After the Social Gospel movement faded after 1950, many of its ideas reappeared in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Social Gospel principles continue to inspire newer movements such as Christians Against Poverty.
Now if you read thru the statement you'll see that speaking out against the oppression of people is something that should be a mark of Christianity. Remember scripture says that Jesus went about his ministry doing good. And James tells us not only that faith without works is dead but also that pure undefiled religion is to care for the widow and orphan. Put those two together and I believe we have a mandate to actually do some good works and stop wringing our hands from the sideline about whether or not the church is going down the tubes because we are actually going to start doing good instead of talking about it.
Sure we need to make sure our motives are right -- ie we are doing it to serve Christ - and to share his love and free gift but as I have stressed before we need to do it with a language that is clear. We throw around so much church jargon that no one understands. Michael W Smith wrote the following :
Were passengers aboard the train
Silent little lambs amidst the pain
Thats no longer good enough
And when its time to speak our faith
We use a language no one can explain
Thats no longer good enough
And God knows its a shame
As we look to pass the flame
We are not the worthy bearers of his name
For the world to know the truth
There can be no greater proof
Than to live the life, live the life
Theres no love thats quite as pure
Theres no pain we cant endure
If we live the life, live the life
Be a light for all to see
For every act of love will set you free
Theres something beautiful and bold
The power of a million human souls
Come together as one
And each in turn goes out to lead
Another by his word, his love, his deed
Now the circle is done
It all comes back to one
For it is he and he alone
Who has lived the only perfect life weve known
This song was written in 1997 and we have simply gotten even more bizarre to a world around us that no longer has a Christian world view. And so what does the conservative evangelical church do: Complain about moving down a path to a Social Gospel mindset. True, we have to guard against just doing good with no end game - but we need to start doing good instead of TALKING about doing good. I am so encouraged by the efforts of some of our guys to go into the homeless camps around here and just doing good. Some of the post'ers would say - see that's a social gospel because you didn't go in and share the gospel right away after giving them the sleeping bag. However after a series of visits the men starting asking the why are you doing this question. And as of a couple of weeks ago one of the men accepted the free gift of salvation. It took our guys to earn their trust and show an interest in the men as a fellow human being and not a conquest.
We do, however, need to remind ourselves that we are 1) Serving Christ by showing love to "the least of these my brothers" 2) showing the love of Christ with the goal of sharing the clear gospel message not bogged down with our jargon that no one understands.
Let's stop worrying about the church in America going down the tubes by standing on the side complaining about folks wanting to do good works and get in the game and show love.