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1.02.2021

Christianity and the social crisis, rauschenbusch

 

.... Six decades after the

book’s original release, Martin Luther King Jr. would write, “In

the early 50’s I read Walter Rauschenbusch’s Christianity and

the Social Crisis, a book which left an indelible imprint on my

thinking.” ​I am Walter Raus...


.... The belief in a future life and

future reward and punishment was almost absent in Hebrew religion.

To live to an honored old age, to see his children and children’s

children, to enjoy the fruit of his labor in peace under his own

vine and fig tree—that ​was all the heaven to which the pious Israelite

looked for.....


.... As long as

the people were falsely optimistic, the prophets persisted in

destroying their illusions. When the people were despairing, the...


.... Beyond

the question of economic distribution lies the question of moral

relations; and beyond the moral relations to men lies the question

of the religious communion with that spiritual reality in which we

live and move and have our deepest being—with God, the Father of

our spirits. Jesus had realized the life of God in the soul of man

and the life of man in the love of God. That was the real secret of

his life, the well-spring of his purity, his compassion, his

unwearied courage, his unquenchable idealism: he knew the Father.

But if he had that greatest of all possessions, the real key to the

secret of life, it was his highest social duty to share it and help

​others

to gain what he had. He had to teach men to live as children in the

presence of their Father, and no longer as slaves cringing before a

despot. He had to show them that the ordinary life of selfishness

and hate and anxiety and chafing ambition and covetousness is no

life at all, and that they must enter into a new world of love and

solidarity and inward contentment. There was no service that he

could render to men which would equal that. All other help lay in

concentric circles about that redemption of the spirit and flowed

out from it....


.... Jesus had realized the life of God in the soul of man

and the life of man in the love of God. That was the real secret of

his life, the well-spring of his purity, his compassion, his

unwearied courage, his unquenchable idealism: he knew the Father.

But if he had that greatest of all possessions, the real key to the

secret of life, it was his highest social duty to share it and help

​others

to gain what he had. He had to teach men to live as children in the

presence of their Father, and no longer as slaves cringing before a

despot. He had to show them that the ordinary life of selfishness

and hate and anxiety and chafing ambition and covetousness is no

life at all, and that they must enter into a new world of love and

solidarity and inward contentment. There was no service that he

could render to men which would equal that. All other help lay in

concentric circles about that redemption of the spirit and flowed

out from it.

No comprehension of Jesus is even approximately

true which fails to understand that the heart of his heart was

​religion. No man is a follower of Jesus in the

full sense who has not through him entered into the same life with

God. But on the other hand.....


What Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. Nothing nothing nothing like what is found in the Abomination called Christianity....... Whatever

​aspect

any man emphasized, it was still a national and collective idea. It

involved the restoration of Israel as a nation to outward

independence, security, and power, such as it had under the Davidic

kings. It involved that social justice, prosperity, and happiness

for which the Law and the prophets called, and for which the common

people always long. It involved that religious purity and holiness

of which the nation had always fallen short. And all this was to

come in an ideal degree, such as God alone by direct intervention

could bestow.

When Jesus used the phrase “the kingdom of God,” it

inevitably evoked that whole sphere of thought in the minds

​of his

hearers. If he did not mean by it the substance of what they meant

by it, it was a mistake to use the term. If he did not mean the

consummation of the theocratic hope, but merely an internal

blessedness for individuals with the hope of getting to heaven, why

did he use the words around which all the collective hopes

clustered?...But it is very ​possible that he seriously modified and

corrected the popular conception. That is in fact the process with

every great, creative religious mind: the connection with the past

is maintained and the old terms are used, but they are set in new

connections and filled with new qualities. In the teaching of Jesus

we find that he consciously opposed some features of the popular

hope and sought to make it truer.

For one thing he would have nothing to do with

bloodshed and violence. When the crowds that were on their way to

the Passover gathered around him in the solitude on the eastern

shore of the lake and wanted to make him king and march on the

capital, he eluded them by sending ​his inflammable disciples away in

the boat, and himself going up among the rocks to pray till the

darkness dispersed the crowd (Matthew 14:22–23; John 6:14–15).

Alliance with the Messianic force-revolution was one of the

temptations which he confronted at the outset and repudiated

(Matthew 4:8–10); he would not set up God’s kingdom by using the

devil’s means of hatred and blood. With the glorious idealism of

faith and love Jesus threw away the sword and advanced on the

entrenchments of wrong with hand outstretched and heart

exposed.

