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S5:E22 Walter Rauschenbusch and the Great Reversal

S5:E22 Walter Rauschenbusch and the Great Reversal

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

Discussion Questions:

  • 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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S5:E3 Dispensationalism and John Nelson Darby

S5:E3 Dispensationalism and John Nelson Darby

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What is dispensationalism?

This season we’re tracing the history of Christian fundamentalism through the life of William Jennings Bryan. But first, we need to learn some important definitions. Our big word of the week is dispensationalism. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Dispensationalism is (in part) the notion that God treats humankind differently depending on what era we are in. It is not accepted by all Christians, but it is a building block of fundamentalism. Another component of dispensationalism is the secret rapture–the idea that God will take His elect to heaven just before the tribulation. It also asserts that the Christian Church will become apostate before the end times. This last tidbit is important! Premillennialism made Christians suspicious of the outside world, but it was dispensationalism that made us suspicious of each other.

Who created dispensationalism?

John Nelson Darby is often credited as the father of dispensationalism. He came up with the idea of the rapture and is the man who packaged a bunch of existing ideas into this systematized vision of the Bible. In the 1700s and 1800s, people adapted the scientific notion of categorizing everything into genus and species and applied it to all areas of study, even when reading the Bible. This encouraged people like Darby to break the Bible into “dispensations” or eras.

Our guest this week is George Marsden. He’s the author of “Fundamentalism and American Culture”.

Discussion Questions:

  • Are you suspicious of other Christians? Why is that?
  • Do you believe in the rapture? Why?
  • Does the God of the Bible behave differently in different parts of the Bible? Or is He the same throughout?
  • Do you believe that Jewish people were destined to return to Israel based on Matthew 24:32-33 or Romans 11:25-26?
  • What did you know about the French Revolution before our recent episodes on it? Do you think it was a significant event in world history? If so, why?

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