Biblical Mandate for an Inner-City Ministry -- By: H. Phillip Hook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 127:506 (Apr 1970)
Article: Biblical Mandate for an Inner-City Ministry
Author: H. Phillip Hook

Biblical Mandate for an Inner-City Ministry

H. Phillip Hook

[H. Phillip Hook, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

It seems strange to entitle an article in this way. How can a group of people who believe that the mandate of Scripture is to go into all the world and preach the gospel feel that they need a special mandate to deal with the inner-city? Probably this is a sad commentary on the state of the church in America today. Therefore, as we approach the problem of the inner-city and the ministry that we should have there, some ground rules from which we can carry on our discussion are necessary.

Ground Rules for Study of the Problem

The first rule is that, while self-flagellation may seem to be in order, we cannot afford the luxury of the time it would take to indulge in this activity. It has been the practice of some in recent months and years to spend their time condemning the church for its failure to minister in the inner-city. It is time that we recognize failure, but there is not enough time to spend further effort in looking at the past and the failure unless we are doing so to seek to understand what we have done wrong.

The second ground rule is that we must face the situation as it is. It would be nice to roll back the clock and say that we would like to live the last ten years of our ministry over again, but we have to face the world as it is. There is such a thing as a commitment to the world, to reality, to things as they are. In any attempt to deal with the city, it is too late to say that we wish there were no such things as segregation, racism, and hopelessness when in reality this is just the way the situation is.

A third basic understanding is that, while we must face the world as it is, as Christians we are not citizens of this world. According to Scripture, our citizenship and goals are to be heavenly and spiritual, not earthly. Therefore, our time should not be spent preserving this world or its systems. There is a sense in which it is time that the church realize

the nations are in the hands of God, but the people God has committed to the churches.

A final ground rule is this discussion does not represent a political point of view or perspective, nor does it try to promote one situation over another. While we are citizens of the United States, as Christians we must recognize that we are citizens of a higher kingdom, and regardless of what happens in this world our responsibility is to be God’s men in a world that needs God.

The Church Today Similar to the New Testament Church

In order to explain the biblical u...

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