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The Christian social ethics project hits a wall

Christian leader Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918.) Public domain.

For at least one hundred years, the primary project of Christian ethics in America has been American public reform.

Today, that project has hit a wall named Donald Trump. But it was already under serious question.

Beginning with early 20th century Social Gospel Christianity, and exemplified most strongly in the Baptist theologian/activist Walter Rauschenbusch, Christian ethics (especially Protestant ethics) turned its considerable energies to addressing major social problems in America. The biggest problem at the time was urban industrial capitalism, which was producing awesome products and making bushels of money but creating misery for a quickly growing urban-industrial working class.

Rauschenbusch and his cohort turned the Christian Gospel, Christian motives, and Christian principles to the task of softening the hard hearts of laissez-faire capitalists, changing business practices, improving urban living conditions, and standing up especially for the working class and the poor. The Social Gospel helped fuel progressive social reform from the era of the two Roosevelts well into the 1960s. One could even say that progressive, reformist Social Christianity has been the most enduring and visible strand of Christian witness in America for one hundred years. It has contributed to various social reforms and in many ways dominated the field of Christian ethics here.

It is easier now to see the assumptions that fueled reformist Christian social ethics. They included a way of reading the Bible, which told a story of a dawning kingdom of God, which focused on the Bible’s social justice aspects, which understood Jesus as a prophet/Messiah with a this-worldly agenda, and which saw the church as an advocate for progressive social change and policy reform. All of this operated within the framework of American liberal democracy and responded especially to the issues created by unfettered capitalism.

The discipline of Christian ethics has produced its own internal critics of this reformist Christian ethics, to the left and the right and from every other direction one could imagine.

Liberation theologians and ethicists critiqued the reformism as well as the invisibility of the concerns and voices of people of color.

Politically conservative ethicists embraced a Christian social-change agenda, but the change they sought turned out to be from the conservative end of the spectrum, on issues like abortion.

Church-focused ethicists like Stanley Hauerwas argued that the church should focus on its own discipleship rather than on America, that this is the position that has more coherence with the historic Christian approach to ethics.

Today all of these and other paradigms for Christian ethics jostle with one another in the marketplace of ideas.

And meanwhile, the American electorate has given us Donald Trump as our nation’s 45th president.

Progressive social-reformist Christian ethics hits a wall here. With the possible exception of aspects of the populist economic agenda that he ran on, there is almost nothing that now-President Trump has proposed that is not in direct contradiction to the progressive Christian social ethics agenda. Where do progressive Christian ethicists even begin to focus their attention? Climate? Immigration? Public education? Gender? Health care? Military buildup? Dakota Pipeline? Race?

But it’s not just the policy issues. Progressive American Christian social ethics always operated within the framework of a political system that they believed in, a culture in which there were at least a few agreed facts and even values, and an electoral system that produced leaders that were believable as presidents and generally attained the office without chicanery. And so they (we) would write our earnest articles and make our earnest treks to Washington within a system that was basically working and in which we wanted to participate to “make a difference.”

This situation is more apocalyptic. What is needed in America today goes far beyond what a bit of public-policy tinkering might be able to manage. Both our political system and our culture feel broken, and in this round have produced a president, and a presidency, seemingly broken from (before) the beginning. We are limping along, badly wounded. Yet another white paper on climate change hardly seems like the answer. But no one exactly knows what the answer is.

And so the liberationists will continue to speak for those most disempowered.

And the liberals will continue to focus on their reformist policy agendas.

And the Hauerwasians will continue to call the church to be a faithful church.

And the Democrats will hope for evidence of impeachable offenses.

And the evidences of a dawning reign of God will seem pretty faint.

And many of us will hold our breath, and pray for a better tomorrow.

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David Gushee

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  • Ecclesiastes 10:2 – A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right,
    but a fool’s heart to the left.

  • Ecclesiastes 10:2

    New International Version
    The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

    New Living Translation
    A wise person chooses the right road; a fool takes the wrong one.

    English Standard Version
    A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.

    New American Standard Bible
    A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.

    King James Bible
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

    Holman Christian Standard Bible
    A wise man’s heart goes to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.

    International Standard Version
    A wise man’s heart tends toward his right, but a fool’s heart tends toward his left

    NET Bible
    A wise person’s good sense protects him, but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable.

    New Heart English Bible
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left.

