Disinterested Benevolence and the Social Gospel

IT IS time someone unmasked the catch cry of those people who interpose in the presentation of present truth by throwing up the objection saying, "Remember we are to show disinterested benevolence."

-Secretary, Temperance Department, General Conference, at the time this article was written

IT IS time someone unmasked the catch cry of those people who interpose in the presentation of present truth by throwing up the objection saying, "Remember we are to show disinterested benevolence."

Disinterested has been literally taken to mean "putting aside or neglecting the spiritual ministry" and to emphasize that the major work is done by ministry for physical, mental, or social needs. Then maybe if this work is done right, someone somewhere will be able to fill in on the spiritual truth.

The idea seems to be to create the impression that you are primarily a humanitarian, not concerned with any religious aim or in fact any thing save what you are doing for their welfare social or physical.

Such people are often convinced that prayer would jeopardize their work and that if people resent any mention of God or spiritual things, then forget it and stay with the primary task. In fact, do not give the people what they really need; go even a step further--make it extremely hard for them to know who sponsors the humanitarian or community program and do not even mention religion unless they bring it up.

Surely it does not take much intelligence to realize that this is disinterested Christianity. Such well-meaning but misguided workers or laymen promoting this social gospel are in fact denying the very principle of disinterested benevolence.

Defined as a forgetting of self, self-interest, or personal motive toward self-glory, disinterested benevolence is exalting Christ, with devoted love, sympathy, and kindness for your neglected, sick, oppressed, or ensnared fellows.

This is Christianity in action, not for the purpose of monetary gain, comfort, ease, or ad vantage, but simply to bring needy humanity to the source of life, hope, comfort, and victory in and through Jesus Christ.

Prayer or the Bible will not be forced on anyone, but in love, kindness, and understanding, you will see opportunity to present the Pearl of Great Price in such a way as to direct the mind to the only answer to life's problems.

An open, honest presentation of the church's mission of mercy will bring confidence to those people who are contacted.

Work disinterestedly, lovingly, patiently, for all with whom you are brought in contact. Show no impatience. Utter not one unkind word. Let the love of Christ be in your hearts, the law of kindness on your lips.—Welfare Ministry, p. 76.

I point you to the life of Jesus as a perfect pattern. His life -was characterized by disinterested benevolence.—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 218.

Every statement made by Ellen G. White in reference to disinterested benevolence is an appeal to separate from selfishness, practice sacrifice, have a care for the souls of all men rich or poor, black or white, bond or free. In no way can you infer that such a message is an appeal to hide the church's identity, to water down the spiritual emphasis, or to place the gospel as secondary to the humanitarian services.

It does emphasize participation with a right motive and with love and zeal born of Christ that will not rest until the hearts of all men are committed to our Lord and Saviour.

Undoubtedly we need "the spirit of self-sacrifice and disinterested benevolence manifested by Jesus when He was upon earth." Ibid., vol. 2, p. 77. For "if God's people would show a genuine interest in their neighbors, many would be reached by the special truths for this time."--Welfare Ministry, p. 192.

With these principles in mind should we not view the activities of all departments as a part of the spiritual ministry of Christ and indeed an opportunity for front-line evangelism?

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-Secretary, Temperance Department, General Conference, at the time this article was written

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