A problem that threatens to divide contemporary evangelicalism is that of social justice. The evangelical debate is between parties who agree about the Christian’s responsibility to aid the poor and needy. Their clash involves conflicting answers to several separate questions. What is justice? Is the Christian’s undisputed obligation to demonstrate love for the needy an integral part of justice? Or is the confusion of love and justice a conceptual muddle without biblical warrant that threatens society with great mischief? Does the Christian’s social responsibility obligate him, as many evangelicals are now claiming, to adopt as his means the political system commonly referred to as “liberalism”? Are liberal social programs really the most effective means to aid the poor or are they, more often than not, counter-productive? Most evangelicals who are politically liberal believe it is impossible to be both a biblical, spiritual Christian and a political conservative.

A variety of factors complicates the social, political, and economic disagreements among contemporary evangelicals. First, few Christians, whatever their political persuasion, have made the effort to study the foundational issues that underlie the problem of justice. Basic concepts like freedom and the state are usually left unexamined, as are the details of the conflict between socialism and a market economy. Anyone wishing to deal adequately with the problem of social justice is forced either to begin with a lengthy treatise on the foundational issues or trust that the sincere reader will seek out for himself the relevant literature already available. Unfortunately, many who have attempted to present “the” evangelical view of social justice have failed to do the ...

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