– Jesus to his followers, Matthew 5:13
Those who embrace a Protective Social Action read that verse and primarily think of salt as being a preservative agent. They hear Jesus say, “You are salt, therefore, preserve that which is good in society. Engage in political action that conserves the present social order. Be suspicious of those who come up with progressive ideas or think liberally about reform in society.” To many evangelicals in the 20th and early 21st Centuries, being “salt” means to preserve God’s values in the world.
Those who embrace a Transformative Social Action read that verse and primarily think of salt as a seasoning, something that makes for a more savory life. They hear Jesus say, “You are salt, therefore, go into the world and make it a better place to be. Engage in political and social action that progresses the social order. Be creative with ideas that can make life a more tasty experience for all of God’s created beings.” To the emerging generation of Christians in the early 21st Century, “salt” means to be a blessing to those around them, to actively seek ways to transform society in progressive ways. Paul admonishes the Colossians, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt” (Col 4:6).
I know that this is a stark dichotomy I’ve painted. I’ve done it to make my point (I recognize that, to some degree, both camps would also embrace the definition of salt of the other camp).
I’m just trying to get us to think about that which primarily motivates us in our social engagement. In this over-simplified dichotomy, which of these definitions of salt do you resonate with?
- Moving From Protective to Transformative Social Action
- More on Protective vs. Transformative Social Action (w/ video of Dobson and Perkins)
- Why Evangelicals Have Trouble Moving from Protective to Transformative Social Ethics
- Beyond Religious Trappings to Really Shining God’s Glorious Light
technorati: social action, politics, emerging church, justice