By Brannon S. Howse
The false church in Germany willingly embraced the socialism of Adolph Hitler:
[quote] The Church joined in the general opposition to the democracy of the Weimar Republic and the liberties of individual conscience. Democracy was a weak form of government that paid too much attention to individual human rights. If the state was to be strong, individual freedoms had to be set aside for the greater good of a united, economically stable, and strong nation. [end quote]
You’ll recall that Hitler established the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and exploited the economic collapse of Germany to take over as dictator and usher in his brand of socialism. Today, the world’s financial crisis has given politicians of all political persuasions the opportunity to grow the size of government and implement freedom-robbing socialism at lightning speed.
Hitler expanded and centralized Germany’s healthcare system (sound familiar?). As Melchior Palyi explained, “The ill-famed Dr. Ley, boss of the Nazi labor front, did not fail to see that the social insurance system could be used for Nazi politics as a means of popular demagoguery, as a bastion of bureaucratic power, [and] as an instrument of regimentation.” [Source: Healing the Healthcare System, By Lawrence D. Wilson, December 1, 2001.]
Management expert Peter Drucker, who mentored Bill Hybels, Bob Buford, and Rick Warren, called this mixture of institutions for the establishment of a new society or new civilization the three-legged stool. The obstacle that must be overcome by social engineers is to convince the Church to embrace socialism by renaming it as social justice or the social gospel.
While you will not be surprised that liberal pastors and “Christian” authors like Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, and others embrace social justice, you might be surprised that pastors who are perceived as conservative or evangelical are doing the same. Consider, for example, Pastor Tim Keller. One of the dangers in Keller’s approach is his propensity to say whatever the audience he is speaking to wants to hear. Aside from embracing social justice, Keller has favored biological evolution. His church has also promoted a class entitled, “The Way of the Monk,” and he has written an endorsement of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, a book by a woman pastor promoting pagan spirituality.
At the time I’m writing this book, Keller is not viewed as a social or theological liberal but as a mainstream, conservative evangelical. That’s scary. Jonathan Cousar is one perceptive author who knows Keller well and has written about this:
[quote] I went to Tim Keller’s church for nearly 20 years and in fact I left just last year because of my growing concern that the church and Tim were far more liberal, theologically and ideologically than I had ever imagined…. Tim Keller, despite claims to the contrary, is not a theological or an ideological conservative and he is most definitely not a traditional Evangelical. He is in fact very liberal on both counts. And this is something of concern, because as J. Gresham Machen so well put it in “Christianity & Liberalism,” liberal Christianity really isn’t Christianity at all. And I might add the parallel political statement that liberal Americanism really isn’t Americanism at all either! [source: Jonathan Cousar, “Tim Keller’s Social Justice,” posted at: http://gospelmasquerade.com/tim-kellers-social-justice/ ]
Cousar not only was a member of Keller’s church but also read and reviewed his book, Generous Justice. Even the title of the book, as Jonathan points out, is part of the clever approach that has often allowed Keller to fly under the radar and not be detected as radical or progressive. Yet, it appears Keller is indeed exactly that: a progressive. I believe he offers great credibility to the religious Trojan Horse and its social justice component. As Cousar observes:
[quote] Tim Keller is a master at using language to persuade. He knows how, for instance, to reword the term “social justice” into “Generous Justice.” He knows that conservatives find the term “social justice” alarming and offensive. So he brilliantly rewords it as “Generous Justice”! This appeals to the Christian’s fondness of generosity and justice, without all the historical baggage. [end quote]
Keller seems to be calling for the same thing as Rick Warren, Bob Buford, Peter Drucker, and Bill Hybels: a transforming of the purpose and function of the church to make it a force for cultural transformation. Cousar has seen this clearly:
[quote] To sum up Keller’s theology most succinctly, Keller says “the primary purpose of salvation is—cultural renewal—to make this world a better place.” That statement should alarm any true evangelical or conservative Christian. And it must be understood that this one statement is central to all of Keller’s teachings. [end quote]
How does a pastor convince his church and other pastors and their congregations that the Church is called primarily to assist the poor and redistribute the wealth? I believe this happens not only through masking terms but by completely ignoring the model set forth in God’s Word by the New Testament Church. As Jonathan Cousar points out, Keller is adept at using masking terms:
[quote] Throughout his book I was confused by why he was using the term “justice” when it seemed “mercy” or “compassion” would be more appropriate. Possibly it is because “mercy” and “compassion” are something more along the lines of what individuals can do and apparently Keller wants to look beyond individuals to the entire society. This would be in keeping with his belief that “the primary purpose of salvation is cultural renewal.” But when you talk about “justice” you’re talking about societal structures. A single individual cannot effect society-wide justice. Justice is a function of public policy and politics. [end quote]
Cousar is correct in stating that “justice is a function of public policy and politics,” and I believe that is exactly why Keller and other like-minded progressives want the corporate Church to be so involved in the cultural, political, and economic system. Only by redefining the New Testament purpose of the Church can evangelical leaders, pastors, and “Christians” be convinced to embrace the unbiblical model of communitarianism, the three-legged stool, moralizing, and dominion theology.
