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ON SOCIAL JUSTICE & THE WOKE CHURCH: AFFIRMATIONS & DENIALS – By the Faculty of Shepherds’ Seminary Africa

Love for the flock compels a shepherd to vigilance.  Pastors and elders are called to “exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9; Jeremiah 23).  Love for Christ is shown by tending and caring for His flock (John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-4).  One way we do that is by facing approaching threats on the horizon, like the watchman on the wall, lest we have blood on our hands or be found hirelings (Ezekiel 34; John 10:1-18; Acts 20:18-35).  That is a burden of our seminary, and the burden behind this statement.

Our prayer is that God might use our stand to help churches better “contend for the faith” and “guard the gospel” from danger, so that Christians are not “taken captive” by error (Jude 3; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; Colossians 2:8).  God has established local churches as “the pillar and support of the truth”, and her pastors must equip the saints to take “every thought captive” by refuting worldly ideologies (1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Romans 12:2).  Believers are called to diligently “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”, a unity grounded in truth (Ephesians 4:1-16; James 3:13-18).  Satan’s first attack on church unity and gospel advance was ethnic conflict, and it has been a favourite tactic of his ever since (Acts 6:1).  We publish these affirmations and denials, not with any pretence of ecclesiastical authority outside of our own flocks, but with heartfelt concern for the Bride of Christ.[1]


We affirm the full inspiration, inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Bible to equip the child of God to deal with all of life and godliness, including the questions of injustice, race, gender, and sexuality. We further affirm that truthful theories of culture, anthropology, ethnicity and sexuality will be rooted in biblical presuppositions, and emerge from biblical views on man, sin, and human society.

We deny that the postmodern ideologies derived from intersectionality, radical feminism, and Critical Theory are consistent with biblical teaching.

2 Timo­thy 3:16-4:5; Hebrews 4:12; 13:4; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21


We affirm the gospel is the justification of the sinner through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through His virgin birth, righteous life, substitutionary sacrifice, atoning death, and bodily resurrection.

We deny that any work or duty can be added to the gospel: social revolution, political revolt against tyranny or oppression, economic redistribution, ecological conservation, nor that the “gospel of the kingdom” supplements or adds to the gospel of justification.

Romans 1:16-17, 10:14,15,17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 13:8


We affirm that true saving faith will produce the fruit of neighbourly love, a defence of the oppressed, and a rejection of all forms of favouritism and partiality in the church.

We deny that the gospel includes additional obligations, implications or applications besides repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as social justice (defined variously), or generational or ethnic-based repentance.

Acts 20:21; 1 Timothy 1:5; 5:21; James 1:27-2:10; 1 John 2:7-11; 3:13-23; 4:7-21; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5:6, 22-23


We affirm that all humans are made in God’s image, possess inestimable value and dignity as His image bearers, and are all of “one blood” and one human race.  We further affirm that redemption removes what formerly divided human ethnicities and thus makes of us a new “humanity”: a new race in Christ.

We deny that the Bible teaches separate “races”, as understood by Darwinism, Critical Theory, or intersectionality, or that differing ethnicities, sex, religion, or socioeconomic status affect one’s worth as an image-bearer of God.

Acts 17:26;  Ephesians 2:11-19; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 3:28, 6:15; 1 Peter 2:9


We affirm that racism is a species of sinful pride: seeking to exalt oneself by denigrating one’s neighbour for his differences. Racism should be preached against and denounced by the Church.

We deny that parroting intersectionality, radical feminism, and Critical Theory in our language or practice will provide a clear witness to the world or display God’s glory amongst us.

1 Corinthians 4:7; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; James 2:4


We affirm that Apartheid was rooted in profoundly sinful and unbiblical ideas: the social Darwinism of the late 19th and early 20th century, erroneous social anthropology, and misinterpreted and misapplied Scripture. 

We deny that the racial discrimination in South African churches was ever acceptable and excusable, or that the Christian Church did all that she should have done in protest against the evils of Apartheid.

