What’s Wrong With The Social Gospel?

April 25, 2013
by Steven Lambert

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Several weeks ago I published an article precipitated by an email and follow-up phone conversations I had with the sender of the email and his pastor, who self-identified himself as an African-American pastor of an African-American Church affiliated with a traditional African-American denomination.

To set up this resumption of the series, necessitates some reiteration. In the course of the conversation I rather naively asked the pastor 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. Until that moment, I personally had never heard a Social Gospel adherent actually state that sentiment so blatantly and matter-of-factly. 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,” as to truly believe that the Gospel delineated and elucidated in the Word of God, Scripture, is congruent with same. His response struck me as being totally mindboggling and a complete enigma. Prior to his comments, I guess my thinking was 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 were a different and 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 and that I had been completely wrong in that regard.

In this article I will present a few of the points of divergence of the Social Gospel and Black Liberation Theology from orthodox—i.e., Biblical—Christian teaching and orthopraxy. But, I promise to do my best to make what I say much more practical and understandable than such lexicon makes it sound.

Reformation of Individual Human Hearts

The Biblical Gospel of Christ is not centered upon reformation of whole societies of the world, but reformation of individual human hearts. The impact upon society that ensues from reformed human hearts through regeneration by the Spirit is resultant not primal. The genuine, i.e., Biblical, Gospel of Christ, as it is delineated and elucidated in the Word of God, does indeed tangentially mention how the Church—not as an institution or organization, but an assemblage or amalgamation of individual believers—are to reach out past “the four walls” of their local churches to render assistance to the poor, the needy, the oppressed, and so forth, nevertheless, such charitable “works” are not the central and primary message or objective of the Gospel. Rather, they are, as I say, tangential, and a matter of charitable outflow of reformed or regenerated individual hearts. The purpose and intent of such charitable works is to demonstrate the agape-love of God—that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”—not to assume the untenable task and unbearable burden of righting every wrong in the societies of the world and underwrite the financial needs of every person in the entire world.

Word of God and Gospel of Christ Written to Believers

One vital, though at first glance seemingly tangential, fact to keep in mind in this respect and with regard to all aspects of Biblical truth is that the Word of God is not addressed to unbelievers but to believers, except in the sense of providing unbelievers with Truth about and from God to convict and convince them of who He is and how desperately they need Him in their lives and that only He has the power and the plan to save them from the damnation they so richly deserve. To the self-reliant, intellectual unbeliever the Gospel of Christ and the Word of God is pure foolishness, but to the believer it is empowerment and a manual for daily living as well as the after-life: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

God Did Not Obligate the Church to Subsidize the Poor

Jesus, for example, did say: “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them… (Mk. 14:7), but He did not command or obligate the Church to subsidize “the poor” as a people-group, and that the Church should lobby their Federal, State, and local governments to take money from the not-poor in the form of taxes to underwrite government programs to subsidize the poor—not just on an emergent or urgent basis but as a matter of course—for multiple generations, thereby essentially teaching those generations that they do not have to work to earn income to support themselves and their families, but incessantly receive subsidies freely handed out by governments funded by taxpayer-extortion. In fact, as the verse specifically and expressly states, what Jesus said was: “whenever you wish you can do good to them.” Clearly, this was not an obligation or a demand He was placing upon individual Christians or the Christian church at large, but rather He made it clear that it was volitional, i.e., of a person’s own free will, and left to the individual’s own judgment on a case-by-case basis, and not a mandatory or compulsory matter in general.

God, speaking through the Spirit-inspired pen of Paul the Apostle, also said He loves a cheerful giver, but He also indicated that being a cheerful giver is antithetical, by definition, from being a giver who is required to give and gives out of compulsion: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Again, the first portion of this passage indicates that God regards the matter of “giving” as an individual and volitional matter, in that He specifically says, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his (singular, individual) heart,” and that a believer should not give “grudgingly or under compulsion.” God is clearly indicating that giving grudgingly or compulsively, i.e., by demand or extortion, to whatever cause or fund, is not what He wants. Even tithing or giving of offerings must be out of a willing and cheerful heart. That is the attitude God wants.

Indeed, what the whole matter is about from God’s perspective is our attitude. As someone aptly said, “Our attitudes determine our altitude.” And, the fact of the matter is, when someone gives grudgingly or out of compulsion, that is, being “forced” to do it, that is not “giving” at all, but that person is actually responding to some form of extortion or exaction, which unfortunately is precisely what that loathsome phenomenon of “prosperity preachers” are perpetrating against the people who allow themselves to be cajoled by these false teachers and prophets masquerading in sheep’s clothing.

