Video - Al Mohler, Jim Wallis debate: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

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Joel Shaffer's picture

I finally got a chance to listen to the debate in its entirety. What it came down to is Jim Wallis believes that social justice is integral to the gospel, where as Al Mohler believes that justice (he redefined social justice along Biblical terminology using only the word Justice) is a vital social implication of the gospel. Wallis backed up his views primarily with stories from personal experiences and other people's experiences, where as Mohler primarily defended his views from Scripture and logic with an occasional story or two. Mohler's concern is that by making social justice the church's mission that we lose out on the mission that only the church can do (preach and teach the gospel of Christ). Wallis' concern is that leaving out social justice as integral to the gospel and the mission of the church because of our "atonement-only" theology has dangerous implications....which he linked to the failure of fundamental and evangelical churches during the Civil Rights era and other injustices that are going on today. Wallis ended by sharing his fear that if we are not justice people because we are Jesus people, we will turn more and more people away from Jesus, especially young people who are interested in social justice (such as the occupy wall street people) Al Mohler responded by saying that we need to be Jesus people (which happens when people are saved) in order to be truly lasting justice people. There was alot more to this debate that I could have mentioned, but it would take several more hours of which I don't really have.

Brenda T's picture

I watched the debate live, and you summed up the main points very well. Mohler consistently went to Scripture to make his points, while Wallis relied heavily on anecdotes and experience. A lot of times it seemed like they were talking past each other, because Mohler was trying to relate his statements to the local church primarily and to all Christians secondarily, while Wallis broadened his statements to include all of Christianity primarily and nothing secondarily. Perhaps that confusion was more a function of the question not specifically defining "church" as referring to local or universal.