evangelism and social justice

The Gospel Coalition is running posts from theologians all week on the question, “How do we work for justice and not undermine evangelism?”  I get to contribute on Thursday, though I may just tweet my Amen to what D. A. Carson has already written.  There is so much gospel wisdom in what he says–may everyone who claims to follow Jesus live by these words.

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  1. As usual, D.A. Carson makes a great case, but in this instance, I think his response is begging the question rather than answering it: how do we do justice without sacrificing evangelism – by being evangelistic. Um, true.

    My real concern, though, is that the question itself misses the point of evangelism. The Gospel message is the exact opposite of justice. Christ’s substitutionary atonement is the greatest act of injustice in history. The only truly righteous person suffers and dies for the sins of others and we sinners receive the blessings of an imputed righteousness. What we receive is far better than justice. We receive mercy. Grace. That is the beauty of the Gospel, that we don’t receive justice but grace. We are not condemned as the sinners we are. Even in this life, the evil that we deserve for sinning against God is restrained because of God’s gracious love for us. As sinners – even as sinners justified by Christ – we don’t want justice. We cry out for grace and mercy. And that is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.

  2. Brian McLaughlin October 19, 2010 — 9:31 am

    I realize Carson’s post is short, but I still prefer your own answer in Heaven is a Place on Earth. It is better to see the Cultural and Redemptive Mandates as existing side-by-side and to extend our understanding of redemption as beyond only “saving souls.” I expect you to nail this balance on Thursday.

    I just finished Wright’s The Mission of God’s People. It is excellent…and he quotes you!

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