Amos 2:4-8 and Right Theology vs. Social Action

Liberal-vs-conservativeI know many people who see a dichotomy within the Church between right theology and social action. They see evangelicalism as the champion of right theology and progressives (liberals) as champions of social action, and they do not think the issues can be held together. This passage of Amos contradicts that notion, though:

    The Lord proclaims:
    For three crimes of Judah,
        and for four, I won’t hold back the punishment,
    because they have rejected the Instruction of the Lord,
        and haven’t kept his laws.
    They have been led off the right path by the same lies
        after which their ancestors walked.
    So I will send a fire on Judah,
        and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem.

    The Lord proclaims:
    For three crimes of Israel,
        and for four, I won’t hold back the punishment,
    because they have sold the innocent for silver,
            and those in need for a pair of sandals.
    They crush the head of the poor into the dust of the earth,
        and push the afflicted out of the way.
    Father and son have intercourse with the same young woman,
        degrading my holy name.
    They stretch out beside every altar
        on garments taken in loan;
    in the house of their god they drink
        wine bought with fines they imposed.

Here Judah is going to be judged for theological issues–ignoring the Law of the Lord, and Israel is going to be judged for social action issues. Both of these are very important to God, and as well balanced Christians, we have to take both seriously.

Of course we have to make sure we have the appropriate theology–worshiping the correct God in correct ways–and we have to make sure we take up social action for the right issues in the right way. The only way to do this is to look at what we have in the Bible as God’s revelation to us about who he is and what he desires, and to look at how the Holy Spirit has informed and guided the Church for the last 2000 years in keeping and interpreting that information.

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