    GOD’S WORD® Translation
    A wise person’s heart leads the right way. The heart of a fool leads the wrong way.

    JPS Tanakh 1917
    A wise man’s understanding is at his right hand; But a fool’s understanding at his left.

    New American Standard 1977
    A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.

    Jubilee Bible 2000
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left.

    King James 2000 Bible
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

    American King James Version
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

    American Standard Version
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    The heart of a wise man is in his right hand, and the heart of a fool is in his left hand.

    Darby Bible Translation
    The heart of a wise [man] is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

    English Revised Version
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

    Webster’s Bible Translation
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart is at his left.

    World English Bible
    A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left.

    Young’s Literal Translation
    The heart of the wise is at his right hand, And the heart of a fool at his left

    Givethedogabone’s very-erudite-not-to-be-taken-lightly-seriously-skolarly-stupendously-ultimate-interpretation
    A wise man’s heart agrees with mine, a fool’s doesn’t.

  • Absolutely Give. A wise man will turn to the right – the wisdom of God. The fool will turn to the left – the “wisdom” of man” Absolutely! 🙂

  • OMG! What histrionics, what a performance piece we have here. Another the world as we know it is ending, we were all so close to achieving nirvana, synergy with all that is holy, We were so close to that field of daisies that my knee was bent in anticipation of skipping through the flowers of peace and tranquility. But the evil ogre took, no usurped all power in the land like a dark hand at the throat of humanity ready to squeeze the life and hope out of all. Never will the sunshine again, never will the flowers bloom, nor the birds sing. We now live in a Mordor 2.0, a filthy stench of a place where all hope must be abandoned. Never will we laugh or sing, joy has left with the sunset, and the sun never to rise again.

    I think the author and their cohorts need an intervention, need to be told that life and goodness, hope and joy are not lost based on who is president. No one, NO ONE! is preventing people from continuing to do whatever they have been doing to help/care for others. They are and have been manipulated emotionally through demonizing others that they can no longer see reality. This mass hysteria needs to be addressed.

  • 23 interpretations and not one equates “the right” with “God” – not one. Funny that God relies upon Sandi to see what all those scholars missed, isn’t it?

    Mind you, rationally, they wouldn’t see it would they? After all, it takes man’s wisdom to sort out the mistakes made by God’s wisdom doesn’t it.

    God, in his infinite wisdom (read – psychopathic indifference), encourages cancer/war/slavery/abuse/poverty/senility etc. and it’s down to the wisdom of man to try to come up with moral counter-concepts and practical damage-limiting corrections.

  • Apparently so, in this instance, but I’m sure it has been said elsewhere before me, Give.
    How are you feeling today?

  • Wonderful thanks. Six month check-up and the treatment that should have packed up is still working brilliantly; science is terrific isn’t it?

    How are you these days?

  • Praise Jesus! See, He answers prayer, my friend.
    Whatever our differences on the issue, I’ve ecstatic that you are being helped. Praise God!

    My arm is much, much better. I can use it again to type – one handed takes such a long time….lol.
    I’m in therapy to strengthen it so one day I’ll be able to raise it over my head again. I’m getting as far as my ear, so that is very good. God has been good!
    Now, I need to get walking so I can get that going again. The only thing that will help is doing it and I haven’t been very good at that. I get about 1/2 way through a grocery store and then need to sit. It’s coming. 🙂
    Thanks for your concern.

  • Mass hysteria (or at least tears) seem appropriate when you realize that “people doing what they have been doing to help/care for others” will not begin to touch the need of

    -millions of refugees from war, and from climate-change related drought. 20 million at risk of famine now, as this article notes, in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/world/africa/why-20-million-people-are-on-brink-of-famine-in-a-world-of-plenty.html

    -asylum victims showing up on our southern border, previously allowed to file for protection under UN rules, now being turned away, while the nations of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are awash in guns

    -victims of emerging viruses which, if we deprive our research agencies of funding, may grow ever more devastating — Ebola, Zika and the like As I’m sure you realize, good-hearted Americans aren’t cooking up vaccines in their basements. For that you need a government.

    Jeremiah 6:14
    “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.