Most politically conservative church attendees will not readily go along with socialism and the redistribution of wealth unless it is deceptively promoted and falsely acclaimed as a biblical objective of individual Christians as well as the Church as a whole. In a revealing chapter of Generous Justice entitled, “How Do We Do Justice?”, Keller quotes Christopher Wright:
[quote] God’s law asks us…to find means of ensuring that the weakest and poorest in the community are enabled to have access to the opportunities they need in order to provide for themselves. “Opportunities” may include financial resources, but could also include access to education, legal assistance, investment in job opportunities. Such things should not be leftovers or handouts, but a matter of rights. [end quote]
But Wright cites Old Testament laws meant for the nation of Israel, a theocracy, and applies them to the Church today—a serious mishandling of Scripture. What an individual may desire to do voluntarily with his or her funds is completely different from the immoral, illegal, and unjust involuntary government confiscation of private property and income for the redistribution that Wright redefines as “a matter of rights.”
America’s original form of government, dating back to the colonies, did not guarantee a job, financial resources, education, or legal assistance. Such “rights” are nothing less than a new name for socialism. It is a grievous form of injustice when a government takes one person’s rightful property and gives it to someone else, simply because the government has the power to do so. It is unjust, unbiblical, and tyrannical.
In Generous Justice, Keller praises John M. Perkins, a Mississippi minister who in 1989 formed the “Christian Development Association” that includes “hundreds of churches and local development corporations.” I believe this is modeled on nothing less than the three-legged stool of having churches, corporations, and governments working together for “cultural renewal.” Nowhere in the Scriptures do we see the corporate Church called to enter into spiritual endeavors with unbelievers and, in fact, 2 Corinthians 6:14 specifically speaks against this idea. It is no wonder Rick Warren endorsed Generous Justice. Keller is promoting the three-legged stool of communitarianism that Warren learned from Peter Drucker. In 2003, Newsweek reported that Drucker “brings a communitarian philosophy to his consulting,” and Warren said that he was “mentored” by the management guru. Honoring Perkins’ model, Keller again creatively applies the renaming strategy:
[quote] Perkins also spoke of “redistribution,” something others have called “reweaving a community.” John Perkins saw that simply putting welfare checks in the hands of the poor in small towns only ended up transferring capital into the accounts of the wealthy bankers and store owners on the other side of town. A healthy neighborhood is one with safe streets, responsive public institutions, physical beauty, good schools, a good economy, good social-recreational opportunities, and wide participation in political life. “Reweaving” aims to bring these things about. There must be a full range of measures designed to redirect the flow of financial capital, social capital, and spiritual capital back into the community instead of out of it. [end quote]
Jonathan Cousar, as you might imagine, recognizes the idea for what it is:
[quote] This is a stunning statement! Just as you may have thought he was going to bring in a Biblical principle or two about the dignity of work or the indignity of taking handouts that aren’t earned, Keller says the real problem with putting a welfare check into the hands of the poor is that it ends up in the hands of “wealthy bankers” and “store owners” on the other side of town! Not that it keeps the recipient in life-long poverty, or that it takes away the recipient’s dignity, but that it enriches those filthy bankers and store owners…. But how can Keller maintain his pretense of political neutrality when he writes in the same language as Barack Obama and Jim Wallis and the Communist Party? [end quote]
But wait. There’s more. Keller wants you to understand how business owners who risk their capital to bring goods and services to the inner city and create jobs and improve property values are not entrepreneurs to be praised but people to be criticized because they don’t spend their money where Keller thinks they should:
[quote] Typically, in blighted neighborhoods there are few jobs, and the businesses that are there (even the banks) are those that take capital from local consumers to spend and invest it in other neighborhoods. [end quote] [source: Keller, Generous Justice, 118.]
