What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel written by Mary Danielsen is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel, click here. Also included in this Booklet are the following two lists: 1) Some Key Players in the Social Gospel Movement; 2) Some Buzz Words in the Social Justice Gospel Movement.
Many Christian believers are expressing concern today, and rightly so, over something called “social justice” or the “social-justice gospel.” Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine, is one of the top “change agents” in the social-justice movement within the evangelical/Protestant church, and the timing of his surge in popularity cannot be ignored, considering: 1) the ideology of our current administration; 2) the advance of liberal theology via the emerging church and church-growth movements; and 3) the current state of apostasy the church finds itself in today. Are all these connected? Through this man and other key players, they are indeed.
In 2010, I discovered that Jim Wallis had been invited as a keynote speaker to a huge Christian music festival in Wisconsin that claims to bring in upward of 70,000 attendees each year, largely youth.1 This prompted a few Christian ministries to begin to educate, warn, and encourage others to do their homework on Jim Wallis and his brand of social justice “Christianity.” My prayer is that those reading this booklet will take heart to this warning and use this information to find clarity to what has become a serious breach in discernment.
Unbiblical trends in the church tend to snowball, producing even worse trends; each heretical book or teaching that comes along seems to lead to more serious deceptions. The Bible warns in 2 Timothy 3:13 that in the last days, “evil men and seducers [imposters] shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” suggesting a progressive pattern of deception that requires our vigilance.
For those who remember the old Dragnet TV show, allow me to reinvent Joe Friday: “The story you are about to hear is true. None of the names have been changed—and the only thing I’m interested in protecting is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” If we are going to do any critical thinking at all on this subject, we really need to get a Kodak moment of “the big picture.”
In my desire to be thorough and accurate on this subject, I read nearly fifty different articles about or by Wallis and his activities over the last four decades. I also read his book The Great Awakening. In reality, anyone with Internet access could probably have all the information they need on him within ten minutes—he is not shy about his agenda.
Lest any think that Jim Wallis and his social gospel are not being warmly embraced by many within Protestant/evangelical Christianity, some of the places that have invited Jim Wallis to speak over the last half a decade or so include Wheaton College, the Mennonite Church USA, Cedarville University, and Willow Creek to name a few. What’s more, his books are found in countless Christian bookstores including the Southern Baptist Convention resources branch, LifeWay; and his books are frequently used in Christian seminary and college courses. In addition, at least three traditional Christian publishing houses—Baker Books, InterVarsity Press, and Zondervan—publish his books.
As you read the following pages, you will see why all this backing by Christian leaders and organizations is nothing less than a travesty.
So who is Jim Wallis?
For nearly forty years, Wallis has expressed himself through an organization called “Sojourners.” He was raised in an evangelical family in Detroit and attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity school, but his radical political views made it impossible for him to finish there.2
At that time, he also founded an anti-capitalist magazine called The Post-American in which he called for the redistribution of wealth and an economy managed by the government. He also experimented for a season with communal living in search of a utopian lifestyle.3
In 1975, he moved his work to Washington D.C. and renamed it Sojourners. He wasn’t just against the Vietnam war, he rejoiced in America’s defeat there—there is a big difference—showing his leftist sympathies by publicly criticizing the Vietnamese and Hmong refugees who fled that communist regime (we called them “boat people” back then). He claimed they were leaving to support their consumer habit in other lands—that being greedy capitalists made it just too hard to live under a dictatorship.4 Where is the “liberal compassion” in those sentiments?
Wallis supported the Sandinista Communists in their attempt to take over Nicaragua in the ’80s, actively participating in resistance against the American military and working side by side in this cause with none other than Jeremiah Wright, the radical anti-American Chicago preacher who was President Obama’s pastor for twenty years.5
Wallis also supported the FMLN, a communist terror group from El Salvador itching to spread their Marxist revolution throughout South America.6 The word “traitor” does come to mind at this point.
In 1983, the organization “Accuracy in Media” published a lengthy book titled The Sojourner’s Files on the far-left policies of Wallis and his organization, documenting 53 political positions of Sojourners on such issues as Israel’s right to exist, terrorism, socialism, capitalism, human rights, etc.—and compared their positions on these subjects with those of the Soviet Union. In all 53 position statements, it was found that Sojourners’ views were completely in line with the views of hard line Soviets.
