The Church And Social Action

Politics and Evangelism, by Philippe Maury (Doubleday, 1960, 120 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by Edward L. R. Elson, Minister, National Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C.

Here is a book which ought to be read by every social action “expert” and by all who are unhappy over the absolutisms of the social action “cults.” Philippe Maury, French Protestant layman, now General Secretary of the World Christian movement, stakes down his case on the premise that both evangelism and political action, for the Christian, arise from the Word of God and the eternal gospel of Christ. “For the Church,” says Maury, “the meaning of history is the history of salvation, and no historical event can be understood outside this perspective, and especially that of the coming kingdom of God.”

Maury contends that the Church can and must speak, but must be certain that it is the Word of God which is spoken. The Church should be courageous but also prudent. It should always be cause for alarm when there is not a large concensus when the Church is disposed to speak. Prudence is also a form of courage, and to be silent when there is not a large concensus is more eloquent than speech. It must never be forgotten that the Church speaks by simply being the Church. Her very existence has a prophetic meaning, a missionary dimension.” Political, economic, and social declarations are derivatives; they are not the Gospel nor are they necessarily prophetic. The Church is a divine institution, but the Church is not God. To her has been committed one specialty—the proclamation of the gospel of redemptive love made known in time for all time by Christ Jesus our Lord.

EDWARD L. R. ELSON

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