Social Justice and Evangelism

A few weeks back I talked briefly about the drama going on between Glenn Beck and Jim Wallis (Sojourners). Yes, believe it or not, people (specifically Sojourners) are still talking about this.

Essentially Glenn Beck (a Mormon) said that people should leave their church if they are talking about “social justice.” Jim Wallis, running an organization focused exclusively on Christians being involved in social justice, took extreme exception to this notion and since then the two have argued back and forth.

I recently read some of what Richard Mouw had to say on the topic:

“I think we have to concede a little bit to Glenn Beck on this one. Often faith-based calls for social justice are heavily ideological. I often cringe, for example, when church bodies make pronouncements on complex economic issues. Many “redistribution” schemes advocated by “prophetic” organizations would, if implemented, likely not aid the cause of the poor at all in the long run. At the same time, many expressions of faith in the market’s “invisible hand” would also be bad for those on the margins. Serving the cause of justice is no simple task. It takes careful reflection, practical wisdom, and a resistance to ideological purity. There is a good theological term for all of this: discernment.” (emphasis mine)

I find it interesting that in my generation it is socially acceptable to join a social justice movement or organization, but it is not as acceptable to promote the Gospel through evangelism. It is as if my generation has decided that they way our grandparents, and some of our parents evangelized was too sales-driven, so we have rebelled against it.

Despite my support of the movement within Christianity to support social justice, I wish we wouldn’t have abandoned our desire to reach unbelievers with the Good News in the process.

And sadly, I think Christians have.