Social Justice: An Open Letter to the University of Northwestern - St. Paul

Social Justice: An Open Letter to the University of Northwestern - St. Paul

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To the leadership, faculty, staff, and student body of the University of Northwestern — St. Paul:


Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.

Deuteronomy 11:16 


PREFACE 


As students, it is our sincere and sober conviction that our beloved University is at a turning point. In light of recent events and controversies, both on and off our campus, we believe we are at a turning point that is perhaps more significant than any other in its history. 


We look around at our nation and our world and see that these are dire times. Now, as has always been, it is the Church’s responsibility to defend the truth and correct falsehood (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 3). As individual members of Jesus’ worldwide body, his bride, each of us live unified under one banner: preaching one Word, proclaiming one Gospel, serving one God (Eph. 4:1-6). We earnestly desire this blood-bought unity and we will seek to preserve it, but we cannot do so at the cost of truth.

For those unaware, we want to include a brief list of examples of how Northwestern faculty and staff have explicitly or implicitly endorsed ideologies such as Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and Social Justice Theory. More discussion on these points is included in our update below, entitled “Thank You & A Clarification:”

  • Changes to the core curriculum to include greater cultural competency.
  • Mandatory implicit and racial bias training for staff, student leaders and others. 
  • Addition of a Diversity and Inclusion Office. 
  • Affirmative action hiring practices.
  • *Campus-wide events promoting ‘reconciliation.’
  • *Showings of Jemar Tisby’s The Color of Compromise.

*Links are included below for a greater understanding of these specific points.

We would like to make it clear that anyone can sign this letter, regardless of your affiliation to the University. This is a letter written by Christians, for Christians. So, if you chose to sign this letter, you are 1) showing the leadership and student body at Northwestern that there are many students, parents, and faculty who do not agree with such worldly agendas being endorsed and defended, and 2) petitioning the leadership to alter their course from the destructive trajectory upon which they are headed.

So, given the gravity of the situation and all that is at stake, we have decided to write this letter. We write not in anger nor in defiance, not out of prejudice nor malintent, not for attention or affirmation of man. We write not to bolster our reputations, assert some faux-intellectual superiority, or confound with needlessly complicated rhetoric. We do not demand anything; we write simply and solely intending to uphold and proclaim that which is true. We lay down our reputations, intellectual abilities, and vocabularies for that same purpose — to uphold the truth in a spirit of love.

We humbly implore you to consider the following:

 

Do not undermine the authority of Scripture.


All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17


The inerrant, inspired, authoritative and all-sufficient Word of God is the singular lens through which the Church ought to see the world (Psalm 12:6; Matt. 4:4). The Scriptures are the sole catalyst and sole basis for a truthful, accurate, and consistent understanding of God, humanity, and the world (2 Tim. 3:14-15). We are provided a cohesive, all-encompassing worldview within the pages of Scripture.


This worldview is not ‘Western,’ ethnocentric, prejudicial or oppressive; this worldview is in itself the Word of God and it is our charge and joyful duty to render it as such (1 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 1:16). We do not derive our authority nor our understanding from ourselves or other people. Instead, both this authority and this understanding is found in God and God alone (Acts 5:29; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Cor. 4:6). 


Understanding this, we are able to define terms like ‘justice’ according to the biblical worldview, faithfully operating within the orthodox biblical model:


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8


The decision that we must make with this passage and others like it (Psalm 37: 28; Prov. 21:15; Isa. 1:17, 61:8; Amos 5:24) is whether or not we will stay faithful to biblical context. Doing so, we see the biblical definition of justice has only to do with impartiality in judgement (Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 2:11; James 2:1). True and biblical justice has nothing to do with righting socio-economic disparities, validating feelings, or overthrowing power structures, but has everything to do with impartiality in judgement and righteousness in conduct (Lev. 19:15; 1 Kings 3:16-28). This is but one example among many others.


Intentional or not, exchanging the biblical worldview and faithful Christian teaching for those worldviews rooted in anti-biblical ideologies such as Marxism, Postmodernism, Social Justice Theory, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality leads down a destructive one-way road from which you cannot return (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:4; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). Below, we have included links to articles that explain and critique these theories in greater depth for your convenience. If you replace your solid foundation in the Word of God with anything else, you will fall (Matt. 7:24-27).

 

Do not redefine the nature of humanity.


