Justice and the gospel in the local church

Micah 6:8

Last post (Justice and the gospel), we looked at how the ministry of Jesus included both evangelism and meeting physical needs. But in many western evangelical churches, the “gospel” has been narrowed down to mean little more than personal salvation.

If you are in a church like that, and you believe that justice and care for the poor and marginalised is part of the gospel, what can you do?

Let’s look at a few ideas and a little personal experience, and then (hopefully) others will share what they are doing.

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Justice and the gospel

Aid project in Kenya

When I was a young christian (a few decades ago now!), evangelical churches tended to focus on evangelism, and some viewed justice and social action with suspicion. Things have changed since then, with most christians and churches supportive of social welfare and overseas aid programs.

There is still a tendency to see these programs as of secondary importance compared to evangelism, but this too is changing.

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The Bible – how do we know it’s not a fraud?


I have been considering the implications of Peter Enns’ suggestion that, in the light of the evidence, we should understand the Old Testament differently than we have done in the past. In a comment on the post Interpreting the Old Testament, Brisancian has asked a number of questions about how we can know what’s true.

I thought the questions were important enough to answer in a new post. Quotes from Brisancian’s questions are shown as blockquotes.

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Interpreting the Old Testament


Previous posts on topics related to Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation: The Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Literature and Variation in Old Testament teachings.

Finally, how Jesus and the New Testament writers interpreted the Old Testament. It wasn’t the same way we do it today.

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A great light

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. …. in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.”

Isaiah, c 700 BCE. (Isaiah 9:1,2,6,7)

Book review: Inspiration and Incarnation

Book cover

Understanding the Old Testament isn’t always easy. As well as Genesis-evolution, there are many apparent inconsistencies, within the Old Testament, and between the Old and New Testaments.

And those who have read a little about ancient Middle East archaeology, history and literature may have noted similarities between Biblical accounts of creation, the flood and the law, and earlier writings covering similar themes.

This 2005 book by a respected Old Testament scholar aims at addressing a few of these issues based on good scholarship, in a way that is helpful to christians.

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CS Lewis

CS Lewis

CS Lewis, christian, author, apologist and academic, died 50 years ago last week, and many assessments of his life and work have been made in commemoration.

I think he was, arguably, the most influential christian in the western world in the last century. And, definitely, he has been the most influential writer and teacher in my life.

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Dave Tomlinson, post evangelical – how far can you go?

Book by Dave Tomlinson

Dave Tomlinson is a British christian who has always pushed the envelope:

What’s it like?

I think he says a lot of good things and a few questionable things.

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Mungo Man and the first inhabitants of Australia

Mungo Man skeleton

Long before European invaders and settlers arrived in Australia in 1788, the aboriginal people had occupied this continent and developed a culture and lifestyle that could sustain them in some harsh environments.

A fascinating recent ABC documentary, First Footprints, gave a deeper insight into the lives of these pioneers.

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Universalism is the new black?

Sun breaking through cloud

Recently I posted on Rob Bell and some of the ways he gets up the noses of many conventional christians. One of the biggest furores was caused by his book, Love Wins, which hinted at universalism – that everyone, regardless of belief now, would turn to God in the next life.

Has universalism got a strong case?

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Does the gospel include caring for others?

Salvation Army helping

Another way in which Christianity is changing is the number of churches that are getting involved in their local communities, offering help and counselling services to those who need them and finding ways to make their community a better and more caring place.

We can learn from three different churches in three different continents.

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The gospel = the good news, right?


We all know what the gospel is, don’t we, even though we might express it slightly differently?

You’re a sinner (so am I), Jesus died to save you from your sins, now you can go to heaven instead of hell. That’s good news, and that’s what “gospel” means.

Trouble is, that’s not exactly what the Bible says.

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The slippery slope?

Water slide

I’ve been looking at some ways that christianity is changing, including changing views of evolution and gay marriage.

But how much are christians free to change while remaining true to God and the Bible?

Many christians fear any change is a slippery slope that will lead them right away from being faithful to God’s revealed truth. Is change a slippery slope?

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