The Social Gospel Revisited
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:40 PM [+]
While the Left and Right trade rounds over who's worse the Tea Party or the OWS, I have largely avoided the entire nonsense but stubmled upon what I thought was an interesting article. No, there's nothing new here, it's the same old "social gospel" most of us have heard about before - just dressed up amidst the ongoing political marginalization wrecking havoc on our government and even our churches.
Of course I have some very serious "issues" with the author here. First of all can anyone claim to speak for the OWS protests in terms of what PRECISELY they are protesting and what changes PRECISELY they want to see done? If and when that is ever accomplished then how exactly do we decide if what is being protested and what is being called for is in fact Christian? Sure it's easy to say that we Christians are to love and care for the poor, but does that care and concern possibly stop when we are forcing other people to do it for us? Can we vote away our Christian duty? Again, I understand the desire to do what we think is right, but I just don't see Christ giving a great deal of concern to political solutions. The author of this article talks about Jesus hanging out with tax collectors and whores and the down-trodden...yes, yes, and yes. But He wasn't seeking to bureaucratic social services program for them...He was seeking these people's souls.
"Blessed are the poor (in spirit - ahem!)" I'm not entirely sure I understand why the author at once lauds being poor and then apparently seeks to politically end poverty (an utter impossibility if our Lord is to be believed). Christians may be called upon to reject materialism, and consumerism, and even wealth itself...but I do not believe we are called up to utilize the force of law to persuade others to follow "The Way" (However that is defined.)
"The Way" is not a path to social justice. It is a path to Theosis. Miss this truth and you've certainly missed the Chruch - with or without "christianese". Jesus doesn't redeem the poor from their poverty; He redeems the dead from death! Our participation in this New Life will certainly include seeking to help the suffering and to put others before ourselves. But I'm less inclined to think our Christianity plays itself out very well in the political arena. All I see there (on both sides) is idolatry, atheism, quest for power, and desperate searches for a heaven on earth that cannot succeed.
In our Lord's example I see neither Tea Party nor OWS protesters, on the contrary I see God incarnate come to save that which was lost: the lives and souls of His beloved creation. I see Him looking into the hearts of men and women and CHANGING them from the inside-out. Got that? INSIDE-OUT. The most important social justice in the universe is that He conquers death. What room for politics in that? HA! I'd say not much. Politics may be an important hobby for many (and I've my opinions for sure), but let's not mistake where the Church is really to be found.
I recall an old Mike Stand song in which he sings: Forget the bombs that destroy our world; a million times over we kill ourselves, a million times over we need to learn; that in this life we make our choices: serve ourselves or walk in the footsteps of love...
Social Justice? Well how's it working out in that passion filled and storm tossed heart of yours? I won't bother you with that over-quoted saying of St. Seraphim...y'all know it. We can't vote this world into the Kingdom. Left and Right need to get this...so do I. Now, back to killing myself and my neighbors while dreaming of a political savior to make it alright.