God doesn’t want or need your money for Himself. He already is the author and original source of all true wealth of genuine value. What God wants is YOU—and all that you are—as Old Testament Scripture says it, your whole heart, soul, and being. A greedy and avaricious heart is a self-centered heart that is thus incapable of loving “the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). God is not the slightest concerned about you possessing possessions, but He is greatly concerned about possessions possessing YOU! The ancient Biblical adage remains true now and in all ages: “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:10). One of the most misquoted familiar passages of Scripture, the import of the verse is not that money itself is the root of evil, but rather the love of it, that corrupts and defiles the human heart. As Jesus so unambiguously stated, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

Robin Hood Strategy

And, that is precisely what Social Gospel adherents are attempting to do, with a great deal of success in American society and political system—extorting or exacting money from those who have earned it, or in much fewer cases, relatively speaking, inherited it from ancestors who earned it. They believe they are entitled to an equal distribution of that money, even though neither they, nor their ancestors earned it. In this country, their philosophy is predicated solely on the inane and insane proposition that they are Americans, and by virtue of being a citizen of America, they are entitled to a portion of what others have worked hard to obtain. Barak Obama was the first American presidential candidate and president in the history of our nation to possess the temerity to actually publicly evoke the term “redistribution of wealth,” during his first presidential campaign. The problem with this concept is that the wealth he was proposing and as president is well into implementing redistribution of was not Obama’s own, personal wealth, but rather the wealth of individual Americans as well as the nation’s wealth collected by the federal government from individual Americans and American business entities in the form of federal taxes.

Outside the political/government arena, the name for this intrinsically evil and immoral strategy and actions is theft! In metaphorical verbiage borrowed from medieval folklore it is called the “Robin Hood Strategy.” Such a mindset and philosophy from a political science perspective is known as socialism, communism, and Marxism.

This whole notion and mindset, I am convinced, not only is not Biblical and therefore from/of God, but its true author and originator—along with the entire Marxist philosophy—is none other than the devil himself. And, by no means am I speaking metaphorically or tongue-in-cheek. It is well-known that Karl Marx was a devil-devotee and psychic, and that the entire content of his Communist Manifesto he received in the middle of the candlelit nights via channeling the devil and demons in the form of “automatic handwriting.” So, Marx was not the originator or author of anything he wrote, but rather the devil was, and the result was what the Holy Spirit through the inspired writing of the Apostle Paul (an entirely different methodology) identified as “deceitful (deceiving) spirits and doctrines (teachings) of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).

These truths taken to their end, produce the realization that Marx and everyone who accepts, espouses, and promulgates his teachings are demon-possessed and -indoctrinated, something which I have long taught and applied in my counseling and deliverance practice over more than 3.5 decades now.

This explains why liberals hold the radical, irrational, unreasoned, anti-God, and anti-America beliefs they do and the incredibly imprudent political actions they promote that the rest of us are left to deal with. It’s also why “radical change” in particularly our national government is mandatory to remove from elected office as many indoctrinated radical leftists as possible in order to right the ship before it is too late and it plunges into the depths of the political ocean.

God Expects Believers to Earn Their Own Income to Provide For Their Own—No Work, No Eat

Such thinking is by no means right, proper, or Christian, in that the Word of God explicitly states: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote by inspiration of the Spirit:

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thes. 3:10-12).

He went on to say, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame” (2 Thes. 3:14). In other words, God is instructing us to not befriend or have any relationship with someone who refuses to work and earn money to support his own family, rather than be dependent on the charity and subsidies of others who have earned their money. Of course, there are times and circumstances in which anyone can find themselves out of money, employment, and income, and God is not forbidding believers to help and be gracious to other believers in particular who find themselves in such a predicament. But to incessantly live off the help and subsistence of others when one is able to work and earn their income is something God condemns and instructs believers to eschew. Moreover, none of this is applicable to support of ministers who are ordained, commanded, directed (depending on translation) by God to obtain their living from the preaching of the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:14).

Genuine, Obedient Believers Are Not Irresponsible Malingerers

Though neither space nor readers’ tolerance allows, I could readily cite fifty or more scriptures speaking to the matter of God’s intolerance and contempt for lazy, lax, indolent, slothful, undisciplined, irresponsible, negligent, malingering, uncaring, unloving, self-centered attitudes and behavior, especially by those who claim the assignation, “believer in Christ.” Genuine, Born Again, regenerated believers in Christ are motivated by the agape-love of God to work to make a living in order to feed themselves and their families, and even “so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed,” as a result of the fact that “God is able to make all grace abound to you”(2 Cor. 9:8). In other words, it should be the desire of the believer to not only have enough for their own needs and those who they are responsible to provide for, but also to have enough to be able to be charitable and help others who are not at that place.

Nothing in the Word of God Authorizes Tax-Funded Governmental Charity Programs

But, this is primarily a personal and individual type of charity, not an organized charity or benevolence, and it certainly is not referring to funding extracted from people by governments who confiscate money from the citizenry under the name of taxes, and then use taxpayers money as their own colossal slush-fund for political means and advantage to gain the favor and political support of whole people-classes; namely, the poor, unemployed, and disadvantaged. To infer or state that such is the meaning of the Holy Words of God is a gross perversion and corruption of their intent.