1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6; Colossians 2:8; Romans 12:2,9; 13:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

7  – SIN

We affirm that all people inherit Adam’s guilt and sin nature, and all are condemned both corporately and for personal sins, both naturally and federally. Though sins differ in consequence and severity, all are sinners, and there is no difference in the condition of sinners due to age, ethnicity, or sex. All human cultures, systems, and institutions have been affected by sin.

We deny that any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin. Collective guilt for families, ethnicities, ancestors and nations is shared only if subsequent generations approve, embrace, repeat or justify those sins. We further deny that one’s ethnicity establishes any necessary connection to any particular sin.

Genesis 2:16, 17, 3:12,13-15; Proverbs 29:18; Isaiah 25:7, 60:2-3; Jeremiah 31:27-34; Ezekiel 18:1-9, 14-18; Matthew 23:29-36; Romans 1:16-17, 3:23, 5:12, 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 15:3-11; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19; Titus 1:12, 13; Revelation 13:8


We affirm that individual Christians must confess trespasses against each other, and that when believers are guilty of racial pride and discrimination, they must confess this sin to those they have wronged. We further affirm that Christians can feel and express regret over how their respective ancestors treated one another.

We deny that individuals are able to act as representatives of their ethnicity in an ambassadorial capacity. We further deny that ancestral guilt can or must be confessed by descendants, or that descendants are able to grant forgiveness for wrongs perpetrated against their ancestors. We further deny that reparations, as commonly regarded by secular race theory, constitute the biblical idea of restitution. We further deny that racial forgiveness is asymmetrical, and must be requested only by one ethnicity, and granted only by another.

Isaiah 25:7, 60:2-3; Jeremiah 31:27-34; Ezekiel 18:1-9, 14-18; Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3; Romans 12:15


We affirm that in racially divided countries, the experience of believers will differ widely, and that it is a Christian virtue to not “answer a matter before we have heard it”, and to grow in understanding of one another.

We deny that some Christians are unable to understand or speak on the sin of racism because of their ethnicity and must only assume the posture of listener. We further deny that systemic racism is invisible to certain ethnicities and visible only to others.

Proverbs 18:13; Romans 14-15:7; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; Philippians 2:1-11; Ephesians 4:16,29-32; Colossians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 3:8-12; James 3:13-18


We affirm that churches have a role in racial reconciliation that manifests in the making of disciples through preaching, corporate worship and fellowship, instruction, membership in healthy local churches, and evangelism.[2]

We deny that churches are responsible for political or social activism, or for affirming or protecting one ethnicity over another within its membership.

Matthew 28:16-20;  Colossians 3:10-11; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9; 1 Peter 2:13-17


We affirm that the most powerful statement of the church’s true supernatural nature is its oneness and unity, and that the church should display a Christ-centred unity that transcends ethnicity, sex, age or other social barriers.

We deny that such unity means uniformity. The church is a host of redeemed nations of many tongues, tribes and ethnicities. Diversity of appearance, food, custom, language, and art, when under the lordship of Christ, is a great joy.

John 13:15; 17:11-22; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 3:11; Revelation 5:9


We affirm the beauty of diversity in the church, and of the pleasure of multi-ethnic fellowship in our common Lord. We further affirm that the parable of the Good Samaritan warns us that our neighbour may be the person most unlike us ethnically and otherwise.

We deny that churches must seek to engineer ethnic diversity in their churches. We further deny that churches whose membership does not reflect a proportional reflection of wider South African demographics have necessarily failed in their task of making disciples or in their broader faithfulness to God.

Luke 10:33-37; Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Galatians 5:6


We affirm the importance of striving to maintain our Spirit-given unity in the body of Christ.

We deny that diversity is simply a plurality of variegated views tolerated under the same roof. True diversity is seen in 1 Corinthians 12, where differences unite in a single organism, whereas false diversity allows for independent co-existence. The body of Christ is not a host for competing worldviews and divergent sensibilities, but a body where people diverse in appearance, background, and social status strive for “one mind”.