Joan Harris, who did the reporting on this, observed:
Sojourners never criticizes a Marxist state. The U.S. and the West are the only violators of human rights to them because they are capitalist. Marxists, by Sojourners’ own definition, cannot violate human rights.7
Wallis, who calls himself a “progressive” (meaning as far left as you can go) believes that Castro’s Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela, and Ortega’s Nicaragua are the Marxist paradises the U.S. should emulate. It is not extreme at all to say that one of his goals is to witness the end of the U.S. as we have known it—“Post-Americanism” finally realized. So, after being arrested by the U.S. government 22 times in forty years, where has he soft-landed? As spiritual advisor to President Obama.8 Now, with the help of our own government, he hopes to turn mere ideology into policy.
Wallis has known Obama for over twenty years, and during the “Reverend Wright” damage-control days, Wallis was advising Obama on how to spin it, helping him draft many “faith-based initiatives,” to make the far left appear to have some form of religion, to sell the church the idea that here is a spiritual alternative to the now-defunct “Religious Right,” which Wallis eulogizes endlessly in his book.
A mission statement on the Sojourners website reads:
[Founded in 1971] Sojourners mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world.9
A Social Justice Social Gospel
What is this “biblical call to social justice” that is supposed to transform our churches and even us as individuals? We know the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit does the transforming work in both the church and the individual believer’s life. Is this what Wallis and Sojourners has in mind when they talk about transforming people’s lives? No, it is not.
One government source defines “social justice” as, “The equitable distribution of advantages, assets, and benefits among all members of a society.”10 Without turning this into political science 101, I’ll keep it simple by saying that this is also the definition for “social-ism”: a government-controlled economy and the redistribution of wealth.
Briefly, the social gospel places all the emphasis for how to live an “authentic” Christianity on good works, as in meeting the needs of the poor and “marginalized.” It replaces the primary message of salvation through grace by faith in Jesus Christ with fixing society as the primary communication of truth and redemption. In effect, salvation through faith in Christ has no role in ridding society of all its problems, which they say must take place before Jesus can even return to set up His kingdom. While it has been around for over a hundred years, in today’s repackaged version, it has made itself appealing particularly to the youth by merging with the E-merging church and becoming the political ideology that so many are identifying with thanks to young men like Shane Claiborne, whom Wallis says reminds him of a younger version of himself. Claiborne, who has spoken at numerous Christian colleges, emulates emerging church leaders such as Tony Campolo and Wallis and sees them as role models.
If you were of the impression that social justice is simply caring for the disadvantaged, then you need to upgrade your thinking on it, or you will risk being deceived by today’s definition of the term. After all, who among us who names the name of Christ would ever be against reaching out to the poor and alleviating suffering? Believers in Jesus Christ will naturally care for “the least of these.” But Wallis takes any collective sense of moral responsibility we may have for the disadvantaged and redefines and manipulates it for a different agenda.
Keep this in mind when you watch the extreme changes going on in our country today—Wallis’ social justice turns all the political hot-button issues of the day into moral issues with a divine, biblical mandate. Everything from the economy, jobs, and education, to healthcare, global warming, race issues and immigration—now carries with it the moral imperative of fairness, equity, and validity—and that mindset is responsible for our current administration’s frenzy to push through legislation on all the above.
This “new morality” is radically changing our country and has been for some time via organizations like ACORN. But you might be asking, what does this have to do with the church? One thing is for sure, believers who question or challenge this new global-village moral imperative will no doubt have their Christianity called into question at some point.
Social justice is in a perfect orbit with something called the social gospel. What is the social gospel? The roots of the social gospel go back to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. That was when many Protestant denominations took on liberal theology, which includes the view that Jesus cannot return until mankind has brought justice to the earth by ridding itself of all social evils.
In Wallis’ book The Great Awakening, Wallis says he believes he was born in the wrong century11—and is longing for those early days of social-justice awareness, or “Great Awakenings” as they were called putting them on par with true Holy Spirit-led revivals; hence the name of Wallis’ book, The Great Awakening—an awakening he is calling for today.
