Social Gospel

Part 2: Does Social Gospel reflect our deepest held values?

Jim Allen

Part 1: Why do Christian liberals loath Christian Conservatives?

"Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality. The Bible supports social justice with regard to the plight of the poor and the afflicted, orphans and widows and people unable to support themselves. The nation of Israel was commanded by God to care for the less fortunate in society. Jesus told us to care for those who are hungry and thirsty, who are sick or in prison, the outcasts of society (Matthew 25:34-40)." [1] However, it should be noted the Bible does not support the notion that society should provide care to those who are able but unwilling to support themselves (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Today in America there is a long list of social programs that help those who are truly in need: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the best known program. These social programs, instituted in good faith by well-meaning politicians, answered the call of Jesus who challenged us to heed the plight of the poor and the afflicted, to care for orphans and widows and people unable to support themselves (Matthew 25:34-40). Surely, among us we can agree these bipartisan social programs are legislated with the best of intentions.
Those who adhered to a social gospel sought to apply Christian ethics ...while the doctrines of sin, salvation, heaven and hell, and the future kingdom of God were downplayed. Theologically, the Social Gospel leaders were overwhelmingly postmillennialist, asserting that Christ's Second Coming could not happen until humankind rid itself of social evils by human effort. [2]
Foremost on my list of issues with the Social Gospel is idolatry. America no longer looks to God for its protection, guidance, and wellbeing but to government programs. America has turned towards social and political programs to solve its immeasurable difficulties. Jim Wallis, a liberal Christian writer and political activist wrote, "We need a new politics inspired by our deepest held values. We must summon the best in the American people, and unite to solve some of the moral issues of our time. Americans are much less concerned about what is liberal or conservative, what is Democrat or Republican. Rather, we care about what is right and what works." [3]

The problem with this view is that any program that is right for the needs of others and works to meet that need is short-lived by those who scam the system.

While I believe Wallis' liberal intent on engaging government to help tackle the overwhelming number of social issues is noble and biblical, there are unintended consequences. One such consequence is widespread fraud. "The fraud is so rampant, and disability cases have so proliferated in recent years, that the Social Security's Disability Trust Fund may run out of money in only 18 months, says Senator Tom Coburn, Republican-Oklahoma, whose office undertook the investigation." [4] Fraud is one but there are other unintended consequences hurting social programs that include waste, corruption, and mismanagement.

Apostasy always begins with a simple idea that appears tenable, perhaps even right, but if acted upon results in dire consequences. Regardless, scholars, commentators, and students of the Bible agree on little and differ on much about this topic. The Social Gospel ranks among one of those themes that will ultimately differ in understandings and opinions. Varying and conflicting views and endless debates about the Social Gospel will not resolve the ideology rift between the liberal and conservative faithful.

The same writer on the website promoting the idea that Jesus was a liberal said, "Over and over again, He taught us to believe in and live a spiritual and ethical life based in our essential, inherent goodness. What Jesus promoted was succinct set of spiritual principals and a way of life based upon the love, compassion, tolerance, and a strong belief in the importance in giving and of generosity to those in need." [5]

The first sentence in the preceding quote sounds good but contains one untrue and revealing statement. Jesus never said we were inherently good. In fact, the Bible is replete with verses from Genesis to Revelation condemning humanity as inherently evil (Romans 3:23). The "inherently good" statement is a see-through expose' of a wayward ideology and explains why some liberals no longer view the salvation message of Christ as necessary. If men are inherently good, then there is no need for a Savior to save us from the consequences of a fallen nature (John 3:19).

Does the social gospel reflect our deepest held values? While the liberal's social gospel endorses the importance of being our brother's keeper, it downplays personal salvation; but then, so does the conservative gospel by promoting the doctrines of greed, control, and our best life now.

Parts 3 and 4 in this series will examine these two opposing views on the fulcrum of truth to determine if there is a balance to be found between the two extreme views.

Next: Part 3: Did Jesus come to be a world-changer?

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The Social Gospel; The Series

Part 1: Why do Christian liberals loath Christian Conservatives?
Part 2: Does Social Gospel reflect our deepest held values?
Part 3: Did Jesus come to be a world-changer?
Part 4: What is the power of liberal theology?
Part 5: Is the "Spirit of Unity" Biblical?
Part 6: The End Time Gathering of Souls
Part 7: Too Bad for the Pretenders

TagsChristian-Life  |  Church-Issues  |  Political-Issues

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Published 1-3-14