Tim Keller, in his book Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, writes with insight into how the gospel differs from both Left and Right in its perspective on social justice issues. I thought these words wise, given our current economic crisis:
The ideology of the Left believes big government and social reform will solve social ills, while the Right believes big business and economic growth will do it. The Left expects a citizen to be held legally accountable for the use of his wealth, but totally autonomous in other areas, such as sexual morality. The Right expects a citizen to be held legally accountable in areas of personal morality, but totally autonomous in the use of wealth. The North American "idol" - radical individualism - lies beneath both ideologies. A Christian sees either "solution" as fundamentally humanistic and simplistic.
The causes of our worsening social problems are far more complex than either the secularists of the Right or Left understand. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, with with powers and principalities! We have seen there is great social injustice - racial prejudice, greed, avarice - by those with the greatest wealth in the country (and sadly, with the evangelical church itself). At the same time, there is a general breakdown of order - of the family and the morals of the nation. There is more premarital sex (and thus there are more unwed mothers), more divorce, child neglect and abuse, more crime. Neither a simple redistribution of wealth nor simple economic growth and prosperity can mend broken families . . .
Only the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, and the millions of "mini-churches" (Christian homes) throughout the country can attack the roots of social problems. Only the church can minister to the whole person. Only the gospel understands that sin has ruined us both individually and socially. We cannot be viewed individualistically (as the capitalists do) or collectively (as the Communists do) but as related to God. Only Christians, armed with the Word and Spirit, planning and working to spread the kingdom and righteousness of Christ, can transform a nation as well as a neighborhood as well as a broken heart.
Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road (P&R Publishing, 1997), p. 26