groups of people.   That's what I've done. 

Dave Benke
I get that use a term—social justice— to refer to various programs that assist people. But not all things that help people. Walmart does more for poor people than either of us will ever do, but I never hear Walmart described as an agent of social justice. What makes you call some things social justice and not other things that help people? Where is the injustice? I have foster kids— am I doing social justice? Again, I get that Alinsky disciples and leftist churches use the term all the time. And I can sort of predict what they’ll use it on and what they won’t use it on. But why they call helping people in need a matter of social justice and not simple charity stems from a particular diagnosis of society that is purely political, power-obsessed, and false. 999 out of 1000 people who use the term social justice regularly also support group identity politics. I’m glad to know you are the exception who sees group identity politics as inherently unChristian and unjust.

I know a lot of people who think this way about social justice, Peter.  And act on those thoughts.  The Bible distinguishes between justice and mercy.  Mercy is the way charity is parsed as a term.  Justice is the way equity across the board is parsed as a term.  Eleemosynary institutions - mercy institutions - are called social service institutions or agencies.  There is corporate service to a group of senior citizens in a nursing home, etc.  The Bible often speaks of "the poor" and "the rich" as groups and calls for justice for "the poor and the oppressed" in society - i.e. social justice.  That's the distinction I make and have made for most of my adult life, in collaboration with people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds. 



Dave Benke
So how do you decide whether giving poor people things they can't otherwise afford is an act of mercy or social justice? It seems to me you have the idea that the mere existence of rich people and the existence of poor people is an injustice, and that social justice is the act of equalizing wealth. This is where injustice to the individual comes in. If there is any just correlation between work and wage in human relations, then it is an injustice any time someone enjoys the rewards of labor without laboring proportionally. In mercy, we care for those can't labor, and in justice, we refuse to care for those who won't labor. In the normal course things, the worth of any given labor is determined by what anyone is willing to pay for it. Those who have nothing and who can't do anything of marketable value are in need of charity. Justice is the last thing they need.

Social justice in practical terms devolves into social engineering, which requires group identity politics. The people involved in it nearly always object to the idea that they are not engaged in social justice but in works of mercy or charity. Therein lies the problem. They're operating under the assumption that they are righting a wrong, not merely helping someone in need. 
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: James J Eivan on August 05, 2020, 09:35:58 AM
I know a lot of people who think this way about social justice, Peter.  And act on those thoughts.  The Bible distinguishes between justice and mercy.  Mercy is the way charity is parsed as a term.  Justice is the way equity across the board is parsed as a term.  Eleemosynary institutions - mercy institutions - are called social service institutions or agencies.  There is corporate service to a group of senior citizens in a nursing home, etc.  The Bible often speaks of "the poor" and "the rich" as groups and calls for justice for "the poor and the oppressed" in society - i.e. social justice.  That's the distinction I make and have made for most of my adult life, in collaboration with people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds. 



Dave Benke

Were this the predominate definition, I doubt many would have an issue with the term.  I know I would not.  In this, "social justice" is really just "Christianity."

Unfortunately, a lot of the "social justice" movement is unchristian, and in some cases, anti-christian.
Including the pro abortion pro gay anti christian anti Biblical agenda that continue to co opt the "social justice" agenda.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 05, 2020, 10:18:08 AM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice?

So I and really tens of thousands of people around the country have been working in community organizations representing mostly houses of worship that cross all the various ecumenical and interfaith as well as racial lines for decades for the things I mentioned in my post as well as many others.  And the faith leaders across those lines have always said we were interested in social justice and social change across all those boundaries.  Because affordable housing on a large scale - say 10000 units, say a national housing act, is an example of social justice.  More opportunity for more people without access to decent and affordable housing to have that access.  It's worked, it's working now, it's demonstrable, it's quantifiable.  That's for one example. 

You asked if someone not committed to your description - identity politics - could point to social justice issues that affect more than individuals on a large group scale with policy implications that affect groups of people.   That's what I've done. 

Dave Benke
I get that use a term—social justice— to refer to various programs that assist people. But not all things that help people. Walmart does more for poor people than either of us will ever do, but I never hear Walmart described as an agent of social justice. What makes you call some things social justice and not other things that help people? Where is the injustice? I have foster kids— am I doing social justice? Again, I get that Alinsky disciples and leftist churches use the term all the time. And I can sort of predict what they’ll use it on and what they won’t use it on. But why they call helping people in need a matter of social justice and not simple charity stems from a particular diagnosis of society that is purely political, power-obsessed, and false. 999 out of 1000 people who use the term social justice regularly also support group identity politics. I’m glad to know you are the exception who sees group identity politics as inherently unChristian and unjust.

I know a lot of people who think this way about social justice, Peter.  And act on those thoughts.  The Bible distinguishes between justice and mercy.  Mercy is the way charity is parsed as a term.  Justice is the way equity across the board is parsed as a term.  Eleemosynary institutions - mercy institutions - are called social service institutions or agencies.  There is corporate service to a group of senior citizens in a nursing home, etc.  The Bible often speaks of "the poor" and "the rich" as groups and calls for justice for "the poor and the oppressed" in society - i.e. social justice.  That's the distinction I make and have made for most of my adult life, in collaboration with people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds. 



Dave Benke
So how do you decide whether giving poor people things they can't otherwise afford is an act of mercy or social justice? It seems to me you have the idea that the mere existence of rich people and the existence of poor people is an injustice, and that social justice is the act of equalizing wealth. This is where injustice to the individual comes in. If there is any just correlation between work and wage in human relations, then it is an injustice any time someone enjoys the rewards of labor without laboring proportionally. In mercy, we care for those can't labor, and in justice, we refuse to care for those who won't labor. In the normal course things, the worth of any given labor is determined by what anyone is willing to pay for it. Those who have nothing and who can't do anything of marketable value are in need of charity. Justice is the last thing they need.

