Counting the Cost Conference  is a GO!  Access the Attendee Website  |  Read the latest update on the conference

Our Readers Write…

by Jim Dahl

The Bad Question of Proclamation vs. Social Action: A Symposium

I read with interest the article, “The Bad Question of Proclamation vs. Social Action:  A Symposium” (July 2012), but there still seems to be a lack of clarification and some important issues were not addressed.

The Bad Question of Proclamation vs. Social Action: A Symposium

I read with interest the article, “The Bad Question of Proclamation vs. Social Action:  A Symposium” (July 2012), but there still seems to be a lack of clarification and some important issues were not addressed.

“Proclamation vs. social action” is a debate, not a question, and this is one of the problems. A debate invites polarization and caricatures of the positions involved. A debate inevitably stirs up competition, and is not conducive for finding truth. So I think that we can safely say that this is a bad debate. The question that is posed, “Which has priority–proclamation or social action?” is a good question. The issue here is priority. We can only talk about the priority of proclamation or social action if we are clear on the end toward which we are striving. In this sense, the question is a necessary one, and clarification of the issues involved can be helpful if we consider the different kinds of priorities that can exist.

If the missionary task is to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), then the gospel of the kingdom has to be preached in the whole world (Matt. 24:14; Luke 24:47), so that people can hear, believe, confess, and be saved (Rom. 10:1-15). The gospel is proclamation by its very nature. So perhaps we can say that proclamation has a teleological priority.  Whatever else we do, if we are making disciples, the gospel has to be proclaimed at some point.

But if we consider how we can proclaim the gospel, then we have to think about strategy and tactics.How can the gospel gain a hearing? How can people be prepared to genuinely hear it? It is here that social action plays a crucial role. It can be a demonstration of the gospel, of the love and grace of God coming in flesh. So, depending on the context and stage of the work, or depending on the role and gifting of the missionary, social action can take on a functional or strategic priority, as well as being the natural product of the gospel.  

This should not be a competition. Proclamation and social action are both necessary, both commanded. But they have different roles. We need to keep our mind on the final goal and remember that no matter who plants or who waters, it is God who gives the growth.

Dr. Jim Dahl, WorldVenture, Tyndale Theological Seminary, the Netherlands

….

EMQ, Vol. 49, No. 1, pp. 3. Copyright  © 2013 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.

The latest missions content delivered right to your inbox!

Stay up-to-date with Missio Nexus and the Great Commission community.

Related Articles

Welcoming the Stranger

Presenter: Matthew Soerens, US Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief Description: Refugee and immigration issues have dominated headlines globally recently. While many American Christians view these…