Social gospel definition us history

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social gospel definition us history

A Theology for the Social Gospel by Walter Rauschenbusch

It is here that Rauschenbusch, the father of the social gospel in the United States, articulates the theological roots of the social activism that surged forth from mainline Protestant churches in the early part of this century. Skillfully examining the great theological issues of the Christian faith - sin, evil, salvation, the kingdom of God - Rauschenbusch offers a powerful justification for the church to fully engage society.
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The Progressive Era: Crash Course US History #27

A Deep Dive Into the History of the Social Gospel Movement

The Social Gospel Movement was a religious movement that arose during the second half of the nineteenth century. Ministers, especially ones belonging to the Protestant branch of Christianity, began to tie salvation and good works together. They argued that people must emulate the life of Jesus Christ. To honor God, people must put aside their own earthly desires and help other people, especially the needy. The purpose of wealth was not to hoard it but to share it with other, less fortunate people.

The Social Gospel movement was a powerful and broad religious movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that advocated many social reforms and whose ideas about social justice continue to influence policy today. This liberal Christian religious movement began after the Civil War in and continued until about Its goal was to solve social problems caused by industrialization and urbanization by applying individual Christian principles to society as a whole.
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The legacy of Walter Rauschenbusch

What is Social Justice?

The social gospel differentiated itself from earlier Christian reform movements by prioritizing social salvation over individual salvation. Although the ministers and activists of the social gospel based their appeals on liberal theology, which emphasized the immanence of God and the doctrine of Incarnation and valued good works over creeds, they usually showed more interest in social science than in theology. Believing that laissez-faire capitalism's understanding of labor as a commodity and its sole reliance on mechanisms of supply and demand to determine wages and allocate resources was un-Christian, social gospel advocates supported the labor movement and called for an interventionist welfare state. They differed from secular activists in that their ultimate vision was not just a more equitable balance of power within society, but a Christianized society in which cooperation, mutual respect, and compassion replaced greed, competition, and conflict among social and economic classes. Despite all of their efforts to reach the working class and to cooperate with the labor movement, though, the social gospel failed to reach far beyond its middle-class liberal Protestant milieu. Ultimately, the greatest achievement of the social gospel was to prepare the ground of middle-class America for progressivism. Washington Gladden was the first person to formulate the ideas of the social gospel.

Christopher H. Evans does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Throughout American history, religion has played a significant role in promoting social reform. From the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century to the civil rights movement of the 20th century, religious leaders have championed progressive political causes. This legacy is evident today in the group called religious progressives, or the religious left. The social gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as I have explored in my research, has had a particularly significant impact on the development of the religious left. Other leaders, mostly women, ran settlement houses designed to alleviate the sufferings of immigrants living in cities like Boston, New York and Chicago.

The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially issues of social justice such as excessive wealth, poverty, alcoholism, crime, racial tensions, slums, bad hygiene, child labor, inadequate labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war. Social Gospel noun A Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early twentieth-century United States and Canada that applied Christian ethics to social problems. Denver, Colorado, was a center of Social Gospel activism. The South had its own version of the Social Gospel that focused especially on prohibition. The Social Gospel affected much of Protestant America. Portrait of Social Gospeller Washington Gladden, who was an important leader of the movement.


  1. Wendy U. says:

    Social Gospel , religious social-reform movement prominent in the United States from about to

  2. Adam P. says:

    The Social Gospel was a movement in Protestantism that applied Christian ethics to social problems , especially issues of social justice such as economic inequality , poverty , alcoholism , crime , racial tensions, slums , unclean environment, child labour , inadequate labour unions , poor schools, and the danger of war.

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