Why are conservative Christians against social programs?
Walter Rauscenbush published his classic book Christianity and the Social Crisis in 1907. It went on to become a defining work of the social gospel movement. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the social gospel this season. That is because it has been identified by historians as the key movement that fundamentalists rebelled against. So we really should understand it, right?
In this episode, Chris takes us through highlights of this classic book in order to understand how the social gospel differed from evangelical Christianity. While it lifted up the necessity of doing good works, the social gospel often omitted salvation altogether. Contrast that to evangelical preachers like D.L. Moody who lived their lives with the sole purpose of evangelism.
This division between evangelicalism and liberal theologies led to the Great Reversal when theologically conservative Christians went from participating in public acts of goodwill to distancing themselves from it. Why are conservative Christians against social programs? Because people like Rauschenbush tied social programs to liberal theology and socialism.
Christianity and the Social Crisis
Breakdown of points made from Christianity and the Social Crisis
- Rauschenbush’s thoughts on socialism (p152)
- Theories on prophets of the Old Testament creating Judaism – p3 – 5
- Amos and Jeremiah denied that God ever told them to sacrifice – p6
- Morality is the only thing God cares about – p6
- God is interested in the morality of the nation over the individual – p11, 29
- The Bible has been altered when it comes to the stories of Jesus – p62-63
- Wealth is associated with the wicked in the Bible – p13
- Jewish people distributed land in communistic ways – p14
- John the Baptist and Jesus both wanted to restore theocracy to Israel – p53
- Rauschenbush’s ideas about how industry chews people up – p370
- Socialism is inevitable – outside link page 153
- What is Christianity?
- How much of Christianity can you remove before it becomes something else?
- Why are we so split between those of us who think of good works and those of us who think of salvation?
- What is the role of Christians in society?
- Now that you’ve decided on the role of Christians in society, how do you match up with your own expectations?
How do we keep ministries accountable?
After the evangelist D.L. Moody died at the end of the 1800s, he left behind a series of lieutenants, guys who carried on the work of sharing the gospel and shaping culture. It was these men who went on to set the foundation of the fundamentalist movement in the United States. James Gray, Arthur Pierson, A.J. Gordon, Charles Blanchard, and William Erdman, C.I. Scofield, and William Bell Riley. These guys went on to found schools, start radio ministries, spearhead publications, and amass large followings. They wrote the influential (if under-read) pamphlet series “The Fundamentals” and would fight the rise of Darwinism in schools and liberal theology in denominations.
In this episode, we’ll explore the emergence of fiefdoms in evangelicalism—ministries with little or no denominational oversight. This method of ministry was crucial in landing us where we are today. Could the evangelicals Church of today use a Magna Carta of sorts to keep ministries under accountability?
The value of creeds
How do we keep ministries accountable? One option would be to return to creeds. Creeds are short professions of the faith and are often used to anchor our theology. If you were to write a creed for evangelical ministries, what would it look like?
Helpful Sources and Links:
- Do you think that ministry leaders should be held accountable?
- Should accountability be external or is it okay to limit it to internal accountability?
- Are there steps that Truce can take as a show to introduce accountability without bogging Chris down with too many requirements?
- Do you live in a Christian “bubble”? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the bubble?
- Would you let your kids go to a secular school? Why or why not?
- It’s interesting that Reuben Torrey was seen as snooty. Do you think that attitude is compatible with humble Christian service?
Biography of D.L. Moody
DL Moody. The name may be familiar. There is a Moody Publishers, a Moody Bible Institute, Moody Radio. His name is all over evangelicalism. His remarkable life story is something worth noting. Though Moody was not a fundamentalist, some of the tactics he used to build his ministry would be employed by some of his lieutenants when they built the foundation of the movement.
So we’re going to spend this episode talking about this remarkable man. Born in poverty, educated to only about a 4th-grade level, he would rise to become one of the most important American evangelists. His folksy style and booming voice were winsome to the millions of people to whom he preached. In this difficult series about controversial ideas, why not take some time to discuss something that went right in the late 1800s? The ministry of Moody.
I’m joined in this episode by Kevin Belmonte. He’s the author of several history books including D.L. Moody: A Life. Check out his books and let me know what you think!
Helpful Links and Sources
- Kevin Belmonte’s book D.L. Moody: A Life
- The Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald
- A nice bio on Harry Moorhouse
- See the plaque where Moody was converted
- Have you ever shared the gospel with someone like Mr. Kimball did in the shoe store? Why or why not?
- Is there someone you could pray for that they would be saved?
- Why do you think Moody was so popular in his day?
- Have you ever encountered Moody Radio, Publishers, or Bible Institute?
- The “Christian bubble” really started to take shape in the era of Moody. How has the “bubble” impacted your life?
- What are your views on poverty? How do people become poor and how can it be fixed? Do you think that all poor people are lazy? Why?