Before this world was made, all of us stood in a great council in heaven. We decided there whether we would take the greatest risk imaginable in order to gain the greatest gift of all. A plan was proposed that would take our immortal spirits, clothe them in a mortal tabernacle of flesh wherein they could learn many things by experience a spirit could only imagine. We would feel pain, pleasure, temptation, sickness, fatigue, joy, sorrow and ultimately death. We would make mistakes, but a Redeemer would be provided to bring us back if we would have faith in him and follow his plan.
There was one who opposed that plan with very influential arguments. We knew him as Lucifer, a “son of the morning,” but now he is known as Satan. That name comes from the Hebrew and means “one who opposes.” Lucifer warned that the Father’s plan would be a risky scheme. Not all of us would make it back. There was not a guaranteed outcome. He played upon insecurity and fear. There was no “social justice” in it because there was the possibility of failure. He proposed a false alternative, representing that it would level the playing field and eliminate all risk. According to him, all we had to do was accept him as our leader and give him the glory.
The promise of social justice is appealing. It sounds fair. It claims to provide a guarantee of success and security. It is a clever deception. It always involves surrender of rights and agency. It always regards a living God as a hindrance to its operations. It prefers the silent God of the creeds, and the ancient texts that can be twisted and reinterpreted to suit modern circumstances and a political agenda.
Commentator Glenn Beck has come under fire in the past couple of weeks for making a statement to the effect that, if your church’s web site has anything about social justice in it, you’d be well-advised to find a different church. This started a predictable chorus of outrage from the usual suspects. When you shine the light of public scrutiny on the methods of those who want to undermine freedom, they will tend to cry foul.
Social justice has become a code word for various socialist and communistic undertakings. It’s like the word “Democratic” in the name of the German Democratic Republic (the formerly communist East Germany) and “Republic” in the People’s Republic of China. It’s a mockery of the very thing it pretends to be.
Those who promote social justice advocate a process of mandatory social leveling. The United States was founded on the self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal. The problem with this premise for advocates of social justice is that men and women don’t remain equal. Individuals will prosper in varying degrees due to their talents, skill, cunning, goodness, or ruthlessness.
Just as individuals measure success in different ways, social justice can be defined in many ways. Mother Theresa sought social justice in willing self-sacrifice and service to others. Ghandi and Martin Luther King sought social justice in seeking freedom and equality for people who were denied their rights. Most people would say that their efforts were inspired by the Spirit of God working in them. They sought no self-aggrandizement in their service to humanity. In this, a latter-day saint would say that their actions were Christ-like.
Some individuals feel successful by holding down a job, keeping a roof over their family’s heads, and having food on the table. Others will only feel successful if they achieve recognition, fame, fortune, or the praise of others. A small portion of humanity will only feel a sense of personal fulfillment when they succeed at controlling others, and by exercising unrighteous dominion or compulsion over their fellowmen and women.
It is this last group that feels the compulsion to engage in social leveling from the top down, always careful to ensure that their privileged positions are not threatened by the leveling process. These are the Lenins, the Stalins, the Castros, the Pol Pots, the Kims, and the Chavezes of the world. Social justice and equality must always be administered according to the dictates of their consciences, not those of the people. Their agenda always includes self-aggrandizement and the establishment of a personality cult.
In the last century, there was a concerted effort to subvert the doctrines of Christianity and other religions that teach that mankind should care for the poor and the downtrodden. It was an attempt to co-opt faith to push an agenda that has nothing to do with eternal salvation. Salvation was redefined, not as eternal life with God in heaven after mortality, and it was replaced with a secular philosophy to create a heaven on earth. It became known as Liberation Theology. Various mainstream churches became infected with this doctrine.
The sinister thing about this false theology is that it uses the good works and donations of sincere believers to do things they would not otherwise support. For example, years ago I attended a United Methodist congregation. They were proud of their associations with the World Council of Churches and they believed this organization to be promoting ecumenism. I was later surprised to learn that moneys donated to the World Council of Churches were used to buy weapons to arm leftist rebels in Angola in the 1980s. Violent, communist revolution was acceptable to the World Council of Churches because it promoted their definition of “social justice.”
