Saturday, March 24, 2012


                            My Premise  
 My belief is that too many christians tend to hunker down in their institutional churches each Sunday singing praises to God and waiting for the second coming and, since they have such a biblically incorrect view of the Church and their God given gifts and abilities as the Church, they think little or nothing is expected of them outside that organization.  What a sad way to live in this world! 

I ended the last post with a declaration that I believed there is another way of thinking about the social gospel issue. Please read that earlier post, if possible, to get a context for what I'm about to say. 

That there is no need of a second gospel dedicated to the social issues facing our culture today is a reality in my mind because of the fact that the one gospel of Christ will ultimately impact many of those same issues when properly understood and experienced. [Making no mention of the fact that in scripture there is the warning about having any other gospel.]

I'm thinking that it may be that the one true gospel of the work of Christ gives birth to social awareness for Christians and leads them to genuinely and lovingly confronting harm done through any kind of insensitivity to race, gender, or those yet unborn. 

Another way of saying it is that real evangelism [responding to the gospel] brings one to a biblical lifestyle that would seek to confront racism and prejudice and would be unable to disregard the social needs of the poor, sick, abused, or the unborn. So I would not buy into the confrontation of social ills being a "gospel" within itself, but the result a true gospel experience changing one's view of other people and their needs and the sacredness of all of life. 

It would follow that methods for achieving this are not relegated to a government system alone and maybe not even first. [That's not to say government doesn't have its part in it.] But the Church can and should be intentional with her own methodology and programs to bring about such confrontation. 

I would also hold that no governmental system that fails in its part is beyond confrontation where oppression of any kind is found. [I've always regretted that I was not more personally involved in the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties.]  

The results make for a gospel that is not quite as compartmentalized as some conservatives tend to make it nor perhaps as politically active as some liberals are prone to make it. The past is replete with many who were wonderfully balanced in this kind of Christian life and ministry. 

Charles Finney, whose personal theology I don't totally agree with but who's life is admirable in my judgment, is known for personal revivalism and it led him to an anti-slavery stance that infuriated many. George Mueller of England and his care for orphans is well known to all of us. 

Clarence Jordan, who graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky and helped found Habitat for Humanity as well as being the author the Cotton Patch translation of the New Testament using his knowledge gained from his Greek degree earned from Southern, are some who could be cited with a ton of others who could be listed as well. The best known of the present day may well be Rick Warren of Saddleback fame.

My point is simply that there will always be a tension that is to be maintained between the individual need of redemption which is our Cross message and the resulting ministry to those who are poor, outcasts, in prison, or just in need of basics such as a cup of water and food. 

That tension is not an easy thing and there is no magic formula for achieving it. But it cannot be relegated to the government entirely or to the back burner of our minds either because it is not an either/or situation for a true believer who fully grasps the message of Christ. 

We may differ on methodology in confronting social issues but that it can/should be done is a given to me. Creating a kind of dichotomy between the two would cause us as believers to miss so much of the revelatory materials that are our guide for living the Christian life. 

But the heart of our message of redemption found in the person and Cross work of Christ must never be lost. What follows in social impact is the evidence that that message is fully understood IMHO.

Now my opening words are best read again. I'm not an expert on anything. But I do wind up, generally speaking, with an opinion on most things. I'm sure the charge of oversimplification can and will be made concerning my view of this. I may be guilty as charged. It could be I'm simply an idealist or even a dreamer. If so, I think I'll just keep dreaming.

Paul B.


Paul Burleson said...


I'm aware of the fact that the NT materials do NOT present a great deal of illustration in dealing with things like slavery, abortion, and even gender issues with specificity.

But that is another post in and of itself. Suffice it to say, I believe the implications of the gospel were being hammered out in the biblical materials and fundamental principles were laid down for a broader view ultimately with regard to all those kinds of issues and, if correctly interpreted, gender IS the biblical example.

Unfortunately, I believe many fail to see some clear instructions Paul gave for the gender issue against the backdrop of his culture. He was quite strong in freeing women which many fail to see with faulty interpretation.

Aussie John said...


You made my day!

If you're an idealist, then I must be one, as I have professed on my blog, whilst advocating that idealism must be tempered with realism, as I see you doing.

I guess that makes us real idealists, or ideal realists :)

The realist has the capacity to accept the factual aspects of life and, at the same time favoring practicality (personal hands on) and literal truth.

In my opinion,for better or for worse, when Christians continue to live under an Old Covenant economy of life,listening to Moses, they will never fully apply to their lives,to use your words, "the heart of our message of redemption found in the person and Cross work of Christ".

Those who live under the New Covenant economy of life realize that "the heart of the message of redemption" is NOT following the religious dictates of some earthly systematic theology, offering personal safety from an hellish eternity, but a life evidencing that the redeemed, are what they claim to be, by their love and servant-hood towards others, including the different, the smelly,the poor,the sick, and the hurting, AND those "awful" people who don't live in our "nice suburbs". Jn.13:34.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Wow! This rates up there with a short list of the very best comments ever. "Real idealists, or ideal realists."

I love that.

Rex Ray said...

I would argue with your “Premise” that “too many Christians…waiting for the second coming…”

I believe 99% (made that up) of Christians DON’T believe Christ will return in their lifetime and for 2,000 years they’ve been right.

Now, if you’d change “waiting for the second coming” to ‘doing nothing’, I think you’d be on the right track.

You’re right about “tension” between preaching the Gospel and time spent in caring for ‘NEEDS’.

I believe it was a horrible mistake when the IMB gave hospitals away and told our missionary doctors to start planting churches. DUH

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for the comment. Your last paragraph speaks to some actions/attitudes that I think need to be talked about among the people of the SBC

As to this..".I believe 99% (made that up) of Christians DON’T believe Christ will return in their lifetime..." you may be correct there. I don't believe many christians ACTUALLY believe Jesus will come in their lifetime either.

I didn't intend to speak literally about them believing He would come in their lifetime. I was speaking somewhat metaphorically, much the same as "tend to hunker down.." which, my thinking would be it is an attitude thing and not a literal position physically.

I was addressing more of an attitude that "too many" [however many that might be] have as they gather in institutional churches and are settling in having an attitude that the next thing on God's spiritual agenda is when He comes to end it all. Whenever that is.

Maybe that would be a better way of expressing what I was trying to say.