Evangelism and Justice: Doing the Second, without Undermining the First

How do we work for justice and not undermine evangelism?

This is a question that various evangelical leaders have been offering answers to over at The Gospel Coalition blog.

D. A. Carson

Ray Ortlund

Michael Wittmer

And I especially liked Russell Moore's answer. Here is the conclusion:

So how does the church “balance” a concern for evangelism with a concern for justice? A church does so in the same way it “balances” the gospel with personal morality. Sure, there have been churches that have emphasized public justice without the call to personal conversion. Such churches have abandoned the gospel.

But there are also churches that have emphasized personal righteousness (sexual morality, for instance) without a clear emphasis on the gospel. And there are churches that have taught personal morality as a means of earning favor with God. Such also contradicts the gospel.

We do not, though, counteract legalism in the realm of personal morality with an antinomianism. And we do not react to the persistent “social gospels” (of both Left and Right) by pretending that Jesus does not call his churches to act on behalf of the poor, the sojourner, the fatherless, the vulnerable, the hungry, the sex-trafficked, the unborn. We act in the framework of the gospel, never apart from it, either in verbal proclamation or in active demonstration.

The short answer to how churches should “balance” such things is simple: follow Jesus. We are Christians. This means that as we grown in Christlikeness, we are concerned about the things that concern him. Jesus is the king of his kingdom, and he loves whole persons, bodies as well as souls.

Christ Jesus never sends away the hungry with, “Be warmed and filled” (Jas. 2:16). What he says, instead, as he points to the love of both God and neighbor, to the care of both body and soul, is: “You go, and do likewise” (Lk. 10:37).

And via Justin Taylor's blog, John Piper answers on video, with this great sentence: "Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering."

1 comment:

cgl said...

All phenominal responses (and I also very much enjoyed thinking about Moores response). A great post. I'm glad prominent leaders are contrasting the concepts of social justice and evangelism. They all (in these posts) seem to be hitting it on the head.