The following is a reblog of a post that attempts to affirm the strengths of both liberal and conservative Christianity. We could caricature the same point in negative: a liberal Christian might meet the physical needs of a homeless person, but not offer them the way to save their soul. A conservative Christian might explain to someone how Jesus has died to save them from their sins, but not offer to help alleviate their material poverty. These are gross caricatures, but it is sometimes how one silo sees the other.
To contrast meeting physical needs vs meeting spiritual needs, then: “a body without a soul is a corpse, a soul without a body is a ghost”. The gospel actually responds to both – material and spiritual needs. Hence it is life, in all its fullness.
Over the last week there has been an interesting exchange of articles between Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley and Ian Paul, who writes the popular Christian blog Psephizo. It focused on the theology of mission in deprived areas, and whether or not Christians need to ‘take Jesus’ into these areas. It is good to see a robust and respectful encounter of two contrasting perspectives.
The encounter between different theological perspectives has been a key theme in my life. I was raised and came to faith within a middle-class evangelical culture which emphasised ‘knowing God personally’. Believing the right things and being distinctive in your faith was emphasised.
But as I studied social work, started working with homeless people and moved onto an inner city estate in my 20s, I discovered a whole different theological worldview. This emphasised an incarnational faith and a more social emphasis. This more…
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