Ephesians 4:1-3; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 1:27, 2:2; 1 Peter 3:8


We affirm that culture is an externalisation of religion: a culture is the incarnation of a worldview and its belief about ultimate questions. We further affirm that cultures more deeply influenced by Christianity will be more God-honouring than cultures influenced by unbelief and idolatry.

We deny that culture is equivalent to ethnicity, or simply a word for collective habits, customs and modes of life of an ethnicity, and is therefore morally neutral. We therefore further deny that “multiculturalism” is a valid objective for the church, for the church is not to have multiple religions and worldviews within itself.

Romans 1:18-32; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 4:4-6,17-24; Colossians 2:8; 3:5-11; 1 Peter 1:18-19


We affirm that believers in Africa must pursue Christian culture: a counter-culture that incarnates Christian ideas, ethics and sensibilities.

We deny that Christianity is the religion of one ethnicity or that it is “unAfrican”. We further deny that “Western Culture” or “Western Civilisation” are synonyms for, or largely coloured by, colonialism, racism and “white” imperialism. Western culture includes the Hebraic heritage of Israel, the philosophy of Greece, the laws of Rome, the languages, music, and art of four continents, and much of the religion of Christianity, constituting a large portion of the heritage of all Protestant believers. Western culture, considered in the abstract, is neither innocent of sin, nor antithetical to Christianity. Western culture is what developed where Christian thinking was dominant for 1000 years. It is therefore neither to be shunned by Christians in Africa, nor uncritically embraced. The individual cultural phenomena of Western Civilisation should be judged by believers for their allegiance to Christian ideas and sensibilities, and where Christian, gratefully received as part of our Christian heritage.

Romans 12:1-2; Psalm 33:10-12; 78:4-8; Proverbs 17:13; 30:17


We affirm that justice is the application of God’s holy and righteous standards, and is to be blind to ethnic differences. This includes showing appropriate respect to every person and giving to each one what he or she is due. We affirm that societies must establish laws to correct injustices that have been imposed through ethnic prejudice.

We deny that justice exists outside of biblical righteousness, or that standards of justice lately imposed by secular authorities have the authority of Scripture.

Genesis 18:19; Isaiah 61:8; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31


We affirm that men and women of all ethnicities are equal before the law, and have equal value as image-bearers.

We deny that such spiritual and legal equality translates into the need to engineer equal outcomes in wealth, education, success, or status, or that such inequalities constitute injustice. We further deny that disparities in income or even opportunity always represent a moral evil.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:18-22; 9:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 7:21-22; Matthew 25:15; John 3:27; Romans 12:6


We affirm that the Bible recognises powerlessness, for example widows and orphans, and calls for the defence of these against evildoers who exploit them. This includes the establishment of laws to prevent further injustices that have been imposed through racism and prejudice.

We deny that “privilege” or “oppression” are distinctive of one ethnicity over another.

Malachi 3:5, Deuteronomy 24:14; Isaiah 61:8; Matthew 5:17-19; James 5:1-4; Romans 3:23


We affirm that race-based interference in a country’s economy (past or present), for whatever noble motive, constitutes racism and is likely to further impoverish that nation.

We deny that economic discrimination is perpetrated only by the “privileged”, or by previously advantaged against previously disadvantaged. We further deny that only those in positions of power are capable of racism, or that individuals of any particular ethnic groups are incapable of racism. 

Leviticus 19:15; Ex 23:3; Proverbs 23:10-11


We affirm that sexual orientation is more than biology or genetics, but involves moral choice and personal responsibility.

We deny that one’s sexual orientation is as predetermined as one’s ethnicity (specifically one’s ethnic appearance and language). We further deny that Christian disapproval of homosexuality constitutes an equivalent form of racial discrimination, intolerance or hate.

Genesis 1:26-27, 2:24, 4:1, 19:24-28; Matthew 19:3-6; Romans 8:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 7

[1] With acknowledgment of our grateful use of the fine work done already here:  And here:

[2] As well stated here:

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