Social justice in practical terms devolves into social engineering, which requires group identity politics. The people involved in it nearly always object to the idea that they are not engaged in social justice but in works of mercy or charity. Therein lies the problem. They're operating under the assumption that they are righting a wrong, not merely helping someone in need.

Social justice in practice "devolves" into 5000 owner occupied homes in Brooklyn for people who had no home ownership option.  It devolves into thousands of affordable rental units.  It devolves into a national housing act to provide funds for affordable homes in cities across the country.  It devolves into small classroom public schools as a better option than warehousing, with community input in every aspect of those schools, which began here but has become a national model.  It devolves into concentrated efforts to build ties between community and police through more serious community involvement, and to a decrease in crime at the same time as holding police accountable appropriately. 

There are wrongs.  It's not wrong to right them on behalf of the Church.  These efforts by people of faith in God's Realm of the Left are biblical and to Lutherans who believe there is such a thing as civil righteousness, are an aspect of corporate and individual vocation.  I'm going to provide links to articles I've written on this topic.  A Lutheran theologian of great impact in this area was Bp. William Lazareth (+).  There is extensive Roman Catholic theology and practice on the topic as well - that tradition is full-bodied, and, I would say, useful for Lutherans.  The short form is the "seamless fabric of life" and the "dignity of the human person":  https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching

Who are the "people who almost always object to the idea that they are not involved in social justice but in works of mercy or charity?"   Who's on that list?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 10:55:12 AM
Dave, I get it. You’re big into social justice. Home ownership is social justice in your view. As are good schools. As is pretty much everything. But you refuse to answer any of my questions, so this isn’t going anywhere.

In mercy, you helped people who could not afford to buy a house to buy a house. You insist that it was social justice, not mercy or charity. But you won’t explain why. Why is it a matter of justice to give people things they can’t afford? Why not call a thing what it is— mercy or charity?

You aren’t the only person who is into social justice that I read. The typical social justice warrior has an answer to my question. They call it social justice because people are entitled by rights to a house, a job, good schools, etc. and only ever lack them because of the inherent injustice of capitalism. It is offensive to say one is engaged in charity when one is only giving people what they’re rightfully owed and what was taken from them by some injustice, usually capitalism. They have a Marxist mindset, and I understand them on their terms without agreeing. You claim not to be like them, but for whatever reason insist on using their lingo. You say you aren’t involved in group identity politics by embracing social justice, but you are. Group identity is what puts the social in social justice. If it were not based on race, class, or some socio-economic group, it would just be individuals on a case by case basis, and it would just be charity or justice (not social justice) as the case may be.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 05, 2020, 11:11:10 AM
Dave, I get it. You’re big into social justice. Home ownership is social justice in your view. As are good schools. As is pretty much everything. But you refuse to answer any of my questions, so this isn’t going anywhere.

In mercy, you helped people who could not afford to buy a house to buy a house. You insist that it was social justice, not mercy or charity. But you won’t explain why. Why is it a matter of justice to give people things they can’t afford? Why not call a thing what it is— mercy or charity?

You aren’t the only person who is into social justice that I read. The typical social justice warrior has an answer to my question. They call it social justice because people are entitled by rights to a house, a job, good schools, etc. and only ever lack them because of the inherent injustice of capitalism. It is offensive to say one is engaged in charity when one is only giving people what they’re rightfully owed and what was taken from them by some injustice, usually capitalism. They have a Marxist mindset, and I understand them on their terms without agreeing. You claim not to be like them, but for whatever reason insist on using their lingo. You say you aren’t involved in group identity politics by embracing social justice, but you are. Group identity is what puts the social in social justice. If it were not based on race, class, or some socio-economic group, it would just be individuals on a case by case basis, and it would just be charity or justice (not social justice) as the case may be.


One of the problems is that biblically, δικαιοσύνη, carries nuances beyond "justice". That is one way the word can be translated, "righteousness," "doing what is right," "doing what God requires," "to put in a proper relationship," are some other translation possibilities. The breadth of meanings for this word are also indicated by the fact that it is used to translated 12 different Hebrew words in the LXX. However, the most common one, צַדִּיק, carries the same sense of "rightness."


Joseph Sittler often told the story of a time he was in Jerusalem and his car broke down. He took it to a mechanic to have it fixed. When the mechanic had finished and started up the engine to hear it running perfectly he said, “Zadik.” Zadik is the Hebrew word translated as righteousness. In this context it means simply: “it works.” Sinners and the world are made to “work” in and through the ministry of the One who fulfills all righteousness. [p. 58, Richard Jensen, Preaching Matthew’s Gospel]


"Social justice" from this perspective is "Doing what is right for society." Or even, from our Christian perspective, "Doing what God requires of us." Both your terms of "mercy" and "justice" can fall under doing what God requires. They are not opposed to each other, but takes a discerning spirit to know when each is doing what God requires of us.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dan Fienen on August 05, 2020, 11:16:12 AM
Part of the problem that I see in these discussions is that we no longer have a common agreed upon vocabulary with which to discuss. Seems to me that we have at least two different definitions of what "social justice" is, maybe more, being used here. There is also wide disagreement over how best we as Christians can assist those who are less fortunate. Part of that is a disagreement not so much in whether those who are hungry, lacking adequate shelter, and the like, should be assisted, but what to call it. We sometimes talk past each other and also disagree about who should be helped and especially how.


