The Social Gospel, Councils of Churches, and Fabian Socialism [Excerpts]
Called "Father of the Social Gospel," Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), grew up in a German Lutheran immigrant family in New York. He studied theology at the University of Rochester, one of hundreds of educational and "Christian" institutions funded by John D. Rockefeller. After pastoring a Baptist Church among poor immigrants in New York City for a few years, he joined the faculty at Rochester Theological Seminary -- also funded by Rockefeller. In 1902 he became its Professor of Church History.
From this prominent platform, he wrote books such as "Christianizing the Social Order" and "A Theology for the Social Gospel." Steeped in "higher criticism" and socialist ideology, he taught what many considered a more relevant and compassionate gospel. As a result, he "changed both the emphases and the direction of American Protestantism."
Rauschenbusch introduced Jesus "not as one who would come to save sinners from their sins but as one who had a 'social passion' for society." He and his comrades established the "Brotherhood of the Kingdom," which unified like-minded church leaders under a common socialist quest for an earthly "Kingdom of God."
Their plan would have fit our times! It called for political reform, ecumenical unity, "Social Justice" and global peace. To justify its place in "Christian" theology, words like redemption and regeneration were redefined to fit their socialist ideals.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Popular church leaders use the same strategy today! Pastor Brian McLaren's recent book, The Secret Message of Jesus, twists God's Word into an endorsement of an earthly, interfaith Kingdom. Likewise, Tony Campolo's hope of earthly perfection mocks the Biblical promise of eternal life:
"The gospel is not about... pie-in-the-sky when they die.... It is imperative that the up and coming generation recognize that the biblical Jesus was committed to the realization of a new social order in this world.... Becoming a Christian, therefore, is a call to social action."
In 1907, Rauschenbusch met with the leaders of Fabian socialism in England, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Potter Webb. Unlike impatient Marxist revolutionaries, the methodical Fabians emphasized peaceful transformation through propaganda and infiltration of universities, seminaries and churches.
Through the years, this socialist movement grew to include Bertrand Russell, H. G. Wells (who wrote Open Conspiracy), playwright George Bernard Shaw, Sinclair Lewis, Theosophical leader Annie Besant, and the Communist leader Harry Dexter White who worked with Alger Hiss to establish the United Nations. It spread through Western nations -- thanks, in part, to liberal churches that preached its message as if backed by the authority of God.
1. Dr. A.W. Beaven, former president of the Federal Council of Churches. Quoted by Edgar C Bundy, page 99. Reference below:
2. Edgar C Bundy, Collectivism in the Churches: A documented account of the political activities of the Federal, National, and World Councils of Churches (Wheaton, Illinois: Church League of America, 1957), page 97.
5. Tony Campolo, "Reflections on Youth Ministry in a Global Context," National Council of Churches, "Poverty March 2002." www.ncccusa.org/poverty/sermon-campolo.html