Salt, Light and Cities on Hills (Book Review)

"Salt, Light and Cities on Hills: Evangelism, Social Action and the Church -- How Do They Relate to Each Other?" by Melvin Tucker succinctly addresses the two sides, two expressions, two manifestations, or two applications of the gospel: evangelism and social action. Historically, churches have generally emphasized or predominantly practiced one side, often at the expense of the other by minimizing or neglecting its importance.

Though this is a rather broad generalization, so-called "conservative" churches incline toward evangelism, while so-called "liberal" churches incline toward social action. Churches that emphasize preaching and the importance of Scripture and the Bible (generally traditional conservative churches) incline toward evangelism, while churches that emphasize living out one's faith (generally emergent or liberal churches) incline toward social action. Thus, there tends to be discipleship churches and activist churches. Yet, as Tucker repeatedly points out--using history and exegesis of various biblical texts--the church should be doing both.

Having been in a conservative, Word based church for several decades, as expected the predominant emphasis has been on Bible study, teaching the Bible, preaching, evangelism and discipleship, with only occasional token efforts at social action, especially in taking up offerings during times of national or international disaster. But Tucker discusses throughout his book, citing Scripture (The Sermon on the Mount, Isaiah, Acts) and various scholars and notable Christians (John Stott, Tim Keller and others) that Christ was actively involved in both preaching and teaching the good news of the kingdom (evangelism) and healing the sick (social action).

I recommend this book for Christians and churches to know and understand the tension and practical implications of the importance of both evangelism and social action.

I received a free copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews on behalf of Evangelical Press.