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Evangelism - Myers Mott Maggay Linthicum        

Campolo and McLaren on Social Action

Excerpts from Adventures in Missing The Point by Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo, Zondervan, 2003.

(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 self-interest. ...
     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 answers."

(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 slum?"

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