chapter  13
10 Pages

God and Caesar

ByConstance L. Benson

This chapter recovers the historical context of Ernst Troeltsch's Social Teaching, which has largely been lost to interpreters. This context, which Troeltsch shared with his contemporaries, must be our frame of reference for understanding Troeltsch's intentions in undertaking this massive project. In The Social Teaching, Troeltsch argues that early Christianity never attempted to address the problems of poverty/oppression; that in fact the original gospel message had nothing to do with social reform of any kind. The dominant history of the social teachings of Christianity, the history of the church type, is comprised of a series of "realistic" compromises with the status quo. Christianity's primary focus looks beyond the problems of history or society altogether. It is concerned primarily with restoring the soul's relationship to God. Troeltsch makes no mention of such public policies as the Crusades, the witch-burnings of New England, the expulsion of Jews from Spain, or how such actions related, if at all, to Christian social teaching.