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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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“A book which left an indelible imprint on my thinking.” (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
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)
From the Back Cover
In the wake of the success of God's Politics, comes an anniversary edition of Walter Rauschenbusch's Christianity and the Social Crisis, a book which outsold every other religious volume for three years and which has become a classic and mainstay for any Christian seriously interested in social justice. PBS has named Rauschenbusch one of the most influential American religious leaders in the last 100 years, and Christianity Today named this book one of the top books of the century that have shaped contemporary religious thought. So it seems fitting on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Christianity and the Social Crisis that Rauschenbush's great-grandson should bring this classic back into print, adding a response to each chapter by a well-known contemporary author such as Jim Wallis, Tony Camplo, Cornel West, Richard Rorty, Stanley Hauerwas, and others. Between 1886 and 1897, he was pastor of the Second German Baptist Church in the ?Hell's Kitchen? area of New York City, an area of extreme poverty. As he witnessed massive economic insecurity, he began to believe that Christianity must address the physical as well as the spiritual needs of humankind. Rauschenbusch saw it as his duty as a minister and student of Christ to act with love by trying to improve social conditions.
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who speak plainly and from the heart. This writing had a specific agenda
and while supposedly a classic civil rights movement
book, it did not add significantly as the works of MLK.
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.