The Theory of Social Gospel Relativity

“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

Increasingly I hear about a new and ‘relevant’ kind of ‘gospel’ called “social gospel”. The marketers of this ‘qualified’ gospel are saying that our government must be the instrument to meet human need. Perhaps this social gospel policy is an extrapolation of James’ admonition to the church in Jerusalem “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” Perhaps it is an extension of the Good Samaritan parable or and maybe it is an inference to the feeding of the five thousand. In any case, it is a stretch to fit any of the Gospel texts to fit their meaning of ‘social gospel’ as a national domestic policy.

More to my point: I have recently been reading the apostle Paul’s letters, specifically Corinthians and Galatians. I see how very much Paul desired to maintain the purity of the Gospel at all costs. My first and only concern in writing this post is how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being used today to market social justice in the political arena. Especially after hearing a ‘Christian’ in that context say that “wealth redistribution is what Jesus would do”. This is completely false and misleading.

WWJD: In his letter, the Lord’s brother James describes a practical close-to-home “work” to help those who are not able to help themselves. The Good Samaritan parable tells me who my neighbor is: He is a person you meet with a need. The parable also shows me how I am to treat my neighbor when a need arises: use my resources to help and then followup. Jesus fed the five thousand as a sign of His Person and His Power. This sign revealed His ability to provide for me in any situation. I am to depend on Him. He controls the outcomes. He controls the government, even in a Democracy. Nowhere is it written or inferred in the Bible that a socialized gospel should become a government’s domestic policy. Nowhere is it written that people should be forced to pay for others. Jesus never pushed political agendas and He certainly never taught that coercion in any form was the answer to need.

At no time did Jesus offer to heal or feed the entire world. At no time did Jesus demand that the Roman government feed or take care of the entire world, civilized or otherwise. Of course, Jesus could have said and done these things but He did not. He did not infer that his disciples would do this. Jesus did talk about individual responsibility and accountability to God, His Father, and to one’s close-to-home neighbor. He never talked about collective compassion or wealth redistribution. He never said “it takes a village to raise a child.” He did talk about the widow who, without coercion, freely gave her mite unto God. This willing, sacrificial act, done in secret, was an act of love for God and for her neighbor. The current social ‘gospel-eers’ market their brand of ‘gospel’ on the main stream media.

Having read and studied the synoptic Gospels and the letters of the Apostle Paul many times over I do not see any form of socialized or collectivized gospel in any way, shape or form within these writings. What I do see now, though, is that the true Gospel is being used as advertising label for a type of religious social movement in the US. This branding, I believe, would attract many Christian college students. These students are ready to take on the world; they are chomping at the bit for worthy causes. The social gospel gurus are very eager to take them into their fold. Many of the gurus are sixties radicals, now recycled and looking to make something of themselves before they pass on.

At no time did Jesus ever speak to his disciples about being a disciple of social need. As a Christian, you are not a disciple of a political-social-economic system or of a community organizer. Being absolutely and singularly identified with Jesus and His Kingdom is the key here. The medium (Christ’s disciple) is the message, so to speak.

You should know that it was the disciple Judas, the community organizer, who wanted a social gospel. Judas thought that Jesus would make the perfect radical. He thought that Jesus could bring about sweeping political, social and economic change for the struggling people of Judea. Judas, as the disciple’s treasurer, controlled the purse strings of charitable donations. He controlled the money bags of what he hoped would become a social gospel. Judas believed in the power of wealth redistribution, especially for himself. This is no different from the social gospel being preached today: control money and throw money at a problem to make it go away. This is what today’s political progressivism is all about. And, that is exactly what Judas does at the end of his life – throw money at the feet of the Pharisees. Judas, as we all know,  had betrayed Jesus, a political neutral, because Jesus didn’t fit the social gospel paradigm desired by Judas. To Judas, Jesus didn’t do what radicals are supposed to do: revolt, reign and redistribute. Akeldama, the field of blood, is where Judas ended his cutting-edge version of social gospel.

Let’s make it simple: Social gospel is progressivism and progressivism is a form of paganism and this paganism says that “You don’t need God. You can have effective social engineering in place of religious belief. You don’t need Christ. You have us. You can have our ‘gospel’ policies to meet your needs. We will throw in Jesus for free. Why look elsewhere.” Clearly, this form of ‘gospel’ is a subversion of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and it wrought by the Evil One. This form of gospel is a synthesis of good and “sounds good” at its core.

The Apostle Paul makes it even simpler: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatian church.

May God give me the grace and the resources to help others as He shows me their need! Having said this, I do not want a progressive political social agenda enacted to determine my personal gospel outreach (and thereby make it vicarious) through a forced redistribution of wealth to the poor. I believe compassion and empathy are to be individual, one-on-one matters, separate from the government’s intrusion, imposition and inefficiencies.

Regarding the Church, the Body of Christ: The apostle Paul, speaking in his Corinthian letters, desires that the church keep itself pure and undefiled just like his desire for the Gospel of our Lord. To me, the church is becoming a political organism and the social gospel I’m hearing about is another gospel – a gospel for a utopian society. The Lord knows what His Body needs. He will do what is necessary.

This post is not about being cruel and unkind to people. Rather, this post is about keeping the Gospel of Jesus Christ pure and undefiled by the world.  The pure and undefiled ‘religion’ of Christianity is about helping widows and orphans in their distress.  It is about offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.  This ‘religion’ is not to be synthesized into a government policy.  We as Christians should seek and pray that government will stand back and let us do good works.  We must maintain our liberty and freedom from government and its coercion (being unjustly taxed to pay for social programs) in order that we may continue to help those in need, freely, with love.

***
For more information see my 09-15-2010 post about Stolen Goods.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: