Is John MacArthur Right About Social Justice? (Part 4 of 6)
I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors––and they have no comforter. Ecclesiastes 4:1
Here’s what we’ve covered so far in our polemic of John MacArthur’s sermon series called: “Social Justice and the Gospel”:
- Part 1 Social Justice or Sanctified Socialism?
- Part 2 Doing Justice to Justice
- Part 3 The Full Gospel
As I’ve said in previous posts, as much as I respect this brother’s sincere faith, at least in this series I believe that like the mighty Casey, he swings for the fence and strikes out, leaving Mudville joyless. Given Mr. Mac’s huge audience I thought it was important for someone to propose an alternative view of biblical social justice.
Throughout his series Brother Mac returns repeatedly to what he calls a “culture of victimhood.” I’ll quote him more in this post than in others simply because if you don’t see it for yourself you might not believe it. And, if you think I’m taking his words out of context, by all means see for yourself.
Let’s dive in here where he pitilessly discredits the “Me Too” movement and insults victims of sexual assault:
“’All this has been done to me.’ And so, hashtag, ‘Me too. I’m a victim.’ ‘Me too, me too. I was abused, I was abused, I was abused.’ ‘Somebody offended me. Somebody made a micro-aggression against me.’”
I seriously just don’t get how he could speak so coldheartedly about women and children that have been assaulted, silenced, and shamed! I can’t tell if he’s saying that ALL claims of abuse are false or that it doesn’t matter if they are true or not, and that all victims should just quit whining. Either way, it’s horrifying! He goes on to say…
“Nearly everyone now is searching for some kind of victimhood. Psychologists would tell them that they probably were victimized as children but they can’t remember it, so they would go into repressed memory just for the sole purpose of uncovering some supposed victimhood so they can have someplace to belong in this completely victimized culture.”
This is, in my opinion, ignorant wide-brush painting, to say nothing of rude speech and insensitive ideology! Is there such a things as false repressed memories? Sure, but he doesn’t acknowledge that there are many that are as real as the pulpit from which he preaches.
His message is essentially: Quit whining. We all have to endure some form of injustice. That’s life in this sinful world!
“So you have these victim categories: women, certain ethnic groups, the poor, homosexuals. And then there is a growing group of victims who would just simply categorize themselves as those who have to endure hate speech; and hate speech in our society seems to be anything you don’t agree with. Anybody who says something to you that you don’t agree with you find as hate speech…”
Is it possible that this white middle-class male has never been on the receiving end of an act of injustice? If he had, I can’t imagine how he could be so blind to what people on the margins of the dominant culture experience and so insensitive to their pain.
Richard Rohr said, “If you are a white middle-class American and all your beliefs end up making God look like a white middle-class American sharing all of your usual prejudices and illusions, I doubt whether you have met the Eternal God at all. You surely have not met Jesus, who always took the side of the outsider, the handicapped, the excluded and the poor.” Ouch!
Mac goes on to bloviate dismissively, “In God’s eyes – listen – no one is a victim.” I can’t imagine anything more obtuse and oblivious to the suffering of his fellow humans!
He goes on to say, “People are not victims, they are sinful,” as though they can’t be both at the same time.
“We understand all of those social inequities do exist, they’ve always existed. Even our Lord Jesus said, “The poor you’ll always have with you.” It is the nature of life in a fallen world that it’s never going to be perfect. … ‘As sparks fly upward, so man is born unto trouble,’ says the Bible. You’ll never be in a perfect world, a just world, a righteous world, until Christ comes and sets up His kingdom.”
So we aren’t supposed to wield our influence as salt and light to make the world better than it is? Could he be any more dismissive? Why bother praying “Your kingdom come, your will be done” if we are not tasked to improve the culture? What is it then that Micah envisions, “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God”?
In his classic overreach, our scholarly brother has somehow overlooked the sixteen times the Bible refers specifically to “victims,” none of which describes them as “whiners.” The choicest of which shows how God views victims:
“But you [God] see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14)
Instead of excoriating victims, the psalmist reassures them that God sees them, considers their grief, and takes it in hand. Mac says, “In God’s eyes no one is a victim!” yet David says, he “sees their trouble and grief.” Take your pick, John MacArthur’s word for it or King David’s!
David says God helps “the fatherless,” which along with widows are among society’s most vulnerable and victims of circumstances beyond their control.
James claims that the only kind of religion that the Father accepts is the kind that takes care of “orphans and widows” (James 1:27). Think of the orphaned child and the widowed woman as bookends on the spectrum of the most susceptible to exploitation and who represent everything in between.
The Psalmists knew that God cares about social inequities and commands us to follow suit:
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. Psalm 140:12
His justice blesses the oppressed as well as blasts the oppressor. It both purges and protects. When the strong take advantage of the weak he sides with the weak. He is for the exploited and against the exploiter, for the victim and against the victimizer.
If you want to be like him, start there.
Any comments or corrections? I’d love to hear them.
Next time we’ll examine Mr. Mac’s thesis that social justice and the gospel have nothing to do with the other. As you can guess, I respectfully disagree.