Author Topic: Social Gospel  (Read 7460 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #45 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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #46 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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #47 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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #48 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. 



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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #49 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
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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #50 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.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

peter_speckhard

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #51 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. 

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #52 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.

Dave Benke

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #53 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?

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #54 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.

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #55 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.
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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #56 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.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #57 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.

Dave Benke

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #58 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

peter_speckhard

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Re: Social Gospel
« Reply #59 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.