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Christianity in new social clothing

While some evangelicals are rebranding themselves, turns out college evangelicals are also working on their image.

Christianity Today reports that there has been a shift in how campus ministries are trying to connect with students by emphasizing the social aspect of the gospel.

University of Alabama history professor John Turner told the magazine that ministries with a sincere commitment to social issues can repair the “poor image of campus evangelicals” among students who associate them with homophobia and political conservatism.

“One way for evangelicals to counter these negative stereotypes and put themselves in a position to talk about Jesus is to engage in meaningful social justice work that even non-evangelicals can appreciate. There is a danger of losing sight of evangelistic goals. But not taking these steps presents an even greater danger to those same goals.”

Scott Bessenecker, associate director of missions for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said his organization “is trying to help students embrace and engage the social dimensions of the gospel in a way that will inspire individuals to say, ‘I want to follow this Jesus.'”

One can’t read the article without thinking of the “social gospel” movement which is more than a century old and still has a strong following among mainline Protestant denominations.

Evangelical leader Rick Warren caught some flak in 2008 for saying the social gospel was in many ways “just Marxism in Christian clothing.” Still, however, he said evangelicals should care more about issues such as poverty.

Such caring would be a good start toward an image in the likeness of Christianity’s namesake.

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January 1, 2010 - Posted by | Religion | ,

5 Comments

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  4. I think Rick Warren may be in the position to change his thinking on this subject, especially in light of the rapid movement toward social justice in 2009 with the exposure to homelessness (much of this rapidly advanced through our declining economy), girls and boys to the slave trade, and unspeakable female abuse around the nations, along with a host of other atrocities, abuse and neglect. At one time, social justice was linked heavily in the minds of baby boomers as Marxism. But we should be careful not to dismiss Warren’s comment as political bias. Any amount of social justice in the name of Christ for the purpose of sharing the gospel and being incarnational as Christ was incarnational will steer clear of Marxist thinking. However, the moment we remove Christ; the moment the passion becomes self-driven; the moment we harshly judge those not involved in social justice because–through a sovereign God–they are not led that way, then we give way to Marxism (or some elements of that philosophy). Do your good works, brethren, but be wary of the schemes of the adversary to thwart Christ from the work of your hands.

    Comment by angelamz40 | January 2, 2010

    • Rick Warren has indeed shown remarkable flexibility and ability to grow intellectually spiritually amid the pressure of controversy. We do feel, however, that “Marxism” is usually a misguided allegation, directed at people whose views of Christian social justice are more expansive and communitarian than that of their critics.

      Comment by baptistplanet | January 2, 2010


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