Social Gospel?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by free2know, Dec 7, 2001.

  1. free2know

    free2know
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    If this is the incorrect forum for this topic, please move.....but, I am curious as to what people mean by "social Gospel"....

    Does your church practice this? Please define. It was mentioned in regards to my denominational affiliation but I cannot confirm or refute unless I have a clear definition of what it is. [​IMG]
     
  2. Pastor Larry

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    The social gospel was essentially an elevation of social needs to the level of the gospel message. It found its expression in social work without a evangelistic end. It is to be involved in social work and social programs for the sake of social work and social programs.

    It stems from deemphasizing the proclamative and evangelistic mission of the church. It assumes that we can reform society without transforming hearts. It assumes we can instill moral values without God. It is an attempt to "bring in the kingdom of God" by reforming society. In a nutshell, it is a devaluing of the gospel with a corresponding emphasis on social needs.

    It should be noted that the church as the church is given no social responsibility to those who are not its own. The NT calls for the church to care for its own but there is no "social mandate" apart from proclamation and evangelism given it the NT. At the same time, the individual is not precluded from social work but it should be carried on the knowledge that 1) it is not a function of the church per se; 2) transformation cannot truly take place until the heart is changed through the gospel (any progress without evangelism is simply a finger in the dike); 3) it is subordinate to the priority of the gospel message.
     
  3. free2know

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    Hmmm. Thanks for that clarification. While our church does support some local foodbanks and charitable organizations, it isn't the main thrust (mission) of our church by a long shot. Also, as far as the Rescue Mission, it is a Christian organization who has an evangelical outreach to all homeless.
    Our churches main gospel message is still entering into a relationship with Christ, or as some of you'all say, being saved by grace not by works lest any man boast.
    Based on your criteria, our church is social consious, but not preaching a "social gospel."
     
  4. free2know

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    Pastor Larry says <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> It should be noted that the church as the church is given no social responsibility to those who are not its own. The NT calls for the church to care for its own but there is no "social mandate" apart from proclamation and evangelism given it the NT <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What about the example of the good Samaritan was that written just for "individuals"? And Jesus taught his disciples to care for and about the unwanted and sick.

    I have seen an IFB church run out a homeless man who was obviously there because he was searching for something...also deny a lady church help after examining the scriptures and deciding she wasn't a proper widow. They flipflopped on this issue, they were helping her, then decided it wasn't scriptual after they had been doing this for a while. This church was not only not caring for its own, but it seemed to have conveniently forgot its mission to preach the gospel to all when it suited them.

    So basically, If we follow Christ's example we should be charitable as an individual and a church, don't you think?
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by free2know:
    What about the example of the good Samaritan was that written just for "individuals"? And Jesus taught his disciples to care for and about the unwanted and sick.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The gospels are in a kingdom context which has a much wider social dimension than the church does. The church age is far different. If you read the OT description of the kingdom, you will find a social dimension very much like the gospels and very little like the epistles and Acts. One reason why the kingdom cannot be in effect now is because what we now see is just not what the OT prophets prophesied about. Read McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom for more information on this.

    In all the epistles, with all the rampant social abuses of the day, the church is never given any command to be active in them. The church is told to take care of its own and to preach the gospel.

    As for your examples, who knows what their reasoning was. I have told people before that we will not give them food from the pantry. I typically help them once, and invite them to church. If they come to church and stay for the message, we will help them again. If they don't, we won't. Just last week, I told a guy (who had come about 4-5 times) I wouldn't give him food until he came to church. He knows that but is too lazy to get up on Sundays and get to church. He spends his money drinking rather than buying food. We are simply not a food pantry. We help "as we have opportunity" but our mission is to preach the gospel to people.

    As for the widow thing, again, it depends on their reason. The resources of the church can very easily be zapped by doing things that the church was never intended to do.
     
  6. free2know

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    I agree that you could go overboard in any case...but the widow thing really was legalism at its worst. The church has plenty of resources, they were debt free and supported like 50 missionaries! So finances unfortunately really wasn't at the heart of their rationale.

    Do you think we are called to help people, if possible, regardless of their religious affiliation as an individual? If people see the spirit of Christ in you, even if they are of a different religion, they could be drawn to know more about it. Maybe it is what they call life style evangelism which is another thing I have heard IFB preach against for some strange reason...any thoughts on this???
     
