Recent years have seen several attempts to recover an evangelical social ethic. One of the latest is article five of the Lausanne Covenant, drawn up at the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. We find in this at least nine assertions about what an evangelical social program should be based on. These are: (1) concern for justice; (2) concern for reconciliation; (3) concern for the liberation of human beings; (4) respect for the dignity of persons; (5) the determination not to exploit but (6) to serve fellow human beings; (7) denunciation of evil and injustice; (8) efforts to exhibit and (9) to spread the righteousness of Christ’s Kingdom. A biblical analysis of these terms may help define further the positive perspectives of evangelical social concern.
1. Rightly the quest for righteousness as a Christian concern is deduced from the biblical doctrine of God “who executes judgment for the oppressed” (Ps. 146:7). Not only those who are especially commissioned (e.g., the king in Israel) but all of God’s people are called to concern themselves with establishing justice, be it in judicial or in everyday social affairs. Men’s injustices will never be reconciled with the righteousness of God (Rom. 1:18).
2. Jesus speaks not only about the need and possibility of reconciliation between man and God but also and in no uncertain terms about reconciliation between human beings. He seems even to give precedence to the latter: “If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:24). Wherever the Gospel comes, it works ...1
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