Decades ago, radio icon Paul Harvey penned a social critique entitled “If I Were the Devil” that he updated shortly before his death. The point of his essay is that Satan wins his battles here on Earth not through the acerbic tongue of the militant atheist, but through manipulating God’s truth in the hearts and minds of those who claim to love Him. It included this prophetic line:
“In [God’s] own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion.”
That’s the thing about the devil – he’s been doing the exact same things, using the exact same strategy since the Garden of Eden:
- Call God’s Word into question.
- Contradict God’s Word.
- Slander God’s motives.
And yet even though he hasn’t changed, we still fall for it. Not long ago I wrote an article where I lamented how progressive cultural activists are usurping the language of Christianity, even hijacking certain passages of Scripture ripped from context to turn the revolutionary faith of Jesus into a mere social program. I wrote,
The social justice movement in America is a political cause, not a spiritual one. It is predicated upon grievance, is fueled by resentment, and sees worldly power structures as savior. None of this sounds like Jesus.
A powerful testimony on this very reality from a Fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute of Princeton Theological Seminary, Darrell B. Harrison, convinces me that Satan is alive and well in the modern “social justice” movement within American Christendom. In expounding upon the true mission of a Christ follower, Harrison noted,
[I]t may surprise you to learn that meeting the material needs of the poor and oppressed – the measure by which many SJWs define a society that is ‘just’ and ‘equitable’ – is not all the gospel is designed to do. In fact, it is not even what the gospel is principally intended to do.
Harrison notes that when speaking of the poor to John the Baptist’s disciples, Jesus does not enumerate all the various ways that good people could (and should) make the lives of the poor more comfortable, convenient, or equitable. He certainly could have said those things. Harrison writes,
The SJW-Jesus would have responded to John not that “the poor have the gospel preached to them” but that “the poor have food to eat, clothes to wear, homes to live in, violence-free communities, a guaranteed minimum wage, and a color-blind judicial system.”
Notice how that sounds nothing like the Jesus of Scripture. If I were the devil, I would certainly hijack the real Jesus and replace Him with one focused entirely on the material needs of men rather than the spiritual imperative of repentance and surrender.
Modern “Social Justice Christianity” creates a Jesus that is the savior of society, a doctor treating the illness of physical need and poverty. True Christianity reveals the actual Jesus as the savior of sinners, a doctor healing the illness of spiritual need and poverty.
Harrison fully understands and articulates better than most what the social justice church movement misses:
Christ is building a kingdom, but that kingdom is not of this world. Societal equity is not the mandate of the gospel. Racial reconciliation is not the mandate of the gospel. Gender equality is not the mandate of the gospel. Equal opportunity is not the mandate of the gospel. Ultimately, the mandate of the gospel is to make Jesus Christ known to those who do not know Him.
And in coming to know Him, we love Him; and in loving Him, we obey Him; and by obeying Him, we become more like Him; and in becoming more like Him, we more consistently reflect to a world thirsting for righteousness the image of the One in whose image we are all created. That is what true justice looks like. Performing the works of the gospel is of no lasting societal benefit apart from preaching the word of the gospel.
If I were the devil, I’d want you to question, contradict, or ignore these truths.