So long as we are dealing with people there are going to be those who would rather receive a hand out than a hand up. In the long run, those would be best served by being given the choice between trying to support themselves and going without. Allowing people who are capable of being productive to mooch off of others is no blessing. However, there are several problems with this realization. One is the difficulty of distinguishing between those who cannot provide for themselves and those who will not. Especially when dealing with a large system and many people. The likelihood of error, either way, is large. It is more important that people are helped who need it than that people who are capable of fending for themselves become dependent. Another problem is that those who have been or are trying to simply be dependent need assistance in preparing for and obtaining employment. In the long run, in order to fulfill the mission of assisting those in need a certain amount of those who scam the system is to be expected, lest in rooting out the weeds of the moochers, we start rooting out the wheat of those we came to serve.


it will likely need to be phrased differently when dealing with secular politics, but for us Christians it should be enough to realize that these are our neighbors whom God calls us to serve. For secular politics we may need to distinguish between justice, social or otherwise, and mercy. For Christians, they are our neighbors, fellow people whom God created in His image, whether they acknowledge Him or not, and so when they are hurting, for whatever reason, we are to help as we are able. The Good Samaritan did not stop to enquire whether the man beset by robbers had acted foolishly, or whether he was a good person. He saw a need and assisted.


That said, we should also be wise in our assistance, helping in ways that will help most, which means not always as the people want, or a particular political party or movement wants. There have been many failures among the successes of America's attempts to help the poor. The massive high rise blocks of public housing projects have mostly been torn down as ultimately failures, for example. A common political accusation is that if you do not support our programs, you just don't care about the poor. Sometimes, for some programs it is because people care about the poor that they oppose certain programs.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Mike Gehlhausen on August 05, 2020, 11:21:32 AM
Social justice in practice "devolves" into 5000 owner occupied homes in Brooklyn for people who had no home ownership option.  It devolves into thousands of affordable rental units.  It devolves into a national housing act to provide funds for affordable homes in cities across the country.  It devolves into small classroom public schools as a better option than warehousing, with community input in every aspect of those schools, which began here but has become a national model.  It devolves into concentrated efforts to build ties between community and police through more serious community involvement, and to a decrease in crime at the same time as holding police accountable appropriately. 

There are wrongs.  It's not wrong to right them on behalf of the Church.  These efforts by people of faith in God's Realm of the Left are biblical and to Lutherans who believe there is such a thing as civil righteousness, are an aspect of corporate and individual vocation.  I'm going to provide links to articles I've written on this topic.  A Lutheran theologian of great impact in this area was Bp. William Lazareth (+).  There is extensive Roman Catholic theology and practice on the topic as well - that tradition is full-bodied, and, I would say, useful for Lutherans.  The short form is the "seamless fabric of life" and the "dignity of the human person":  https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching

Who are the "people who almost always object to the idea that they are not involved in social justice but in works of mercy or charity?"   Who's on that list?

Dave Benke

Pr. Benke,

Thank you for the work you do. I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice.  I know that it proceeds from your faith, and I appreciate your tireless dedication to performing it.

I'm learning a lot in this thread, and I think that when I ask you questions the starkness of the Internet often makes them seem more pointed than they are meant.  So I just wanted to say this.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 05, 2020, 11:38:31 AM
Dave, I get it. You’re big into social justice. Home ownership is social justice in your view. As are good schools. As is pretty much everything. But you refuse to answer any of my questions, so this isn’t going anywhere.

In mercy, you helped people who could not afford to buy a house to buy a house. You insist that it was social justice, not mercy or charity. But you won’t explain why. Why is it a matter of justice to give people things they can’t afford? Why not call a thing what it is— mercy or charity?

You aren’t the only person who is into social justice that I read. The typical social justice warrior has an answer to my question. They call it social justice because people are entitled by rights to a house, a job, good schools, etc. and only ever lack them because of the inherent injustice of capitalism. It is offensive to say one is engaged in charity when one is only giving people what they’re rightfully owed and what was taken from them by some injustice, usually capitalism. They have a Marxist mindset, and I understand them on their terms without agreeing. You claim not to be like them, but for whatever reason insist on using their lingo. You say you aren’t involved in group identity politics by embracing social justice, but you are. Group identity is what puts the social in social justice. If it were not based on race, class, or some socio-economic group, it would just be individuals on a case by case basis, and it would just be charity or justice (not social justice) as the case may be.

I agree.  This conversation is going nowhere.  You say I "insist on using their lingo" for some reason.  The reason is that there are groups of people, and you can use economic class or "some socio-economic group" as the determinant, who are dealt with - yes, individually, since a mortgage on a home is made with an individual.  But at the same time, those in that group are dealt with as a group - so the houses are "affordable" to a group of people who before could not afford to own a home. 

I'll find and attach the articles for others to read when I get a chance.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 11:40:56 AM
Terminology matters. It offers flavor and nuance, and often carries freight of a larger mental framework. When someone talks about the "proletariat" I know something about where they're coming from, even if someone else using the term "blue-collar" might be referring to the very same thing. If someone says the "herstory" of BLM is interesting, they are referring to the very same events and telling of those events as someone else would be referring to with the word "history." But the former clues the listener/reader into a mindset.

Social justice can mean many things, obviously. But in its mainstream usage in the major media, it does not refer to doing God's will or even anything religious. So why use the term and then labor to disentangle yourself from all the other people who use the term? Either embrace the neo-Marxist, group identity politics of the social justice warriors, or reject it and stop speaking in their lingo.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 12:11:48 PM
There is a reason people insist on “social” justice as opposed to just justice. Every reason I have ever heard from people who prefer to include the descriptor “social” with justice has revolved around group identity as opposed to individuals. If I am mistaken about that, I would gladly listen to some one who rejects group indents politics explain why it is important to advocate for social justice as opposed to mere justice.