  7. free2know

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    I agree that you could go overboard in any case...but the widow thing really was legalism at its worst. The church has plenty of resources, they were debt free and supported like 50 missionaries! So finances unfortunately really wasn't at the heart of their rationale.

    Do you think we are called to help people, if possible, regardless of their religious affiliation as an individual? If people see the spirit of Christ in you, even if they are of a different religion, they could be drawn to know more about it. Maybe it is what they call life style evangelism which is another thing I have heard IFB preach against for some strange reason...any thoughts on this???
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by free2know:
    I agree that you could go overboard in any case...but the widow thing really was legalism at its worst. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Again, not knowing the situation fully, I wouldn't presume to say one way or the other. Scripture does give some guidelines and it may be that there was something you didn't know or what have you. I am neither excusing nor defending; there is just not enough information to know.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Do you think we are called to help people, if possible, regardless of their religious affiliation as an individual?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    "Called" to do it?? I don't know that I would put it that way. Paul says that as we have opportunity we are to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith. Kindness can be an evangelistic tool -- a pre-evangelism if you will. However, if it stops at kindness without proceeding to a verbal witness of the gospel, then I think it has failed. Lifestyle evangelism was the connotation that if my life is good enough, people will just come and talk to me; they will initiate the conversation. That is why IFBs spoke against it. Relational evangelism -- cultivating redemptive relationships for the purpose of verbal witness -- should be the practice of every believer.

    If people see the spirit of Christ in you, even if they are of a different religion, they could be drawn to know more about it. Maybe it is what they call life style evangelism which is another thing I have heard IFB preach against for some strange reason...any thoughts on this???[/QB][/QUOTE]
     
  9. Rev. Joshua

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:
    It should be noted that the church as the church is given no social responsibility to those who are not its own. The NT calls for the church to care for its own but there is no "social mandate" apart from proclamation and evangelism given it the NT. At the same time, the individual is not precluded from social work but it should be carried on the knowledge that 1) it is not a function of the church per se; 2) transformation cannot truly take place until the heart is changed through the gospel (any progress without evangelism is simply a finger in the dike); 3) it is subordinate to the priority of the gospel message.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Larry, funny how different baptists view the same theology very differently. Among us liberal baptists, the social gospel is part of understanding that being part of the body of Christ means transforming the world socially as well as theologically. It means living out Christ's teachings which, contrary to your comments, make no distinction between helping the poor who are His followers and the poor in general. In no way does the social gospel undercut evangelism, it just broadens its scope.

    Joshua
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    I think part of the answer to that is understanding the kingdom context in which Christ lived as opposed to the church context in which we live. There is a significant difference between the two.

    How do you explain the fact that the epistles do not address any of the great social ills of the day? There is no command to campaign against slavery, against the mistreatment of women, against capital punishment, war, hunger, homelessness, etc. To me, that is a significant point. If the church's mandate was a social mandate, then surely the epistles would have addressed that. However, they are strikingly silent on it. All the references to social work (outside of Gal 6:10) refer to people within the church.

    I do not disagree that social change should be the end result. But it is not social change for the sake of social change; it is social change that results from transformed believers going into the world around them. The social change that we are seeking does not come from social work. It comes from the transforming power of the gospel that makes all things new. Consider it this way: The reason there are social problems is because of sin. If there was no sin, there would be no social problems. The sin problem cannot be dealt with effectively without the gospel message. To address social problems outside the context of hte gospel message is to put band aids on cancer.

    As for your last statement that the social gospel does not undercut evangelism, one only needs to look at the history of the last century, since the influx of the social gospel in America. Many social programs that were coupled with religious organizations are now simply social programs. Take for instance the YMCA and YWCA. (For those who don't know, the "C" stands for Christian.) Both are a long ways from where they started. That did not happen overnight. Along the road of "social gospel" the social took over the gospel. Thus the church has become increasingly marginalized in today's society because their answer doesn't work just like everyone else's doesn't work. After 100 years of the social gospel in America, America is worse off now than she was then in many ways.

    [ December 08, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Evangelist Billy Graham received a lot of flack for promoting a "social aspect" to the Gospel. When asked about social needs - food, housing, education, etc he said (and I paraphrase) -

    A woman in the New York tenement whose child has just been bitten by a rat doesn't need someone preaching the Gospel. She needs better housing, better healthcare . . THEN she will be in a position to hear and be receptive to the Gospel message.

