Christian faith is practiced as a call not simply to a personal conversion but to personal social reform through face-to-face evangelism. However, the Gospel Message’s emphasis must be understood as “it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.” Romans 1:16-17 NetBible2.
I view and understand the social gospel addresses the Gospel through those who supported and used Christian principles in their attempt to correct social problems. Many living during the 19th and 20th centuries suffered from bad nutrition, bad health systems, weak education, alcohol abuse, crime, and warfare across the world. One only has to scan historical records to know that biblical theology of sin, salvation, heaven and hell, and the Kingdom of God was somewhat ignored. Much of the same is happening here in the 21st century. Those embracing the Social Gospel were/are theologically liberal and enjoy the postmillennial view of eternity that Christ’s second coming will not occur until humanity somehow cures itself of social evil. These thinkers teach that Christians must concentrate only on the present system of evil while ignoring the second coming of Christ. Personal salvation was not and is not the issue at hand. Revival preaching and events have grown silent.
The social gospel proclaims a god without wrath while pursuing people without presenting sin and evil as spiritual darkness without judgment through a redeemer without a cross. There is less of a biblical gospel message today than there was 50 years ago. The message of the social gospel is nothing less than the improvement of social ills with the hope of salvation. People are basically seen as being good and society will somehow improve and eliminate the Gospel of God resulting in the salvation of the lost. These misguided souls seem to think “if we feed enough people, properly educate the children, dig enough wells, clean up the air and redistribute wealth God’s kingdom will be found. And, if we emphasize love, justice, brotherhood, and goodwill toward men, greed and selfishness will be overcome with their goodness.” None of this nonsense can be found in the Word of God wherein the redemption of the heart of man can only take place if lost humanity pursues the God of the Bible.
Using the Word of God to properly define the Social Gospel must view the Christ who lived in history’s darkest moment. Our Lord did not seek to change the government as He ignored the pressure of those who listened to Him to be King. We find in John 6:15 that the Jews attempted to force Jesus to follow their wishes to define Jesus’ popularity. Sadly, we may be seeing much of the same going on today.
This was not His chosen time to establish His kingdom on earth. Jesus’ ministry was not for a secular social change, but His mission was to change the hearts of people for eternity. He did not come to remove poverty but to wipe out sin, John 1:29-34, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!” HCSB.
Jesus’ primary ministry was and continues to justify people before God, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5:1-4. Mark recorded in his narrative that human poverty will remain with us, “Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for Me. You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body in advance for burial. I assure you: Wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9. Jesus did not come to earth to be a political or social reformer, but He taught the primacy and power of faith in God, the need to be born again, and commitment toward God. His Message challenges and changes the human heart of mankind through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, He alone changes society.
The social gospel is more concerned about circumstances here on earth with little emphasis on the darkness and sin of the human heart. However, we must not ignore the Gospel does not bypass physical human needs but is mostly concerned about the condition of the souls of men and their eternal destiny. I have observed the drilling of wells in mountainous regions helping to improve the life of many villages. This is good and right and must be commended. However, if the darkness never hears of the water that Jesus tells us about, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well “Sir,” the woman said to Him, “give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.” John 4:13-14. Lost people will go to Hell.
No, I am NOT a Follower of Jesus Christ because I am a Southern Baptist. I became a Southern Baptist by choice because the doctrine I hold is the same as reflected by the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and found in Holy Writ. I am a Christian, a Follower of the Christ because of the grip of His grace on my heart and life, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10. Yes, I am a Christian follower of Jesus Christ and a Southern Baptist, yet.
Jesus is Lord.