Social Gospel Tree-huggin’ Weirdo

My brother has called me a “Social Gospel Tree-huggin’ weirdo.”  Of course, it was done in jest in our B/S Chronicles,  but I’m a firm believer that there is an element of truth in all jokes geared toward other human beings.  Someone may say, “ah, i’m just kidding”…but, really? are you?

I did not take offense to his statement at all.  In fact, it made me laugh.  But then I started thinking Is his statement true?  Is it even partly true?

Let’s dissect:

TREE-HUGGIN’: I start with this one because it’s the easier of the two ideologies.  Often, I enjoy hugging trees.  Their rough, grooved surfaces against my skin bring smiles to my face, especially on those occasions where I’m in need of a really good back scratch 🙂

Seriously, I’m more of a wanna-be tree-hugger.  I think as Christians we are commanded to take care of the Earth God placed us on.  It is not good stewardship to litter the ground with cigarette butts, contaminate the waters with junky chemicals, and treat animals with disdain and apathy.  When the opportunity to be kind to our Earth is convenient and truly important to me, I take advantage of it.  If recycling, purchasing organic produce and meats, and using biodegradable products makes me a tree-hugger…then I guess this statement is true.  (However, my car is not electric, i don’t have my own garden [even though i want one], and I have no qualms about killing an animal for food [as long as it’s done correctly].)

SOCIAL GOSPEL: First, it depends on the definition of “Social Gospel”.  My minimal research produced the original definition:

a movement led by a group of liberal Protestant progressives in response to the social problems raised by the rapid industrialization, urbanization, and increasing immigration of the Gilded Age. The social gospel differentiated itself from earlier Christian reform movements by prioritizing social salvation over individual salvation…social gospel advocates supported the labor movement and called for an interventionist welfare state. They differed from secular activists in that their ultimate vision was not just a more equitable balance of power within society, but a Christianized society in which cooperation, mutual respect, and compassion replaced greed, competition, and conflict among social and economic classes*

I admit that I am not an expert  on social gospel movement (SGM), but from my quick internet study i have learned that the social gospel movement has reappeared in our modern churches (being mainly associated with the emergent church).  Although the SGM is not out to save society as a whole, there is a huge emphasis placed on social issues…poverty, injustice, human rights, fair health care, etc.  One article stated that it’s a “vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice more than sinners repenting and believing the Gospel of Christ”. 

It is because of that last statement that I can emphatically state I AM NOT A SOCIAL GOSPEL FOLLOWER

There is no greater message than the Gospel of Christ…that Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, came to Earth, was tortured, bruised, and sacrificed on the cross for the redemption of all sins.  He rose again and then ascended into Heaven, but one day will return to Earth.  Salvation is free and available to any person who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Savior, repents of their sins, and follows after Him.  It is through grace, not works or deeds, that a person receives salvation and eternal life.

Yes, I do believe in fighting for the rights and betterment of all human beings.  I take Jesus literally when he tells us to take care of orphans and widows, to feed the hungry, and to give to those who are poor.   It’s important to fight for victims of sex trafficking, unborn children who are murdered daily, and people who are bound in silence because of unjust governments…but I don’t do these things in place of the salvation message; I do them in conjuction with one another.  I’ve written before of my opinions & experience on this subject HERE.   

So, Social Gospel?  Nope.  not in the way that it’s commonly used concerning the emergent church.

WEIRDO:  I have no counter-arguments against this term of endearment.   But aren’t we all weirdos to some degree?

Now that we’ve dissected what I am and am not…we need to alter Jeremy’s description of me to…well…just WEIRDO.   🙂


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