A Social Mandate?

What role should the Christian church have in helping the poor and downtrodden?

This pastor says that it is a “biblical mandate” to spend our lives helping the poor, regardless of their response, for these reasons:

  • The OT clearly expects it, Deut 15:7-8
  • “The sin of Sodom was their lack of concern for the unrighteous poor, and the result of this sin was God’s judgment on both the rich and poor alike”, Ezek 16:49
  • Jesus expects His followers to serve “even the least of these,” Matt 25:40
  • Doing so is the best way of reminding yourself of the gospel

Thus, helping the unrighteous poor is something that should be done for its own sake, not even with the pretext of establishing a “bridge” for evangelism. This is what many evangelical churches, schools, leaders, books, websites, and radio stations hold to and promote.

However, I believe that there is no “social mandate” as described above, for the following reasons:

  • Social action for “pre-evangelism” is unbiblical for it ignores the depravity of the human heart and denigrates the power of the gospel
  • Appeals to the OT for explicit commands to social action ignore the dispensational differences between Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom of God
  • The Bible never commands the church to be involved in social issues
  • The Bible only commands the church to be involved in “social action” toward fellow believers

Go to Mark Perry’s article here for more detailed discussion on this matter.

This is yet one more reason why ministry fellowship with “conservative evangelicals” should not be pursued. I’m not calling their salvation, commitment to moral purity, devotion to missions, or anything like that into question (so don’t start that, please). I am saying, “how can we have working fellowship with those with whom we have fundamental disagreements over essential beliefs of Christian life and ministry?”

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Author: Dan Greenfield

I am an undeserving sinner saved by God's grace through Jesus Christ, a happy husband, proud father of 6 great kids, pastor of Orwell Bible Church, Executive Secretary of the American Council of Christian Churches, and member of the Ohio Bible Fellowship .

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