Christianity and Social Justice, Religions in Conflict by Jon Harris
Jon Harris, who hosts the “Conversations That Matter” podcast, has written his second book on social justice issues, his first being Social Justice Goes to Church. The burden of this present volume is to demonstrate that “this woke gospel is a different gospel,” which confuses law and gospel, offers different ethics of sin, justice and righteousness, rests on standpoint epistemology and humanism, draws from Marxism, and “is another gospel contrary to the true gospel of Jesus Christ (p. ix).”
To prove this thesis Harris begins by tracing the roots of Critical Race Theory and social justice to philosophers such as Jean–Jacques Rousseau and theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, the Frankfurt school and its cultural Marxism (pp. 12-18), and the social gospel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (p. 37). Evangelicals are adopting these ideologies with predictable results. But to the past faulty concepts have been added multiple layers of contemporary unsound ideas such as “standpoint epistemology” (pp. 56, 69, 72-73, 76, 82, 83) which teaches that “different experiences produce different kinds of knowledge which in turn produce different understanding of reality” (p. 69). The result is the destruction of “Christian conception of revelation’s accessibility by placing knowledge barriers in front of people from certain social locations” (p. 76). Add to standpoint epistemology all the other tenants of Critical Race Theory and we are left with “white guilt, cancel culture, and Twitter replac[ing] original sin, shunning and the church (p. 26). . . “ Worse, we have a “woke gospel” which morphs virtually everything into a gospel issue. Black Lives Matter (p. 2), climate change, illegal migration (p. 40), black equality (p. 43), social justice (pp. 43, 55), egalitarianism and activism (p. 125) all become “gospel issues.” For example, Russel Moore thinks “it is a ‘gospel issue’ to allow illegal migrants to use services paid for by American taxes without objection” (p. 127), and Christianity Today states that “the gospel of Jesus Christ requires us to believe the word of women” (p. 127).
Harris boldly and correctly calls out the media, and many evangelicals, for tunnel vision (pp. 91-92). They dismiss the vast improvement in racial equity since the Civil Rights Movement (p. 91), and the deeper reasons for black inequality residing in the home, where 77% of black children are born to unwed mothers (pp. 93-99). This latter fact is routinely ignored by left-leaning leaders both outside and inside the church. Harris also exposes the unbiblical nature of intergenerational sin (pp. 132-134) and offers the deconstruction of South Africa as a warning to America (pp. 142-146).
Christianity and Social Justice is a detailed, well-documented exposé of the adoption of Marxist principles in American society and increasingly by the evangelical church. At risk is the gospel itself. One Social Gospel architect wrote in the late 1800s that “the church had forgotten the true gospel, which included a passion for social justice, and had come to focus solely on the ‘one-sided half gospel’ of individual salvation” (p. 43). Those evangelicals adopting Critical Race Theory are headed down the same pathway of corrupting the biblical gospel by adding to it a social dimension not articulated in Scripture. They are offering “another gospel.” Harris’ book is an important warning that we must not tamper with the true gospel, nor alter the teachings of Scripture to fit our culture.
by Jon Harris (Ann Arbor, MI: Reformation Zion Publishing, 2021) 146 pp + xii, paper, $9.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher at Southern View Chapel