Negligent Christians?

I've begun noticing a trend in many of the blogs and books I've read recently, as well as in many of the conferences and podcasts I've followed. It's become extremely trendy for evangelicals to bash the modern Evangelical Church when it comes to acts of mercy and social justice. If you listen to many of today's Christian writers, you could easily come to the conclusion that the Church has been completely asleep at the wheel since the 14th century when it led the charge in caring for people during the Bubonic Plague.

It's convenient to bash the Church, and I won't disagree that the Church has not been all it could be in this area. But I'm not sure the situation is nearly as bleak as many people have painted it.

There is a good chance that the largest hospital in your area was started by the Evangelical Church. If homeless people in your area need to be cared and provided for, they likely go to a Christian food bank or shelter. When it comes to relief efforts for famines, hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, Christians have historically been some of the first people on the scene.

It's popular to bash the Church as if Christians have been completely negligent for the past seven hundred years. But those kinds of conclusions just don't bear the weight of the facts.

Don't get me wrong: we need to do better. We need to help people see that God cares about the poor, disenfranchised, persecuted and abandoned as we point them toward the ultimate hope found in Christ. It's true that some individual churches have focused on being right more than they've focused on being the Body of Christ. But I reject the notion that the Church has been completely negligent in these areas and think we should be ashamed of ourselves for the exaggeration. What kind of witness is that?


RobSweet said...

Chris - good thoughts, and I agree. Here's a thought on why this perception exists: it seems to me that the church-growth movement of the past 30 years has allocated resources differently than evangelicals have historically (i.e. much more emphasis on the Sunday worship "experience.") It's likely that this reallocation came at the expense of some social justice concerns and acts of mercy in the community. This is a trend that is quickly turning around, however, and I'm glad to see that.

But I agree that anyone who is broadly bashing "the Church" or protestant evangelicalism for completely missing the mark lacks a lot of historical context.