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Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century: The Classic That Woke Up the Church Paperback – July 1, 2008
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Republication in this form is a forceful intervention in contemporary debates in American religion and politics. (Commonweal)
Many of the societal concerns and questions of 1907, e.g., his alarm over iner-city poverty, societal injustice, crime, and ineffectual government, are just as relevant today. (Library Journal)
“Skillfully fashioned and perfectly timed, [Rauschenbusch’s] book was a supercharger for a movement . . . and set a new standard for political theology. Rightly viewed from the beginning as the greatest statement of the social gospel movement.” (Christian Century)
In a 100th-anniversary edition, Paul Raushenbush, the author’s great-grandson, has reprinted the text with essays by Cornel West, the Rev. Jim Wallis and others to prove that one can be a dedicated Christian and a social reformer at the same time. (The New York Times Book Review)
Rightly viewed from the beginning as the greatest statement of the social gospel movement . . . and set a new standard for political theology. (Christian Century)
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Top Customer Reviews
It would seem from some of the contemporary reflections that accompany each chapter that being "soft on sin" (i.e. the centrality of personal redemption) remains the mote in the eye of several commentators. For myself I observe that Rauschenbusch is very hard on the forms of sin that each of us encounters every day. There are no free passes in this book. I find no sense of instant liberation from the nasty inheritence of past shortcomings nor from the moral consequences if we shy from the magnitude of the work undone. I'm dumbfounded that anyone could read Rauschenbusch's critique of greedy capital accumulation as anything other than a description of evil incarnate.
Ultimately the power of this book for me is that page after page, in stunning elegence, it challenges the status quo from every angle I can imagine and then some. Time and again I am brought to chuckle at the incisiveness of his metaphors and their aptness at age 100 for our present day. If you believe that Christianity is an inescapably social enterprise, grounded in the world as we experience it directly, this is a highly recommended read.
The first half of the book covers the original meaning of the Jewish Bible, particularly the prophets, and the New Testament. The second half applies that driving Biblical principle -- religion as moral social revolution toward egalitarianism -- to modern social problems (of 1907). Similarly, books using the Context Group or Liberation Theology approach sometimes explain the New Testament as social revolution in the context of the Roman Imperial system and then apply the same type of critique to Global Empire today. Some recent books using this layout are Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now, by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther; and Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder, by Richard Horsley.
Per Rauschenbusch, mystical conceptions of Christianity, and purely religious doctrines of personal salvation, err in putting all attention on spiritual regeneration of the individual, and being blind to the social-political revolution that's the major concern of New Testament Christianity. A recent example of this partial view is Timothy Freke's book Jesus and the Goddess.
Rauschenbusch's book was definitive in presenting the Social Gospel.Read more ›
And now, Paul Raushenbush has imparted a precious gift to a new generation of ministers and Christians. He invited some of the most compelling voices of Christian thought--pastors, theologians, scholars, and activists--into the pages to discuss this classic text. With careful reflection and necessary correction, they give the words of Rauschenbusch new life, at just the right moment. It was wonderful to read this rich prose again, and to hear how they echo through the generations, renewing our purpose and hope.
Carol Howard Merritt
author of Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation
Analytical Review: What I appreciate most in Rauschenbusch is his desire for greater equality, and to make the Christian religion matter socially and politically. I too favor a more just and equal society, but I see that as possible by working in and reforming a free-market society. Rauschenbusch oversimplifies - he dichotomizes social impulses as "competition is bad and evil" and "cooperation is good" (and therefore Christian). This is a gross oversimplification. Rauschenbusch didn't fully understand capitalism or its primary defenders. He mentions Adam Smith only once, and shows no real immersion or criticism of the classical defenders of the capitalist system, which leads me to suspect he did not read them or read them only superficially. He certainly had read Marx. If Rauschenbusch better understood, instead of morally demonized, all business and competitive instinct, I think it would have given this book a more lasting and permanent impact.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very important for a sense of Christian ethical thought in the United States in the early 20th century.Published 11 months ago by Roger K Green
A compelling view of Christian social thought prior to the Modernist Fundamentalist divide .Published 17 months ago by Lawrence R Thompson
It was a little too wordy for me. I enjoy reading writers
who speak plainly and from the heart. Read more
This was a good product sold to me that I gave as a christmas present. It was sold to me as described. Good Work.Published on December 26, 2011 by Cade Lisha Curtis
great service and also a great book, a to be read for everyone who wishes to understand the earlier history of the church and the difference between then and now.Published on September 18, 2011 by Ralph E. Sowards