In an article written by T. A. McMahon of The Berean Call titled “The Shameful Social Gospel,” McMahon warns of a gospel that is being tinkered with by some who call themselves evangelicals but in reality are ashamed of the true Gospel, presenting a new “Gospel” to the world that is more palatable, politically correct, and ecumenical.12
Emergent church pioneer Brian McLaren’s view of this social gospel reveals the interspiritual, interfaith nature behind it:
I think our future will require us to join humbly and charitably with people of other faiths—Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and secularists in pursuit of peace, environmental stewardship and justice for all people, things that matter greatly to the heart of God.13
But McMahon reminds us:
No, what matters to the heart of God is that all should come to repentance and believe the true Gospel.14
Rick Warren took the social gospel to new levels by hobnobbing with world leaders and presenting his global P.E.A.C.E. Plan to mobilize churches to address poverty and disease while at the same time relaying to tens of millions through his Purpose Driven Life book not to bother with Bible prophecy. In fact, taking the Bible out of context, he tells us that Jesus said those who concern themselves with Bible prophecy are “not fit for the kingdom of God.”15 Remember too Rick Warren’s interview of the 2008 Presidential candidates at Saddleback Church? Ever wonder how he got that job? I sure have. Now Jim Wallis is carrying this very same agenda to the highest levels of our government as an appointee of the president.
Wallis has also found a kindred spirit in Willow Creek. Lynne Hybels, the wife of Willow Creek’s senior pastor Bill Hybels, is a regular contributing writer to Sojourner’s magazine. In addition, Willow Creek offers classes on the Wallis brand of social justice.16 The Willow Creek Association offers churches of any denomination an opportunity to align themselves with their main campus for a yearly fee, giving those churches access to their annual summits, leadership training, and sermon ideas. They claim there are 14,000 Willow Creek Association member churches throughout the world. Do the math on this one—look at the potential influence a Jim Wallis could have on the church if even half of them choose to emulate Willow Creek in their growing emphasis on the social gospel!
The Social Justice “Gospel” and Israel
This social-justice-gospel view is causing many churches to rethink their support of Israel in favor of a “progressive” theology and politics. Churches that once maintained the view that Israel plays a significant role in biblical prophecy of the endtimes are now aligning with the “Palestinian cause.” Lynne Hybels has helped to bring this to the forefront, and her connections to Jim Wallis are the knot that joins all of this together. In fact, in the broader scheme of things, the entire Willow Creek/Saddleback church model, is embracing this emerging view.
A movie that came out in 2010, With God on Our Side, capsulizes the insidious agenda of the new social gospel with regard to Israel. Jan Markell, of Olive Tree Ministries, warns us about this film:
[I]t is aimed at changing the end-time views of evangelicals and the theology that says the Jews are God’s chosen people and have a divine right to the land.17
The producer of With God on Our Side explains the objective of the film:
. . . a biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support Israel, a theology that doesn’t favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jew and Palestinian” instead of endless Middle East violence.18
The problem with that pie-in-the-sky thinking is that the Palestinian leadership does not want peace with Israel. Rather, it wants a one-state solution—the destruction of Israel. The message of With God on Our Side to evangelicals is that the U.S.’s old pro-Israel foreign policy was based on end-time theology and has created great suffering among the Palestinians. But today’s more “socially aware” and “compassionate” Christians, they say, will reject that old policy and realize that the Palestinians are the victim group most in need of Christian compassion. Wallis, McLaren, and Tony Campolo heartily promoted that film, which was nothing more than another vehicle for social justice, social-gospel indoctrination, and an unbiblical spin on the clear teachings about Israel presented throughout the Scriptures.
Now we know that Marxism is nothing new. What Wallis and these other social-justice emerging leaders are promoting is nothing new either. But let’s take the wood, hay, and stubble of this dry, old, social-justice gospel and examine it more carefully—like the emergent church’s mix of Catholicism and liberal Protestantism; add Rick Warren’s global P.E.A.C.E. Plan and Willow Creek’s leadership summits featuring speakers like Bono, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, and Rick Warren, and before long things are burning out of control in the church. Throw in the fact that the foreword to Wallis’ book is written by Jimmy Carter, an anti-Israel leftist, and other endorsers who include Bill Hybels, Bono, and Brian McLaren (incidentally, a contributing editor for Sojourners), and a picture of a last-days apostate church comes clearly into focus.
To help get a clearer picture of the underlying agenda of the social-justice gospel, let’s look at some quotes by Jim Wallis on key biblical issues.
