The January 2009 issue of the Jews for Jesus newsletter has an article by David Brickner about the “Social Gospel.” This movement by the likes of Rick Warren and his ilk is nothing new, as Brickner points out. Here is an excerpt from the article that I think sums it up:
Why was it, and why is it popular to blend evangelism with social action? Can’t each stand on its own merits? Some believe it is necessary to combine them in order to gain an entrée for the gospel, or to earn respect from those who think Christians don’t care about social concerns. The problem is, since social action is far more acceptable to unbelievers than attempts to point them to Jesus, it is easy to convince ourselves that our social actions will speak volumes about our faith. And people will want to know more about Christ, some insist, without our having to offend them by talking about sin and the Savior.
We all prefer appreciation to rejection - I know I certainly do. And isn’t it wonderful that some of the things God commands us to do may lead people to appreciate us? But if we try to blend that which people usually appreciate with that which they often reject, we should not be surprised to find ourselves giving precedence to the former at the expense of the latter. That’s how many “missions” programs minimize the difficult doctrine of the uniqueness of Christ for salvation, undermining the gospel message and rendering it essentially powerless. Hence the phrase “social gospel” implies a lot of social, but not much gospel.
Rick Warren, are you listening?