There’s an ironic similarity between (1) “the social gospel” — reducing the gospel and Christian mission to advancing social justice — and (2) “Christian nationalism” — hitching the Christian mission to the church having/maintaining cultural dominance.
Christian cultural and social impact, of course, I believe are good, and flow out of the Christian mission.
But interestingly/ironically, these two socially and politically polar opposite viewpoints — (1) “the social gospel” and (2) “Christian nationalism” — err seemingly in the same way: they misplace the center of the church’s mission with a usurping concern over their social presence.
To the “social gospel” we say, Yes, social justice is a biblical imperative, and its outworking is entailed in Christian mission. But social justice is not itself the gospel, nor should it be equated with biblical “salvation.”
To the “Christian nationalist” we say again, impact on society is admirable. But it’s not the end-all-be-all. Our witness comes first. Cultural domination is not our mission. And when we conceive of it as such, we can find ourselves pursuing it at the expense of our witness.
In short, both (again, ironically) make cultural and social impact paramount at the expense of the soteriological center of our mission.
And ironically both chastise the other for doing what they themselves do: equating their mission with the pursuit of a particular political vision, either the Left’s in the case of the “social gospel,” or the Right’s in the case of “Christian nationalism.”
They’re polar opposite on the political spectrum. But underneath, they share the same warp and woof.
In this final (at least as currently planned) episode we consider our unexpected evangelistic opportunity brought on by this moment. May it be that God is preparing hearts and using this unusual situation to advance his gospel across the globe.
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Integrity matters. If you want to serve as a testimony to Christian ethics, then you’re actually going to need to hold them, and that means holding them with consistency. Hypocrisy and double-standards will effectively serve to mute your witness.
It’s hard to cry out against a sin in one instance when, in another instance, you’ve excused, blown-off, or chosen to overlooked that sin.
What if the sort of “power” and influence Jesus intended for his followers wasn’t one of ends-justify-the-means ethical compromise and political power-plays, but witness to a “revolutionary”-like ethic like that of Mt 5-7, with all the integrity, lowliness, and self-sacrifice involved therein (5:13-16)?
Many advocate ethical compromise for the sake of “the greater good” (or “the lesser of two evils”). But what shall it profit the church if it gains a whole election but loses its witness? What if the church’s witness is the actual means of its impact?
“Stepped out in faith.” “God laid it on my heart.” “Ask Jesus into your heart.” All of these are what we call “Christianese” phrases. UrbanDictionary.com defines “Christianese” as “A communicable language within the Christian subculture with words and phrases created, redefined, and / or patened that applies only to the Christian sphere of influence.” Another example of this sort of sub-cultured speech is the term “witnessing” or “being a witness.” Now, I have absolutely no problem with this particular “Christian term.” In fact, I think it is quite helpful (contrary to most ambiguous Christian lingo). I also believe it can teach us something incredibly vital to our Christian life. However, as with all “Christianese,” confusion can also accompany its use.