The Need for a New Landscape for Social Christianity

Jesus taught his followers to “give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). While there is a clear distinction made between the two, and an understanding of each office (civil and ecclesiastical) as inherently extant, the responsibilities which Christians possess towards each institution is taught by Jesus to differ in many aspects. Unfortunately, despite Man’s best efforts, there are flaws in several proposed procedures for a social and civil reform.

Walter Rauschenbusch writes that, “Christian men of conservative spirit recoil from the swift pace and impersonal hugeness of modern industry and look back to the simpler processes and more personal contact between master and men as a better and more Christian social life.”

The appeal to simpler times by Christians is understandable, because Christianity contains an inherently personal and individualistic concept of man’s placement in the world and his purpose in the providential will of God. The modern fast-paced form of impersonal industrially-based economy in which Christians find themselves is alien to the gospel, if not counterintuitive to it. While social attempts to revert economic structures to a simpler agrarian era are done in an applaudable spirit, no such reversion could be permanent.

The Old Testament contains within its pages a form of social justice and godly civil orientation so pure and uncorrupted that it puts any model of Christian justice in the modern era to shame. While understanding the social and legal aspects of the Bible is crucial for the Church to progress in its understanding of what constitutes a godly society, the applicability of such knowledge is intended to provide a general equity of how we as Christians are to live, and the direction in which God is directing His people, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,” (2 Cor. 3:6).

While such a hope in the ultimatum of Christ’s ministry is to be adhered to by the body of Christ, it is important for the Church to acknowledge the necessity of seeking the religious reorganization of societal norms as a crucial point of concern today. Yes, we will likely never acquire a perfect global society in this life where the love and peace offered by Christianity flows within all people. However, we will likely never acquire our perfect self in this life either, where we cease to sin and become total partakers in the divine nature of God. Certainly, if the latter fact does not drive us away from pursuing holiness, then the former should not deter us from seeking social repentance.


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What do you need is missing in today’s church in terms of reaching out to the poor?

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