When you say "mere justice" it's connected to "individual" justice.  And "social justice" is connected to "groups," more than individuals.

There are all kinds of instances when social justice or social change have to do with groups but not with what you call "group idents politics." 
Affordable housing
Public school education
Police policy
This could go on and on and on.  All of it would have to do with more than individual justice or change.  And none of it would per se be limited to let's say racial group A or B.

As an example, two teenagers were murdered a few blocks from our church last week.  Shots were fired at the prayer vigil, which pre-COVID, I would have been attending.  Our community organizing entity works specifically with NYPD to engage in strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe(r).  The strategy employed, which benefits a group of everyone in that neighborhood, was to put a mobile precinct outpost (a big trailer) on that corner and coalesce with neighborhood leaders.  That's the development of policing policy with and by people for social justice - the safety of the community - with everyone who lives there being included.

Affordable housing is something I know a little bit about, and it has always been a place where social justice includes all in need of affordable housing - a large large group - through the development of public policy that encourages developers and community organizations to bring housing into the affordable zone. 

"Groups" that include the residents of a community are going to be diverse.  In some locations due to long periods of discriminatory housing practice, for instance, the majority - even the overwhelming majority - of the people will be non-white.  But they won't only be black, or Latino.  The policy and the opportunity are inclusive, usually based on income.

Dave Benke
You seem to be applying the term "social justice" to just about anything that tries to help anyone. I bought a condo in order to provide housing for my children and niece who otherwise would not have been able to afford the rent on their own. Was I doing "social justice" by providing affordable housing to them? Are gated communities, designed to keep neighborhoods safe, examples of social justice? How do you decide whether something is an example of social justice? Is it always a government program? Is what is seeks to redress always an injustice?

So I and really tens of thousands of people around the country have been working in community organizations representing mostly houses of worship that cross all the various ecumenical and interfaith as well as racial lines for decades for the things I mentioned in my post as well as many others.  And the faith leaders across those lines have always said we were interested in social justice and social change across all those boundaries.  Because affordable housing on a large scale - say 10000 units, say a national housing act, is an example of social justice.  More opportunity for more people without access to decent and affordable housing to have that access.  It's worked, it's working now, it's demonstrable, it's quantifiable.  That's for one example. 

You asked if someone not committed to your description - identity politics - could point to social justice issues that affect more than individuals on a large group scale with policy implications that affect groups of people.   That's what I've done. 

Dave Benke
I get that use a term—social justice— to refer to various programs that assist people. But not all things that help people. Walmart does more for poor people than either of us will ever do, but I never hear Walmart described as an agent of social justice. What makes you call some things social justice and not other things that help people? Where is the injustice? I have foster kids— am I doing social justice? Again, I get that Alinsky disciples and leftist churches use the term all the time. And I can sort of predict what they’ll use it on and what they won’t use it on. But why they call helping people in need a matter of social justice and not simple charity stems from a particular diagnosis of society that is purely political, power-obsessed, and false. 999 out of 1000 people who use the term social justice regularly also support group identity politics. I’m glad to know you are the exception who sees group identity politics as inherently unChristian and unjust.

I know a lot of people who think this way about social justice, Peter.  And act on those thoughts.  The Bible distinguishes between justice and mercy.  Mercy is the way charity is parsed as a term.  Justice is the way equity across the board is parsed as a term.  Eleemosynary institutions - mercy institutions - are called social service institutions or agencies.  There is corporate service to a group of senior citizens in a nursing home, etc.  The Bible often speaks of "the poor" and "the rich" as groups and calls for justice for "the poor and the oppressed" in society - i.e. social justice.  That's the distinction I make and have made for most of my adult life, in collaboration with people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds. 



Dave Benke
So how do you decide whether giving poor people things they can't otherwise afford is an act of mercy or social justice? It seems to me you have the idea that the mere existence of rich people and the existence of poor people is an injustice, and that social justice is the act of equalizing wealth. This is where injustice to the individual comes in. If there is any just correlation between work and wage in human relations, then it is an injustice any time someone enjoys the rewards of labor without laboring proportionally. In mercy, we care for those can't labor, and in justice, we refuse to care for those who won't labor. In the normal course things, the worth of any given labor is determined by what anyone is willing to pay for it. Those who have nothing and who can't do anything of marketable value are in need of charity. Justice is the last thing they need.

Social justice in practical terms devolves into social engineering, which requires group identity politics. The people involved in it nearly always object to the idea that they are not engaged in social justice but in works of mercy or charity. Therein lies the problem. They're operating under the assumption that they are righting a wrong, not merely helping someone in need.

Preach it, Pr. Speckhard.  Nice distinction-making here between mercy, and social justice as political agenda, imo
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 12:19:06 PM
Dave, I get it. You’re big into social justice. Home ownership is social justice in your view. As are good schools. As is pretty much everything. But you refuse to answer any of my questions, so this isn’t going anywhere.

In mercy, you helped people who could not afford to buy a house to buy a house. You insist that it was social justice, not mercy or charity. But you won’t explain why. Why is it a matter of justice to give people things they can’t afford? Why not call a thing what it is— mercy or charity?

You aren’t the only person who is into social justice that I read. The typical social justice warrior has an answer to my question. They call it social justice because people are entitled by rights to a house, a job, good schools, etc. and only ever lack them because of the inherent injustice of capitalism. It is offensive to say one is engaged in charity when one is only giving people what they’re rightfully owed and what was taken from them by some injustice, usually capitalism. They have a Marxist mindset, and I understand them on their terms without agreeing. You claim not to be like them, but for whatever reason insist on using their lingo. You say you aren’t involved in group identity politics by embracing social justice, but you are. Group identity is what puts the social in social justice. If it were not based on race, class, or some socio-economic group, it would just be individuals on a case by case basis, and it would just be charity or justice (not social justice) as the case may be.




