A second ‘quotable quote’ from this book, Transforming the World?: the Gospel and Social Responsibility, edited by Dewi Hughes and Jamie Grant.
I’m trying to prepare a series of 10 guest posts or so for Jesus Creed in June.
Rather than replicate what will come there (discussion of 9-10 chapters or so), I thought I’d post a few quotable quotes to give a flavour of a thought-provoking series of essays in what is a very good and important book.
I’m cheating a bit with this example for a couple of reasons. First, I am quoting two quotes. Second, one of them is quoted in a chapter by Alistair Wilson ‘The Compassion of the Christ’ and is actually written by Chris Wright in The Mission of God, p.319.
It actually forms part of a curious bit of Wilson’s conclusion. He begins to criticise Wright’s 8 point proposal in that book for how to respond holistically to HIV/AIDS. Of eight responses, only one, says Wilson, involves specific presentation of the biblical gospel. His problem seems to be this:
Effective biblical instruction must be the foundation of a church’s response to the human tragedy it faces. As we observe Jesus’ portraits in the Gospel narratives, we find him devoting himself to the proclamation of the kingdom of God as least as much as he devotes himself to dealing with illness or hunger (see Matt. 9:35). Thus, recognition of the centrality of the message of the gospel is a significant aspect of what it means to have compassion as Jesus had compassion. (p.109)
But he qualifies this criticism of Wright three times.
– He agrees that Wright’s whole book is an extended exegesis of the biblical material.
– He agrees with Wright that a pietistic emphasis on evangelism accompanied by a lack of action is a travesty of the gospel.
And thirdly he cites approvingly this quote by Wright.
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 and obedience has not completed its task. It is defective mission, not holistic mission.
I think this exchange highlights the continuing tensions of how to frame the relationship of the gospel and social action. Wilson seems to be uncomfortable with how Chris Wright is framing a holisitc gospel, yet he’s also an honest and good enough scholar fairly to acknowledge Wright’s whole argument and he can’t find much to disagree with.
Is that how you read this? Comments, as ever, welcome.