A resurgence of the Social Gospel is energizing many evangelicals, but what does the Bible say about the role of humanitarian works in the Christian life? As new covenant believers, Christians are called to a specific central task: to be ministers of God's message of salvation for sinners. At the same time, the New Testament justifies nearly every concern of the revitalized Social Gospel. Care for the poor and needy, reconciliation of social and racial divisions, and nurture for the sick and abused -- all can be biblical and Christ-honoring activities.
- Fair and Balanced
“Humanitarian Jesus” by Ryan Dobson and Christian Buckley is a two-part discussion about the “social gospel.” The first part discusses the history of the social gospel and the way people approach the social gospel. Part two consists of interviews with various people and their views of how they reconcile the gospel and social justice.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to “Humanitarian Jesus.” The authors approach was original and seemed “fair and balanced.” The authors discussed how the Christians should approach the plight of the needy. They give the example of giving a homeless person a sandwich or a gospel tract. What should a Christian do first? The authors argue that conservative Christians focus more on evangelizing, but ignore the physical plights of the less-fortunate, while liberal Christians are quick to help those in need but sometimes compromise the need to share the gospel.
I especially found Part Two interesting. It was good to hear from the people themselves how they approach the social gospel issue. The authors interview, without bias, various people, some of which I have admired in the past and some of which I totally disagree.
Johnny Heller narrates the whole book. He has good pacing and expression. Even though he did a good job narrating Part Two by changing his accent or way of speaking to match that of the interviewee, I think it would've been better to have a second person narrating the interviewees.
“Humanitarian Jesus” is a thought-provoking book. Missions and outreaches have been a burden in my heart, but it wasn't until recently that I realized how important it was to evangelize also. You can't have one without the other. Sharing the gospel, but not caring about the physical needs is hypocritical. However, just taking care of people's needs without sharing Christ with them is incomplete. The true gospel is about telling others about Jesus, but actions of love must also be proof of the Christian faith.
This review was written as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program. I received this audiobook free of charge.
- This audiobook is reviewed by Johnny...
This audiobook is reviewed by Johnny Heller. I've got to give the guy credit - he does a great job. And not just because our names are similiar, which is pretty sweet and tells me I have a future in the audiobook narration industry, but because he rocked the the voice for this book. It captured and fascinated me - lulled me in - and made me want to continue. I was past chapter three before I realized it. Moving quickly, and energetically, Heller gives this book the voice it needs. I picture Christian or Ryan speaking, and can see - imagine/visualize - what the writing is addressing. While still monotone, he flavors it enough to keep you moving, but not distracted. Great job. I loved listening to this audiobook.
See the score at http://infinitlove.com/blog/?p=2348.
- Humanitarian Jesus is a book written...
Humanitarian Jesus is a book written by Christian Buckley and Ryan Dobson. I heard about this book through several different websites. It sounded interesting, even though I wasn't exactly sure what it was about. When I saw this offered on the Christian Audio website, I knew that I had to snatch it up. Now that I have finished listening to this book, I have been referencing it all of the time. This book definitely got me to think.
The book deals with the balance between doing things for people and the sharing of the gospel. The author illustrates this debate well with the pictures of a sandwich and a tract representing the two sides of the debate. He asks, do you give a tract before the sandwich, after the sandwich, or stick the tract in the sandwich? This is much bigger than a sandwich and a tract, but I think you can get the point.
My favorite part of the book is the fact that in the second half the author interviews several different people who are illustrating the balance of these two sides of Christian Humanitarian work. The main part of the book and the interviews were very interesting and held my attention throughout.
If you are interested in this book, I highly recommend it. It left me feeling convicted in two ways. One, I definitely felt the need of, "We're not doing enough!" There are such great needs in this world, and I know that we just aren't doing as much as we should be doing. But even more so than that, I felt convicted that I am not even doing as much as I could be doing right now. With the resources that I have and the things that I own, I am not doing enough right now.
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- This first appeared on my blog,...
This first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café.
I received two complimentary audiobooks from christianaudio at the same time: Jesus Manifesto (reviewed yesterday) and Humanitarian Jesus by Christian Buckley and Ryan Dobson. I was expecting to like the former more than the latter, but that's exactly the opposite of what happened.
Humanitarian Jesus was much more engaging and legitimately struggling with real-life issues that many Christians are facing today. As being "missional" is one of the hot new things for young Christians, it is important to know what it actually means to be missional.
Social justice is important. So is evangelism. But how do you define each?
That's exactly what this book tackles. The first half of the book is Buckley's argument for finding a delicate balance between both social justice and evangelism (he says both are needed explicitly). And yes, Buckley wrote the whole thing. He says that in the introduction. Dobson helped him get the interviews that comprise the second half. His name probably helps sell copies, but I don't think he was particularly involved.
Buckley is an excellent writer and is definitely on the more conservative end of the missional/social justice spectrum. However, unlike the negative and unfair stereotype of conservatives being unwilling to consider alternatives, Buckley does a great job of looking at all the options when engaging humanitarianism.
This is particularly seen in the second half, in which Buckley interviews a very wide variety of well-known (on the order of Franklin Graham and Tony Campolo) and not-so-well known Christian leaders who also engage in humanitarian work. I found the second half much more interesting and engaging. This is where the reader (or listener) gets to hear from the people who are actually doing the work and how they approach the balance of humanitarianism and evangelism.
The views are on both extremes and everywhere in between. And that is a good thing. It helps the reader/listener really engage all the nuanced issues in the arena of missional living. As Buckley states, the goal of the book is not necessarily to convince people of one perspective or another, but to get people to look at their views again and understand the complexity of the issues. For that, I have a lot of respect. And the book achieves that.
As with other audiobooks, I wish Buckley would have read it himself. The narrator was excellent (one of the best non-author narrators). However, there is something lost when the author does not read his own work, particularly when it comes out of a particular passion.
- I started Humanitarian Jesus immediately after...
I started Humanitarian Jesus immediately after Jesus Manifesto. In most ways, Humanitarian Jesus was exactly what Jesus Manifesto should have been. The first section of the book focused on Christ and why Christianity without a focus on Christ ceases to be Christianity. But unlike Jesus Manifesto, Humanitarian Jesus keeps the focus on practical theology.
One good example of the good theology, and practical working out of issues is the fine line that is maintained on evangelism.
"Evangelism is not just sharing the gospel of salvation. And evangelism is not just meeting needs...Evangelism is allowing Christ to so live in and through us that who we are, what we do and what we say is the very expression of who he is...Christ did not meet needs and live among the people just so he would have the chance to evangelize. He met needs and lived among the dying because that was part of the truth of the gospel...We should meet needs because it is part of who Christ was and if we are in Christ it should be part of who we are."
The authors walk a narrow line. They define evangelism as both "who we are and what we do" and "a message the requires a response." They are pushing back against people that want to only view evangelism as a written or spoken message, or those that want to define evangelism as only action. Evangelism is both action and word, done in conjunction.
The second section is just as important to the project. Section two is completely focused on interviews of people that are attempting to balance evangelism and social action (or ministry or social justice.) Also important is that those being interviewed will not agree on terminology, or the way that things work out or the theology of why they are doing what they are doing. But that is part of the conversation.
This is not a perfect book. I would have chosen a few different interviews. Still too much focused on the White Guy. But overall this is a much better book than several others I have read on similar topics lately.
I received a copy of this audiobook from christianaudio.com for purposes of review.