Saturday, May 01, 2004

A couple New Blogs

I found an interesting conversation taking place over in England at Gordon's blog. Its taking place at Barky's and Matt's blogs.

The discussion has centered around thoughts of righteousness and justice. I would encourage you to read this discussion as it continues. I want to think about the issue here on the left coast. (People joke about it but it’s true, we are more liberal, but still...) In the SA we have a problem. The question is why do we do social work? I see three views.

First, it is all about the money. If we stop the money stops. Thus we do social ministry half assed. We simply hand out food and act like we are doing a good thing and then tell everyone so that we can get money to run the business.

Secondly, Salvationists do social ministry as a way to "get people saved." There is large chunk of officers in this camp. They are the evangelicals. The purpose to life is eternal salvation. Furthermore the emphasis is on the individual. Thus we can provide the essentials of life and yet support social policies that cause people to be poor or have a sub-American lifestyle. (ie not advocating for socialized medicine, or opposing higher minimum wage, or supporting unjust immigration laws, ect) This evangelical ideal focuses only on the individual in isolation.

Third, there are group (I do not know how large) of Salvationists who believe in full salvation. The individual salvation is part but can not be treated in isolation. As Salvationists we are engaged in social salvation. Early on in the Army entire communities were transformed because the Army lived God's justice. In this camp we will disagree as to what individual salvation means. However, the emphasis is on salvation and holiness as a process.

If Justice is defined as "what God considers right" (Matt's blog) then what are we to do? I can believe that God's justice means equality, peace, love, honesty, not screwing other people over, and ect. The problem in evangelicalism is that they believe all this. But argue that the kingdom is something in the future. God will bring in the kingdom we sit and wait until then. We can not expect God's justice to be seen here. Thus we stand in our pulpits talking some internal religious bull and making it appear that Salvation has no consequences here on earth.

Yet Christ says follow me. I am an open theist to use the theological term because otherwise why are we still here? Furthermore, if the future is set, if God knows the future, then what does it matter what I do? I can do whatever I want the future will still happen. What if everyone lived that way? Besides, Christ says "follow me. Do as I do, proclaim God's justice as I do. Work to see the kingdom come, as I do. Follow me."

William Booth believed that God's Kingdom would come as a direct result of the work of the SA. Somewhere along the way, we stopped believing this and rightly so. Instead many started to argue for and live a theology that says "God's kingdom will come when God chooses there is nothing we can do." So what the hell is the church for? Why the church? The church and the kingdom are linked. So, what will we do? What does it mean for the Church to live in God's Kingdom? I can not help but to look at society and say, "We must show God's justice." We must practice it and in so doing we will be very counter-culture. I must live God's justice. What does that mean? It means being political. The political system can either help or hinder the pursuit for justice. Only the government can solve the health care crisis. But it also means that my ministry becomes a transformational thing. Seeking to transform these communities. What else does it mean? How can I do this? Any thoughts?

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