Theology for the Social Gospel: a Book Review Essay example

2027 WordsFeb 21, 20119 Pages
October 27, 2010 Rauschenbusch, Walter. A Theology for the Social Gospel. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1917. 279 pp. Culturally speaking, Walter Rauschenbusch may have been years ahead of his time. From the very first chapter of his most famous work, Rauschenbusch’s passion for social justice is quite evident. He certainly had his finger on the pulse of his current generation, noting the compelling movement of the college students of his day to social service (3). It could be argued that the current generation shares this passion and perhaps even his theology. Unfortunately, while as believers we are called to “act justly and love mercy” (Micah 6:8), Rauschenbusch’s system of theology to uphold this love for social justice…show more content…
He challenges the traditional views of life after death, heaven, and how heaven is attained, all surrounding the value of social justice. Critical Evaluation I’m not sure I know where to begin in interacting with Rauschenbusch’s ideas. While the upholding of justice and mercy is certainly a Christian duty, Rauschenbusch has made the value of social reform the framework of his theology, building even his conception of God (Ch. 15) around it. The entire book was written with the words Scripture only used to support his ideas. This is not only arrogant, but it is poor hermeneutics. He compares his own work with that of the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther who he dubs, “great religious thinkers who created theology…shaping ideas to meet actual religious experience” (13). In that sense, Rauschenbusch sees theology as up for renovation on a regular basis. Of Martin Luther he said, “(Luther) worked out the doctrine of ‘justification by faith” because he had found by experience that it gave him a surer and happier way to God than the effort to win merit by his own works” (14). In that, I’m afraid Rauschenbusch is completely mistaken. Luther did not find the Reformation by “experience.” Rather, as one of his own battle cries suggest, he found it Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone. Rauschenbusch believes that theology has “lost its contact with the synoptic thought of Jesus” (133). While

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