The Roots Of Social Justice

Marxism is the story of killing God to create heaven on earth only to end up with hell.

This is the 2nd article in a series on the Social Justice Gospel

This is the 2nd post in a series. Read the first one “What Is Social Justice

A specter is haunting the Church.  Maybe that sounds a little “Marx-ish”, and it should for anyone who’s read the first line of the Communist Manifesto.  What Karl Marx actually said in his 1847 magnus opus was “A specter is haunting Europe”.[1]  Today that same specter is haunting the Church.  The word “specter” is defined as 

“something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurrence.”[2]

By that definition the ideas Marx laid out in the Manifesto have proven to be every bit and more the specter he anticipated.  In the short span of a little over a century, his ideology, “Marxism”, is responsible for more than 100M deaths around the world.  “No ideology has been as singularly deadly as Communism [Marxism].”[3] says Paul Kengor.  To help us grasp just how deadly Marx’s ideas are, Kengor goes on to say, 

“The combined dead from WWI and WWII  – the most destructive conflicts in human history – was approximately fifty to seventy million.  One must combine and then double the tolls of the two world wars to achieve the numbers comparable to communism’s mass slaughter.”[4]

What does Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto have to do with the topic of Social Justice?  To put it plainly, social justice today is essentially the ideas of Karl Marx adapted to our time.  To make a claim like that I have to show that the substance of Marxism is common to social justice as well.  There are differences for sure, but, make no mistake, what makes Marxism Marxism is what makes Social Justice Marxism.  

So what about Marxism is “in” Social Justice?  Well, clear away all the technical jargon and derivative concepts, and what you have is a simple binary template for seeing the world.  According to Karl Marx there are only two kinds of people in the world:  oppressors and those they oppress.  He says:

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed…” [5]

Beginning his Manifesto this way was important because the whole rest of his ideology grows out of that binary perspective.  If you or I are ever to make sense of Marx’s views and find what connects them all together then the key is understanding this:  in our world there are only oppressors and the oppressed.  

Social Justice today sees the world through this same binary lens of “oppressor” and “oppressed”.  The difference between Karl Marx and Social Justice is who is in each group.  For Marx, the world was reduced to the Capitalists and the Workers.  Capitalists were those who owned all the means of production whereas the Workers were those who owned nothing and had to work for the Capitalists to earn a living.

Modern Social Justice, as a permutation of the original ideas of Marx, expands beyond mere class divisions in order to see a myriad of other oppressions in society.  These include  men over women; whites over blacks, Christians over religious minorities; heterosexuals over homosexuals (et al); able-bodied over disabled; legal over illegal and more.[6]  You may recognize this as “Intersectionality” or “Identity Politics”.  We’ll delve into this soon in another article.

Now, if you’re going to be looking into this issue for any length of time you’ll hear other terms such as “Critical Theory” or “Cultural Marxism”.  Academics may rush to distinguish these terms from each other, but broadly speaking they are interchangeable phrases referring to Social Justice.  (There are distinctions, and, in ways they are important, but not important enough for this article’s purpose).  The point here is these terms are interchangeable and that demonstrates the bloodline from Marxism to Social Justice.  Tim Keller, in his article “A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory, makes the connection when he says: “[Social] justice theory in some ways is the newest on the scene, though it has an older pedigree. Drawing on the teaching of Karl Marx, what can be called postmodern Critical Theory has emerged very recently….”  [7] Keller identifies all three – Marxism, Critical Theory, and Social Justice – as strongly related even if not identical.  

If a body of ideas resulted in over 100M deaths we really are obligated to know them.  Marx’s ideas in the Communist Manifesto attack everything from private property, religion, morality, family, truth and more.  As Marx saw it, these were all elements of the system the Capitalist class constructed to ensure their own power and advantage.  They are not unrelated parts of the system, either.  Rather, Marx understood that together they form an interrelated, interdependent structure benefiting the Capitalist class.  For the Communist, therefore, these deserve fire.  Note Marx’s own words:

The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence:  abolition of private property

You reproach us with intending to do away with your private property; precisely so, that is just what we intend

Abolition of family:  this infamous proposal of the Communists

But you say we destroy the most hallowed of relations when we replace home education by social

But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion and all morality

Private property is central to Marxist doctrine because everything else in the oppressive Capitalist system serves to increase private property.  Family, marriage, children, morality, religion, even truth and reason are all related to private property.  They are unjust and oppressive Capitalist constructs devised to maintain and increase both their wealth and power.  The only course for the Labor class is violent revolution.  For Marx, actually, it is a moral obligation.  Here I’m reminded of the divine command to “utterly destroy” in the OT. [8]  Similarly Marxism commands Laborers to put everything that is “Capitalist” to the sword.  Realizing the Utopia depends on it.  Perhaps I can put a Marxist twist on Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote:  “the tree of Communism must be watered with the blood of Capitalists”  [9]

By their own hands Marxists would create a kingdom of God on earth – but without God.  Furthermore, they aim to do away with morals, marriage, families, truth, etc.  The Word of God tells us this is utter foolishness, [10] while history has proven how dangerous such foolishness truly is.  Marxism is the story of killing God to create heaven on earth only to end up with hell.  Beneath 100 million dead bodies of Marxism’s victims lies the corpse of God.  

It is here I propose to you that Marx is not the originator of his ideas.  I would even assert they predate the French Revolution, where Marx drew much of his inspiration.  No, I point much further back to the Temptation in the Garden.  Somewhat tongue-in-cheek I’d say that the serpent was the first “Marxist.”  But only somewhat, since Paul says, “…the Spirit clearly says that in the last days some will abandon the faith and follow deceitful doctrines taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars…” [11] Evidently some ideas in our world originate outside our world.  When I read Marx I think of the Garden, and, in reading the Garden lately I think of Marx:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”  “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [12]

All the elements of Marx’s ideas are there in the serpent’s approach:  

God is the oppressor while the man and woman are oppressed.  

God owned everything and they worked for Him, which was an unjust inequality.

God is the One who made the rules, “Don’t eat from the tree..or you’ll die”

That arrangement from God prevented them from becoming His equal, “For God knows you will be like Him”.  

Question and deconstruct the established system, “Did God really say…?”

You can’t read the text and not hear the implication the serpent is making:  They needed to revolt against God’s system and disrupt it so they could forcefully take hold of the equality that was rightfully theirs, “That’s right, go for it, don’t let God hold you back anymore, He knows you will be like Him and He doesn’t want you to be His equal.”  

From the serpent’s false ideas came rejection of God, human death, alienation from God, from others, and more.  If the Temptation is the prototype of Marxism, should we really wonder then why Marxism brought similar consequences in the 20th century?  And if today’s Social Justice is Marxism’s heir, how much right do we have to expect a different outcome?  A haunting specter indeed.

“Do not be deceived”, Galatians 6:7 says, “God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”


  3.  Kengor, Paul.  The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism:  The Killingest Idea Ever.  Washington, Regnery Publishing, 2017.
  4. Kengor, Paul.  The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism:  The Killingest Idea Ever.  Washington, Regnery Publishing, 2017.
  6. Contemporary critical theory views reality through the lens of power, dividing people into oppressed groups and oppressor groups along various axes like race, class, gender, sexuality orientation, physical ability and age (
  8. Deuteronomy 7:2, 23; 20:17
  9. Jefferson wrote to William Smith, John Adam’s son-in-law:  “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:  it is its natural manure.”
  10. Matthew 7:24-27; Psalm 127:1; Proverbs 14:1
  11. 1 Timothy 4:1-2
  12. Genesis 3:1-5

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