The relationship of evangelism and social responsibility | Taste and see…
The paper sets out three kinds of relationships between evangelism and social Jesus himself sometimes performed works of mercy before. This brings me to the third way of stating the relation between evangelism and social action, which I believe to be the truly Christian one. To bring the relationship between evangelism and social action into The fruit of social action can be undone; the fruit of proclamation cannot.
As the LOP then remarks: We can go further than this, however. Social responsibility is more than the consequence of evangelism; it is also one of its principal aims. Good works cannot save, but they are an indispensable evidence of salvation James 2: In saying this, we are not claiming that compassionate service is an automatic consequence of evangelism or of conversion, however.
Social responsibility, like evangelism, should therefore be included in the teaching ministry of the church. For we have to confess the inconsistencies in our own lives and the dismal record of evangelical failure, often as a result of the cultural blindspots to which we have already referred. This has grave consequences.
When we do not allow the Word of God to transform us in all areas of our personal and social life, we seem to validate the Marxist criticism of religion. Social activity can be a bridge to evangelism Secondly, social activity can be a bridge to evangelism.
It can break down prejudice and suspicion, open closed doors, and gain a hearing for the Gospel. Jesus himself sometimes performed works of mercy before proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom. In more recent times, we were reminded, the construction of dams by the Basel missionaries in Northern Ghana opened a way for the gospel, and much missionary medical, agricultural, nutritional and educational work has had a similar effect.
Stott on the Relationship of Evangelism and Social Action
As a result, we were told, a number of people came under the sound of the gospel who would not otherwise have come to the crusade. But we have to take this risk, so long as we retain our own integrity and serve people out of genuine love and not with an ulterior motive. Social activity accompanies evangelism as its partner. Thirdly, social activity not only follows evangelism as its consequence and aim, and precedes it as its bridge, but also accompanies it as its partner.
They are like the two blades of a pair of scissors or the two wings of a bird. This partnership is clearly seen in the public ministry of Jesus, who not only preached the gospel but fed the hungry and healed the sick. In his ministry, kerygma proclamation and diakonia service went hand in hand. His words explained his works, and his works dramatized his words.
Both were expressions of his compassion for people, and both should be of ours. Both also issue from the lordship of Jesus, for he sends us out into the world both to preach and to serve. Now, in the early decades of the 21st century, the old conflict has largely subsided and is alien to current university students.
But, should evangelism and social action be linked, and, if so, why? There are two common answers, both of which assume a positive answer and both of which are inadequate.
The first answer resorts to utilitarian, rather than principled, reasoning: The problem is that this makes our faith look like a trick, albeit a generous one, to get decisions for Jesus. The second answer prioritizes meeting social needs as an expression of Christian kindness and compassion in a hurting world. He also says our service is a function of our passion. Unfortunately, we end up prioritizing physical over spiritual needs, emotional responses over careful reasoning.
The answer to the question Should evangelism and social action be linked? As it is, there are solid, principle-oriented arguments linking evangelism and social action.
We may even convey the message that salvation is achieved by good works.
Social involvement and evangelism (Part II): How they relate
Or we may convey the message that what matters most is economic and social betterment. We must not do social action without evangelism. Evangelism and social action are inseparable Given that the greatest need of people is to be reconciled with God, and given that this need can only be met through the message of the gospel, it might seem logical to say that evangelism has priority.
- The relationship of evangelism and social responsibility
- Evangelism and Social Responsibility: An Evangelical Commitment (LOP 21)
It might seem only a short step from saying proclamation is central to saying evangelism is our priority. It suggests a choice in which evangelism should be chosen, or competing priorities in which social action can be neglected. We prioritize by making a list and doing the activities at the top of the list. If there is no time left for items lower down the list then this does not matter because we have deemed such things less important. The implication of saying evangelism has priority in this sense is that it does not matter if we have no time for social action.
But such choices rarely bear any relationship to reality.
In our involvement in the lives of others we cannot choose to ignore their social needs. We cannot treat people in isolation from their context. Evangelism alone might make sense in the lecture room. It may even just about make sense in a middle class suburb. But it makes no sense at all when working among the poor. Mission takes place in and through relationships and relationships are multi-faceted. Proclamation should be central, but a centre implies a context and our proclamation should take place in the context of a life of love.
Stott on the Relationship of Evangelism and Social Action | Tim Brister
Some people say that church leaders should focus on teaching the word of God. The problem comes when this is combined with an unevangelical clericalism in which the role of the pastor—teacher defines the identity of the whole church. Church life revolves around the leader and so such ministry is seen as the only valid ministry. But this is not a New Testament view of the church. In the church each member has distinctive gifts from God and therefore a distinctive ministry to fulfil.
Paul uses the image of a body to highlight the way that no member should feel inferior 1 Cor But neither should any member feel superior, despising the gifts of others 1 Cor Peter draws a distinction between gifts of the word and gifts of service 1 Pet 4: In the Reformed and Puritan traditions, from which much evangelicalism in Britain sprang, the role of the deacons was to be responsible for the social involvement of the church following the pattern of Acts 6: What is the relationship of godliness to evangelism in our outreach to others?
This is not something we would have a great deal of difficulty answering. We would surely affirm the following: Godliness is not the same thing as evangelism.