Social justice means entering into the political environment where issues of fairness are always involved.  Are these the same as the Christian Gospel, ie. issues of fairness?  I don't think so.  I'm, not saying one is better than the other.  I'm saying the mode of operation is different under the law than under the Christian Gospel.  Was it fair that Jesus got what he got at Golgotha under the law?  Yes, if the law gets what it is due it...and No, if those who falsely accused Jesus at his trial were the basis for his execution.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 12:22:47 PM
Part of the problem that I see in these discussions is that we no longer have a common agreed upon vocabulary with which to discuss. Seems to me that we have at least two different definitions of what "social justice" is, maybe more, being used here. There is also wide disagreement over how best we as Christians can assist those who are less fortunate. Part of that is a disagreement not so much in whether those who are hungry, lacking adequate shelter, and the like, should be assisted, but what to call it. We sometimes talk past each other and also disagree about who should be helped and especially how.


So long as we are dealing with people there are going to be those who would rather receive a hand out than a hand up. In the long run, those would be best served by being given the choice between trying to support themselves and going without. Allowing people who are capable of being productive to mooch off of others is no blessing. However, there are several problems with this realization. One is the difficulty of distinguishing between those who cannot provide for themselves and those who will not. Especially when dealing with a large system and many people. The likelihood of error, either way, is large. It is more important that people are helped who need it than that people who are capable of fending for themselves become dependent. Another problem is that those who have been or are trying to simply be dependent need assistance in preparing for and obtaining employment. In the long run, in order to fulfill the mission of assisting those in need a certain amount of those who scam the system is to be expected, lest in rooting out the weeds of the moochers, we start rooting out the wheat of those we came to serve.


it will likely need to be phrased differently when dealing with secular politics, but for us Christians it should be enough to realize that these are our neighbors whom God calls us to serve. For secular politics we may need to distinguish between justice, social or otherwise, and mercy. For Christians, they are our neighbors, fellow people whom God created in His image, whether they acknowledge Him or not, and so when they are hurting, for whatever reason, we are to help as we are able. The Good Samaritan did not stop to enquire whether the man beset by robbers had acted foolishly, or whether he was a good person. He saw a need and assisted.


That said, we should also be wise in our assistance, helping in ways that will help most, which means not always as the people want, or a particular political party or movement wants. There have been many failures among the successes of America's attempts to help the poor. The massive high rise blocks of public housing projects have mostly been torn down as ultimately failures, for example. A common political accusation is that if you do not support our programs, you just don't care about the poor. Sometimes, for some programs it is because people care about the poor that they oppose certain programs.

Yes, our terms for conversation vary according to speaker.  Meaning of terms may need clarification and adjustment
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 12:27:56 PM
Dave, I get it. You’re big into social justice. Home ownership is social justice in your view. As are good schools. As is pretty much everything. But you refuse to answer any of my questions, so this isn’t going anywhere.

In mercy, you helped people who could not afford to buy a house to buy a house. You insist that it was social justice, not mercy or charity. But you won’t explain why. Why is it a matter of justice to give people things they can’t afford? Why not call a thing what it is— mercy or charity?

You aren’t the only person who is into social justice that I read. The typical social justice warrior has an answer to my question. They call it social justice because people are entitled by rights to a house, a job, good schools, etc. and only ever lack them because of the inherent injustice of capitalism. It is offensive to say one is engaged in charity when one is only giving people what they’re rightfully owed and what was taken from them by some injustice, usually capitalism. They have a Marxist mindset, and I understand them on their terms without agreeing. You claim not to be like them, but for whatever reason insist on using their lingo. You say you aren’t involved in group identity politics by embracing social justice, but you are. Group identity is what puts the social in social justice. If it were not based on race, class, or some socio-economic group, it would just be individuals on a case by case basis, and it would just be charity or justice (not social justice) as the case may be.


One of the problems is that biblically, δικαιοσύνη, carries nuances beyond "justice". That is one way the word can be translated, "righteousness," "doing what is right," "doing what God requires," "to put in a proper relationship," are some other translation possibilities. The breadth of meanings for this word are also indicated by the fact that it is used to translated 12 different Hebrew words in the LXX. However, the most common one, צַדִּיק, carries the same sense of "rightness."


Joseph Sittler often told the story of a time he was in Jerusalem and his car broke down. He took it to a mechanic to have it fixed. When the mechanic had finished and started up the engine to hear it running perfectly he said, “Zadik.” Zadik is the Hebrew word translated as righteousness. In this context it means simply: “it works.” Sinners and the world are made to “work” in and through the ministry of the One who fulfills all righteousness. [p. 58, Richard Jensen, Preaching Matthew’s Gospel]


"Social justice" from this perspective is "Doing what is right for society." Or even, from our Christian perspective, "Doing what God requires of us." Both your terms of "mercy" and "justice" can fall under doing what God requires. They are not opposed to each other, but takes a discerning spirit to know when each is doing what God requires of us.

