chapter  7
12 Pages

“Thy Kingdom Come! Thy Will be Done on Earth!” The Challenge of Christian Socialism

ByConstance L. Benson, Cornel West

By the time of Imperial Germany Christianity had for centuries been the state religion of the Roman and Holy Roman Empires. In this fundamentally different context, the words "Render unto Caesar" took on a new and conservative meaning. The Congress offered a nationalist Christian socialism as an alternative to international Marxist socialism. Christianity provided a salvation of souls, not a solution to the problem of poverty. Adolf von Harnack criticized as Utopian the Catholic religious orders with their continuing practice of the early Christian communion of goods. The emperor's telegram marked the end of the Second Reich's short-lived flirtation with Christian socialism. True Christianity, according to Wachter, does not teach that the present social order of throne and altar is divinely ordained. Ragaz contrasted a stagnant Christianity with one that was actively working toward the realization of the Kingdom of God. Ragaz observed that traditional Christian ethics was wedded to patriarchal structures. Christianity has been both regressive and progressive.