The Social Gospel by By Gary Glass (New)
The Social Gospel
The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was prominent in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially social justice, inequality, liquor, poor schools, slums, etc. Theologically, the Social Gospel leaders were overwhelmingly post-millenialist. That is because they believed the Second Coming of Christ could not happen until humankind rid itself of social evils by human effort. (1)
In this article, I want to explain why I think the Social Gospel is unbiblical. Dave Hunt states, " Increasing numbers of Christians are engaging in social and polictical activism for the astonishing purpose of attempting to coerce ungodly society into adopting Christian standards of conduct." However, it all depends on your worldview of society and the world. Is our society or world getting better or worse? Can we turn this ship around and save a society that is plunging into the depths of immorality, crime, war, and poverty?
First of all, it is like trying to save the Titanic. We know the boat is sinking, but we are going to do all we can to save the ship and people on the ship. We look to goverment and its leaders to save this society, and to fix the problems so we can all be happy. However, is it biblical? Dave Hunt states," No matter how commendable the goal of such tactics, there is not one example in the entire Bible of political or social activism ever being advocated or used by God's people... There are numerous cases of civil disobedience in Scripture, but it was never engaged in for the purpose of forcing an ungodly society to obey biblical principles."
In biblical times, there was abortion, homosexuality, crime, poverty, and other social evils. However, Jesus never spoke out against the injustices of the pagan Roman civil authority. Nor did He advocate, organize, or engage in any public protests to pressure Rome into changing its corrupt systems. Instead, they "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) with the gospel. Jesus submtted himself to unjust authorities as Romans 13 tells us we should do today: " Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" 1 Peter 2:21-25. Now, we have many wonderful rights in our country that are God given. However, Satan has control over the nations and its governments. Satan gained control when Adam lost it in the garden of Eden. Satan even offered it to Jesus, if He (Jesus) would worship him (Satan). The bible states," And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered (given) unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore will worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship The Lord Thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. Luke 4:5-8 Someday soon, Jesus will take back the lost title deed to the earth. However, even if we did not have these rights, then we need to determine to obey God rather than men, which includes preaching the gospel or stopping abortion. We ought to do all we can to rescue babies who are being aborted, just as we would seek to rescue anyone in danger. Though forbidden by the authorities, the apostles persisted in preaching the gospel. Like their Lord, however, they made no attempt to lobby in Rome for an end to prostitution and abortions: nor did they stage public demostrations for a change in unjust laws. Dave Hunt states, " It is not only foolish, but counterproductive to attempt to persuade the unsaved to live like Christians. They can't do it- and if they could it would only blind them the more to their sin and need of a Savior."
Nevertheless, the Great Commission is not to go into all the world to reform its morals by forcing sinners to behave like saints, but to "preach the gospel" and convert sinners. We are not to "change society", but "convert individuals". And in the end, the conversion of sinners will have a far greater impact on society than all of the lobbying, protest marches, and passionate appeals to morality that consume the time and energy of concerned Christians.
In conclusion, rather than trying to fix the Titanic, that we call our society or world, we need to tell people that there are plenty of life boats to save everyone on the ship because the ship is going down! God wants to rescue everyone on the ship through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross. It is the gospel that will rescue, and have Jesus as the captain of our salvation( Hebrews 2:10), and the anchor of our soul. (Hebrews 6:19). May we run to the life boats, before the ship sinks.
"Get men converted and a thousand foolish ideas are destroyed"- Charles Spurgeon
(2) Quotes from Dave Hunt