Theological Approaches to Social Action and Transformation

I don’t know much about Ed Stetzer, but I admit I found a blog post of his very interesting lately and will probably mill around his blog more.

At any rate, I wanted to quote a few paragraphs from the blog post I particularly enjoyed. Read the full post here.

Evangelicals have tended to try to find a way not to turn their social justice into the problematic approaches that came before them. I have tried to unpack those here. But, we cannot just say, “Well, that’s why we need to avoid societal transformation.” That’s like saying we need to avoid “grace” before some people misunderstand it. Just because someone misuses a biblical principal does not mean that we are excused from using it.

I remember planting my first church among the urban poor in Buffalo, NY. I had well intentioned believers tell me to avoid being involved in social action because it would detract from the gospel. They warned me specifically about the dangers of Liberation Theology (by name) and told me to be sure to preach Jesus.

I found that I could not preach Jesus and not care about justice. And, if I wanted real justice, I had to preach Jesus. They did not seem separable, but history has shown that they can be.

So, as Evangelicals have worked to make a biblical connection between social justice and the gospel we can see different approaches take shape. Should social action and justice be seen as a part of our evangelism, or as a consequence of it? Or perhaps you would like to suggest another connection.

About Ryan Peter

Ryan Peter is a writer, journalist and ghostwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes fantasy, sci-fi, inspirational fiction, and on faith. Ryan is also part of the New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI) translocal team.

12 replies
  1. Mark Penrith
    Mark Penrith says:

    I recently read Tim Kellers ‘Ministries of Mercy’ which we found a catalyst for interest in mercy ministries in our congregation. It certainly got the conversation started and has resulted into a strong ministry to an informal settlement down the road and over the hill from us.

  2. Ryan Peter
    Ryan Peter says:

    Been following that on your blog with interest :)

    We’ve been trying to think of ways we can minister into Sandton, especially since that is our “Jerusalem” (Matt 28). Been a really interesting time lately and very exciting. Quite an interesting challenge, Sandton being what it is!

  3. Zach Hoag
    Zach Hoag says:

    Hey Ryan, just responded to your comment on Stetzer’s blog. Really good stuff man. I especially resonate with your point that it is “one message.” This is a point I’ve been trying to work out in the run-up to MissionShift, and it’s a subtle but important one. Tell me what you think:

    First one here.

    Another one <a href=here.


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