The May_June 2008 edition of Relevant Magazine posted 7 burning issues: Injustice, Homosexuality, Faith, Politics, Culture, Consumerism, and War.
INJUSTICE: Is Our Focus on Social Justice Out of Balance?
The general consensus is that Christianity has falsely dichotomized evangelism and social justice. Here are some key [edited] excerpts that help us get a feel for the article:
1. Christianity is a holistic, integrated Gospel of the Kingdom of God. (Jim Wallis)
2. The Great Commission is to make disciples (Matthew 28). The Cultural Commission is to care for all that God has created. (Chuck Colson)
3. Social Justice, for a lot of people, leads to evangelism. The first [step] is the conversion to community. Their second conversion then will be to God. (Nancy Ortberg)
4. “The most important thing is for us to stop putting evangelism and social justice in opposition as if they are enemies. That shows the degree to which we have become captive to a colonial, consumerist, dualist mindset, where religion or salvation is a private matter of the heart or soul and eternity, and social justice is a secondary concern because it involves bodies and politics and history.” (Brian McLaren)
5. When I look at Jesus, [evangelism and dealing with injustice] are inseparable in His life. (Shane Claiborne)
6. “A follower of Christ doesn’t put on a ‘social justice’ hat and then an ‘evangelism’ hat and then try to discern which hat to wear the most and which hat is the most valuable. Why? Because it isn’t a hat; it’s the head and the heart. You can’t exchange either. They are integral to the person. (Steve Brown)
7. Justice and evangelism are things which have to go on through the work of the Church simultaneously. (N.T. Wright)
I only add that this kind of dualistic dichotomization is evidence of a neo-Gnosticism that has arisen out of the Enlightenment. That is, we see two separate realities, one physical, and one spiritual, and for many, the Church’s primary job is the spiritual. This also arises out of a dispensational theology that dispatches the earth’s physical reality for a replaced spiritual one. This is not, and can no longer be justified as good Biblical theology.
While reading this portion, I was refreshed to know that what God has joined together, no one really can tear apart. And just like Heaven will come crashing into to earth (Revelation 21), so justice and evangelism are crashing into each other once again to bring about the reign of God on earth, as it is in Heaven. ברוך השם (Bless the Name)
So, to answer the question, Is Our Focus on Social Justice Out of Balance? The answer is no. It has been completely out of sync. And I thank the contributers to this article for helping us realign and synonymize the fullness of justice with the fullness of evangelism.