God never intended that anything contained in His Word be twisted to by any means or purpose be justification for a multi-trillion dollar taxpayer-funded charity program to support a million or so freeloaders and malingerers who simply have no desire to work in order to feed and support themselves and their families, but are more inclined to steal what they want from others by illegal, criminal means. God never intended for the Church and individual Christians to bear the brunt of any society’s financial burdens. But, the Social Gospel purports that all of that is indeed the case.

Love Not the World, Neither the Things of the World

The fact is: the world and the societies of the world are not the focus of the authentic Gospel of Christ. Indeed, God commands believers: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 Jn. 2:15) The Social Gospel, and every offshoot of it, in direct contradiction of this command, is entirely focused on the societies of the world and the fallacious, though pious sounding, goal of “making the world a better place.” But, when you take God literally at His Word, such a goal and every strategy in existence designed to accomplish it, is a totally illicit, not to mention unachievable, goal and strategy from a Biblical and Kingdom perspective. I’m not talking here about the mundane matters and mechanisms of human life, such as inventions and scientific discoveries, and the like, that make human life better or more productive in a vast number of ways, but rather making the world itself—i.e., the unseen world system, in essence, the spiritual realm behind what we see of the world, which according to the Word of God has been under the control of Satan since the failure and precipitous fall of Man into apostasy in the Garden of Eden ((cf., 2 Cor. 4:4; et al.)—a better place.

The arch-aim of the Social Gospel is to improve the plight of peoples. But, again, apart from the transformational power of the Gospel of Christ, improvement of the plight of people is ultimately only superficial, abstract, relative, transient, and limited. To whatever degree external conditions and circumstances may be improved, without improvement of the inner person, the quality and satisfaction of a person’s existence on Earth essentially will not be improved at all, nor, certainly, their eternal destiny and destination. Whereas, the internal transformation of the person who surrenders His life to Christ and legitimately experiences the transaction of regeneration, as well as yields to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in their heart and life, experiences not only a better, more fruitful, and more satisfying life on Earth, but also attains unto fellowship and communion with the God-Head throughout the denouement of eternity, irregardless of his/her circumstances. In other words, the Gospel of Christ promises not only an “abundant life” (Jn. 10:10) here on Earth, but it also promises an exceedingly better destiny and destination to the obedient and faithful believer. As the writer of Hebrews put it, speaking of Jesus: “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises” (Heb 8:6). Promulgators of the Social Gospel can make no such claims concerning adherents’ after-life once their life on Earth ends. Once again, in this regard as well, the claim of the D.C. African-American pastor that precipitated this article series as well as all proponents of the Social Gospel that the Biblical Gospel and the Social Gospel are one and the same is irrefutably proven to be utterly false.

The Bottom-line Truth Every Believer Needs To Know

The bottom-line truth is that the so-called “Social Gospel” as well as the related theosophy of “Black Liberation Theology,” are faulty and anti-biblical, “ginned-up” theology, based entirely on twisted and corrupted Scripture. The overall goal of both is to take a bunch of cherry-picked Scripture verses, throw them into a blender, add some philosophical and quasi-religious-sounding mumbo-jumbo, plus some emotionally-charged rantings, throw in a good measure of rabble-rousing anger, bitterness, and race-mongering, churn it all up on high until it foams, and voila! you’ve got an extremely potent, highly volatile, poisonous drink of indoctrination to pour into vacuous, misinformed, deluded, culturally-duped, Spirit-vacant, and Truth-lacking minds. And, what do you get from that? A hundred million or so totally deceived minorities who spend their entire lives espousing contempt and hatred, spouting off violent and vehement rhetoric centered on a contrived dogma about the conspiratorial desire and strategy of the rest of the population to oppress, mistreat, persecute, deter, and deny them access to the same opportunities accessible to them, and diligently looking for every possible opportunity to exact vengeance from same, to include extorting from those better off than they de facto financial reparations from tax-supported entitlement programs.

The Social Gospel as well as Black Liberation Theology are an outright counterfeit of the genuine Gospel of Christ as delineated in the Word of God, the Bible.

Though, of course, they would vehemently deny it, the fact of the matter is there are a myriad of people who proudly associate themselves with the Social Gospel and Social-Gospel-based organizations and their works in society, who have never partaken personally of the genuine Gospel of Christ themselves, and become a “new creature” in Christ by surrendering their hearts and lives to Christ, becoming obedient to him from the heart. They are as lost and undone and without God in their hearts and lives as the entire current population of Canadian geese. They evoke Christian/Biblical terminology, but it’s nothing more than regurgitation of learned cultural lexicon, rather than divine truth emanating from the Spirit resident within their human spirit. It’s carnal culture-speak, rather than Spiritual Spirit-speak, and thus a phenomenon that every true, Born Again, Spirit-infused believer needs to be apprised of and avoid at all cost.###

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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