Archives For Social Gospel


Walter RauschenbuschAlthough Walter Rauschenbusch’s prominence as a leader of the Social Gospel movement have led many over the years to dismiss his work,

his theology is particularly relevant and timely today, especially as a critique of the sort of otherworldly, disembodied religion that is all too common.  Several recent books have made this argument, including Tim Suttle’s An Evangelical Social Gospel? [Read our review].  “Rauschenbusch’s view of Christianity was that its purpose was to spread a Kingdom of God, not through a fire and brimstone style of preaching but by leading a Christlike life. Rauschenbusch did not view Jesus’ death as an act of substitutionary atonement but in his words, he died “to substitute love for selfishness as the basis of human society.” He wrote that “Christianity is in its nature revolutionary” and tried to remind society of that. He explained that the Kingdom of God “is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.” In Rauschenbusch’s early adulthood, mainline Protestant churches were largely allied with the social and political establishment, in effect supporting the domination by robber barons, income disparity, and the use of child labor. Most church leaders did not see a connection between these issues and their ministries, so did nothing to address the suffering. But Rauschenbusch saw it as his duty as a minister and student of Christ to act with love by trying to improve social conditions.” (via Wikipedia)

We are pleased today to offer one of Rauschenbusch’s last books that overviews his theology…

Download a FREE ebook of

Walter Rauschenbusch’s
Theology for The Social Gospel

[available in a variety of ebook formats –Kindle, epub for Nook, etc. — from ]

We intend to make the “Freebie of the Week” a regular column… So stay tuned in coming weeks for other free ebooks, downloads, etc.!

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“In Search of a Third Way

A review of
An Evangelical Social Gospel?:
Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes
by Tim Suttle.

Review by Tim Høiland.

An Evangelical Social Gospel?:
Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes
Tim Suttle.
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Papaerback ]
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Over the course of the past decade, as a member of a fairly large, conservative evangelical church in a part of the country fairly saturated with other conservative evangelical churches, I have become increasingly interested in and committed to the sort of faith the prophet Micah describes: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

If we’re honest, though, that’s not what evangelicals have been particularly known for. Rather, we have often been caricatured — with varying degrees of accuracy, to be sure — as just the opposite: unkind, unconcerned, and yes, just a wee bit holier-than-thou. Why is this the case?

One way to answer the question would be to say that we are sinners, just like everybody else, and God knows that justice, kindness and humility don’t come easily for any of us. Another approach would require looking back at the past hundred years, back to a seismic split in North American Christianity, between theological conservatism on the one hand and theological liberalism on the other. Broadly speaking, the conservatives emphasized the need for personal faith in Jesus Christ, to the exclusion of what were considered “worldly” concerns. The liberals, meanwhile, guided by the so-called “Social Gospel” movement, taught that Christ’s mission and ours was to transform society, not individuals.

Like many people my age in recent years, I’ve been grappling with this split, in search of a better way, one that embraces the best of both without falling prey to the traps of either. For these reasons I was fascinated when I heard about Tim Suttle’s new book, An Evangelical Social Gospel?: Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes (Cascade, 2011).

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