Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?
North American Evangelicals have recently experienced a revival of interest in issues of social justice. The growing sentiment among many today is that Jesus preached “good news to the poor,” and was indeed among the poor and marginalized. These Christians believe that the implications of these facts should renew the church’s understanding of the gospel and its mission. Rightly or wrongly, this interest in social justice is transforming the blueprint and vision of ecclesial ministry.
For others, this blueprint conjures up concerns about 20th century liberal Protestantism and a watering down of the gospel’s message of salvation. The defining mission of the church, for them, continues to be the sharing of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all nations, generations, and social classes. The issue of social justice, though important, is not to be considered as an essential part of the mission of the church.
A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?
Jim Wallis is president and founder of Sojourners; he is also editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, which has a combined print and electronic media readership of more than a quarter million. A New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He recently served on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and currently serves as the vice chair of the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. He is also the author of a dozen books, the most recent Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery; The Great Awakening:Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America; and God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he is an at-larger leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, serving in several offices. He came to the presidency of Southern Seminary from service as editor of The Christian Index, the oldest of the state papers serving the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to his presidential duties, Dr. Mohler hosts two programs: “The Briefing” and “Thinking in Public.” In addition to contributing to a number of collected volumes, he is the author of several books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Multnomah); Desire & Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance (Multnomah); Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists (Crossway).