The Social Gospel

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Deacon, Jul 26, 2008.

  1. Deacon

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    Why are social programs to help the poor, the needy, the sick and helpless considered liberal and renounced by Evangelicals and Fundamental Christians?

    Rob
     
  2. Salty

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    You are lumping two separate issues together here.

    Liberal means to "give freely". I don't have a problem helping the truly needy. However, there should also be personal responsibility. I would not have a problem if a women came in and said she needed money for food, but if the night before, she was out at the bars and blew her money...

    This is where "fundamental (conservative) Christians" part company. The difference is we insist on personal responsibility

    To take it one step further, it is the scriptual mission of the church to take care of those (truly) in need. It is NOT the responsibility of the Goverment.
    Salty
     
  3. rdwhite

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    Well, I can only speak for myself. Sometimes, people get stoked by doing good works and the works become the focus and the gospel is left out. What good is done if the hungry are feed and the naked clothed if the soul is forgotten. If a person is interested in social work, then do social work, but don't wrap it in the Bible if no effort is made to deal with the soul. I have seen first hand Christians with good intentions, get caught up in the social work, and no testimony was shared, no gospel literature given, so souls saved from hell.

    I do not have a problem using a social opportunity to gain an opportunity to evangelize, but don't forget to evangelize.
     
  4. Salty

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    AMEN BROTHER!:thumbs:
     
  5. Joe

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    If you were hungry and naked, you would feel differently. Gave a few dollars to some guy who asked me today and didn't preach the gospel. I was in a hurry, yet he said he was thirsty. Drove back by and saw him sitting out front the liquor store drinking an Arizona Ice Tea.
     
  6. Revmitchell

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    Just who are these that renounce them exactly? It appears you are suggesting that all evangelicals and fundamental Christians do this?
     
  7. rdwhite

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    If I were hungry and naked, and you gave me food and clothes, but did not bother to tell me how I could receive salvation, and I died and had to spend an eternity in hell, I would feel great bitterness toward you for not telling me about Jesus. I would hate you for ever, as I burned in hell, because you could have told me about Jesus and had an opportunity to do so, but you did not.

    So, when you drove back by, did you stop and tell him about Jesus, did you give him a gospel tract? Or did you drive on by, feeling good about yourself, never considering the condition of the man's soul? Maybe he is already saved, but maybe he is not. How will you know if you don't ask? Simply giving him a gospel tract to read while he was sipping on that tea could have changed his eternal destination. I hope and pray that you did stop and tell him about Jesus or at least gave him a gospel tract to read. Joe, I pray to God that you stopped and gave that man a gospel tract or took the time to tell him about the hope of salvation.

    Prayfully and with respect,
    Daniel

     
  8. Deacon

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    Evangelization is very important but slipping a tract to every person I give a glass of cold water to seems extreme,
    I’d look for someone else give me the water.

    We don't have to search too far back in your own posts to see renunciations.

    In the past Christians were characterized by their good works, what changed?
    …or do you think we still have this characterization among the world?

    Rob
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Not really true, Rob. Are you not familiar with the Gospel mission (also called rescue mission) movement? For 130 years or more, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists have run Gospel missions in many cities around America. Those missions give food and a place to stay and other help to the poor, to alcoholics, drug addicts, etc. It's all free to the poor, supported by churches. And of course they tell them about Christ!

    My father preached in them and took me when I was a little boy to the most famous one, the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago (www.pgm.org). I myself have preached in them, helped deliver food and done other things there. My IFB co-worker here in Japan for some years worked in one as his main job for years before coming to Japan. My wife's home church was for years the one that took in for Sunday services all the men from the Lansing City Rescue Mission (www.lcrm.org). One of those guys named Paul became my good friend and always prayed faithfully for our work in Japan until he died.

    Another way Fundamentalists help the poor is through the bus ministry, much maligned on the Baptist Board. I've been visiting many times for the bus ministry in my home church. We always looked for the poor people. I've been in some homes you wouldn't believe. And many times a bus captain will provide food or clothing for the poor kids. And of course they tell them about Christ!

    The thing is, we do all of this quietly and without fuss or fanfare. Fundamentalists believe in helping the poor. We just don't believe in making a big fuss and bragging about helping the poor, unlike the liberals. Oh, and by the way, many liberals talk a good game but don't do it. I've been in liberal church buildings and seen their programs. Helping and loving the poor is just a front. They prefer to support radical causes like abortion for poor women, etc.
     
