“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16)
I’m old enough to remember a time when many promulgators of the so-called “Social Gospel” eschewed and took umbrage at the term. Over the last half a century, though, that has totally reversed. Now, proponents of the thoroughly false “gospel” embrace and rally around the assignation.
The time has come, I believe, to “speak the truth in love” but nonetheless straightforwardly about this heinously deceptive and insidious false gospel.
Recently, I received an email from a man essentially seeking publicity for some protest events planned for this month in Washington, DC, outside the headquarters of two prominent organizations with extensive histories that have spearheaded the cause of abortion in America, particularly amongst the black community, which now has a 51% abortion rate. Normally, I would not have responded at all to such a matter, because I do not believe that such public protests have much effect, and certainly in this respect, as horrifying and outrageous as the problem is, it is obvious that has been the case. Countless protests in various forms have had little effect on the precipitous rate of abortions among blacks and other races in this nation.
Despite my views on the matter, for some reason that I could not at the outset identify, I felt led to contact the person who had submitted the information via email, who it appeared was acting as an organizer of the protests on behalf of a number of entities coalescing to sponsor the events. When I called him, this person proceeded to dispense in fairly cogent fashion information he had stated in the email, as well as in answer to my questions regarding the goals, purposes, and sponsors of the protests. My assertions that I too had been recently more and more outraged by my research regarding the matter central to the upcoming protests, he became more energized in his expressions of both the issues and talking points regarding them, but also about the broader context of the subject matter as it relates to biblical, doctrinal, and theological perspectives. It was in this latter aspect of the conversation that he lost me, as I began to realize he was pontificating the usual talking points associated with the Social Gospel and Black Liberation Theology.
After taking down contact information this man who I spoke with gave me of all the organizations and their leaders involved in this ad hoc coalition who were planning to picket and protest the two organizations’ headquarters in Washington, I asked him if he attended or was a member of a local church, and if so, would he mind giving me the church’s website and the pastor’s contact information. He complied, and I prayed, and felt led to contact the pastor via email requesting he call me the next day, which he did.
In the conversation, he identified himself as an African-American pastor of an African-American Church affiliated with a traditional African-American denomination with more than a hundred years of history. In the course of the conversation I asked him how those who embrace the tenets and premises of the Social Gospel can possibly reconcile it to the Biblical Gospel of Christ. The composite of his response, accompanied with a tone of offense he was unable to conceal, was that he, his church, his denomination, and most Christian African-Americans consider them as being one and the same. I suppose that, to many, would be the expected response, and actually demonstrates my own naiveté and lack of knowledge and experience regarding the matter. Until that moment, I personally had never heard a social gospel adherent actually say that so blatantly and matter-of-factly. Maybe that is due to my personal segregation from the matter.
Regardless, such a proposition is utterly astonishing to me—that one could be so indoctrinated as to actually believe that the principles of the Social Gospel, especially when coupled with the theologically extreme component of so-called, “Black Liberation Theology” (BLT), as to truly believe that the Gospel delineated and elucidated in the Word of God, Scripture, is congruent with same. For some reason, that struck me in this conversation with this man as being totally mindboggling, inexplicable, and a complete enigma. Frankly, it rocked me, and I reeled from it for several days afterward.
I guess my thoughts heretofore have been that most adherents of the Social Gospel and Black Liberation Theology knew that they were a theological departure from Christian orthodoxy, and that they believed the doctrines and dogmas of same differed from the traditional counterparts and were considered to be a more correct interpretation and application of the Gospel of Christ conveyed in the Holy Bible. It was stunning to learn that was not at all the case. I was completely wrong! This pastor indicated that what the vast majority of Christendom would regard as heterodoxy, to Social Gospelers and BLT adherents is orthodoxy.
Space and the typical reader’s attention span precludes a detailed, point-by-point juxtaposition of the orthodox Gospel with the Social Gospel, but the main difference from my perspective is that the orthodox Gospel of the Bible centers on the personal salvation and sanctification of individuals, by means of a personal surrender of one’s heart and life to Jesus Christ, accepting and personally identifying with every aspect of his death, burial, and resurrection to newness of Life. The emphasis in Biblical salvation, redemption, and sanctification is the individual, and a personal relationship with the Christ of the Bible as the only Savior of all mankind and with God the Father, as well as God the Holy Spirit, made possible by God the Son’s substitutionary sacrifice in dying to “take away the sins of the world.” The Biblical Gospel is Christ-centric and with a view to eternity.
Moreover, the Biblical Gospel clearly indicates that its recipients are individuals and not whole classes, races, or people-groups. The word “you”—referencing individuals, even when the individuals are a group of individuals, namely New Testament believers and the Hebrews in the case of Old Testament Scripture citations—appears 3,875 times in the New American Standard Bible New Testament alone, demonstrating that the message of Good News is directed to individuals. Regeneration of human hearts is an individualistic transaction. No one piggy-backs into Heaven and eternal fellowship with God—no one is saved by virtue of their parents, or family, or ancestors being saved. Salvation is personal, and God’s dealings with Mankind is personalized. It is not people-groups that are saved, redeemed, justified, or regenerated, but individual people. There’s no such thing as salvation by association. Likewise, in the final judgment, God will not judge people-groups, but individual people.
