Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

This is Where You Land...

This is where you land when you trade the Bible for human "wisdom." The following 14 statements were presented by Union Theological Seminary in New York (not an Adventist school, thank God) on their facebook page a few days ago. (I did not find a canonical link, but if you scroll around and bump enough links you may find it It is their "Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel," a response to Here is what Union says:

Misguided sociological, psychological and political theories have long fostered biblical misinterpretation. We wish to address untruths this document proclaims: Any treatise that says social justice is incidental to the gospel badly misunderstands both justice and the gospel.

I. Scripture While divinely inspired, we deny the Bible is inerrant or infallible. It was written by humans over centuries and thus reflects both God's truth and human sin & prejudice. We affirm that biblical scholarship and critical theory help us discern which messages are God's.

II. Imago Dei We also affirm that God created every person in God's own image. Accordingly, we deny that vitriol directed towards people because of how God made them (i.e. sexual orientation or gender identity) is in any way faithful, biblical or godly.

III. Justice We affirm that justice is central to God's liberative mission. Moreover, we affirm that God enacts that justice through humans, helping us correct millennia-old sins that permeate both Church and culture. We deny that critical theory is irrelevant to this mission.

IV. God's Law We affirm that God's law, as summarized in the two great commandments, should guide Christian morality. However, we deny that wisdom accrued in the centuries since Bible's inception is irrelevant to understanding what it means to love one's neighbor as oneself.

V. Sin We affirm that all people, systems and institutions are affected by sin. We deny, however, that we are only responsible for our own, personal sins. God calls us to understand how we benefit or are harmed by structural oppression, and break sinful systems down.

VI. Gospel We affirm that the gospel is revealed through Jesus, and that liberation was central to Christ's mission. In his own life, however, Jesus demonstrated that works--living justly in the world--are every bit as foundational to the gospel as faith: They cannot be separated.

VII: Salvation We deny that salvation is only found through Christianity, that God's salvific grace is exclusive to any single faith or religion. Moreover, in God's eyes there is no difference in spiritual value or worth between those who are "in Christ" and those who aren't.

VIII: The Church The primary role of the Church is to serve God. Certainly, that service includes preaching and administering sacraments, but we deny that political or social activism shouldn't be viewed as integral to this work. Laws may or may not change sinful hearts, but they save lives.

IX. Heresy We affirm that heresy is a denial of God's will, but furthermore affirm that certain heresies have long concealed themselves inside the Church, corrupting it from within. Heresy ought to be condemned, regardless of whether those espousing it happen to be ministers.

X. Sexuality and Marriage We affirm science and theory's confirmation that God created humans to live into various sexual orientations and genders--the spectrum of human sexual experience attests to God's expansive love. We deny that any love that does no harm should be rejected.

XI. Complementarianism We affirm that this doctrine has long been used to propagate Christian patriarchy--it amounts to "separate but equal" cloaked in religious language. We deny that women are unfit to lead as pastors, and know the Church desperately needs their leadership.

XII. Race and Ethnicity We affirm that, while race is a social construct, that doesn't lessen the pernicious effects of racism and white supremacy. We deny that anyone can be truly committed to undoing racism if they "reject any teaching" that analyzes how oppression operates.

XIII. Culture We affirm that any document which states "we affirm that some cultures operate on assumptions that are inherently better," really believe that "divisions between people...[don't belong] within Christianity." You can't denigrate cultures without disparaging people.

XIV. Racism We affirm that racism is a sin which has long badly corrupted Christians, and caused people to justify some of history's worst atrocities in Christ's name. Moreover we affirm that white evangelicalism has done much to elevate one ethnic group and subjugate another.

In their (I) principle, Union uses theology to determine in the Bible "which messages are God's." While it is true that erroneous viewpoints are quoted in the Bible, such as wrong views about God held by Job's friends, and faulty understandings and aspirations of pagan kings, the Bible makes clear what is truth and what is error. Actually, Union teaches that the Bible is culturally conditioned, and that the very text of Scripture is a combination of human opinions about God blended together. The text of Scripture is not supreme, but scholarship, i.e. human reason. Godly scholarship is important, but history shows us again and again we cannot rely on it. Because of human fallibility, it can be like the person who is lost in the forest and who while trying to exit the forest walks in a circle and continues to be lost there.

In their (II) principle, Union blindly accepts the idea of gender orientation. God makes us in His image but we are distorted because of the impact of sin on the human race. Fallen humans are quick to justify the perverse things we want to do. Homosexuality and all its sister aberrations contradicts God's creation design for humans.

In their (III) principle Union affirms the use of human law to impose its preferred view of social justice. When they speak of "critical theory" it should be understood that that really means they use cultural Marxism as a lens through which to view their preferred approach to obtained their desired outcomes.

(For where Cultural Marxism fits in Bible prophecy, see here:

In their (IV) principle, they want to inform the Bible by social advances made since its time. In other words, this is yet another form of the "trajectory" theory, which makes the Bible one waymark amiong others along the way toward ever evolving improvement in social goodness. This means the Bible is not the measure of right and wrong, but human ideas of progress.

In their (V) principle, Union justifies their participation in breaking down what they regard as systems of injustice. But the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. No amount of incremental human improvement in the service of political correctness is going to make our world better. On the contrary, it is just another road to tyranny.

In their (VII) principle, Union admits that they have jettisoned any exclusive salvific claim for Christianity. In other words, they are non-Christian.

In their (X) principle, Union assigns the manifestation of homosexuality to God's design: "[He] created humans to live into various sexual orientations and genders." There are two sexes, we admit. But to go beyond that is to misrepresent the God of heaven. XY and XX are forever (or at least until the end of the age).

In their (XI) principle, Union condemns complimentarianism as a tool of the patriarchy. But God designed men to be men and women to be women. God calls men to lead congregations, not women. It is not about capability but about the divine government. Men and women are optimized for different aspects of life. Human civilization is not a salad bowl of total interchangeability.

In their (XIII) principle, Union defaults to the all-cultures-are-interchangeable theme. But there are values which shape a culture, and although Union denies it, some values are better and some are worse. While we remain in this fallen world, we can never make one culture the model for others. And yet, it is still true that there are places where humans are more respecting of each others property and rights, and places where you need barbed wire and 40 rounds of ammunition to be safe. All cultures are fallen but not all cultures are not equal. Cultures where local behaviors more closely echo the life and teachings of Jesus and God's Ten Commandments demonstrate the benefits of those truths.

Union theological Seminary--or any entity that teaches principles like those they published in their response to the Statement on Social Justice--is a place to be avoided if it is one's desire to understand God's Bible truth.