With the recent rise of progressive “Christianity” in the last few years, it’s no surprise that one of the prevailing themes is social justice, known colloquially as the “woke” movement. Many denominations have been caught up in the movement forever. But social justice is not the gospel, and saying that it is is heresy.
Walter Rauschenbusch was an American Baptist pastor and theologian who lived during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Arguably, he is the founder of this “social gospel” that is so prevalent in the Church today. Rauschenbusch, who wrote A Theology for the Social Gospel, taught that the gospel’s primary consequence on Earth is not the forgiveness of sins, but the solution to racism, social or economic inequality, poverty, crime, environmental problems, or other social ills–hence, the heresy of Rauschenbuschism.
While several historically liberal and progressive denominations such as the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) have held these unbiblical views since their inception, stunningly, the more traditionally conservative denominations have been grasped by this movement as well through outlets such as Tim Keller’s The Gospel Coalition and the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Sadly, many prominent Southern Baptists have now taken this stance and continue to push this ideology above all else. We see David Platt, former president of the SBC’s International Mission Board parroting this mantra over and over, even preaching an entire sermon–not exegeting Scripture, but a Marxist ideology–at Together for the Gospel in 2018, asking questions like, Why are so many of our churches so white? Why are many of our institutions, seminaries, and missions organizations so white? Why is (the T4G Conference) so white? This was deemed by many to be the demise of David Platt.
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But it doesn’t stop there. Platt has been doubling down on this mantra, and in the following tweets, you can see where he continues to push this idea that the gospel is more than just salvation from our sins, but, as Walter Rauschenbusch taught, has immense social justice consequences.
And here, we see that David Platt has continued to advance this false gospel all throughout his preaching ministry.
Other forms of social justice that are entering the realm of Evangelicalism are softening stances on homosexuality and abortion. In 2022, the Southern Baptist Convention elected Brent Leatherwood, a man who believes that mothers who seek abortions are “victims” and should not be held legally accountable, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission presidency.
The reason they do this is to try to make friends with the world but they do not realize that by doing so, they make enemies with God.
It’s really disheartening to say that so many otherwise sound bible teachers have been led astray, and are leading astray so many to the social gospel heresy. This is a pure adulteration of what the gospel is. Paul clearly states that if anyone, be it an angel from Heaven or any man on Earth, preaches another gospel, they are accursed.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. –Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)
And what is the gospel? First, let’s clearly state what the gospel is not.
- The gospel is NOT fixing social injustices in this world, be they real or perceived.
- The gospel is NOT acknowledging “white privilege” and turning from it.
- The gospel is NOT reparations.
- The gospel is NOT redeeming the culture.
- The gospel is NOT loving others or seeking justice.
- The gospel is NOT softening our stance on homosexuality .
- The gospel is NOT denying accountability to mothers who have abortions.
- The gospel is NOT putting women in the pulpit because the Pagan world believes biblical patriarchy is “sexist.”
The gospel is clearly defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
I want to make anyone ashamed of using the term, “social justice,” again… —Voddie Baucham, G3 Social Justice pre-conference 2019