Yes.  Staking a claim on which nuance of a term one is using will help to find agreement in conversation.  Sort of like how St. Paul uses the Greek term "nomos" in Romans depending on the audience.  Is he addressing the Jewish Christian part of the assembly?  Is he addressing the whole assembly disregarding their ethnic differences ie. both Jew and Greek?
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Dave Benke on August 05, 2020, 01:04:39 PM
Here are links to two articles I've written on the thread topic.  I think there's another one out there somewhere called the Unio Mystica and Mission, will keep looking:

http://thedaystarjournal.com/the-church-is-christs-mission-to-society/

http://thedaystarjournal.com/social-ministry-and-church-fellowship/

The one on church fellowship has a longer portion on the unio mystica/baptismal identity (speaking of identity) and engagement.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 05, 2020, 01:28:46 PM
Social justice in practice "devolves" into 5000 owner occupied homes in Brooklyn for people who had no home ownership option.  It devolves into thousands of affordable rental units.  It devolves into a national housing act to provide funds for affordable homes in cities across the country.  It devolves into small classroom public schools as a better option than warehousing, with community input in every aspect of those schools, which began here but has become a national model.  It devolves into concentrated efforts to build ties between community and police through more serious community involvement, and to a decrease in crime at the same time as holding police accountable appropriately. 

There are wrongs.  It's not wrong to right them on behalf of the Church.  These efforts by people of faith in God's Realm of the Left are biblical and to Lutherans who believe there is such a thing as civil righteousness, are an aspect of corporate and individual vocation.  I'm going to provide links to articles I've written on this topic.  A Lutheran theologian of great impact in this area was Bp. William Lazareth (+).  There is extensive Roman Catholic theology and practice on the topic as well - that tradition is full-bodied, and, I would say, useful for Lutherans.  The short form is the "seamless fabric of life" and the "dignity of the human person":  https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching

Who are the "people who almost always object to the idea that they are not involved in social justice but in works of mercy or charity?"   Who's on that list?

Dave Benke

Pr. Benke,

Thank you for the work you do. I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice.  I know that it proceeds from your faith, and I appreciate your tireless dedication to performing it.

I'm learning a lot in this thread, and I think that when I ask you questions the starkness of the Internet often makes them seem more pointed than they are meant.  So I just wanted to say this.

I agree. His work is indeed admirable and to the glory of God.

There is also this where I fully agree. " I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice." "Mercy" or "social justice"? It is a distinction without a difference. One could easily recognize that advocating and voting against abortion is "social justice" for it advocates on behalf of the unborn. "Unborn lives matter!" "Black lives matter" too. One could call opposition to Obamacare working for social justice because it is unjust to some taxpayers. Opposition to voting by mail qualifies since it could be unjust as well.  :o :D

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 01:48:39 PM
Social justice in practice "devolves" into 5000 owner occupied homes in Brooklyn for people who had no home ownership option.  It devolves into thousands of affordable rental units.  It devolves into a national housing act to provide funds for affordable homes in cities across the country.  It devolves into small classroom public schools as a better option than warehousing, with community input in every aspect of those schools, which began here but has become a national model.  It devolves into concentrated efforts to build ties between community and police through more serious community involvement, and to a decrease in crime at the same time as holding police accountable appropriately. 

There are wrongs.  It's not wrong to right them on behalf of the Church.  These efforts by people of faith in God's Realm of the Left are biblical and to Lutherans who believe there is such a thing as civil righteousness, are an aspect of corporate and individual vocation.  I'm going to provide links to articles I've written on this topic.  A Lutheran theologian of great impact in this area was Bp. William Lazareth (+).  There is extensive Roman Catholic theology and practice on the topic as well - that tradition is full-bodied, and, I would say, useful for Lutherans.  The short form is the "seamless fabric of life" and the "dignity of the human person":  https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching

Who are the "people who almost always object to the idea that they are not involved in social justice but in works of mercy or charity?"   Who's on that list?

Dave Benke

Pr. Benke,

Thank you for the work you do. I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice.  I know that it proceeds from your faith, and I appreciate your tireless dedication to performing it.

I'm learning a lot in this thread, and I think that when I ask you questions the starkness of the Internet often makes them seem more pointed than they are meant.  So I just wanted to say this.

I agree. His work is indeed admirable and to the glory of God.

There is also this where I fully agree. " I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice." "Mercy" or "social justice"? It is a distinction without a difference. One could easily recognize that advocating and voting against abortion is "social justice" for it advocates on behalf of the unborn. "Unborn lives matter!" "Black lives matter" too. One could call opposition to Obamacare working for social justice because it is unjust to some taxpayers. Opposition to voting by mail qualifies since it could be unjust as well.  :o :D

Peace, JOHN
The distinction matters greatly in the arena of rights and citizenship. Justice is a matter of people getting what they are owed. Mercy is a matter of them getting what they are not owed. Social justice claims to be fixing an injustice. It is therefore accusatory. Not to favor x, y, or z, government program is to be on the side of oppression and injustice. These are standard political talking points that the Christian should resist and the parish should have no part of.

As for pro-life, that is indeed a matter of justice. A person is owed protection of his life by society. Not killing an innocent person is not an act of mercy, it is an act of justice. 
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 05, 2020, 03:51:53 PM
Terminology matters. It offers flavor and nuance, and often carries freight of a larger mental framework. When someone talks about the "proletariat" I know something about where they're coming from, even if someone else using the term "blue-collar" might be referring to the very same thing. If someone says the "herstory" of BLM is interesting, they are referring to the very same events and telling of those events as someone else would be referring to with the word "history." But the former clues the listener/reader into a mindset.

Social justice can mean many things, obviously. But in its mainstream usage in the major media, it does not refer to doing God's will or even anything religious. So why use the term and then labor to disentangle yourself from all the other people who use the term? Either embrace the neo-Marxist, group identity politics of the social justice warriors, or reject it and stop speaking in their lingo.


Will you stop using the word "God," because it means something different when non-Christians use it? Or when it's used by the Masons. Can you not believe that when a Lutheran Christian uses "social justice," they might be using it in a different way than a Marxist?
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 05, 2020, 04:14:30 PM
The distinction matters greatly in the arena of rights and citizenship. Justice is a matter of people getting what they are owed.