This is typical elitist, social engineering, class warfare drivel. Has Keller ever taken his own capital and started a business anywhere? Much less in the inner city? Does Keller make his income by putting his personal funds at risk, or does he earn a salary from his church, supported by parishioners that do take the necessary risks to succeed in business? Keller’s economic worldview does not sound all that different than what we would hear from a socialist.
Whether Tim Keller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, or any of the untold numbers of pastors and churches that embrace the idea that the corporate Church is to transform communities through social action, the question remains, “Is it biblical?” Pastor Jesse Johnson has written extensively on Tim Keller and why it is not the biblical calling of the corporate Church to be involved in social transformation:
[quote] When Tim Keller says, “It’s biblical that we owe the poor as much of our money as we can possibly give away,” Robin Hood ethics gradually eclipse the Great Commission mandate…. The Bible simply never commands the church to give anything to the poor of the world, other than the gospel. The Keller quote above came in an interview promoting his most recent book, Generous Justice, but it is not a new line for him. Way back in Ministries of Mercy, Keller said that the church has a mandate both personally and corporately to try and lower the poverty rates in our world, as well as a call to care for the homeless in our community (p. 21). He even defines mercy ministry as “meeting felt needs through deeds” and he describes sin as “producing alienation from God, self, others, and nature. This in turn produces theological, psychological, social, and physical needs, and the church must have as its goal the correcting of all of those needs.” (46-52)… but the fact of the matter is that nowhere does the Bible command the church to care for the poor of the world, to lower the poverty rates in society, or to care for the homeless in our community. There are zero verses that command this, and several that even argue against it. [end quote]
A declaration by a pastor that the Church is not commanded to help the poor may come as a shock to some, but bear in mind that Johnson is not saying individual Christians should not help people in their communities who are in need when it is done as a platform to share the Gospel. Johnson is simply pointing out that the New Testament description of the Church does not call the corporate Church to be involved in social work, moralizing, boycotting, or social transformation. The church in Ephesians 4, for example, is called to equip the saints for the work of ministry, the proclamation of the Gospel. Johnson describes how the corporate Church should use its limited resources and how the biblical model can affect society:
[quote] The fact is, the church should be using her resources to further her one mission in the world, and that mission is reaching the lost with the gospel…the commands given to Israel concerning the poor do not apply to the church…. God’s testimony as manifest to the earth through a theocracy is different than how the gospel goes forward through the church, and this change affects social ethics.…In no way am I implying Keller has sacrificed evangelism, but I am making the observation that when money is going to soup kitchens, it is not going to missions. To guard against that, the church is never commanded to show compassion to the poor as a means for expanding the kingdom. Simply put, you owe the poor the gospel; Jesus died to purchase for them the privilege of hearing the testimony of his death and resurrection (1 Tim. 2:6). That is both the most and the least you can give, and Robin Hood ethics do not overlap with the Great Commission. [end quote]
Johnson correctly explains that helping the unsaved needy outside the Church is not the corporate calling of the Church, but meeting the needs of believers inside the Church—such as widows and orphans—is part of the corporate responsibility of the Church:
[quote] I agree that sin and suffering are profound in this world. My heart breaks at children in poverty, AIDS victims without medicine, and the horrors of abortion. But more than that, my heart breaks at the horrors of hell. I see the church as called to equip the saints to go into the world and preach the gospel. The biblical mandate is evangelism, and I see that given to individuals. If the poor are evangelized and are converted, they fall under the church’s care—and there should be no one in need in the church…. Alexander Strauch argues that in meeting these people’s needs, the elders and Apostles actually set the pattern that mercy ministry is an individual responsibility; because the church leadership decided not to leave the priority of the word and prayer (Acts 6:4), the church selected individuals to take over this responsibility. The reality, Strauch says, is that even this official church function was not a church priority compared to preaching, but was a priority for individuals to perform. [end quote]
