Mainstream evangelicalism (dominant church culture) is embedded with a dualistic philosophy that denies the relevance of social justice now. This platonic theology relegates the earth to a sinking ship in which the only solution is to rush every individual onto the life raft of Jesus. As the world/matter and heaven/spirit are platonically opposing, ‘saving souls’ takes precedence over social responsibility. In a way one could term conversion as the only ‘social responsibility’ of the Church. Indeed if what really “matters is the soul, then thinking about the way socio-economic, material structures and institutions shape people is hardly important” (Sider, 2012, p. 3).
Socio-political concerns are labelled as irrelevant in a dying world, in which the only thing that matters is escaping “this world and its problems by going to heaven after death” (McLaren, 2007, p. 21). This dualism cements the Church’s main goal; which is the salvation of every soul through personal conversion (being born-again). Sider (2012) indicates how this perspective encourages personal conversion over social transformation – accordingly social problems would apparently disappear “if everyone were converted to personal faith in Christ” (Sider, 2012, p. 2).
Social responsibility should be crucially important to mainstream evangelicalism as it was a key message of Jesus’ ministry. The individualistic philosophy of dualism has silhouetted the socially inept gospel of evangelical culture. The gospel has ceased to create transformation and liberation, and has instead become a spiritual message of societal distraction (p. 29), in which the only things that matter is individual souls going to heaven and the accumulation of personal blessings in the meantime. Mainstream evangelicalism denies the relevance of social responsibility, even though societal concern and transformation is at the heart of the kingdom of God.
McLaren, B. (2007). Everything must change: When the world’s biggest problems and Jesus’ good news collide. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Sider, R. (2012). Evangelical advocacy: a response to global poverty. Evangelicals and structural injustice, 1-5.