Book Reviews

The Christian and Social Responsibility by Charles Ryrie

While all Christians understand the importance of spreading the gospel they are not always in agreement concerning what the gospel is.  The Lausanne Covenant states, “World evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world” (p. 14).  John R. W. Stott explains this statement: “I now see more clearly that not only the consequences of the commission but the actual commission itself must be understood to include social as well as evangelistic responsibilities” (p. 18).  As is reflected in these quotes evangelicals increasingly understand the gospel to include social implications.  The gospel is not only concerned with man’s spiritual condition but also with his physical.    Ryrie disagrees. 

Through careful examination of the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, Ryrie finds no evidence that the church is called to solve the social ills of the world.  Believers are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ who died and was resurrected so that we might be made right with God.  While Christians are called to love those around them, be model citizens and do good to all, social action toward unbelievers is never mandated in the New Testament.  Ryrie ably demonstrates that the social agenda being propagated by many evangelicals has no basis in Scripture or in the example or words of Jesus. 

The Christian and Social Responsibility is a reprint of “What you Should Know About Social Responsibility” published by Moody Press in 1982.  It is written in Ryrie’s usual readable style and faithfully explains the biblical teaching on this subject.  I believe this to be a most helpful and thoroughly biblical book.