    #9 John of Japan, Jul 27, 2008
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  10. tinytim

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    There are 2 different ways to do "social gospel"

    1) Social gospel based in liberation theology teaches that the way to get rid of sin is to create a society in which we meet the needs of the people.
    The thinking is, if the poor no longer exist, they will not need to steal or cheat, etc... Salvation is seen as being attainable by the good we do. The church is seen as the agent for change in society. Most of the doctrine comes from Jesus' sermon on the mount. It emphasizes Jesus' good works instead of his atoning death. It reminds me of the Robin Hood approach.. Take from the rich, give to the poor. When people with this type of theology gets involved in politics, you often see them support programs in which the government supports the poor. A prime example is the theology of Obama. He attended a church with the liberation theology. And you can see his "faith" coming out in his politics by all the social programs he is proposing.

    2) The other type of social gospel is based in Evangelical theology.
    Evangelical theology teaches that Jesus is the sin eraser in society, that it is only through Jesus that sin can be destroyed. Salvation is seen through Jesus only. This type of social gospel is carried out for 2 reasons, 1, because it is the right thing to do... and 2, because people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is carried out because Jesus loves us, and we want to show love to others in hopes that it plants a seed, in which will sprout another Christian.

    Liberation social gospel is doing works to gain salvation.
    Evangelical social gospel is doing works because of salvation.

    I am opposed to liberation social gospel, because it distorts the very essence of salvation.

    I support evangelical social gospel because I believe that once a person has experienced salvation, they will want to help others.
     
  11. Pipedude

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    Socialism, generally speaking, is a movement to take wealth from its owners by force and to redistribute it according to some preferred plan. The use of force ("government") is the most objectionable feature.

    The Social Gospel movement, of which Walter Rauschenbusch was the most famous spokesman, was first a secular movement. Rauschenbusch was a German socialist well before he came to New York and worked in Hell's Kitchen. To such people, socialism is true whether or not you use the church as a vehicle for it.

    Socialism, an ancient and pagan form of social organization, is far inferior to liberty. As America sinks in the socialist direction year by year, the effects become wonderful sermon topics.
     
  12. ktn4eg

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    As was already mentioned in some previous posts on this thread, the so-called "social gospel" can be taken to mean different things to different people and/or churches.

    Jesus' teachings in Matthew 25:31-46 and what James writes in his letter in 1:27 and 2:14-26 would--at least at first glance--lend some credence to at least some form of the so-called "social gospel."

    Of course works doesn't save anyone. Titus 3:5-6 settles that. But what does Titus 3:8 tell us born-again Christians?

    IMHO, if a person or church only does good works and never, ever witnesses about a person's need for Christ as their personal savior, then that person or church has pretty much missed the point of what God's Word says a Christian ought to be doing.

    OTOH, if a person or church DOES include witnessing about Christ as a part of his doing good works for a lost person or persons, then I'm all for it.

    Case in point: The church to which I belong has for almost 3 years now been sending groups of people to the Mississippi Gulf Coast area to help re-build houses for folks who lost so much due to Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. In fact, while I'm writing this post there's a group of them down there for an entire week doing exactly that.

    Yet, while they are there doing what is often quite physically demanding (sometimes even back-breaking) labor, they do it cheerfully. And they also witness to those folks about Christ while they're doing this work.

    To me, that isn't social gospel. It's more like walking the walk rather than merely talking the talk about Jesus Christ.

    Isn't that really what we ought to be doing for this lost and hell-bound society?
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Since this is on a history thread, maybe a little actual history would help!

    "Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-191&), son of a German pastor who embraced Baptist views, radically reoriented theology in America from his post at Rochester Theological Seminary, where he served from 1897 until his death. Known as the ‘Father of the Social Gospel,’ a distinction which perhaps should be shared with Washington Gladden and Josiah Strong. Rauschenbusch, as a pastor in the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ area of New York City, became aware of the social and economic problems of laboring people and their families. Distressed by the harsh treatment of laborers by industry, unsanitary health conditions, child labor, and other problems of the emerging industrial society, Rauschenbusch became convinced that the message of Jesus applies to society as well as to individuals. With others likeminded, he formed the Brotherhood of the Kingdom in 1892 to apply the gospel to modem needs. The Social Gospel addressed primarily the problems of Northern industrialism, It is no accident that the Social Gospel was articulated by persons from an immigrant background and that it addressed primarily those social problems of industrial America that bore heaviest upon immigrant laborers. Social problems of the South, such as race, sharecropping, and health care, were largely ignored by the Social Gospel.

