Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Ultimacy of Evangelism

What is the relationship between evangelism and social action? In the past, I have come to the conclusion that evangelism is primary or a priority over and against social action, but recently, I was challenged by Christopher Wright’s thinking on the subject in his book, The Mission of God. Wright doesn’t like describing the relationship between evangelism and social action as one of primacy or priority because of the following reasons:

“The language of the “priority of evangelism” implies that the only proper starting point must always be evangelistic proclamation. Priority means it is the most important, most urgent, thing to be done first, and everything else must take second, third, or fourth place. But the difficulty with this is that (1) it is not always possible or desirable in the immediate situation, and (2) it does not even reflect the actual practice of Jesus” -pg. 318

Wright then suggests that we describe the relationship of evangelism and social action as one of ultimacy rather than primacy. He writes:

Mission may not always begin with evangelism. But mission that does not ultimately include declaring the Word and the name of Christ, the call to repentance, and faith obedience has not completed its task. It is defective mission, not holistic mission” –pg 319

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