Probably one of the largest evangelical movements right now is the resurgence of the Social Gospel. It’s a huge movement gaining momentum and promoted by the likes of Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and other emergent thinkers. The basic idea behind Social Gospel is that God cannot return until the world has been rid of evils. It’s an idea that puts humanity at the center of ushering in the Kingdom of God. The focus is less on individual conversion and more so on reforming social structures. In other words, it’s a “Christian” version of Social Justice politics. Obviously there are several problems with this theology; however, the biggest problem with is the emphasis on humanism.
Walter Rauschenbusch, the man who is largely responsible for the systemizing of the social gospel, said the following about the Social Gospel:
“The Social Gospel is concerned with the eradication of sin and the fulfillment of the mission of redemption.”
The Social Gospel moves the fulfillment of redemption and the eradication of sin, onto man’s actions and social constructs. If there is one thing that scripture teaches us it is this, the act of redemption, regeneration, the eradication of sin, and the fulfillment of that mission rests only on Christ and the Holy Spirit. According to the Social Gospel, man is responsible for ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven and creating a heaven on earth, or utopia. If this is man’s responsibility and he is capable of fulling it, than there is no need for God.
That being said, there is something that evangelicals, especially we reformed evangelicals, can learn from the Social Gospel. While the Social Gospel is very poisonous and detrimental to the Gospel,what is equally poisonous and detrimental is complacency. While social constructs and man cannot solve all the issues in this world, God still calls Christians to serve others. Christians must avoid reacting to the Social Gospel, and focus on living the life that Christ calls and allows us to live.
What are your thoughts on the Social Gospel?