Whereas, the thrust of the Social Gospel is that somehow salvation comes through personal identification with certain inordinately oppressed, persecuted, and mistreated races and people groups, upon whom a plethora of social ills and pandemic social injustices have been particularly perpetrated, and that by banding together in resistance to same they can somehow “save” themselves and overcome these inequities and maltreatment through social and political activism/agitation, and constant social uprising, in some cases by peaceful and in some cases violent or anarchical means. The social gospel by contrast is people-centered, humanistic, and temporally oriented. A component of religion that is syncretic and “ecumenical” in nature exists in the social gospel landscape, but it is not central or primary, especially in terms of doctrine or theology.
Moreover, another vital component of the social gospel is a victimization element that infers that people born with a certain heritage and as a member of a certain oppressed race are inherently “born” a “Christian,” much in the same way as orthodox Catholics believe they were “born” a Christian in their natural birth because their parents are of Catholic heritage, which is merely “confirmed” by way of a “christening” rite. To be blunt, the Social Gospel, while it often evokes biblical-sounding terminology, is blatantly humanistic, in that it is in no way Christ-centered but chiefly people-centered. And, when the adjunctive fallacy of Black Liberation Theology is coupled with the basic theosophy of the Social Gospel, the result is Marxist socialism, which enslaves rather than liberates.
Setting that all aside, however, for the purpose of the point I want to make here, my question is: If the Social Gospel is the right and correct gospel, then why has it not worked over the course of its 150 years of existence and successfully attained its stated goals? Why is abject poverty still pandemic among the masses of the world? Why is grinding urban privation in America still so prevalent, along with all the baneful and distressing effects and circumstances thereof. If the doctrines and dogmas of the Social Gospel are so true and well-conceived, their strategies and means of accomplishment so right and proper, why have they not worked over more than 150 years? Why is the abortion rate among blacks at an astounding 51%? Why is the black population in America gradually decreasing rather than increasing? Why are the unemployment and public assistance dependency rates among blacks still so extremely high and increasing every day?
The proof is in the pudding, the old adage reasons. Where’s the proof? Where’s the corroborating evidence of effectiveness that more than a century and a half should have produced for all to see?
The fact is: the “Social Gospel” is no gospel—i.e., “good news” at all! It’s a counterfeit—an imposter! The Social Gospel is an empty, impotent, and ineffectual specter. It’s not authored and powered by the Holy Ghost, but rather a demonic “holey ghost,” better known as the devil, comprised entirely of “doctrines of devils and deceiving spirits.” It’s not real; it’s not material or substantive. It doesn’t really exist; it’s only imaginary, an imaginary, humanly contrived delusion and illusion; a mirage.
The black church, perhaps more than any other segment of Christendom today, has drifted far away from its historic spiritual moorings. Around the country, even still in the 60s and 70s, many of their mission church buildings were bedecked with signage bearing the simple but profound slogan, “JESUS SAVES!” which was a distillation of the authentic biblical Gospel of Christ they believed in. Now, in most cases, the signage, along with the Bible-based belief it conveyed, are long ago removed and discarded—a rejected relic of the distant past—replaced with memorial plaques and monuments paying tribute to iconic promulgators of the Black Liberation Theology predicated social gospel, despite the irrefutable fact that it is a gospel that after more than 150 years of ineffectiveness rings mockingly and mournfully empty. Truth be told, when the inspirational rally-hymn, “We Shall Overcome” is sung today, it is the vacuous and delusive “social gospel” that should be the unnamed enemy the singers are hopeful of overcoming “one day.”
Humanism/Marxism-centered “Black Liberation Theology” has done more to secure and tighten the manacles of oppression and enslavement around the ankles of black American citizenry than any other single force in America and nations around the world. The anti-biblical dogmas of the Black Liberation Theology, which is the bedrock for the so-called “Social Gospel,” predicated, as they are on the utterly false and failed philosophies and stratagems of Marxism, socialism, fascism, and communism, is not an ideology of liberation at all, but an insidious and diabolical theosophy aimed at the psychological enslavement of whoever will be so spiritually bereft as to succumb to its utter deception and thereby become a willing captive.
It is so very ironic that the people who more than anyone have embraced the Social Gospel is Americans of color, the segment of the nation’s population that are more than any other segment downtrodden, repressed, impoverished, and in a plethora of ways distanced from the fruits of entrepreneurial capitalism.
My prayer and hope is that God will somehow remove the veil that is blinding the eyes all those—of whatever race—who espouse and place their hopes of elevation and salvation in the puny and powerless social gospel and turn to the only true Champion of Salvation and Eternal Life—the Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings, and Lord of Lords!
The following links will provide a starting point for more information regarding the “Social Gospel” and Black Liberation Theology, and more information can be obtained by doing a search engine search on the topic:
Dr. Steven Lambert was ordained in 1977 and holds several earned graduate/post-graduate degrees. Over more than four decades in ministry, he has served as a pastor, radio/TV host, adjunct-professor, Board Certified Doctoral Diplomate Christian Therapist/Counselor, and a speaker/commentator on a range of social, political, and theological issues, particularly as a recognized authority on the matter of ecclesiastical authoritarian abuse. He is the founder/Overseer of Ephesians Four Network (ephesiansfour.net) and its subsidiary, Ephesians Four Network of Deliverance Counselors (efndc.ephesiansfour.net). Dr. Lambert authored several books (catalog at realtruthpublications.com), many published articles, and is the founder/editor of Spirit Life Magazine (spiritlifemag.com). His bio, extensive blog, and scheduling information are available on his ministry website at: http://www.slm.org. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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