Biblical Justice, Global Mission
The Core Mission of the Church? Whole, Half or Non-Gospel Considerations
October 2, 2014
Updated June 19, 2018
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On October 1st, Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC, posted an article entitled "Social Justice and the Gospel: What is the Core Mission of the Church?".
He cited his own musing, his discussions with his students, as well as interactions with the likes of Don Carson who said:
Some studies have shown that Christians spend about five times more mission dollars on issues related to poverty than they do on evangelism and church planting. At one time, “holistic ministry” was an expression intended to move Christians beyond proclamation to include deeds of mercy. Increasingly, however, “holistic ministry” refers to deeds of mercy without any proclamation of the gospel—and that is not holistic. It is not even halfistic, since the deeds of mercy are not the gospel: they are entailments of the gospel. Although I know many Christians who happily combine fidelity to the gospel, evangelism, church planting, and energetic service to the needy, and although I know some who call themselves Christians who formally espouse the gospel but who live out few of its entailments, I also know Christians who, in the name of a “holistic” gospel, focus all their energy on presence, wells in the Sahel, fighting disease, and distributing food to the poor, but who never, or only very rarely, articulate the gospel, preach the gospel, announce the gospel, to anyone. Judging by the distribution of American mission dollars, the biggest hole in our gospel is the gospel itself.
Additionally, he cites a more comprehensive study that was published in a recent Master's Seminary Journal by two veteran missionaries from Africa, namely Joel James and Brian Biedebach. Their work was entitled "Regaining our Focus: A Response to the Social Action Trend in Evangelical Missions" and it can be found here. Here is a quote from their article:
And it appears that the new generation of evangelicals—the Young, Restless, and Reformed—has bought in. Churches, keen to support their enthusiastic young missionaries, often loosen their purse strings whatever the theological significance or insignificance of the mission. And market-sensitive mission agencies, having noted the change, are reworking their images to accommodate the new Peace Corps mentality. As a result, the evangelical church in the West is commissioning and sending a generation of missionaries to Africa whose primary enthusiasm is for orphan care, distributing medicine, combating poverty, and other social action projects. For the most part, these new missionaries value the church, but in many cases they seem to view the church primarily as a platform from which to run and fund their relief projects. And in a surprising number of cases, their local church involvement is nominal. (p. 30)
A few questions:
1. Is there anything useful in Kruger's article and the authors he cited? If so, why, and if not why not?
2. Does it have anything to do with the core mission of the CRC?
3. Would it apply to the core mission and actual realities on the ground of any CRC agencies?
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