From Orlando Costas’ essay on “Evangelism and the Gospel of Salvation”:
Just as God is present and active in the world of culture (understood in its wider sense as encompassing all of man’s achievements), so he is in struggles against the oppressive, demonic forces of this world. Just as Christ’s saving work extends to the world of nature, as a cosmic event, and the former looks forward to the redemption of the body, so mankind groans for a new world, and so God has in Christ pronounced himself in favor of man’s total liberation from all that oppresses and dehumanizes him. Thus man’s struggle for justice, peace, hope, and solidarity not only represents a legitimate aspiration, but one which is fed by God himself.
That man will never achieve a perfect, just, and peaceful world through himself is clearly taught in Scripture. But his search for justice, peace, hope, and solidarity is, nevertheless, a sign of the coming age which the church must relate to and interpret in the light of the gospel. Man’s life struggles constitute, therefore, opportunities for the church to show forth and demonstrate prophetically Christ’s saving power.
The church is faithful to her evangelistic imperative not only when she shows forth and actualizes in her life the marks of the coming salvation, but also when she participates in the conflicts of those who suffer and long to be liberated from their situations of oppression. The church is faithful to her witnessing vocation when she becomes a catalyst for God’s liberating action in the world of poverty, exploitation, hunger, guilt, and despair by standing in solidarity with people, by showing them with concrete actions that God cares and wills to save them and by helping them to understand the material and moral roots of their situation. The church is faithful to her task of bringing good news of salvation when she relates the meaning of Christ to the history of mankind; when she interprets the history of the peoples of the various cultures of the earth in the light of the comprehensive meaning of the gospel; and when, specifically and concretely, she confronts each member of her surrounding neighboring communities with the claims of Christ upon his life and thus makes the gospel pertinent to his particular life situation.
- Orlando Costas, “Evangelism and the Gospel of Salvation”, The Study Of Evangelism: Exploring a Missional Practice of the Church
How do you understand the relationship between evangelism and social liberation?
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