Promoters of social justice always stand up for left-wing causes. If a church and its members provide financial support for the cause of defending traditional marriage, it gets lambasted as promoting “hate.” If a church promotes a pro-life message, it’s criticized as infringing on a woman’s “right to choose.” Nevertheless, if a church wants to save the whales, promote gay marriage, animal rights, provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, or protest against the war, it’s promoting “social justice.”
There is a trend that has become more visible in the last year as liberal-progressive global warming activists have sought to recruit churches to support their agenda. Here’s a quote from a Breitbart.com article about climate-change activists’ goal to use religion to advance their cause.
“For Peter Newell, a professor at the University of East Anglia in England who had tracked climate activism for more than a decade, religion has the traction to haul a truly global movement…It would be a huge mobilising force if people started to frame the issue of climate change in religious terms….”
If the University of East Anglia rings a bell, it was the source of the scandalous e-mails exposed earlier this year showing that its climate scientists allegedly suppressed data would dispute the global warming models they had published. We can see that this group of politically-driven individuals is trying to co-opt religion to give moral cover to what may well prove to be an enormous fraud.
Almost every religion contains some aspect of its teachings that relate to social justice. Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, and every great prophet or spiritual teacher taught that we have an obligation to help others and to do good. They modeled benevolence in some fashion for their followers and told others to emulate their examples. Believers will generally support common sense notions like sound ecological management, thrift, charity, humanitarian assistance, and many other ways to do good in the world. Although they would seek to serve God without guile, believers must be watchful for those who would use their resources to undermine the other precepts to which they hold true, such as freedom to choose, obedience to God, and keeping covenants. We must beware of those who would use flattery and the praise of men to get us to lower our guard and tempt us to support measures that would be ultimately harmful to our families and our communities.
No communistic society enjoys unfettered religious liberty. When communists obtain power, they use that power to close up the churches and round believers up into gulags and “reeducation” centers. Religion and Marxism are inevitably at odds with one another. I once knew a South Vietnamese Army officer who was put into a communist reeducation camp after the fall of Saigon. His “reeducation” caused him to lose two fingers off his left hand. Social justice of this kind always relies on compulsion to enforce compliance.
The insinuation of Liberation Theology and social justice rhetoric into our churches is what Glenn Beck is talking about. It hollows out a church, turning its mission away from saving souls to supporting leftist revolutionaries. It seeks to give moral legitimacy to seditious conspirators and murderers. It turns Christian churches away from teaching saving principles to empty platitudes. Although Jesus had compassion on the poor and the sick, his ultimate goals transcended the pains of this life. He said we’d always have the poor among us. Everywhere he went, he called upon sinners to repent and change their lives. He went on to give his life to overcome sin and death for us. Pastors who preach the gospel of social justice are not concerned about getting their followers to repent of adultery, fornication, or other personal sins. Their focus is instead on “raising awareness” that the planet is in danger or that not everyone can afford health insurance.
True social justice cannot be based in falsehoods, political manipulation, or deception. Religion is ultimately about truth. The truth is that communists and progressives want your church to stop preaching about redemption and want it to focus on recycling. They want you to focus on the unfounded theories that the earth might warm a few degrees and ignore that “the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.” (Malachi 4:1) They want your pastor to tell you to change your light bulbs and ignore the Light of the World.
If we will follow God with a fervent desire to receive nothing but his truth, his Spirit will lead us to deal with problems like caring for the poor, comforting the sick, being good stewards of the earth, and striving for equality. God’s love will work in us to remove unfairness, prejudice, and bigotry from our hearts. It can’t be forced by government officials. It’s a transformation that comes from within. It must come from a knowledge of the truth, untainted, and unfettered by man’s efforts to co-opt it.
The Book of Mormon was revealed in our day to help us detect such errors in man’s teachings. It was written for our time and will give us a better ability to discern what is of God and what are Satan’s counterfeits among the philosophies of men. True and living prophets provide an anchor to give us direction and to help prioritize the efforts to assist the needy and to do humanitarian service. Latter-day saints are blessed to know that God himself has established the kingdom on earth once again and that true social justice will eventually prevail as we live the principles of the gospel and share them with others.