In response to the messages and panel discussions of the TGC/ERLC MLK50 Conference, some might be tempted to think that the organizers and speakers were promoting a “social gospel.” Of course, a “social gospel” would not be the Gospel, but a false gospel. I did not hear a false gospel at the conference. Rather, what I heard is that those redeemed by the work of Christ in his death and resurrection live out the Gospel, including its implications for affecting racial tensions and unity in American society and the evangelical church in America.
Rather than making a Gospel vs. “social” dichotomy, John Calvin saw addressing social concerns in Geneva as an outworking of the Gospel. I think Calvin set an example to be followed both in his practice (e.g., concern for the poor), and his theology—that the church – those transformed by the Gospel – should care about ills in the society around them. To that end, I am glad to reblog, “How John Calvin Dealt with Refugees and The Poor,” by @CWoznicki.
In the 1550’s Geneva witnessed an influx of French refugees into the city. William Naphy has argued that this influx, and the growing influence of these French religious refugees was the single most common complaint in Geneva during this period. (Naphy, 121) Prior to the influx of politically powerful French refugees, there was an influx of poor refugees. For example, in October 1538-1539 Geneva’s city hospital assisted 10,657 poor strangers as they passed through the city. Naphy notes that this number does not even include Genevans who would have been attended to by the hospital. (Naphy, 122)
Regularly the hospital would have been charged with the city’s poor. The hospital would be expected to take care of the sick in the hospital, deal with outpatients as well as people who were housed in the hospital, including orphans. In addition to these ministrations , the hospital had a bread baking ministry…
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