Why did God send his Son into the world? This basic question is controversial…again.
There is a movement within broader Conservative Evangelicalism in South Africa to be critical of the gospel “Eternal Salvation” that Conservative Evangelicalism has always cherished. This movement seeks to redefine the gospel to include a physical/political/ temporal liberation of the oppressed.
Conservative Evangelicalism is accused of misunderstanding the Great Commission or being overly committed to the Great Commission to the neglect of the Bible’s other imperatives. The result being a disproportionate concern with the spiritual dimension of the gospel to the detriment of the real, present concerns of people, especially racism and unjust structures.
Proponents of this “improved” and “contextual” understanding of the gospel accuse Conservative Evangelicalism (and REACH-SA) of having an under-realized eschatology and therefore an insufficient understanding of the nature of the gospel as it relates to the this-worldly expectations of the Kingdom of God.
Proponents of this improved gospel or, at least, improved understanding of the gospel assert that Conservative Evangelicalism’s inadequate or narrow understanding of the Great Commission has led to inadequate social engagement and the inadvertent support of unjust structures, including Apartheid.
Before we think about social engagement, we must first ask the question: does the gospel include a physical/ political/ temporal liberation for the powerless, the marginalized and the poor?
Are we not simply seeing the re-packaging of Liberation Theology?