Home > Reviews > Salt, Light and Cities on Hills by Melvin Tinker

Salt, Light and Cities on Hills by Melvin Tinker


Is it possible to co-ordinate evangelism and social action in such a way that it reflects faithfully the pattern of the New Testament; enabling each to reinforce the other while avoiding the extremes of exclusive gospel proclamation on the one hand and the collapsing of evangelism into social action on the other? How has the present situation of tension and controversy amongst evangelicals on this issue come about? Are there lessons which we can learn from our evangelical forebears? How does what they believed and acted contrast with their 21st century theological offspring? What might a biblically shaped and theologically informed co-ordination between evangelistic activity and social action look like on the ground in 21st century Britain? These are some of the questions Melvin Tinker explores in this book in the hope of moving beyond caricatured, entrenched positions to a better rounded and clearly recognisable evangelical appreciation. The work of leaders such as John Stott and Tim Keller are considered in this new book. Passages from Isaiah and the Sermon on the Mount are given careful consideration and practical examples from the author’s own ministry in Hull are given. This is a book that is both readable and important for all who are looking at the shape of evangelism in Britain today. (From Publisher’s Website)



Evangelism, social action and the church-how do they relate to each other? This is the subtitle of the book and a rather hot topic for the church today. Some view evangelism as the sum total of what it means to engage our culture. Some say it is social action. Who is right and why? This book helps clarify what Jesus taught and what the church’s response should be.

Here are the things I enjoyed about this book:

1. The author gives us historical context for this debate.

Mr. Tinker is conversant with the arguments and proponents for this debate over the last century. He shares this knowledge with the reader in order to set the stage for the discussion at hand. Knowing the context helps us understand the momentum and thrust of the arguments.

2. The author links Jesus’ sermon on the mount and ministry to the servant song in Isaiah.

We see that Jesus’ ministry is both the proclamation of the good news and social action. Jesus did not just go around teaching, He also healed the sick and fed the hungry. The author helps us see the link between Jesus’ words and the prophecies concerning His deeds in Isaiah.

3. The author talks about the three word pictures Jesus used in the sermon on the mount: salt, light, and city on a hill.

I have read and heard people talk about being salt and light. I have also heard preachers talk about the church being a city on a hill. Mr. Tinker helps us think about the whole picture.

4. The author gives the church a practical call to reach the unreached.

Mr. Tinker talks about the unreached in England. The highest proportioned of unreached people are in the lower strata of society. Translation: the poor are becoming the least reached people with the gospel. How do we reach them. Mr. Tinker suggests that we establish churches in their midst who then minister to the people. Why would people want to listen to our gospel if we live above them and away from their problems? Making social connections and showing that we care about people will create ministry opportunities: opportunities to live out our faith by doing good for our fellow image bearers.

5. The author gives the gospel primacy in the discussion.

It is not an “either” “or” discussion but a “both” “and”. However, proclaiming the gospel (making disciples) is what we are called to do. Whatever our intentions, simply doing good deeds will not win souls. Words have to be used. The eternal, spiritual well-being of our fellow man is of more lasting import than the temporary, physical needs. But we can and should do both.

I recommend this book to those who are dealing with this issue. It brings clarity to the conversation.


Book Details:


  • Author: Melvin Tinker
  • Publisher: EP Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Page Count: 120
  • ISBN#: 9781783970438
  • List Price: $10.99



About the Author:

 Melvin Tinker has served as Vicar of St John Newland since 1994, Melvin read Theology at Oxford University and trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall. He has previously been curate at Wetherby Parish Church, Chaplain to Keele University and vicar of All Hallows, Cheadle. As well as speaking around the country and abroad, Melvin is the author of over fifty published articles dealing with a wide range of subjects relating to ethics and theology. He is also the author of several books, including, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ (CFP), ‘Reclaiming Genesis’ (Monarch) and ‘Intended for Good- The Providence of God’ (IVP). (From Publisher’s Website)

Where to Buy:




Disclaimer: I received this book from EP Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.


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