Other Worldviews

How the Bad News of Cancel Culture Could Help People Hear the Good News of the Gospel

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 06/10/2021

As you’re trying to make sense of what’s happening in our culture and how we should respond as Christians, I highly recommend Thaddeus Williams’s Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. In the book, Williams contrasts biblical ideas of justice, which he calls “Social Justice A,” with the current ideas of justice, referred to as “Social Justice B” (see this review by Tim Challies for more details).

Here is one contrast that particularly caught my attention:

Social Justice B offers no grace, no forgiveness, no open doors to paradise. Why? Because it ignores the most important distinction there is—the Creator-creature distinction….

What happens if we erase the Creator-creature distinction? Instead of standing before a quick-to-forgive Creator, we stand before our fellow creatures. Instead of having a God willing to take the nails in our place, we face a quick-to-anger mob, ready to drive digital nails to crucify us for every sin against its ever-evolving standards of righteousness.

What we are slowly realizing as a culture is the impossible demands of justice and our irrepressible need for justification. [Emphasis added.]

As concerned as Williams may be about “Social Justice B” ideas, he points out that this development gives Christians reasons to hope rather than to despair. Since we human beings truly do need justification, we should view this emerging cultural awareness as an opportunity to tell the good news to people who are now ready to hear it:

[W]hat if, in God’s providence, the rise of Social Justice B makes this a golden moment to be alive and proclaim the gospel? Under postmodernism, recognizing any meaningful sense of guilt was extremely difficult for people. Under postmodernism, which championed moral relativism and prided itself on nonjudgmentalism, recognizing any meaningful sense of guilt was extremely difficult for people. Under the new rising cultural epoch of activism, what I have called “post-postmodernism,” we are conditioned to judge the moral shortcomings of everyone all the time. Guilt is the world we all now inhabit. The West now feels the weight of “infinite responsibility” and “infinite guilt” in a way it hasn’t in a long time.

God’s law also brings “infinite responsibility” and “infinite guilt.” Here is the difference. The impossibility of keeping Social Justice B’s standards is cruel. There is no redemption. No grace. No salvation. It’s a game we can’t win. The impossibility of keeping God’s standards is a mercy. It shatters our self-righteousness. In Luther’s words, “God is trying us, that by His law He may bring us to a knowledge of our impotence.” Augustine echoes, “The law was given for this purpose: to make you, being great, little; to show that you do not have in yourself the strength to attain righteousness, and for you, thus helpless, unworthy, and destitute, to flee to grace.” Yes! Flee to grace. Run to the cross. Quit doing penance before creatures, and take your infinite guilt to the infinite Creator, who alone has the authority to declare us not guilty through the death and resurrection of Jesus. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That is the good news we must declare as our first thing to this weary generation.