    There IS a need for a social ministry. We Baptists have hospitals, schools, assylums, writing, counseling, food distribution ministries that ENHANCE the Gospel message. Our goal must never, however, to put those life-changing works FIRST and the soul-changing work of the Gospel second. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    [ December 09, 2001: Message edited by: Dr. Bob Griffin ]
     
  12. Ernie Brazee

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    We have two missionary families in South Africa starting churches in the black communities. These people are so poor that the poorest person in the US would be rich by their standards. These missionaries don't try to change the living conditions of these people, but preach to their hearts. The people get saved, love the Lord serve him, and are satisfied with what little they have.

    The problem in the US is laziness, and our welfare society. Many who are needy are that way because of a lack of intiative. This used to be a land of opportunity, any one could succeed if they really applied themselves, now many think churches are just another welfare agency, the marching orders of the church found in Matthew 28 and Mark 16 say nothing of meeting peoples physical needs. Yes we are to take care of our own and if someone comes to our church hungry we will feed them, but will never give them money. Strange thing is, many refuse the food and are offended because they are refused money. Are they really hungry or just professional panhandlers preying on the goodness of the church?

    Any one can support themselves in America poverty is by chioice, we have a lady who was abandoned by her husband, she has three daughters. She determined with God's help to go into physical therapy. This is a demanding course to be accepted into PT one must have all As in the prep courses. Well, this lady not only completed the requiremnts, but her three daughters are the sweetest young ladies you would want to meet.
    The point here is the many churches get involved in "helping" people with their physical needs, but fail to provide the spiritual. It is far better to preach to a man's soul to bring him to salvation then to provide his physical needs and see him go to hell. The world has an expression "tough love" People need to be encouraged to help themsaelves, not depend on others.
    Oh by the way many in our church have helped the family I spoke of, both in prayer support & financial, and the girls have many adopted "aunts", "uncles", and "grandpraents"

    The social gospel is sending people to hell because many churches who tend the physical needs, neglect the spiritual.

    Ernie
     
  13. redwhitenblue

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    This idea in my opinion couldn't be more sinful and ungodly. What some call "Social Gospel" I believe is simply the heart of God at work in the lives of Christians with a love for the lost. Putting yourself in the position of the person in need, would you want or appreciate someone preaching at you and yet not willing to help you in the practical problem? I'm not saying let people take advantage, but I am saying if you give a person love thru what they really need the most then you can easily share Jesus Christ with them. If a church is not willing to do that much, then they should close their doors because they have no buisness preaching to a world they care nothing about.

    karen
     
  14. Pennsylvania Jim

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:
    The social gospel was essentially an elevation of social needs to the level of the gospel message. It found its expression in social work without a evangelistic end. It is to be involved in social work and social programs for the sake of social work and social programs.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think if you analyze it, it actually goes one step further in that it tends to teach that salvation comes through social action, which is really more Marxism than Christianity. That's why it appears not to have an evangelistic end, because it is treated as a means of grace in and of itself.

    When you realize this, the whole picture becomes clearer and I think some of these arguments are settled. Christians ARE required to help those in need but it is an outworking of our salvation, NOT a means of grace as implied by the social gospel.
     
  15. redwhitenblue

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    What happened to a simple heart and compassion for those in need? What happened to the idea that of selling all you have and giving to the poor? I don't think most christians are practicing "social gospel" for the sake of preaching, but simply because it is a right thing to do in seeking someone who is truely in a desperate situation, and when the oppertunity arises to share jesus with them...awesome!

    karen
     
  16. Parrothead

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by redwhitenblue:
    What happened to a simple heart and compassion for those in need? What happened to the idea that of selling all you have and giving to the poor? I don't think most christians are practicing "social gospel" for the sake of preaching, but simply because it is a right thing to do in seeking someone who is truely in a desperate situation, and when the oppertunity arises to share jesus with them...awesome!

    karen
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Karen, I agree with you but I think the problem most people have with the "social gospel" is too much social and not enough Gospel.

    We do need to help the poor but if we don't take care of their spiritual needs as well, we've only done half of the job.

    At the same time, we need to take care of people's spiritual needs but if we share the Gospel with them and then let them walk away cold and hungry we haven't done the best that we could.

    Mike
     

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