Religions devised for a Social Purpose

A quote from “The Four Loves” by CS Lewis:

Religions devised for a social purpose, like Roman emperor-worship or modern attempts to “sell” Christianity as a means of “saving civilisation,” do not come to much. The little knots of Friends who turn their backs on the “World” are those who really transform it.

What do you think?


5 Responses to Religions devised for a Social Purpose

  1. I am not sure. I think that a common thread that most of the world’s major relgions have in common is an aspect to them of social conciousness.

    In the tradition of the United States, religion has often been a positive agent for social change. Some of the more historic, and beneficial moments in our Republic have been the interjection of a “Christian ethos” into the social sphere. An example certainly could be found in the role of religious leaders and laymen in the Abolitionist Movement, Suffragism for Women, and in the Civil Rights Movement.

    In these cases, and in countless others where individuals put pressure upon the governmnet towards the formation of policy that embody this ethic benefits the nation as a whole.

    Even from its start as an accepted, and in fact tacit arrangement with the Roman Empire, Christianity immediately had an important role in changing some of the worst abuses of the Empire, and typically those who benefitted, as by the policies in this nation, were those most vulnerable in the social realm.

    Within a context of the Christian ethic, this role as an agent of social change has an overall positive effect, results in a reward that has a secular benefit and does not overly entangle the relgious interests with those of the state.

    I think an arguement can be forwarded that a society which has a part of its policies means to alleviate human need and suffering produces an environment that is much better ground for the spiritual force of Christianity to grow upon.

  2. John says:

    i agree with much of the comment above. while Christ called us to go and make disciples, we will surely see social change as we do that.

    Christ transforms lives. if enough lives are changed, societies change.

    part of the Christian message also is to serve “the least of these” in our society — the widows, orphans, etc. if we are to do that, we will create social change. we will advocate for children. we will care for the elderly. those actions cause change.

    i do agree with Lewis here in that the primary purpose of Christianity cannot be social change. making that the primary goal of the faith is not biblical. if social change is the primary goal of a church, denomination or larger body, its success will be shortlived.

    we must remain biblical in our faith and rely on God for guidance and wisdom if we are to have any social impact.

  3. Laz says:

    Thank you both for your contributions. John, I couldn’t agree more.

  4. freevolition says:

    Agree with Lewis’ assessment. By the way the local library unfortunately did not have a copy of “The Four Loves”, so I’ll have to look elsewhere for a copy. I did check out “The Problem of Pain”, though. Another I would like to reread is “The Screwtape Letters”. It has been many years since I last read that one.

  5. Laz says:

    That’s funny you mention “The Problem of Pain” since I dusted off my copy and read a couple of chapters out of it this week.

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