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The New Evangelical Social Engagement$
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Brian Steensland and Philip Goff

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199329533

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199329533.001.0001

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Whose Social Justice? Which Evangelicalism?

Whose Social Justice? Which Evangelicalism?

Social Engagement in a Campus Ministry

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 Whose Social Justice? Which Evangelicalism?
Source:
The New Evangelical Social Engagement
Author(s):

John Schmalzbauer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199329533.003.0002

This chapter explores the social engagement of campus evangelicals. Drawing on ethnographic field observations and survey data, it focuses on InterVarsity’s Urbana student missions conference, a gathering that drew 23,000 young evangelicals to St. Louis in 2006. Although InterVarsity promotes some conservative positions, it is increasingly progressive on issues of poverty, the environment, and race. In assessing InterVarsity’s social engagement, this essay will highlight the multivocality of its social justice rhetoric. Among campus evangelicals, social justice means different things to different people. Though much of this rhetoric has a progressive feel, conservatives are also speaking up. Many have embraced an alternative definition of social justice, shifting the conversation away from inequality and the redistribution of wealth. Focusing on human trafficking, some have confined themselves to a legal understanding of injustice. Still others have emphasized local and decentralized strategies for fighting poverty. Far from a monolith, evangelical campus ministries embrace multiple and conflicting models of social engagement. Instead of placing InterVarsity on the Christian left, it is more helpful to highlight the tensions in evangelical discourse.

Keywords:   Evangelicals, Campus Ministry, Social Justice, Poverty, Race, Environmentalism, InterVarsity

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