Baptist leader recommends book promoting Social Justice, favoritism for oppressed classes

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NAMB VP Dhati Lewis recommends book that denies penal substitutionary atonement. Book argues that justice is not always impartial. Book argues God demands preference for Oppressed classes.

What is biblical justice? It isn’t remotely close to what a book promoted by the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board church plant leader claims. In fact, a book recommended by NAMB VP Dhati Lewis argues that to do justice often requires injustice and to be fair sometimes requires acting in unfair ways. The Little Book of Biblical Justice was recommended by Dhati Lewis in an email exchange with Kyle Whitt. (Emails available here.)

In the NAMB VP recommended Little Book of Biblical Justice the writer argues, “In some circumstances justice requires a disinterested impartiality, a repudiation of all favoritism. In other circumstances it demands an unequivocal partiality, a definite bias towards the interests of certain parties over those of others. Justice is both impartial and partial, biased and unbiased, equal and unequal, depending on the issues at stake” (p. 38).

The partiality, of course, is only shown to certain favored classes.

Who are the favored?

The oppressed classes.

“While impartiality is essential in the Bible to the administration of procedural and retributive justice, a quite different emphasis emerges with respect to social justice (which deals with the way wealth, social resources, and political power are distributed in society). Here a definite partiality is to be exhibited. A special concern or bias is to be shown for the welfare of four groups in particular—widows, orphans, resident aliens (or immigrants), and the poor” (p. 39).

This injustice promoted by Marshall is justified because some people are oppressed more often than others and being poor was not God’s intention for humanity.

Marshall writes, “The existence of grinding poverty is an evil. It is not God’s will that some should live in splendor and opulence while others starve and die,” (p. 41).

And all of this is done to further not equality—but the Neo-Marxist Social Justice concept of equity.

Marshall writes, “God’s bias or ‘preferential option’ for the poor is, ultimately, in the interests of equity” (p. 41).

However, this is contradicted by the explicit text of the Bible—texts that demand equal treatment for all people regardless of class.

According to Leviticus 19:15, “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”

The author confuses God’s provision for the destitute and individual obligation to charity with justice.

This is always the Social Justice trick. They replace equality with equity.

In fact, following the author’s argument to its logical conclusion, would mean that an oppressed person (for example, someone without property) has an entitlement to another’s property. Thus, someone has a God-given right to take from another without any compensation to that individual.

That is not justice. It is chaos.

Also, just for good measure, this book promoted by NAMB VP Dhati Lewis argues that working hard and gaining wealth is an injustice. If you detect the Neo-Marxist Social Justice in this, you have been paying attention.

Book denies OT sacrifice teaches substitutionary atonement

“Modern readers sometimes assume that because the atonement rituals of the Old Testament involve the sacrifice of animals or the use of scapegoats, the whole system depended on vicarious punishment… But this is an unlikely explanation for atonement practices in the Bible…” (p. 19).

And what does the scapegoat and sacrifice rituals do? It is about cleansing and not punishment.

Chris Marshall writes, “In this respect, the sin-offering functions as a means of vicarious cleansing, not vicarious punishment” (p. 20).

According to the book, participation in the ritual is restorative.

The NAMB VP endorsed book argues, “This forgiveness is not granted because substitutionary punishment has occurred, but because the people have exhibited remorse and dedication through their participation in the ritual. The covenant relationship, broken by the people’s sin, is thus restored, and it is this restoration, not some act of vicarious punishment, that turns away God’s wrath and satisfies God’s justice. Things have been made right again” (pp. 19-20).

So, the Old Testament motifs of sacrifice is not about pointing to Christ’s future work but a means of cleansing or purification of the community.

He sums up by explaining that Christ’s work in the New Testament was “representative” and “sacrificial.”

Marshall writes, “In the New Testament, of course, it is Jesus’ representative sacrificial death that serves as God’s definitive means of ‘rightmaking’ for human sinfulness and impurity” (p. 20).

Book makes excuses for the Old Testament

This author understands some today do not like capital punishment. So, he excuses the Old Testament death penalty on the grounds that it probably was not enforced very often.

“But there is good reason to doubt that in such cases the prescribed penalties were meant to be implemented literally. There are too many stories in the Old Testament in which people guilty of capital offenses are not executed to think that the penalties were applied rigidly…So the fact that biblical law declares that certain deeds are so serious as to be worthy of death is not to say that death was invariably, or even typically, exacted for actual offending” (p. 17).

Uneven enforcement of the law would itself be an injustice.

If some people are executed and others are not executed for the same crime, then that is an arbitrary and capricious action. In fact, this type of approach to the death penalty as designed “to get people’s attention” is a dangerous consequentialist approach to law.

Ultimately, this is the basis for Marshall’s conception of justice—not punishment for wrong but a utilitarian means to a greater end.

Marshall argues, “Justice is satisfied by repentance, restoration, and renewal. Punishment serves as a mechanism for helping to promote such restoration” (p. 45).

This is a wrongheaded view of punishment. People are punished because they deserve punishment—not because it might have other helpful and positive consequences.

In fact, holding to such views of punishment would logically justify punishing innocent persons if the consequences of restoration and renewal were better for the community. (William Lane Craig has a helpful analysis of different theories of punishment as part of his exploration of the philosophical grounding for penal substitutionary atonement.)

This is the nonsense promoted by people paid by your Southern Baptist tithes and offerings.

How does that make you feel?