40 Years in the Desert – 6. Christian Social Responsibility 1

6.1 A Holistic Gospel

One of the greatest scandals of the Evangelical world today is the multitude of distorted or partial versions of the gospel preached in our churches. Thus the good news of the kingdom of God is frequently reduced to

  • a so-called ‘spiritual’ gospel which only covers prayer, Bible reading and churchgoing and rejects any preoccupation with material things as worldly and unworthy of ‘spiritual’ people;
  • an individualistic gospel, which concentrates on getting individual people to heaven and has no connection with the social dimension of our lives: extended family, local community, society in general, economics, politics, etc.;
  • a heavenly gospel which is concerned almost exclusively with our reconciliation with God and has nothing to say about our need to be reconciled with our neighbours.

It is precisely against such surrogate versions of the gospel that the apostle Paul warns us in Galatians 1:6–9.

If we want to see in our countries vibrant churches that are making an impact on society, we need to promote in the Christian community a holistic understanding of the gospel, one that touches both the spiritual and the material, the individual and the social, love for God and love for our neighbours.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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