    “In two powerful books, Rauschenbusch made his greatest impact. His Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907) and A Theology for the Social Gospel (1917) set out his distinctive views. The central message of Jesus, said Rauschenbusch, was the kingdom of God. Rauschenbusch understood the kingdom not just as a future eschatological state, but as potentially present in human society. He urged church and society to work together to bring society closer to kingdom ideals. Decrying what he termed ‘despotic churches and unbelievable creeds,’ Rauschenbusch accused the church of corrupting the original message and mission of Jesus. Despite linking the Social Gospel to certain liberal doctrines, Rauschenbusch retained many conservative emphases. Some of his followers, however, tended to abandon these conservative vestiges. The twentieth-century trend of Northern Baptists to emphasize social action owes much to the legacy of Rauschenbusch.” (The Baptist Heritage, by H. Leon McBeth, 598-599)
     
    #13 John of Japan, Jul 28, 2008
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  14. John of Japan

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    Now, in regards to the OP and its assumption that evangelicals and Fundamentalists don't help the poor as we should, here is a scholarly quote that backs up what I have said.


    "THE PROBLEM OF A SOCIAL GOSPEL

    "As several scholars have noted, the legacy of nineteenth-century Evangelicalism was not only a stalwart commitment to the growth of Christianity (through domestic revivals and evangelization and through foreign missionary activity) but also, within many quarters, a dedication to concretely address the needs of the socially and economically disadvantaged (Dayton 1976; Smith 1976; Moberg 1972; Marsden 1980). Though the chief priority was always ‘spreading the gospel,’ the philanthropic dimension of Christianity was in no way ignored. This was true not only among the Presbyterian Calvinists and the Baptists, who connected this with their postmillennial hope of reforming society in preparation for the return of Christ, but also among the Holiness and Pentecostal denominations and sects in their passion for revival (Marsden 1980, chaps 9 and 10). Social service initiatives such as rescue missions for drunkards and the disreputable urban poor, orphanages, homes for 'fallen women,' relief programs for immigrants and the needy (which included providing lodging and food as well as finding jobs for these people), and medical missions were commonplace within nineteenth- and twentieth-century evangelicals. Conservatives were also known to have endorsed labor unions, worked for legislation concerning women’s and children’s labor, and advocated better treatment of immigrants and blacks. Once again, though the practical, benevolent side of Christianity was always secondary to the supreme purpose of evangelism and personal piety, the two objectives were seen as working hand in hand. Uplifting the sinner and saving his soul fused together in an integrated thrust.” (Evangelicalism, the Coming Generation, by James Davison Hunter, 40-41)
     
    #14 John of Japan, Jul 28, 2008
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  15. John of Japan

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    Now I’ll sum up. The difference between us and the liberals is that the liberals believe the social Gospel to be an actual Gospel, that is, the reason Christ came. Therefore, the social Gospel is a false Gospel, and it is accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). However, we believe that social work is in addition to the Gospel, not part of it.

    There is also a difference between the view of traditional evangelicals/fundamentalists and New Evangelicalism. Traditionalists believe that social activity is secondary to the Gospel, as seen in the above quote. NEs believe that social action is just as important as the Gospel, as witness the Lausanne Covenant, which in point #5 puts “Christian Social Responsibility” right up there with all the other points about doctrine and evangelism. Link: http://www.lausanne.org/lausanne-1974/lausanne-covenant.html
     
  16. Goldie

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    The Social gospel can be summed up as follows:

    The King sends a representative to prison to reprieve a person from
    death row. Instead of giving the person the reprieve he requires and
    sorely needs, the representative instead makes the prison as comfortable
    as possible for the prisoner.

    Our works should be to please God. First preach the gospel to them and save their souls then make their lives as comfortable as possible.
     
  17. Pipedude

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    This is a myth which is repeated by all standard reference works, but it is only a cover story. Rauschenbusch was a German socialist well before he came to New York and worked in Hell's Kitchen.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Well, since the Social Gospel is only socialism in a new guise.... :thumbsup:
     
  19. Deacon

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    Thanks Pipedude and JOJ, some history, that's what I was looking for. :thumbsup:

    I still find it troublesome that it's the liberals and socialists have a reputation of helping the poor (true or not),
    the Christian reputation is often sullied by other indiscretions.

    The liberals draw followers better than the Christians
    as rotting carcass attracts flies more than sweet honey.

    Rob
     
  20. Pipedude

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    Quite true. According to the myth, Rauschenbusch found out that the old gospel didn't work in Hell's Kitchen, so he developed the Social Gospel out of necessity. In truth, though, he became a socialist the way all socialists become such: by talking to and corresponding with other intellectuals. This he did in Germany before coming to America. He didn't come to new views in Hell's Kitchen; his mind was made up before he ever graced our shores with his presence.

    Writers never tire of repeating the myth and they never question it. Unless one is a radical proponent of individual liberty and limited government, which entails the despisal of socialism, he has little motive for questioning the story's veracity. But Rauschenbusch's early history is documented in every seminary library and anyone can read it and put the facts together with only a little effort. And none do.
     

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