On being born again:
Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. . . . He is saying that a whole new order is about to enter history, and if you want to be a part of it, you will need a change so fundamental that the Gospel of John would later refer to it as a “new birth.” Being born again was not meant to be a private religious experience that is hard to communicate . . . but rather the prerequisite for joining a new and very public movement—the Jesus and kingdom of God movement.”19 (emphasis added)
The completely one-sided support for Israel from conservative evangelicals rests on 2 things: one, a very dubious interpretation (and I’m being generous here) of biblical prophecy . . . in which the modern state of Israel is still equated with the Old Testament notion of “God’s Chosen People,” and a complete denial of the existence of Palestinian Christians.20
On Homosexual Rights:
Abomination is a pretty strong word . . . there is a debate and questions over the meaning of the word “abomination.”21 (Referring to Leviticus 18:22; as heard on Moody Christian Radio Network, in Chicago, Feb.19, 2008, when asked about government sanctions on civil unions for gays.)
On the Kingdom:
The kingdom of God, which Jesus came to inaugurate, is meant to create an alternate reality in this world, and ultimately to transform the kingdoms of this world.”22
We are all familiar with the famous pop culture image of a street evangelist holding up a sign reading, “Repent, for the end is near!” But repentance is . . . often misunderstood. . . . one could imagine a group of pastors, priests, rabbis, and imams holding up a sign on Wall Street for the titans of the financial industry to see, reading, “Repent, or the end could be near again” . . . let’s have some sermons on the repentance of Wall Street.23
Sojourners On Bible Prophecy:
It’s all too easy to make fun of the extreme examples of prophecy belief that we encounter on bumper stickers and best-seller lists. When people talk breathlessly of the dangers of Universal Product Codes and automated teller machines as signs of the impending Tribulation, giggles and head shaking are hard to repress . . . when we ridicule apocalyptic interpretations of bar codes and the European Common Market, we are . . . properly rejecting an interpretive method that (suggests a) correspondence between biblical events and symbols, and our own lives. Ought Revelation to be included within the family of Christian texts, or should it be thrown on the fire of apocalyptic excesses?24
On the Imminent Return of Jesus:
In all of Wallis’ writings, I could find no hint of “our blessed hope” of Christ’s return. Nor could I find discussion by him of having a personal biblical relationship with Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Politics and the Theory of Revolution
The equating of biblical care of the downtrodden with a welfare socialistic state is rapidly changing the face of the evangelical church. This “pseudo-Christian” seemingly morality-based religion for the last days is infiltrating every corner of American society, and the church seems to have either lost the will to identify and counteract its influence or feels so guilty about its mega-excesses that it is operating out of a sense of works not in keeping with true biblical repentance. What I see in Wallis’ Great Awakening book is a preachy, self-righteous, shaming, finger-pointing rant. Quite a contrast from what God’s Word says:
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)
With the social-justice gospel, God’s righteousness, power, and salvation are set aside, and the focus is on man’s supposed righteousness, power, and his own path to salvation.
I believe this is a preview of an even deeper level of apostasy, a marriage of religion and politics that will ultimately come together under the dictatorial reign of Antichrist, who “causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave . . . ” to receive his mark. Is this the “level playing field” Wallis and others are working toward? If that’s true, then this is deception of the highest possible caliber, and we should find it thoroughly sobering in light of the lateness of the hour.
Social-gospel “reformers” deceptively blur the lines between two kingdoms, seeking to turn houses of worship into distribution centers for their causes. What they choose to ignore is that all the ills of society are merely symptoms—the root cause is sin. They reject the cure for sin through the Cross of Christ and instead treat symptoms—but in removing the Cross, they are conveniently free to affirm anyone’s beliefs. The result is a broad-road, all-inclusive everything-goes global social justice revolution, or what I call, “The Theory of Revolution.” Eventually, this “revolution” will lead to the persecution of Christian believers who refuse to bow to this spiritual politics that despises Israel as a nation and who believe in Bible prophecy.
Wallis says in his book that the majority of his audience is under thirty, and half of those are under 25. Worth noting also, Wallis, Campolo, McLaren, and Claiborne speak frequently at universities and colleges—some secular, many evangelical Christian. This is exactly what happened in the ’60s. The youth became the target. And today’s liberal emergent thinkers got their worldview from the counterculture agendas of America’s universities.
Lest you think Wallis himself is just some counterculture hippie type on the fringes of the establishment who has little influence, consider this: Jim Wallis is Vice-Chair for the Global Agenda Council on Values at the World Economic Forum,25 a global body that brings together the world’s most influential politicians and economists as they work to bring the world under a global authority.
