Social Issues, Theology

The Social Justice Statement is an affront to black, Jewish Jesus


The Social Justice Statement, a document composed by prominent white evangelical men, claims that caring for minorities somehow compromises the gospel. It denies any culpability in systemic racism, and any responsibility for how anti-gay and anti-woman rhetoric causes harm.

None of this is surprising. In fact, it fits rather well in an era in which Trump is the savior of the Christian Right.

Luckily, I am far from alone in thinking that Jesus wouldn’t recognize this document as anything that has to do with the messages he preached. As a Middle Eastern Jew (who likely wasn’t white), I imagine he’d flip a few tables over it.

The Statement encapsulates the kind of Christianity I got sucked into when I first converted: all belief, but little action. It’s not a representation of what all of Christianity looks like, thankfully, or else I’d have left it altogether a long time ago.

In that strand of Christianity, your actions, or “good works,” are expected to demonstrate the faith you already have. If you don’t produce “good fruit,” your salvation comes into question.

But your good works won’t save you. If you believe that, then you definitely were never saved to begin with.

Do you find that confusing? I sure do. Thank goodness for the Episcopal Church, which demonstrates the kind of faith-and-works balance I was looking for during my intense deconstruction period. There, I have met people who would probably still be serving in soup kitchens or participating in protests even if they weren’t religious, but it’s their faith that really obligates them to do it. They understand that being the hands and feet of Jesus is something literal, not a metaphor.

They understand that Jesus is a physical embodiment of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish command to mend the world, even if they have never heard that expression before.

That’s the only kind of Christianity that makes sense to me. After reading The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone (a book every Christian should read), the parallel between lynched black men — both during Jim Crow and today by corrupt police officers — and the murdered Christ are so obvious.

Jesus was also murdered by a lynch mob.*

And who was it who carried out modern lynchings? Christians.

Even if you believe that such people are undeserving of the title, they waved the Christian banner as justification, and that makes them part of Christian history, no matter how inconvenient.

If a pastor tells you that the fight for equal rights, fair wages, criminal justice, or that feeding hungry people is a distraction from the “real” Christian message, run. Or ask them if they’ve read the Sermon on the Mount before.

If Jesus was only concerned about saving souls, and didn’t give a crap about justice on this side of heaven, then why bother with the story of the Good Samaritan? Why pardon the woman caught in adultery? And if satisfying our base needs didn’t matter, who bother multiplying the fish and the loaves?

Jesus and Paul instructed their audiences to be open to constructive criticism, to examine the motives of their hearts, and humbly accept correction when needed. But that humility is completely absent in the Social Justice Statement, which conveniently excuses Christians from the consequences of their inaction.

It’s an embarrassment to everything Jewish about Jesus, which is basically everything about Jesus. History won’t remember it kindly.

*When I say Jesus was killed by a mob, I am not singling out the Jews. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, and the ultimate decision to have Jesus killed rested on Pontius Pilate. From a theological standpoint, all of that is moot, since Jesus was supposed to die for our sin from the beginning.


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9 thoughts on “The Social Justice Statement is an affront to black, Jewish Jesus”

  1. Cultural appropriation is a two-sided coin. 1 Samuel 16:12 suggests King David had a ruddy complexion; a description often used to describe Scots and Danes and other ‘fair’ types. There are certainly ‘fair’ Jews (Birgitta Lundvall, Israeli singer?!). Likewise, the ethnic appears of ancient Israelite’s or even ancient Judeans can’t be known to modern Christian’s because the ancient Israel tribes were displaced by (2 Kings 17:24), mixed with (Esther 8:17), or changed identities with ancient Israelite populations (Ezra 2:62). Add to this the idea that modern peoples have adopted the mantle of ‘biblical names’ (for example the 12 tribes of Edoms converted by John Hyrcanus in 125 B.C. or later Khazars) and the fact is that the ‘face of the modern Jew’ is not representative of any specific biblical people. So modern folks who complain about cultural appropriation are doing exactly the same thing! Picturing the ethnicity of an ancient people based upon modern anachronistic prejudices of what they must have looked like is just another type of cultural appropriation. For example, the Egyptian King Tut could not have been fair because modern Egyptians don’t look fair; and yet King Tut’s genes are found in much of Europe (google: Half of European men share King Tut’s DNA | Reuters). The phoneticians could not have been fair, and yet their genes exist today primarily in Portugal (Google: Ancient DNA study finds Phoenician from Carthage had European genes). The reason we have a modern anachronistic prejudice is because of an ignorance of history. The ancient Egyptian genes were replaced (over-written) in history by an Arab invasion that occurred during the explosion of Islam. Ancient Egyptians (meaning the original inhabitants of the region) indeed had fair features, including blue eyes and red hair. Modern Egyptians are later Arab immigrants. Unless we have specific modern evidence of Jesus’ ancient ethnicity, perhaps we’d all be wise not to speculate.


