Proclamation or social action? "Many Evangelicals are simply unwilling to answer the question at hand by exegeting the Scripture"

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Joel Shaffer's picture

As much as I, like Pearson, would have liked to have heard their Biblical reasoning for what they believed about proclamation vs. social action, I don't think that was the purpose of the symposium.    I think their assumptions are already settled because of all of the Biblical exegesis and theological reflection that's been done by missiologists/theologians over the past fifty to sixty years.   This is sad, because I believe the more narrow view of mission coming from DeYoung and Gilbert's book, What is the Mission of the Church, was not given a fair hearing within the scope of evangelicalism.  I say this even though there were parts that I definitely disagreed with in their book (truncated view of the cultural mandate, compartmentalization between the great commission and the great commandment).

One small example of evangelical theological reflection comes from Bryant Myers, one of the panelists of this symposium that wrote a book a couple decades ago called, Walking with the poor: principles and practices of transformational development.  A good portion of the book developed a biblical foundation for Christian Community Development.   A few years ago, the book, "When Helping Hurts" by Brian Fikkert came out, and it drew from some of the theological reflection that Myers had done.    

However, I'd wholeheartedly agree with Pearson that many urban ministry practitioners, certain pastors and church planters, and dedicated lay people within the church simply don't care to address this issue of the relationship between evangelism and social action within the church that works through solid biblical exegesis.  For instance, I just finished reading a book by a  former CCM musician, pastor and writer by the name of Tim Suttle who just published a book called "the Evangelical Social Gospel"  which combined a lack of solid biblical exegesis, a romantic, sanitized view of Walter Rauschenbusch, and a broad-brush, stereotypical view of conservative evangelicalism, fundamentalism and dispensationalism.