Benedict XVI: "Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable."

Pope Benedict is concerned that the Catholic Church promotes social justice more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not sure why this is news today, because I have heard this concern expressed by evangelicals for years now. However, I am not going to discuss the fact that I feel the upper echelons of the Church are a little slow on the uptake; I want to provide something of a defense for no-strings-attached social justice.

It is no secret that I am an evangelical. I am a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, Spirit-craving daughter of the King. I embrace John Wesley's image of a God whose grace calls us out, and enables us to overcome our depravity. The Word has power, and sharing the Word is not something to be ignored. We are called, commissioned to spread the Gospel. We are also instructed in other things:

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.


"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

The funny thing is, neither of these passages specifically mentions "sharing" the Gospel. What they do point to, however, is showing and living the gospel. There is a cliche: People don't care what you know unless they know that you care. Nowhere is this more true than the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do we seek social justice to "lure" people to the Gospel? Of course not, and to imply such denies the power of the Gospel in and of itself. We seek social justice because we are called, as followers of the One True Living God, to do so.


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