Social Gospel Movement

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Social Gospel MovementWas the first Social Justice Warrior a Congregationalist minister?

He was: a man by the name of Charles Oliver Brown. His Social Gospel Movement was a political-religious movement which was a direct forerunner to the far left social justice movement of today.

The Social Gospel Movement believed Christ would not return until mankind had eliminated not “evil” as such, but social evils, such as alcoholism, economic inequality, slums, illiteracy, and so on.

In other words, man was to build Heaven on Earth. He was to perfect creation in advance of the Second Coming.

The Social Gospel Movement and American Progressivism

The Social Gospel Movement found common cause with the secular left, while also providing them with the energy that only religious fervor can provide. While there were other secular forces involved in the development of American progressivism, the Social Gospel Movement was the religious wing, bringing with it all the certainty and fervor that comes with that.

Progressivism is one of the outcomes of the Social Gospel Movement. The animating ideology changed from a unique interpretation of the End Times to secular ones like Cultural Marxism and Open Society.

There’s more than one way to make Heaven on Earth. In its most extreme form, it can lead to things like mass suicide — Jim Jones, a preacher himself, was a scion of this movement.

<>But we need not look for such extreme examples. The Social Gospel Movement and its modern-day incarnation social justice warriors are firmly mainstream these days, penetrating such ostensibly theologically conservative outfits as the Southern Baptist Convention. Even the Evangelical movement has begun caving to its new religious left.

The Catholic Church has a similar doctrine called Catholic social teaching, though this is more about the responsibilities of wealthy Catholics than a guide for governance. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) explicitly rejects social gospel.

A Belief in the Perfectibility of Man

It’s important to understand the Social Gospel Movement and its heterodox understanding of Christian eschatology. Perhaps it is less the religious nature of the movement than it is its unusual take on the Book of Revelation, seeing man and creation not as necessarily and inherently flawed, but instead perfectible.

If man is perfectible, then the role of the Christian Church becomes less about the saving of souls and more about changing the political landscape to create this new man.

People who believe they can create Heaven on Earth are dangerous in large numbers. This is because of their surety and lack of self-critical reflection. Equally dangerous is what they will do to those who oppose their divine project.

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