Social Gospel?

Instead of writing off our culture as hopelessly secular and doomed, God wants His people to have a redeeming and transforming impact on American society. But what is the relationship of the Gospel to social action? What is the Christian’s responsibility in matters of social ills—injustice, poverty, and hunger?

In many evangelical circles, the terms “social action” and “social gospel” have negative connotations. But the question remains: what does the gospel of Jesus Christ have to say to the poor and the oppressed? This is an important question all Christians need to deal with.

The message of the Gospel is narrow, not broad. The issue of social action is not part of the gospel message. Whenever social action is made part of the Gospel, two problems arise: Social action obscures what the Gospel really is, and no one knows how much emphasis to give to the social aspect of the message.

Those who want to make social action a part of the Gospel’s content make the same mistake repeatedly in biblical interpretation. They apply the non-technical use of the word Gospel as it is used in the first four books of the New Testament rather than applying its more specific use in the epistles, where the word has a much more limited meaning.