Social Justice and Evangelicalism

A Better Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

Last month’s intramural debate among evangelicals revolving around social justice seems to have died down for the time being. But it’s relevance has not. Have no doubt that the conversation will continue to play an important role in the American church for the years to come.

In the meantime, I was pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon the following monumental piece of evangelical history this week. I present to you the Lausanne Covenant, a document whose 2,300 signatories include evangelical heavyweights such as Billy Graham and John Stott. It is quite possibly the most important document that evangelicalism had produced in the 20th century and functions as a statement of faith on the importance of evangelism.

As a “confessing millennial” Christian, I appreciate the fact that this is the closest thing to a contemporary Confession of Faith for modern-day evangelicalism. I also appreciate its implicit references to historical creeds such as the Nicene Creed. And yet just as importantly, there is an Article 5 is titled “Christian Social Responsibility“. I have bolded what I believe to be key points that address last month’s discussion.

5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and Man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

I hope to potentially expand on this in a future blog post.

But for now, that’ll preach.

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