The Gospel and the Social Gospel
What is the Difference?
by Bob Myhan
Many of the Lord's churches have gone the way of the modernistic denominations, abandoning the gospel for "a different gospel, which is not another" (Galatians 1:6-7). Paul, in the passage just quoted, used the word “gospel” in an accommodative sense. There was but one gospel. What he called “a different gospel” was a perversion of the gospel. And those who preached it were cursed. Likewise, the social gospel is not another gospel, at all, but a perversion of the gospel. How does the social gospel differ from the gospel? There at least five differences.
Those who preach the social gospel are concerned with things like disease, poverty, delinquency, race relations, secular education, and common meals. Those who preach the gospel are concerned with the spiritual welfare and eternal salvation of men’s souls (Luke 19:10; Mark 16:16).
Those who preach the social gospel use methods that treat symptoms, trying to make "Christians" via social reform. Those who preach the gospel use methods that treat the spiritual disease — sin (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:23), reforming society by making Christians (Titus 2:11-14).
A Different Motivation
Those who preach the social gospel are motivated by a desire for a better earthly life. Those who preach the gospel are motivated by the desire for an eternal home with God, the desire to avoid the horrors of hell, and love and gratitude to God for all He has done that we might have eternal happiness (I Peter 1:3-12; I Timothy 4:6-8).
A Different Standard
Those who preach the social gospel use the wisdom of the world as their standard (I Corinthians 1:20-21). Those who preach the gospel employ the wisdom of God (James 3:13-17; I Corinthians 1:25).
A Different Emphasis
Those who preach the social gospel emphasize man’s material well-being. But those who preach the gospel stress man’s spiritual well-being (Matthew 6:31-33).
It is hoped that faithful churches will never abandon the gospel for the social gospel, which has the wrong concerns, the wrong methods, the wrong motivations, the wrong standard and the wrong emphasis.