The Social Gospel, Right and Left
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, God Himself 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). The two institutions are to complement one another...but the church is not to become by government, and the government is not to become the church.

The religious right of the 1970s and 1980s has drastically changed and is now a New Religious Right (NRR), embracing and participating in many unbiblical activities and projects. Consistent with this misdirection, many within the NRR seem more interested in being the civil government than in being the church. Some 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 NRR embraces ecumenicalism in order to build political coalitions, to increase revenues, and because they simply are not committed to biblical theology and sound doctrine.

[For example], 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 NRR betrays the Gospel in deference to “another” gospel embraced by these disparate groups. But is “another” gospel of the NRR any different from “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 NRR 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 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 NRR, it is too late. They have already compromised the Gospel by their willingness to unite with false teachers. Certain members of the New Religious Right have admonished me...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. The secular website of National Review published an insightful article about this very issue. David French’s article “Evangelicals’ Collapsing Cultural Influence” notes:

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 discipline.

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

In Matthew 23, Jesus calls the religious leaders of His day “whitewashed tombs.” They looked good on the outside. They thought they were promoting morality, but they were dead spiritually. Jesus warned that they would strain out a gnat but swallow a whole camel. And, indeed, the New Religious Right is notorious for such activity. In similar whitewashed-looking causes, the NRR has chosen: 1. Family values over biblical doctrine. 2. Moralizing over evangelizing. 3. Prosperity over sacrifice. 4. Christian activism over biblical discipleship. 5. Compromise over commitment.  6. The flag over the cross. 7. The White House over the church house. 8. The wolves over the sheep. 9. An earthly kingdom over the Kingdom of God.

 [For example], the Southern Baptist Convention called for a boycott of the Disney Company, but in 1993 refused to pass a resolution at their national convention condemning the occultism of Freemasonry. Instead, the denomination passed a resolution stating that there are aspects of Freemasonry consistent with Christianity (compare this with Ezekiel:5:11-16; 8:5-18). [Ironically], the New Religious Right will boycott a company whose unsaved executives promote the homosexual agenda but will themselves promote and give credibility to false teachers who preach another Jesus and another gospel [leading millions to hell].

When Christians call on unbelievers to conform to a certain “religious standard” without faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, we run the risk of leading them to believe that becoming a Christian means simply living a good life. No matter how many pieces of legislation become law and no matter the number of laws to which the unsaved conform, they are still lost in sin [so] when the church takes on the role of morality police...we are only addressing the symptoms of their unsaved condition. How can the unregenerate be anything less than they are? Their worldviews are the foundation of their values, and their values are the foundation of their conduct. Until their unbiblical worldviews are transformed into a biblical view through faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, they are slaves to sin.

[Tragically], moralism is just as dangerous and deadly as outright liberalism. As John MacArthur has said, “It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, [is] a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer; he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.”

—Excerpts from  Religious Trojan Horse  by Brannon Howse