Consider also that Sojourners receives a portion of its considerable funding from the Open Society Institute (billionaire leftist George Soros’ organization).26
Also, in 2007, the National Association of Evangelicals hosted a dinner gathering called, “A Global Leaders Forum.” The keynote speaker, Ban Ki Moon, is current head of the United Nations. In an article on the event titled, “Dinner With the Antichrist,” written by Wallis, he said that some Christians—those who read books like Left Behind—might say he had dinner with the Antichrist that night.27
Of the U.N. leader, Wallis stated:
Last night, the supposed Antichrist [Ban Ki Moon] was listening to gospel music, speaking of his own faith, quoting Scripture, celebrating a new alliance with “the evangelical church” on the critical issues of poverty and global warming, and bringing the conservative Christian crowd to its feet in smiling agreement with the U.N. secretary’s agenda.
Indeed, leader after Christian leader insisted this was a biblical agenda.28
This is a perfect illustration of how the social justice gospel is erroneously equated with biblical Christianity. I don’t know about you, but in light of the times, Wallis’ statement sends a chill up my spine. How gullible can one be who hears the head of the U.N. quote a Bible verse and then jumps to the outrageous conclusion that the U.N. has a biblical agenda? To me this defies comprehension and illustrates how far deception can go.
To those who may receive the information in this booklet, please be open and teachable regarding the times. The Bible commands us to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints! This applies to all who call themselves believers.
Now is not the time to hang on to any “sacred cows” of personality but to so love truth in our innermost being that nothing matters except to make sure we are on the side of truth. After all, if there is no such thing as absolute truth, is there such a thing as a lie?
May the Lord direct and guide us regarding this matter and all matters of faith, earnestly seeking His mind and heart in all things as laid out in His Word.
To order copies of What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel, click here.
1. This festival was Lifest in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in the summer of 2010 with Luis Palau. You may listen to a radio interview between Mary Danielsen and radio host Ingrid Schlueter: http://web.archive.org/web/20110109201533/http://www.crosstalkamerica.com/shows/2010/06/radical_leftist_wallis_to_spea.php. The festival website is www.lifest.com.
3. “Barak Obama’s New Spiritual Advisor” (Frontpage Magazine, March 17, 2009. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=34385). See also Sojourners History: http://sojo.net/about-us/history.
5. “Barak Obama’s New Spiritual Advisor,” op. cit.
7. Joan M. Harris, The Sojourners File (New Century Foundation Press, 1983).
8. “Barak Obama’s New Spiritual Advisor,” op. cit.
10. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Sustainability Planning Guide: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dch/programs/healthycommunitiesprogram/pdf/sustainability_guide.pdf.
11. Jim Wallis, The Great Awakening (HarperCollins paperback edition, 2009), p. 25.
12. T. A. McMahon, “The Shameful Social Gospel” (The Berean Call, http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7062).
13. Interview on Christianpost.com with Brian McLaren on July 28, 2008, http://www.christianpost.com/news/interview-brian-mclaren-on-anglicans-mission-and-reconciliation-33537.
14. McMahon, op. cit.
15. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. 285 (for more on this read Roger Oakland’s expose of the emerging church, Faith Undone, pp. 154-157.
16. One example: http://media.willowcreek.org/weekend/celebration-of-hope-2013.
19. The Great Awakening,op. cit., p.60.
20. Jim Wallis, “Politics Pushes Uneven Policies” (God’s Politics Blog, September 17, 2007, http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/godspolitics/2007/09/politics-pushes-uneven-policie.html).
21. As heard on Moody Christian Radio Network, in Chicago, Feb.19, 2008, when asked about government sanctions on civil unions for gays. www. americansfortruth.com
22. Jim Wallis, The Great Awakening, op. cit., p. 56.
23. Jim Wallis, “Wall Street Repent!” (Huffington Post, April 29, 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/wall-street-repent_b_557057.html).
24. Wes Howard-Brook, “Apocalypse Soon?” Sojourners, January 1999.
26. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Wallis Admits to Soros Funding” (Christianity Today, August 20, 2010, http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2010/08/wallis_admits_t.html).
27. Jim Wallis, “Dinner with the Antichrist” (http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/2007/10/dinner-with-the-antichrist-by.html).
Also included in this Booklet Tract are the following two lists: 1) Some Key Players in the Social Gospel Movement; 2) Some Buzz Words in the Social Justice Gospel Movement.
To order copies of What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel, click here.