As I explained, social justice is a term coined and used by socialists and one the Church should not be using. The Church should promote biblical justice, not social justice. To promote biblical justice is to proclaim and defend the Gospel. Yet the social justice promoted by Keller, Warren, and Hybels could lead people to believe that someone not having a job, education, or healthcare is an example of injustice. If this is the case, then why is it not unjust that everyone in America does not make the same amount of annual income? Such issues have nothing to do with justice, as Daniel H. Chew explains:
[quote] If justice is equated to helping the poor, as Keller states, then there is a connotation that being poor is wrong. The existence of poverty is unjust. Yet this is most assuredly not the biblical view. Deut. 15:11 states that poverty is a normal scene in our fallen human society. It is God who makes a person rich or a person poor (1 Sam. 2:7). Just as riches come from God, so too does poverty. Yes, poverty is part of the Fall and thus not part of the original creation, but that is different from saying that poverty itself is unjust. Are the consequences of sin unjust? Is God unjust? To say that poverty is unjust is an attack on the justice of God who determines what the consequences of sin should be. It is most assuredly the case that there is much oppression of the poor, but it is not true that all of the poor are always poor because of oppression. For example, if a person squanders all his money away in gambling and is reduced to poverty as a result, his poverty is the fruit of his wickedness. Some people are just lazy and refuse to work and that is why they become poor. The whole idea that poverty is unjust tends to paint halos on the heads of the poor, as if the poor are sinless victims who are poor merely because they are being oppressed, instead of the biblical teaching that all men both rich and poor are alike sinners before God. There are virtuous poor, and there are wicked poor too, just as there are virtuous and wicked rich people in society as well. [end quote] [source: Daniel H. Chew, “A Short Analysis of CT's Article on Keller's New Book,” posted at: http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2010/12/brief-analysis-of-cts-article-on.html]
Please remember that the reason for looking into this topic is that I want true believers not to buy the lie of socialism or social justice. Once the Church accepts this lie, it not only embraces legalized theft but also becomes a tool of Satan. When the Church embraces social justice, its rightful focus, efforts, training, and finances are diverted from the Great Commission. It ends up giving water bottles to people on their way to hell, as my friend Tamara Scott has so accurately described social justice.
When true believers and the Church busy themselves with social justice, they are not busy teaching biblical doctrine that brings discernment and produces a biblical worldview. Without discernment and a commitment to biblical truth, Christians begin to love the world system even though that is specifically forbidden in 1 John 2:15-16:
[quote] Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. [end quote]
Once the Church starts to love the world, the world system, and materialism, the Church can be manipulated, controlled, and enticed by political leaders. When the Church compromises biblical truth for a good economy, healthcare, education, and the promise of social justice, it will find itself following ungodly leaders who want to weaken and use the Church for their own worldly goals. If you doubt me, then look at how the church in Germany was so easily enticed, controlled, and co-opted by Adolf Hitler.
I believe the global false church will be enticed to embrace social justice and the resulting communitarian system. These will become the basis for global governance and a one-world economy. And who is helping condition the Church for this? I believe change agents have infiltrated the Church and found useful idiots—the neo-evangelicals—or simply misguided pastors who believe the Church needs to be transformed and embrace social justice.
Copyright 2015 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.