He repudiated not only human violence, he even put

aside the force which the common hope expected from

​heaven. He refused to summon the twelve legions

of angels either to save his life or to set up the kingdom by

slaying the wicked. John the Baptist had expected the activity of

the Messiah to begin with the judgment. The fruitless tree would be

hewn down; the chaff would be winnowed out and burned; and there

was barely time to escape this (Matthew 3:10–12). Jesus felt no

call to that sort of Messiah-ship. He reversed the program; the

judgment would come at the end and not at the beginning. First the

blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear, and at the

very last the harvest. Only at the end would the tares be

collected; only when the net got to shore would the good fish be

separated ​from the useless creatures of the sea. Thus the

divine finale of the judgment was relegated to the distance;

the only task calling for present action was to sow the

seed.9...  The

higher spiritual insight of Jesus reverted to the earlier and

nobler prophetic view that the future was to grow out of the

present by divine help. While they were waiting for the Messianic

cataclysm that would bring the kingdom of God ready-made from

heaven, he saw it growing up among them. He took his illustrations

of its coming from organic life. It was like the seed scattered by

the peasant, growing slowly and silently, night and day, by its own

germinating force and the food furnished by the earth. The people

had the impatience of the uneducated mind which does not see

processes, but clamors for results, big, thunderous,

​miraculous results. Jesus had the scientific

insight which comes to most men only by training, but to the elect

few by divine gift. He grasped the substance of that law of organic

development in nature and history which our own day at last has

begun to elaborate systematically. His parables of the sower, the

tares, the net, the mustardseed, and the leaven are all polemical

in character. He was seeking to displace the crude and misleading

catastrophic conceptions by a saner theory about the coming of the

kingdom. This conception of growth demanded not only a finer

insight, but a higher faith. It takes more faith to see God in the

little beginnings than in the completed results; more faith

​to say

that God is now working than to say that he will someday work.

Because Jesus believed in the organic growth of the

new society, he patiently fostered its growth, cell by cell. Every

human life brought under control of the new spirit which he himself

embodied and revealed was an advance of the kingdom of God. Every

time the new thought of the Father and of the right life among men

gained firmer hold of a human mind and brought it to the point of

action, it meant progress. It is just as when human tissues have

been broken down by disease or external force, and new tissue is

silently forming under the old and weaving a new web of life. Jesus

incarnated a new type of human ​life and he was conscious of that. By

living with men and thinking and feeling in their presence, he

reproduced his own life in others and they gained faith to risk

this new way of living. This process of assimilation went on by the

natural capacities inherent in the social organism, just as fresh

blood will flow along the established arteries and capillaries.

When a nucleus of likeminded men was gathered about him, the

assimilating power was greatly reinforced. Jesus joyously felt that

the most insignificant man in his company who shared in this new

social spirit was superior to the grandest exemplification of the

old era, John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). Thus Jesus worked on

​individuals and through individuals, but his real

end was not individualistic, but social, and in his method he

employed strong social forces. He knew that a new view of life

would have to be implanted before the new life could be lived and

that the new society would have to nucleate around personal centers

of renewal. But his end was not the new soul, but the new society;

not man, but Man.

The popular hope was a Jewish national hope. Under

....


.... That such an evil turn could be given to an event

that held such a power for good is a crushing demonstration that

the moral forces in humanity failed to keep pace with its

intellectual and economic development. Men learned to make wealth

much faster than they learned to ​distribute it justly. Their eye for

profit was keener than their ear for the voice of God and humanity.

That is the great sin of modern humanity, and unless we repent, we

shall perish by that sin. But the first call to repentance comes to

all those who have had this defective moral insight of humanity

under their training, and whose duty it was to give a voice to the

instincts of righteousness and brotherhood.

The first dire effects of the...


.... ” If the ​celebrated saying of John Stuart Mill is true,

that “it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made

have lightened the day’s toil of any human being,” it means that

the achievements of the human mind have been thwarted by human

injustice. Our blessings have failed to bless us because they were

not based on justice and solidarity.

THE MORALE OF THE WORKERS The existence of a large

class...


... To secure special concessions and privileges and to

evade public burdens have always been the objects for which

dominant classes used their political power. For instance, the

feu...

... Progress slackens when a single class

appropriates the social results of the common labor, fortifies its

evil rights by unfair laws, throttles the masses by political

centralization and suppression, and consumes in luxury what it has

taken in covetousness. Then there is a gradual loss of productive

energy, an increasing bitterness and distrust, a waning sense of

duty and devotion to country, a paralysis of the moral springs of

noble action. Men no longer love the Commonwealth, because it does

not stand for the common wealth. Force has to supply the cohesive

power which love fails to furnish.

​Exploitation creates poverty, and poverty is

followed by phy...


..... Competitive industry and commerce are based on

selfishness as the dominant instinct and duty, just as Christianity

is based on love. It will outbuy and outsell its neighbor if it

can. It tries to take his trade and grasp all visible sources of

income in its own hand. The rule of trade, to buy in the cheapest

market and ​sell in the dearest, simply means that a man must

give as little to the other man and get as much from him as

possible. This rule makes even honest competitive trade—to say

nothing of the immense volume of more or less dishonest and

rapacious trade—antagonistic to Christian principles. The law of

Christ, wherever it finds expression, reverses the law of trade. It

bids us demand little for ourselves and give much service. A mother

does not try to make as rich a living as possible, and to give a

minimum of service to her children. It would be a sorry teacher who

would lie awake thinking how he could corner the market in

education and give his students as small a chunk of information as

​possible from the pedagogic ice-wagon. The

relation between a minister and a chur....




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