Campolo and McLaren on Social
Excerpts from Adventures in
Missing The Point by Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo,
(Campolo) "To most evangelicals,
'social action' as a theological tenet once had liberal, suspicious,
and unbiblical connotations. ... It was largely the theological
liberals who embraced social action. Evangelicals reacted by making
both liberals and social action their adversaries.
No longer. Over the past few decades,
evangelicals have increasingly talked about a holistic gospel that
incorporates in its salvation story a Jesus who came into the world
to minister to all needs of a hurting humanity - physical and social
needs as well as spiritual needs. ...
When you minister to the poor of the world
directly and individually, even goevernments may lend you a hand.
But begin suggesting that a government's political and economic
systems actually create privation and suffering, and you will be
told that you're in over your head - that you're messing around in
areas that Christians ought to leave alone. ...
It only complicates things that those who
have vested interests in sustaining the political-economic system
are, ironically, high-profile or active church members. ... They
would argue that the Bill of Rights requires that church leaders
stay out of government affairs.
What they fail to realize is that the Bill
of Rights stipulates separation of church and state precisely so
churches would be free from state domination and thus be able to
speak to the state with a prophetic voice. All through the Hebrew
Bible, prophets of God dared to speak up to governmental contexts
for the poor and the oppressed, and called on their rulers to treat
them with justice. Jesus himself was in this prophetic tradition: he
started his ministry by declaring that the kingdom of God was at
hand (Mark 1:14-15) and that this Kingdom would be good news for the
poor (Luke 4:18).
You will incur the deepest suspicion,
however - at least in the U.S. - if you have the audacity to
question the capitalistic system itself. Capitalism is a divinely
ordained economic system, say many Americans, and any who question
capitalism are the enemies of God. ...
When those who wield economic power are out
of control and serve their own interests to the detriment of the
masses, the poor, and the powerless, Christians must speak
prophetically and pronoucne God's judgment against such destructive
Of all the 'principalities and powers' that
St. Paul writes of in Ephesians 6:12, the government is one of those
entities against which we are to wrestle as we seek to see God's
will 'done on earth, as it is in heaven.' Not that this wrestling is
always clear: when do we fight, and when do we submit (Romans 13:5,
1 Peter 2:13ff)? Therefore we must always deal with these
principalities and powers and governments with fear and trembling,
for political decisions seldom lend themselves to simple
(McLaren) "Two issues seem to be
at the top of the list for many of my Christian friends: ending
abortion (by naming it illegal?) and doing something about
homosexuals (by outlawing them? Jailing them: Shaming them? Asking
them to leave the premises:). But in the
big scheme of things, other issues rise to the top of my list when I
think pray, look around, read the papers, travel, listen, look.
Overpopulation ... Consumerism ...Ecology
... Genetic engineering and psychopharmacology ... Poverty. Will the
staggering gap between the rich and the poor widen more? Will that
inequity fuel the hatreds mentioned above? If global capitalism
makes the rich richer and leave the poor in poverty what will we do?
Merely than God we're among the rich?
Can we say we love God if we don't love our
neighbor who lives in an overpopulated, undermedicated, strife-torn