Good News to the Poor: The Gospel Through Social Involvement by Tim Chester
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Tim Chester used to direct research for Tearfund UK, and is now involved in church-planting in Sheffield. His latest book, Good News to the Poor, is as close to essential reading as you can get. It looks at the issue of social involvement and our Christian responsibility to the poor in the light of the gospel. Chester presents a strong biblical case for evangelical social action.
There is plenty of confusion over this issue among evangelicals, arising from a concern that the gospel should not be sidelined. In the first two chapters, Chester argues the case for social involvement and a public, as opposed to private, faith. He then goes on to show why gospel proclamation should be central to Christian social involvement and how evangelism and social action should relate to one another. He refutes the popular idea that advancing social justice in the world illustrates the coming of God’s kingdom, instead arguing that God’s kingdom comes as people submit to the gospel. He examines what social involvement should look like in practice, by defining what poverty is. He suggests poverty is mainly about exclusion and powerlessness, so the church in response should be welcoming, just as it always should be anyway. He also suggests that good social action aims to involve the participation of those in need.
We had some qualms about the practical outworking of Chapter 10, where he suggests that all public influence the church has in society must be illegitimate. Please see Mike Schluter for some thoughts on that subject, or wait for our review of Jubilee Manifesto in a few months time…!
Poverty cannot be eradicated, reforms come and go, and only the return of Christ will usher in a perfect world, but we nevertheless are called to be “the place on earth where God’s future can be seen” and we can and should make a difference.
by KateandJames on 11th March 2011