  2. Hi

    I find the whole racial / cultural appropriation thing difficult. My maternal side was middle eastern Iraqi and Indian Jewry and my paternal side was Irish and British. So in a way I’m a cultural appropriation, who enjoys both cultures 😃

    Whenever I’ve been to America I seem to get prodded and poked, questioned at the border and stopped by police , who often to me seem to be grossly obese slobs with guns, because of my olive tea skin tone, being reminded of “Londonistan”. Or that going into a local store , the owner visibly relaxes when my white American friend comes in after and the tone changes. Then when I go to a synagogue “Oh I didn’t realise you were Jewish, I thought you were Arab or Indian , are you a convert?” Me : er, no I come from from of the oldest Jewish communities in the world”. Oh you Sephardic then? “.

    Really cannot understand the gun laws in America and how it seems to be perfectly o.k. to get guns before you can get a beer , these guns being military grade weaponry , shoot dead someone as a first resort and not as a last “it’s you or me and I’ve exhausted all other options resort”. Sorry. I guess I sound like some English snob, but I really don’t get how America based on a legal based constitution and which proudly boasts liberty as a key national construct , can covertly discriminate against people on grounds of skin tone.


  3. They’d just love the Catholic Social Teaching, wouldn’t they? (Although this is not adhered to as much as it should be in the higher reaches of the church).
    As for Christ being killed by ‘The Jews’; ‘that’s just a load of….’
    There are two strands,
    Firstly we know Christ came to Earth to die for our sins, so at some stage this event would happen.
    Secondly; If you leave out the religious element the whole business was a political act. The locals didn’t like the Romans, The Romans didn’t like the locals, they were a real troublesome lot. If they wanted to kill one of their own, anything to keep them quiet. The local establishment didn’t like this guy from Galilee (a wild place) turning up and causing trouble, so they weaselled the Romans into doing the dirty work for them. Could have happened anywhere, standard practice in the Classical World. And Christ knew it, of course.


  4. None of this is surprising. In fact, it fits rather well in an era in which Trump is the savior of the Christian Right.

    It long predates Trump. That brings us to this point you made:

    If a pastor tells you that the fight for equal rights, fair wages, criminal justice, or that feeding hungry people is a distraction from the “real” Christian message, run

    Is this supposed to be a counter-claim based on Glenn Beck’s infamous 2010 remark, or is that just a coincidence? (The comment Beck made was that if you see anything about social justice on a church’s website, RUN!) It had to do with Socialism (TM), which Beck sees as ebil. Beck claimed it is good if your pastor tells you to care for the poor, bad if he says to give your coat to the government.

    Even Bill O’Reilly was like, “C’mon, dude!”

    Were you trying to reverse Beck’s statement, or was that a coincidence?

    There is also the fact that they lump contradictory ideas together, indicating they didn’t do their homework and fell for the Out-group Homogenity Effect. (I am talking about their slamming postmodernism [which rejects narratives as oppressive] with other ideas that have narratives.)


  5. This document simply affirms that some white evangelicals really do not understand how
    systemic injustice works, and they would rather you DIDN’T bother them with those “lectures about social activism.” Frankly, this document strikes me as a “get out of trouble because
    we believe the Bible” pass; and does nothing to address current social issues from a biblical
    perspective. Also, since millions of women have pastored churches and preached the gospel
    and spiritually nurtured people in the faith, this insistence that only men should serve as
    pastors runs counter to the fact that God is STILL using females to reach a sinful, hurting world.
    The Gospel is more important than the messenger who brings it–and the salvific work of the Holy Ghost is not limited to human notions about how Jesus draws people to His kingdom.


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