Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)
DOI link for Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)
Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918) book
The Social Gospel Movement of the early twentieth century came on the heels of an intense period of industrialization in North America and as a response to it. The prophets of the social gospel, such as Walter Rauschenbusch and Shailer Matthews, criticized social conditions characterized by unemployment, poverty, and economic inequities, while emphasizing the social character of the gospel as summed up in Jesus’ preaching of “the kingdom of God.” Rauschenbusch emphasized the social and systemic nature of sin and stressed the incredible power of social institutions both for good and for evil. For social gospellers, however, the gospel of Jesus is just as social and systemic as is sin. When understood properly, the gospel demands transformation at the deepest levels of human existence. By re-thinking Christian doctrine in social terms, Rauschenbusch offered a challenging new lens for reading the world, re-thinking the mission of Jesus, and doing theology and ethics that was to inspire a renewal of the church’s relationship to society throughout the twentieth century. For Rauschenbusch, the church is called corporately to side with the poor and the unemployed thereby allowing its mission, spirituality, and institutional life to be revolutionized by its social service to humanity.