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27


We understand from Scripture that every human is created in the image of God and consequently has inherent, immutable, and eternal value. Bearing this imago dei means that we reflect certain attributes of God: intellect, reason, will, emotion, etc. Given this, we see that a person’s worth is independent of any God-ordained identity such as ethnicity, age, sex, ability, social class, background. A person’s worth is instead purely dependent on their nature as a human being, bearing the image of God.


Unfortunately, we see that this image of God has been tarnished by sin (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23). Ever since Adam and Eve’s disobedience, all of humanity is under the reign of sin (Rom. 5:12-14, 21). In our post-Fall world, humanity’s sinful nature automatically inclines every person’s heart toward intentionally committing sinful acts for which they are personally responsible (1 John 1:8-10).


In this light, we understand that any particular sin, such as prejudice, can only be committed by an individual, not by an organization, institution, government, social class, ethnicity, or any other group — unless each and every component individual is guilty of committing or condoning that sin in their own heart (Deut. 24:16; Ezek. 18:20). Sin is the individual's willful rebellion against God which must be repented of by the individual or face the consuming wrath of God (Rom. 2:14-16; 1 John 1:9; Ezek. 25:17; Isa. 26:21).


Also note that certain sins, such as racism, hatred, lust, partiality, envy, among others are not reserved for certain people, nor are certain people exempt from committing certain sins (Mark 7:20-23; 1 Cor. 10:13a). Although one person may have a stronger inclination toward a particular sin than another, we see that both are equally under the influence of sin and share the same capacity to commit the very same sin (Rom. 14:1-23; Jer. 17:9).


Now as Christians, regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit, we now have the ability to walk in newness of life (Titus 3:5; Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 6:4). We, yet sinners, have been adopted by God and made heirs with Christ (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26; Rom. 8:17). This is our new identity and this is truly our only identity (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20). Social class, ethnicity, age, sex, background and every other identity to which we could cling are all ultimately worthless in light of our identity in Christ (Rom. 2:6-11; 2 Cor. 4:18; Eph. 4:22-24). To ascribe equal or greater value to these temporal identities when compared to that redeemed identity which is ours in Jesus is simply idolatrous pride (Ex. 20:3-6; Judges 10:14).

 

Do not compromise the integrity of the Gospel.


I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 1:6-7


The Gospel is the centerpiece of the Faith. It is that precious truth of Christ’s righteous life, propitiatory death and triumphant resurrection that when accepted by grace, through faith, allows right-relationship with God (Rom. 10:9-13; Eph. 2:8-9). Jesus’ sinless life not only validated his claim to be God but also provided the perfect example for holy living (Heb. 4:15). Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross satisfied the righteous requirement of the law on our behalf and his glorious resurrection single-handedly defeated death and paved the way for everlasting life (Rom. 8:4; John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:3-5).


We see that the Messiah’s primary mission on this earth was solely to liberate his people from the bondage and the consequence of sin (Rom. 6:14, 23; John 3:36). We distinguish that Christ did not come to liberate us from the worldly effects of sin, namely oppression, injustice and socio-economic disparity. Much to the contrary, we are to faithfully remain here in this sinful world, walking in obedience until Jesus appears again in glory (2 Tim. 4:1; Rom. 8:20-22; James 1:27). Jesus himself declared that his Kingdom is not of this world; therefore, our warfare is the same (John 18:36; Eph. 6:12; Rom. 12:19; Col 3:2). Our savior came not to bring peace to the earth, but to bring sinners to repentance (Matt. 10:34; 1 Tim. 1:15; Mark 2:17). 


In the very same way, we conclude that the Gospel message cares not for that which is worldly: our works, identity or status (Gal. 3:28; James 2:1-7). There is nothing that we could ever do to deserve, add to, alter or complete Christ’s all-sufficient work of salvation; the sacrifice has been made and the work is done (Eph. 2:8-9; John 19:30). Any attempt to accomplish redemption or bring about God’s kingdom by one’s own efforts, initiatives or movements is nothing except Pharisaic idolatry (Gal. 3:10; Rom. 3:20). We do not work with God, God works through us (Eph. 3:20-21, 6:10; 2 Peter 1:3).

 

CLOSING REMARKS


Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

John 6:26-27


Ideating, crafting, and editing this letter has been no small task, nor is it one that we have taken on lightly. By means of careful and deliberate study, with much prayer in consideration, we have formulated this letter. We entrust the depth and breadth of this document’s impact to God and his foreordained will.


