Responses to Christianity and the Social Crisis: An Introduction

walter.jpgWalter Rauschenbusch’s classic text, Christianity and the Social Crisis was recently re-released to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The new edition contains responses to each chapter from academics and religious folk ranging from Jim Wallis to Phyllis Trible. A group of seminary students and I decided to write responses of our own to each of these sections over the next month or so. Keep an eye out for updates to this on-going discussion. We begin today with an introduction by Tripp Fuller, a recent graduate of Wake Forest University Divinity School.

This is the 100th anniversary of Walter Rauschenbusch’s Christianity and the Social Crisis.  In celebration of this magnum opus of America’s greatest Baptist theologian a group of 21st century wannabe theologians are going to blog through Walter’s ground breaking classic that woke up the church early in the twentieth in hope that we can find a path together that shares in Rauschenbusch’s passion for God’s justice taking root in the changing society we live in.

This particular text was published first in 1907 and spent three years as the number one selling religious book in America behind the Bible.  The commercial success was unexpected and Walter was surprised to find himself a household name when he returned form a trip to Germany.  Rauschenbusch did not intend to write a book for the masses, but for a particular congregation he pastored in Hell’s Kitchen of Manhattan.  There he came to intimately know the underside of the social crisis and when he turned to scripture a prophetic fire was ignited in his heart, but found a home across the religious landscape of the nation.  His message was simple but infinitely challenging, the kingdom is always but coming.  As we begin a new century there are new challenges that face the church, our social crises have become global crises and sadly it appears that many in the American church have silenced the prophetic fire Raueschenbusch and the Social Gospel movement gave us.  Sure there were blind spots to be pointed out and new ones we share in this century the next century could use to dismiss us, but at least for a couple months in blogland we are going to sift through this classic with ears keen for words of renewal.

If you are interested get a copy and join us.  An Anniversary edition was just released with response articles by a variety of contemporary scholars and each post we make here will be about a particular chapter and the respondent.  Up first is chapter one, “The Historical Roots of Christianity: The Hebrew Prophets” with a response by Phyllis Trible.