Although 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…
[available in a variety of ebook formats –Kindle, epub for Nook, etc. — from Archive.org ]
We intend to make the “Freebie of the Week” a regular column… So stay tuned in coming weeks for other free ebooks, downloads, etc.!
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com