Jul 29, 2009

The Australian Church and Social Justice

A provoking question: To what extent is the gospel ‘holistic’ in it’s approach, and how does the Australian Church handle issues of social justice and evangelism locally and globally?

Steven Fouch in 'One World or Many' shares his experience of dealing with sick people and how it was this need that compelled him into a nursing career (123). Steven associated nursing with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Healing the sick was to this man a valid part of the gospel message. Luke 9:2 says, 'Then he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.' Fouch urges us to see that this healing was also one of caring for the sick and not only a reference to the miraculous power of God flowing through the believer as they simply prayed for the sick. In short, healing, care for the sick and weak, and the proclamation of good news have always gone hands in hand. Saving people from spiritual death was one half of a mission that was also about bringing physical wholeness and restored human social relationships (124). Fouch goes on to say that this ‘holistic’ approach to mission was very much a part of the life of the early church. In short, the gospel has always been holistic. It is about restoring the whole being of a person, body, mind and spirit. Prior the year 2000, the Australian church, in my opinion did not seem to do a great deal in terms of the holistic approach. We largely heard of other organizations such as World Vision that did the best work in bringing the gospel in this format. The pentecostal church particularly spent most of her time focusing on the spiritual healing of individuals both locally and international with only a small amount of resource allocated to the social justice side of life. The past decade has seen a major shift from the pentecostal churches. In a world that is suffering more and more with social injustice, I believe it is time for the church to greater and greater responsibility in this area.