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Few thoughtful Christians deny that as Christians they should be doing something about the social problems of our time. But, they are often not sure as to the right way of going about it. When they come to grips with the meaning of their responsibilities as Christians in the world, they are struck by the complexity of a vast network of interlocking problems, and the strong differences of opinion among people of good will about how to unravel an apparently hopeless tangle of social, political, economic, and cultural affairs. Consequently, it is not enough to say, "Follow your conscience, and try to act from your Christian commitment," for the root problem is precisely the problem of conscience decision. How should time and energy be proportioned between meeting the immediate needs of suffering persons, and the underlying need to change the conditions of social life which produce the suffering? How should social structures be changed? By whom? Through what channels of individual or organizational effort? What is to be done when "ordinary channels" are not working--and what are the "ordinary channels" anyway?

The goal of this study is not to give a handy formula for answering all these questions. There is no such formula. The conscience decision process involves a series of reflective human acts--analysis of the actual situation, evaluation of that situation in the light of Christian social values, careful weighing of alternative courses of action to remedy what is judged out of line, and finally, a firm decision to act in accord with what has been thought through in the light of the accepted normative religious values.


A report from: Council on Urban Life, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.