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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

Christian Marxism?

History of the Evangelical Social Justice Movement; Guest: Scott Allen

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Segment 1: Interview with Scott Allen

Scott David Allen is the President of Disciple Nations Alliance and author of Why Social Justice is not Biblical Justice, husband, father, and follower of Christ Jesus.

Early in his college career, Scott had a heart for the deeply impoverished and God used the story of the Good Samaritan to stir his heart and consider the question, "Who is my neighbor?" After college, he began a job with Food for the Hungry, in the foreign missionary arm called Hunger Corp where he worked for 30+ years.

Scott helped us understand the history of social justice within the greater society and also within the Church. Below are some of the questions we addressed:

What were things like in the late 70s and 80s in terms of justice?

Secularism, materialism, and Marxism were prevalent in the college arena and these ideologies were influential in Scott's early adult years.

Who were the influential voices/pioneers of the Christian social justice movement...those who had a vision for integrating Christianity with justice and helping the poor?

The leading voice: Ronald J. Sider, author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.

Also, Tony Campolo, a sociologist.

What was the evangelical church like in the 80s? Was there a focus on justice?

Faith involved local church attendance, Bible study, personal spiritual growth, personal evangelism, Billy Graham style crusades, reaching the unreached, church planting.

Typically discussions of justice ministry and a focus on the poor was viewed with skepticism...many evangelicals saw these issues as connected with the (heretical) Social Gospel Movement of the early 1900s.

How did you move away from a "Marxist sympathetic" viewpoint (such as, seeing the world in terms of victims, oppressors/oppressed, resources seen as material things in a zero sum framework)?

  • Understanding discipleship/Biblical principles that can perpetuate actual change (story of rats/corn)

  • Creative capacity as image bearers of God (story of George Washington Carver)

  • Generosity, willing sharing (not coerced or forced)

Conclusion: When you look at Marxism and the fruit of it in different countries, you see it never works and not only that, it's deadly. Whereas, Biblical ideas are so powerful in helping the poor to overcome their poverty.

How do we balance famine relief/immediate mercy ministries versus lifting people out of poverty in the long term?

The key for doing Biblical justice as it involves the poor, marginalized, and's not about money, projects, human ingenuity, or scientific know-how...ultimately, it's about discipleship in Biblical truths and helping people begin to live out those truths where you begin to see the positive change.

How much do you think government funded welfare has affected how the church has approached some of these issues?

Huge impact! As America secularized, our whole approach to working with the poor changed dramatically, for the worse...with programs and millions of dollars that has fostered dependency.

Book recommendation on this topic: The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky

We are living in the great tension of the "now" and "not yet." We live in a fallen world. Yes, the poor will always be with us, BUT we also live in a world where the Gospel can change hearts and the principles of God's justice can change individuals, families, and communities and things can get better!


Be sure to pick up a copy of Scott's book, Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice!

It is a great resource for pastors, mercy ministries, and people just beginning their journey of understanding the social justice movement.

We also mentioned a more technical book by Christian philosopher and theologian, Dr. Ron Nash, Social Justice and the Christian Church (a more academic treatment of this topic).

Connect with the guest


Segment #2: Announcements and Sponsors!

Last week we had our Launch Party for our small group curriculum, Reconciled. If you missed it, check out the replay here:

Reconciled has officially dropped! Gather your home group, church staff, or high school youth group and go through this 6-week curriculum together!

We have been getting you ready for our upcoming UP Conference by introducing you to several of the outstanding speakers we have lined up! Last week, we talked to Abraham Hamilton III. If you missed that show, check it out here:

Tonight we introduced you to Scott David Allen, who will be a plenary speaker at the UP Conference! Next week, we will talk to Katerina Elias, a social worker who will help us understand the difference between empathy and enabling.

Our 2nd annual UP Conference is going to be awesome! Be sure to register here

Impact 360 is a solid organization that helps train young people to understand and defend their Christian faith. We visited the campus a few weeks ago and will return again soon for more speaking opportunities! Be sure to check out the various programs offered for teens/young adults.

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