Owed by whom?



Quote
Mercy is a matter of them getting what they are not owed.


Owed by whom?


Actually, mercy is about not getting the punishment what we deserve to get. Grace is about getting what we do not deserve.


Quote
Social justice claims to be fixing an injustice. It is therefore accusatory.


Proclaiming the Word of God means that we proclaim Law and Gospel. We are called to expose injustices. We accuse society of doing wrong when they are doing wrong.


Quote
Not to favor x, y, or z, government program is to be on the side of oppression and injustice. These are standard political talking points that the Christian should resist and the parish should have no part of.


How did "government program" get into the mix? It seems to me that most often the government was doing nothing. Social justice reforms called the government into doing what was right.

Quote
As for pro-life, that is indeed a matter of justice. A person is owed protection of his life by society. Not killing an innocent person is not an act of mercy, it is an act of justice.


"Innocent person"? As folks often tell me, Theology 101 should have taught you differently.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: John_Hannah on August 05, 2020, 04:18:31 PM
Social justice in practice "devolves" into 5000 owner occupied homes in Brooklyn for people who had no home ownership option.  It devolves into thousands of affordable rental units.  It devolves into a national housing act to provide funds for affordable homes in cities across the country.  It devolves into small classroom public schools as a better option than warehousing, with community input in every aspect of those schools, which began here but has become a national model.  It devolves into concentrated efforts to build ties between community and police through more serious community involvement, and to a decrease in crime at the same time as holding police accountable appropriately. 

There are wrongs.  It's not wrong to right them on behalf of the Church.  These efforts by people of faith in God's Realm of the Left are biblical and to Lutherans who believe there is such a thing as civil righteousness, are an aspect of corporate and individual vocation.  I'm going to provide links to articles I've written on this topic.  A Lutheran theologian of great impact in this area was Bp. William Lazareth (+).  There is extensive Roman Catholic theology and practice on the topic as well - that tradition is full-bodied, and, I would say, useful for Lutherans.  The short form is the "seamless fabric of life" and the "dignity of the human person":  https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching

Who are the "people who almost always object to the idea that they are not involved in social justice but in works of mercy or charity?"   Who's on that list?

Dave Benke

Pr. Benke,

Thank you for the work you do. I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice.  I know that it proceeds from your faith, and I appreciate your tireless dedication to performing it.

I'm learning a lot in this thread, and I think that when I ask you questions the starkness of the Internet often makes them seem more pointed than they are meant.  So I just wanted to say this.

I agree. His work is indeed admirable and to the glory of God.

There is also this where I fully agree. " I honestly do not care whether it is called mercy or charity or social justice." "Mercy" or "social justice"? It is a distinction without a difference. One could easily recognize that advocating and voting against abortion is "social justice" for it advocates on behalf of the unborn. "Unborn lives matter!" "Black lives matter" too. One could call opposition to Obamacare working for social justice because it is unjust to some taxpayers. Opposition to voting by mail qualifies since it could be unjust as well.  :o :D

Peace, JOHN
The distinction matters greatly in the arena of rights and citizenship. Justice is a matter of people getting what they are owed. Mercy is a matter of them getting what they are not owed. Social justice claims to be fixing an injustice. It is therefore accusatory. Not to favor x, y, or z, government program is to be on the side of oppression and injustice. These are standard political talking points that the Christian should resist and the parish should have no part of.

As for pro-life, that is indeed a matter of justice. A person is owed protection of his life by society. Not killing an innocent person is not an act of mercy, it is an act of justice.

It is still a distinction that is not important for me. I'm not sure why you think it should be.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 04:27:58 PM
The distinction matters greatly in the arena of rights and citizenship. Justice is a matter of people getting what they are owed.


Owed by whom?



Quote
Mercy is a matter of them getting what they are not owed.


Owed by whom?


Actually, mercy is about not getting the punishment what we deserve to get. Grace is about getting what we do not deserve.


Quote
Social justice claims to be fixing an injustice. It is therefore accusatory.


Proclaiming the Word of God means that we proclaim Law and Gospel. We are called to expose injustices. We accuse society of doing wrong when they are doing wrong.


Quote
Not to favor x, y, or z, government program is to be on the side of oppression and injustice. These are standard political talking points that the Christian should resist and the parish should have no part of.


How did "government program" get into the mix? It seems to me that most often the government was doing nothing. Social justice reforms called the government into doing what was right.

Quote
As for pro-life, that is indeed a matter of justice. A person is owed protection of his life by society. Not killing an innocent person is not an act of mercy, it is an act of justice.


"Innocent person"? As folks often tell me, Theology 101 should have taught you differently.
Brian, I already know that your cat's breath smells like cat food. You don't need to keep posting it.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: D. Engebretson on August 05, 2020, 07:42:43 PM
Will you stop using the word "God," because it means something different when non-Christians use it? Or when it's used by the Masons.

Interestingly, some in the Jewish community will not use the word "God" but substitute "G-d". 
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 05, 2020, 08:48:24 PM
The distinction matters greatly in the arena of rights and citizenship. Justice is a matter of people getting what they are owed.


Owed by whom?



Quote
Mercy is a matter of them getting what they are not owed.


Owed by whom?


Actually, mercy is about not getting the punishment what we deserve to get. Grace is about getting what we do not deserve.


Quote
Social justice claims to be fixing an injustice. It is therefore accusatory.


Proclaiming the Word of God means that we proclaim Law and Gospel. We are called to expose injustices. We accuse society of doing wrong when they are doing wrong.


Quote
Not to favor x, y, or z, government program is to be on the side of oppression and injustice. These are standard political talking points that the Christian should resist and the parish should have no part of.


