Conclusion: Social Action as Christian Apologetic
The fact of poverty and the reality of those affected by it in the central-cities could not have happened any more effectively if it were actually planned and implemented with malice. Without the aid of government policies and subsidies, as well as municipally empowered zoning laws and discriminatory business policies, the foundation for exurban wealth in America might not have happened. Rather than lamenting this inequitable state of affairs, participants, including many non-poor Christians, have been encouraged to rejoice in the “prudence” of such strategies and the institutions, capitalism and the “mythical” market, that sustain them. The modern, non-poor suburban dweller is the heir of such socially constructed forces.
The present model for socio-economic progress and prosperity objectifies the non-poor Christian’s reality (i.e., her or his “home world”) through habits and experiences of everyday life that are incorporated into his or her belief system—seemingly validating the plausibility of personal faith. The problem for the non-poor Christian living in such a history and current social-location is that it provides only a partial reality, through its defective social construction. The Bible warns of God’s judgment upon those who create or maintain economic structures that benefit some and exclude others, that pave the way to prosperity for some and prolonged, generational poverty for others (Exod 22–23; Lev 19, 24; Deut 15, 24; Jer 4–8, 16–17; 22; Ezek 17–18, 22; Amos 4:1–2; Mic 2:1–2; Zech 7; Isa 5:7–12). Unaware or in denial of their socially constructed world, the non-poor believer often can accept a world that is duplicitous, limiting the historic and current benefits of a socio-economic system to those the “market blessed.”
“Show me what kind of association you have with those living with the effects of poverty, and I will tell you what kind of god you worship.”
*adapted from chapter 5 of my book, Wasted Evangelism: Social Action and the Church's Task of Evangelism
I am the author of Wasted Evangelism: Social Action and the Church's Task of Evangelism, a deep, exegetical read into the Gospel of Mark. All royalties from this book go to support our church planting ministry in the Hill community of New Haven, CT. The book and its e-formats can be found on Amazon, Barns'n Noble, (and most other online book distributors) or through the publisher, Wipf & Stock directly.