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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
I am interested in effective communication, not as an end in itself, but because if we want to make disciples, we need to train and equip each other effectively. And for this, sermons just don’t cut it.
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.
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.
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.
Taize is an ecumenical monastery in Burgundy, France. The Lakota are an American Indian nation on a reservation in South Dakota, USA. You might not expect them to feature in the same story, but recently they did. It is a moving story.
Jason Micheli joined more than a thousand pilgrims attending a Taize gathering, this time not in France but on the Pine Ridge Reservation, at the invitation of Lakota nation.
During a time of worship centred around the cross, he had some insights into the cross, human suffering and oppression.