May 6, 2010
Mission & Justice on Capitol Hill
Jim Wallis and Mark Dever go head-to-head on one of the hottest issues in the church today.
What a day. I woke at 4am this morning to catch a flight from Chicago to Washington DC. The purpose of the trip was to conduct an interview that we’ll feature in the summer issue of Leadership Journal (which hits mailboxes and screens in July). The focus of the issue is on the intersection of justice and evangelism. It’s going to be a fantastic issue with articles from Eugene Cho, Mark Labberton, Bethany Hoang, Jim Belcher, and others. But the main attraction is the interview I just wrapped at a coffee shop on Capitol Hill.
I spent two hours in conversation with Jim Wallis and Mark Dever on their understanding of the gospel, justice, and the local church. For those who don’t know Wallis and Dever and can’t grasp why having those two interacting on this issue is a big deal, let me fill you in.
Jim Wallis is the editor and founder of Sojourners—a magazine and community of evangelicals committed to social action. Wallis has been engaged in justice issues since the civil rights movement of the 60s, and proudly shares that he’s been arrested 22 times. He’s an outspoken critic of linking the church to either a politically conservative or liberal agenda, but has been an advocate for the poor, the unborn, the marginalized, and the oppressed. For decades he’s been reintroducing the justice teachings of the NT to Christians who’ve neglected them.
Mark Dever is pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and one of the founders of the Together for the Gospel network. He’s big on Reformed theology and one of the visible leaders of the New Reformed movement that seems to be sprouting everywhere in the church. Dever has been a leading voice against expanding (and thereby losing) our definition of the gospel.
I don’t want to share too much about the conversation with Dever and Wallis (you’ll have to get the summer issue of Leadership for that), but I will share that I was really surprised by how much they agreed upon. Yes there were differences of perspective, but one thing was very clear—both leaders have no tolerance for a gospel or a church that does not include discipleship leading to love for others. I know that sounds like a no-brainer…but the implications are more radical than you may realize. Again, you’ll have to read the whole discussion in July.
Yes, I know I’m a tease. But it really was a remarkable conversation, and I really looking forward to sharing it with you. And this is what I really love about Leadership--the chance to bring together divergent streams of the church to engage the issues that matter most. Hopefully you'll find the outcome of the conversation today as helpful as I did. I was blessed by my time with both Mark and Jim, and I pray that God will bless both of their ministries.