chapter  14
6 Pages

Conclusion: Religious and Social Transformation

ByConstance L. Benson

In the midst of these nightmares, movements of religious awakening—including Mahatma Gandhi's campaigns in South Africa and India, the Civil Rights movement in the United States, and liberation theology in Latin America—challenged underlying structures of social and economic power. Both Ernst Troeltsch and Peter Berger advocated a turning towards individual religious experience and salvation as an alternative to popular political variants of Christianity that sought to bring the Kingdom of God "on earth, as it is in heaven". Religious renewal can help bring about the needed consciousness and values, or, in the absence of such renewal, the religions of the world can remain part of the problem—continuing to legitimize wealth, patriarchy, and militarism. Both Troeltsch and Berger interpreted Christianity in such a way as to legitimize the dominant social orders in which they lived and disputed interpretations of Christianity that challenged those orders.