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?
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Who is an evangelical?
Who is an evangelical? If you go by the news today, you probably think evangelicals are all American middle-class white men. Nope! Evangelical Christians come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. They can be men or women from anywhere in the world. They can speak any language. And they can have a lot of variety in their beliefs.
This season on the Truce Podcast we are examining the history of Christian fundamentalism. How did fundamentalism begin? What is Christian fundamentalism? Is Christian fundamentalism a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in between?
In this episode, we’re joined by author and professor George Marsden. He’s the author of Fundamentalism and American Culture, which is THE book everyone else refers to when they talk about fundamentalism. According to Marsden, fundamentalism is “militantly anti-modernism protestant evangelicalism”. That is a lot of big words! By the end of the season, you should understand all of that. One important part of that definition is the word “evangelicalism”. It is one of those words that has been used so much in so many different ways that it can be difficult to define it. There are whole movements to create new definitions these days. But in order to move forward this season, we need to pick some frame of reference. I chose David Beggington’s definition of what defines an evangelical:
- Biblicism (a focus on the Bible)
- Conversionism (an emphasis on evangelism)
- Crucicentrism (the centrality of the cross)
Those four things, according to Bebbington, are what make up an evangelical. Again, it is a hotly debated subject.
So when did evangelicalism begin? Many of the sources that I found pointed to the revivals in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. Evangelists like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield spread the gospel using a post-millennialist vision of the end times mixed with Calvinism. This was part of the First Great Awakening. Then there were others after the revolution who spread an Arminian view of salvation. Guys like Finney. Belief in God became more personal, without the direct oversight of a priest or minister. It became an individual’s responsibility to look after their spiritual growth.
Welcome to season 5! God willing, I’ll be releasing new episodes every other week.
- What is an evangelical?
- What is a fundamentalist?
- If fundamentalists are evangelicals who are angry at something, what are they angry at? Are you one of those people?
- Do you believe in the Calvinist view of salvation or the Arminian one? Does it matter? Why?
- The Great Awakening movements established a sense that belief in God was not something that needed to be handed down by a priest or minister. Do you think that was a positive move? What are some potential drawbacks (if any)?
Helpful Links and Sources:
Correction: The original version of this episode incorrectly represented Arminian belief. It involves the belief that once grace is offered by God that a sinner can reject the offer. The original version stated that the sinner made the first move to initiate a relationship. That is incorrect. Arminians believe that God makes the first move, but His offer can be rejected. The error has been corrected in this version, My apologies for any confusion.