With this in mind, we plead with you to recognize the dreadful weight of these warnings and the consequences of ignoring them. We cannot follow the course of this world and expect any result other than destruction in one way or another. It is our charge to be distinct from the world, not to mirror it. 


If you undermine the authority of Scripture, you exchange God’s holy Word for man’s ever-changing opinions. If you redefine the nature of humanity, you forfeit God’s eternal definition for man’s redefinitions. If you compromise the integrity of the Gospel, you throw away the promise of eternity with God for a perverted, man-made distortion leading only downward.


As students, we humbly beseech the entire Northwestern community to carefully examine for themselves the worldview that fuels the social justice agenda to see whether or not it aligns with Scripture (1 John 4:1; Phil. 1:9-10; Heb. 5:14). We would ask the same of you while you evaluate our reasoning and worldview and see if it aligns with that of Scripture. 


It is our sincere and earnest desire that Christ would prevail and we as a University would remain nailed to the unchanging and timeless truths of the Word of God. Finally, we resolve that we are simply unable and unwilling to fight prejudice with hatred, disunity with divisiveness, envy with resentment, injustice with partiality, wrongdoing with unforgiveness, nor error with silence, so help us, God.


Soli Deo Gloria

 

AUTHORS*


Joshua Feland

Senior  |  University of Northwestern — St. Paul


Hayley Tschetter

Senior  |  University of Northwestern — St. Paul


*This letter was reviewed and edited by several local pastors.

 

PODCAST

For a more in-depth discussion regarding this letter, check out our podcast. We have begun a special series regarding CRT and this open letter.

 

FURTHER READING


The ideas we have outlined in this letter are not new or unique; there are many other influential and trusted theologians who share these very same views. Below are links to sources, organized by topic, that faithfully maintain and employ the biblical worldview. We encourage you to take the time to consider these sources and further this conversation.


UNDERSTANDING CRITICAL RACE THEORY

https://answersingenesis.org/racism/critical-race-theory-church/

https://founders.org/2020/02/03/critical-race-theory-intersectionality-and-the-gospel/

https://pulpitandpen.org/2019/08/06/4-main-things-christians-need-to-know-about-critical-race-theory/

https://www.dailywire.com/news/macarthur-a-sickness-that-cannot-be-allowed-to-continue

https://www.americanpatriotnewsletter.com/critical-race-theory-a-sickness-that-cannot-be-allowed-to-continue/

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/the-dangers-of-critical-theory/

https://newdiscourses.com/2020/10/racial-healing-reject-critical-race-theory/

https://freethinkingministries.com/biblical-christianity-vs-critical-race-theory/

https://justthinking.me/the-5-points-of-critical-race-theory-infographic/

https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/reasons-critical-race-theory-terrible-dealing-racism/

https://founders.org/2020/09/07/a-brief-critique-of-critical-race-theory/

 

PERSPECTIVES ON SOCIAL JUSTICE

https://slowtowrite.com/why-reformed-christians-are-vulnerable-to-social-justice/

https://statementonsocialjustice.com/

https://justthinking.me/ep-045-social-justice-the-gospel/

https://seanmcdowell.org/blog/how-should-christians-think-about-social-justice

http://www.truthandfire.com/news-bedford/2018/9/20/social-justice-why-jesus-didnt-pursue-it-why-the-church-shouldnt-fight-for-it

https://www.heritage.org/poverty-and-inequality/report/the-meaning-justice

https://wretched.org/social-justice-vs-biblical-justice/

https://justthinking.me/ep-111-activist-theology/

 

ISSUES OF RACISM

https://slowtowrite.com/blackness-has-become-a-commodity/

https://slowtowrite.com/white-fragility-is-pro-racism/

https://justthinking.me/ep-103-the-church-of-blm/

https://justthinking.me/ep-102-black-lives-matter/

http://www.truthandfire.com/news-bedford/2020/6/27/black-lives-matter-waitwhere-is-the-church

 

OTHER

https://founders.org/2018/12/26/romans-sound-doctrine-and-christian-unity/

https://justthinking.me/ep-106-a-biblical-exposition-of-unity/

https://justthinking.me/equity-or-equality/

https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/03/how-the-universities-were-lost

https://www.gotquestions.org/definition-sin.html

[This letter was last updated on 4/15/21 at 9:18p]

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