Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Social Gospel

My last entry got so long that I decided to set aside one for the quotes of D. Martin Lloyd Jones. In a television interview, I recently heard Barak Obama defending Jeremiah Wright this way,
"Jeremiah Wright ... has said some things that are considered controversial because he's considered that part of his social gospel." The social gospel, of which Obama speaks is something less than the true gospel of the Bible. For a very brief look into the social gospel and the necessity of the true gospel and gospel preaching, I want to carry you along on a brief trip into the thoughts of D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. This is a compliation of his comments all compiled into one concise statement.

Lloyd-Jones writes, the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy that the church is 'the pillar and ground of the truth.' She is not a social organisation or institution, not a political society, not a cultural society, but the 'pillar and ground of the truth.'

Futher, any social gospel is short-sighted because it sees man's major problems as social evils and fails to address the real problem of sin and separation from God...

The moment you consider man's real need, and also the nature of the salvation announced and proclaimed in the Scriptures, you are driven to the conclusion that the primary task of the chruch is to preach and to proclaim this, to show man's real need, and to show the only remedy, the only cure for's real trouble is that he is a rebel against God and consequently under the wrath of God.

Thus, Lloyd-Jones continues,

If this is the greatest need of man, if his ultimate need is something that arises out of this ignorance of his which, in turn, is the result of rebellion against God, well then, what he needs first and foremost is to be told about this, to be told the truth about himself, and to be told fo teh only way in which this can be dealt with. So I assert that it is the peculiar task of the Church, and of the preacher, to make all this known.

Even more counter-cultural he writes,

The primary task of the church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically, it is not to make him happy [we might add also that economic stewardship is not her primary responsibility]...Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God.

Lastly, and probably most importantly for our current situation,

What was largely responsible for emptying the churches in Great Britain was that 'social gospel' preaching and the institutional church...The church has been trying to preach morality and ethics without the gospel as a basis; it has been preaching morality without godliness; and it simply does not work...The result is that the church, having abandoned her real task, has left humanity more or less to it's own devices.

By the way, Preaching and Preachers was not written as a response to Jeremiah Wright, or anyone in the 21st Century for that matter, it was copyrighted in 1971. It was written as a call to preachers to be faithful to the Word of God, regardless of their time in history.

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