I watched Ed Stetzer at Together for Adoption speak on the idea of adoption in the greater context of the Gospel and "social justice". Very interesting talk.
This is an important conversation. “Social Justice” is a term that has lost much of its meaning, kind of like “evangelical”. We too often have a visceral reaction to the words "Social Justice" because in modern parlance those words are often code for "liberal social positions couched in religious terms". That is not a vague fear but one that has been borne out too many times. Regardless, that is not a reason for us to abandon the idea of social justice but instead it should serve as a clarion call to urge those who are theologically orthodox to greater concern for the poor, orphans and widows and to call our brothers who have embraced social justice at the expense of the Gospel to recognize that social justice without the Gospel is eternally unjust.
It is hard at times to balance the Gospel and social justice. The Gospel must come before social justice and social justice is not the Gospel. On the other hand, if you are preaching a Gospel that doesn’t lead to a heart painfully aware of the need for social justice, for caring for the poor and hungry and homeless and orphans and widows you aren’t preaching Christ’s Gospel. Period. Again, the Gospel is preeminent. Gospel preaching and teaching should lead to social justice. You may emphasize one more than the other, but you cannot have one without the other. I think Ed Stetzer is largely right, that in our zeal to undo the loss of Gospel proclamation we have forgotten social justice. We cannot be so laser focused on doctrinal precision that we trip over the homeless on our way to the next theology conference. We cannot engage in justice without telling people about Jesus but we also cannot tell people about Jesus without engaging in His work.