In my previous post, I noted a distinction between the “social gospel” and living out the Gospel in relation to social concerns within the culture around us. However, some would label any Christian social involvement, “liberal,” accept maybe where it comes to standing against legalized abortion. Consider the ideas expressed by the writer at Pulpit & Pen:
The social gospel advances ideas such as racial justice, open borders, and left-wing political ideology that has a facade of Christlikeness, but under the surface, merely replaces the gospel with social activism. The social gospel is different from the culture war, as the culture war tends to try to instill and enforce conservative and religious ideology through the use of boycotts and other “take-overs” of the culture. The social gospel, on the other hand, is an attempt to appease the world and the culture by encouraging Christians to adopt political social justice ideas through the guise of “gospel mandates.”
These so-called “gospel mandates” are becoming increasingly popular in the neo-Calvinist camp of evangelicalism. A “gospel mandate,” in the context of the social gospel, is when the gospel is invoked to prescribe a directive to accept one of these progressive ideologies. In other words, obeying the gospel means believing in and helping to advance this social justice idea.
Note that the writer, who is against the “social gospel” as he conceives of it, says the social gospel “merely replaces the gospel with social activism,” and “the social gospel is different from the cultural war.” Now consider the findings of Chris Ladd, writer of the Forbes Magazine article, “Pastors, Not Politicians, Turned Dixie Republican:”
Southern churches, warped by generations of theological evolution necessary to accommodate slavery and segregation, were all too willing to offer their political assistance to a white nationalist program. Southern religious institutions would lead a wave of political activism that helped keep white nationalism alive inside an increasingly unfriendly national climate. Forget about Goldwater, Nixon or Reagan. No one played as much of a role in turning the South red as the leaders of the Southern Baptist Church.
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It was religious leaders in the South who solved the puzzle on Republicans’ behalf, converting white angst over lost cultural supremacy into a fresh language of piety and “religious liberty.” Southern conservatives discovered that they could preserve white nationalism through a proxy fight for Christian Nationalism. They came to recognize that a weak, largely empty Republican grassroots structure in the South was ripe for takeover and colonization.
Fired by the success of their efforts at the top of the ballot in 1980, newly activated congregations pressed further, launching organized efforts to move their members from pew to precinct, filling the largely empty Republican infrastructure in the South. By the late 80’s religious activists like Stephen Hotze in Houston were beginning to cut out the middleman, going around pastors to recruit political warriors in the pews. Hotze circulated a professionally rendered video in 1990, called “Restoring America,” that included step-by-step instructions for taking control of Republican precinct and county organizations. Religious nationalists began to purge traditional Republicans from the region’s few GOP institutions.
The Southern Strategy was not a successful Republican initiative. It was a delayed reaction by Republican operatives to events they neither precipitated nor fully understood. Republicans did not trigger the flight of the Dixiecrats, they were buried by it.
W. A. Criswell and his denominational offspring saw desegregation as “unjust” (and thus saw racism as just), and used their pulpits to justify their segregationist idea of American freedom as a Christian ideal—as a Gospel ideal. In an attempt to preserve white nationalism, it was an evangelical body that promoted one of the greatest examples in modern American history of using the Gospel for political social activism. Thus, for some evangelicals, it seems that when justice meant “segregation” and separating the races, then the Gospel could include social activism. However, for those same evangelicals, when justice means providing economic, educational, housing, and legal equity for African Americans and other ethnic minorities, then the Gospel cannot include social activism. You do the math. No, let me do it for you:
The Gospel + justice as separation of races = The Gospel
– The Gospel + justice as provide equity for races = The Gospel
= justice as separation of races vs. justice as provide equity for racesis the real issue