How did "government program" get into the mix? It seems to me that most often the government was doing nothing. Social justice reforms called the government into doing what was right.

Quote
As for pro-life, that is indeed a matter of justice. A person is owed protection of his life by society. Not killing an innocent person is not an act of mercy, it is an act of justice.


"Innocent person"? As folks often tell me, Theology 101 should have taught you differently.
Brian, I already know that your cat's breath smells like cat food. You don't need to keep posting it.


Thank you for the thoughtful and cogent answers to my questions and comments.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 05, 2020, 08:51:32 PM
Will you stop using the word "God," because it means something different when non-Christians use it? Or when it's used by the Masons.

Interestingly, some in the Jewish community will not use the word "God" but substitute "G-d".


Yes. It's a way of avoiding writing a name of G-d, to avoid the risk of the sin of erasing or defacing the Name. I've known some Christians who do the same thing.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 09:21:32 PM
Just for the sake of lurkers, I should explain: the reason I often don't bother engaging with Brian is amply illustrated in his series of questions and comments just upstream, all of which tend to derail the topic down into rabbit holes by mixing usages and applications of words. For example, his last point objected to the idea that abortion killed an innocent person, because, as he points out, everyone knows from theology 101 that there are no innocent people. In other words, he mixes theological/spiritual definitions into what was obviously a discussion of law and the civil realm, glibly gliding back and forth to prevent genuine communication of ideas. There is no point in engaging with someone who makes comments like that. He is the sort of person who would make the point that George Floyd justly deserved God's wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation, as though somehow that applied to what anyone else was talking about.

Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 05, 2020, 09:32:50 PM
Do the lurkers care, Peter?
Yes. At least the ones I know of do. Considering that upwards of 90% (literally) of the unpleasantness in this forum involves you complaining about someone or someone complaining about you specifically by name, I don’t think you’re the guy to steer things toward a more pleasant forum.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 10:14:42 PM
This issue about NOT making distinctions between the ways and means of living under nomos should be critical to a church that wants to be clear about what the unique Christian Gospel is; and to form an exclusive bond to what Christ calls us to and that is to get the message out about his death and resurrection for sinners (who btw have no hope as they are by themselves or within their political caucuses as they are) and the value that this Gospel inherently contains for others in the divine relationship it establishes. The Gospel is contradistinctive to nomological fairness (and even if there was such as thing as nomological forgiveness it would work as it is defined and understood by the IRS! ie. there is no such animal as defined under Christ's type of forgiveness) in that Someone who no longer is imprisoned to the fate of death now lives to change others because His death was for others and His death has exchanged out our death for His life (He has been raised, right?)  What all this means is that if we do not make distinctions between fairness which inherently places us in a position of making claims for ourselves ie. self-interest issues and that btw is an addiional contradistinction to the unique Christian Gospel, the unique Gospel has no place to express its treasure chest of goodies!  The unique-ness about the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has taken your sin, indebtedness, and death and has put it to death right within His death.  By doing so a proverbial "I" has been united to a biography of One over whom death no longer has dominion.  This should be extremely important (and joyful!) enough for the Church that it would move it to cast off the ways and means of prioritizing political issues for the sake of announcing to others what has arrived in terms of who this living Jesus is for others.  In the faith relationship with Christ we dimly see the coming great distinction between what it means to live under the ways and means of fairness (the law, yes God's law: God's nomos) vs. the ways and means of the One who has shown us ungratefuls great mercy through his own death for others a product of unfairness in parte, in that his unjust suffering and death actually changed sinners in His forgiveness of their sins.  Some expressions of the Body of Christ (I'm thinking of the ELCA, esp. its national public voice) need to get out of the business of social advocacy or change its official agenda of theory and practice on it and become more intentional about what God has specifically commanded it to do and preach.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 10:23:01 PM
Terminology matters. It offers flavor and nuance, and often carries freight of a larger mental framework. When someone talks about the "proletariat" I know something about where they're coming from, even if someone else using the term "blue-collar" might be referring to the very same thing. If someone says the "herstory" of BLM is interesting, they are referring to the very same events and telling of those events as someone else would be referring to with the word "history." But the former clues the listener/reader into a mindset.

Social justice can mean many things, obviously. But in its mainstream usage in the major media, it does not refer to doing God's will or even anything religious. So why use the term and then labor to disentangle yourself from all the other people who use the term? Either embrace the neo-Marxist, group identity politics of the social justice warriors, or reject it and stop speaking in their lingo.


Will you stop using the word "God," because it means something different when non-Christians use it? Or when it's used by the Masons. Can you not believe that when a Lutheran Christian uses "social justice," they might be using it in a different way than a Marxist?

Actually Pr. Speckhard gets to use his terms as he uses them because it is he who is using them and not others or for others.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 10:26:36 PM
Do the lurkers care, Peter?
I actually prefer it when you don’t engage with some of us here.
Maybe it would’ve been more pleasant to let the lurkers make their own analysis of what Brian or myself or anyone else here says.

Oh we do make our own analysis of what goes on here esp. with you; and, for me, sometimes Pr. Stoffregen.  That is a fact and I'm testifying to it right now.
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: readselerttoo on August 05, 2020, 10:27:46 PM
Do the lurkers care, Peter?
Yes. At least the ones I know of do. Considering that upwards of 90% (literally) of the unpleasantness in this forum involves you complaining about someone or someone complaining about you specifically by name, I don’t think you’re the guy to steer things toward a more pleasant forum.

...ain't that the truth!
Title: Re: Social Gospel
Post by: RPG on August 05, 2020, 10:39:00 PM
Brian, I already know that your cat's breath smells like cat food. You don't need to keep posting it.


Bonus points for invoking Ralph Wiggum.  ;D