The Social Gospel of the Religious Right and Religious Left

The Social Gospel of the Religious Right and Religious Left

By Brannon S. Howse

Should Christians promote righteousness within our nation and be concerned about the worldview our various levels of government and education promote? 


Of course.


After all, it is God Himself Who drew the borders of nations and chose the very nation in which each man and woman would be born. God created government. 


Because we are Christians, we must judge everything against the Word of God, which is a reflection of God’s character and nature. Therefore, Christians should support legislation and initiatives that reward the righteous and punish the wicked, purposes for which God created government (Romans 13).  


God designated civil, family, and Church governments with different spheres of influence. His assigned role for civil government is to restrain evil and to make a stable, just society so the family and the Church can fulfill their God-given mandates. The government is called to be the government, and the Church is called to be the Church. The two institutions are to complement one another, according to God’s plan, but the Church is not to become the government, and the government is not to become the Church. In light of this division of responsibility, Christians must remember that their first priority and ultimate calling is to preach the Gospel as well as the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). We must not replace the biblical Gospel with any sort of “social gospel.” 


The Social Gospel of Moralizing


The Religious Right of the 1970s and 1980s has drastically changed and is now a New Religious Right, embracing and participating in many unbiblical activities and projects as I noted in the Chapter 7. Consistent with this misdirection, many within the NRR seem more interested in being the civil government than in being the Church. I contend the primary reason for this is that many within the New Religious Right are not committed to the Gospel. Some NRR adherents are seemingly so shallow in biblical knowledge and discernment that they fail to recognize the error of their commitment to a social gospel. Among other problems, the New Religious Right embraces ecumenicalism in order to build political coalitions, increase revenues to their organizations, and because they simply are not committed to biblical theology and doctrine.

Most pro-family organizations claim to be Christian and boast that they embrace “Christian values” because the majority of their donors call themselves “Christian.”  When it comes to defining what it means to be a Christian, however, most of the New Religious Right will not reflect biblical Christianity because they don’t want to offend their Catholic, Mormon, Word of Faith, or New Apostolic Reformation donors. So, in the end, the New Religious Right betrays the Gospel in deference to “another” gospel embraced by these disparate groups. 


But is “another” gospel of the New Religious Right any different than “another” gospel of the religious left? 


From whichever side a social gospel originates, it is always man-centered. Its basic claim says man needs to fix or improve his condition through social activism, Christian activism, philanthropy, and good works. A social gospel leaves out the preaching and teaching that sin is the primary reason for the problems of our world. Rick Warren’s social gospel, for instance, involves leaving out the biblical Gospel so he can work with Muslims and other world religions to improve education, address poverty, combat disease, and promote globalism. 


The social gospel from the New Religious Right is primarily about lowering taxes, decreasing the size of government, and giving people more political and economic liberty. But accomplishing these goals—as laudable as they may be—will not solve man’s root problem of sin and rebellion against God. Our problems will not be addressed by more liberalism or more conservatism but only through the proclaiming of the biblical Gospel. If 80 percent of a society’s problems and heartaches are directly related to the demise of the family unit, one merely has to ask why the family is in decline. The answer will quickly ring up “sin.” 


Unfortunately, for many within the New Religious Right, it is too late. They have already compromised the Gospel by their willingness to unite with false teachers such as the New Apostolic Reformation and The Word of Faith movements. Certain members of the New Religious Right have admonished me and some of my friends not to expose the unbiblical theology of Mormonism or Catholicism or Liberation Theology on the NRR airwaves. Such biblical truth offends the unbeliever and causes these ministries to lose donors.

What the NRR does not seem to understand is that the culture war is really only a symptom of the serious spiritual problem from which man suffers, and only the preaching of the Gospel will cure this disease. Even if the New Religious Right could implement every law it wants and turn America into one great big town of Mayberry, the result would simply be a more comfortable and moral America from which millions of people could enter hell. 


While many Christian news and public policy organizations are clueless about the overall failure of modern-day evangelicalism and pro-family groups due to their moralizing, the secular website of National Review published an insightful article about this very issue. David French’s article “Evangelicals’ Collapsing Cultural Infleunce” notes:

[quote] We are more focused on meeting the material needs of the poor than their spiritual needs. Spend much time in the evangelical community, and you’ll soon learn that the old-fashioned Gospel-focused mission trip is largely a thing of the past. Now, you go build schools. Now, you go dig water wells. Now, you repair houses. These are worthy goals, all, but service projects by themselves don’t change hearts and minds; they often make (frequently) self-inflicted misery more bearable. Service must be accompanied by intentional, vocal evangelism and discipling. [end quote]


French comes to the same conclusion I announced in the first five words of Grave Influence: “We’ve lost the culture war.” Mr. French explains why:

[quote] I once heard it said that following the social and political disruptions of the 1960s and early 1970s, religious conservatives decided that they had to win elections, while secular leftists decided to win the culture — and both groups succeeded. So now here we are, enjoying unprecedented influence on presidential outcomes even as our cultural foundation rots away beneath our feet. Not even the best presidential candidate will fix the family, nor will our most generous service project save a soul. [end quote]

Copyright 2012 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.