What are the social implications of the gospel? This was the question that initially prompted our work on the November/December edition of the Kerux. The writers present a message that is rooted in the vision of never settling for what has been done. In ministry there is always progress to be made. If no one believes this, wait until the sermon evaluations are handed back from Mentored Ministries with suggestions for progress and improvement! Ministers and mentors can testify to the difficult work involved in living out the gospel.
Questions about the relationship between social ethics and the gospel are particularly pressing in our country today, as social injustices within and outside the church are more and more coming to the foreground. Many of these injustices the church has played a role in. In this context, it is vital for us to be able to offer a perspective on these issues. Many Christians have felt threatened by the prospect of social engagement diluting Christian distinctives. However, there are many Christians in the church, in our schools, and government who demonstrate with their lives and Christian faith that the truth of faith is contrary to idly sitting and doing nothing. Christianity is centered on the conceptual core of loving neighbor as yourself, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt. 21:35-36). The me of Matthew 21 is not Ronald Hunsucker. It seems Jesus is teaching that everyone who professes Christian faith, should not believe the gospel is bifurcated from the social problems that swirl and surround His church.
This edition of the Kerux offers a variety of student perspectives on the ways in which the gospel brings about social and ecclesiastical transformation. For example, Erin Zoutendam’s piece explores how God’s Spirit transformed social conventions for women in the seventh century. Chadd Huizenga offers with his book review of Ferguson and Faith, a nuanced picture of the role the church could play in the racial divisions in our country. Christianne Zeiger addresses the importance of confrontation within the Christian community. Several students were convicted to write regarding some of current discussions of the climate of the seminary for women and minority populations. Both Kelli Sexton and Grant Hofman write powerfully on a way forward through rhythms of repentance and renewed commitment to hearing the voices of our female students, while I offer a challenge for the seminary community to fully take on the challenge of racial justice.
Our history is full of Christians who challenged any separation of the gospel from social engagement, and we believe this edition demonstrates that Calvin Seminary students are already emerging as leaders speaking into these issues. Let’s continue to be challenged as we enter into the Advent season to live out Christ’s love in our churches, seminaries, and communities.