  • I am not a fan of Hauerwas’ policy of withdrawal, but I think he gets the diagnosis right. Americans are not by and large a compassionate Christian bunch, if we ever were. We need attention to our roots. We need to figure out why Christians don’t believe in doing everything we can to alleviate suffering. If good churchgoers can shrug about children losing access to healthcare, we have a problem. Hard to believe this is the same country that carried out the Marshall Plan, spending what would be $182 billion in today’s dollars to rebuild Europe, and $18 billion to rebuild Japan.

    https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2014/06/06/the-lessons-from-us-aid-after-world-war-ii

  • Right wing or left wing. The story goes that in 1793 as France was organizing its new government and before they had a formal meeting place, they met in a cathedral. The chairman sat at the crossing in the transept facing the foot of the nave. The conservatives tended to sit to his right and the liberals to his left, each filling their respective wings of the transept. So–right wing and left wing.
    Regarding responding to inclination. While I can imagine doing the right thing, I don’t know how one would do the left thing.
    Regarding the Heart. I associate leading from the heart with liberals and leading from the head with conservatives. While liberals may act foolishly occasionally. Conservative tend to heartlessness.
    Regarding the KJV: This is just one more example of a bad translation; the kind that causes endless problems.

  • I find it quite odd that an article about Christian social ethics in the United States in the 20th century did not mention a single Roman Catholic or the labor movement (largely led by R.C.’s) and the struggle for just wages, benefits, safe working conditions. Is there a reason why we are not considered Christian social ethicists and activists.

  • People try to secularize character and ethics, and who could be against promoting good traits in people in our diverse and divisive society? Many of the character programs out there are very similar, so this is not an issue specific to any program, since they all seem to have issues. But, the “Character First” program seems to be one of the more popular ones. I walked into a quasi-government program the other day (one which gets a lot of its funding from tax payer dollars) and the trait of the month was “tolerance”, and the poster read “Tolerance – Realizing that everyone is at varying levels of character development”. Now, I get it – they want to promote an attitude of patience and encouraging people to grow into their best selves.

    But, OTOH, my first reaction to the poster is: “WHAT?” Any fool could tell you that people are at different places in character formation, but that to me is not tolerance. Off the top of my head, tolerance to me means: respecting the dignity of people as people and showing respect in how you interact with others, despite inherent differences. It does not mean that everything is relative, everything is acceptable, and people should not conform to rules or be held to standards or, that everyone should make up their own standards because (and this is the key) “we are all at different places”.

    That is why, the secular world and secular values do not produce character. Only our Judeo-Christian values promote true virtue and righteousness (which is not to say that aspects of these traits cannot be found elsewhere, though, from my perspective, the fullness of these traits is otherwise lacking). Character and ethics are concepts which can be too easily manipulated to evil purposes, even where they begin with a good intent. That is why I find such programs suspect and easily manipulated by psychopathic “characters”. As the cliché goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

  • Right! Rerum novarum and all that regarding the labor movement. Agreed that there was a glaring anti-Catholic bias in this article. Still, I don’t agree that all activism and progressive causes are virtuous or ethical from a Catholic or even Christian standpoint.

  • Nonsense! Contrary to popular myth, Europe succeeded despite not because of the Marshall Plan, and the recovery for many countries had actually started before the Marshall Plan went into effect, and for other countries started as the Marshall Plan was being phased out. Its real agenda, in buried language within the document, was to “create a common market free of national trade barriers,” in other words, what is now the EU, the darling of the internationalists. The plan was also filled with language full of crony capitalism subsidizing some U.S. businesses at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers, such as exporting tons of our tobacco to Europe, resulting in the killing of Greek tobacco exports, requirements for shipped European goods to be in vessels of American registry with American insurance, and shipping to Europe Middle Eastern oil refined in Texas… More here: http://lightfromtheright.com/2012/07/16/myths-about-the-marshall-plan/

    Furthermore, Truman and Eisenhower were no friend to democracy and the people of Guatemala. You should read about the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, the Dulles brothers, and United Fruit Company (Wiki would do for a start). This is widely considered the definitive deathblow to democracy in Guatemala and was criticized internationally.

  • Glad you’re improving.

    Nothing to see (He answers prayer). I’ll be impressed when he answers some prayers about fundamental problems like famine, epidemics, hatred, poverty, abuse etc. – until then you cherry-pick some co-incidences and I’ll keep using the Goserelin.

  • I never said there weren’t alternate motives to what the US did in Europe. But as the offspring of a man who, with thousands of others spent his college summers in Berlin doing relief work in the late 40’s, I know his motivations. I also have relatives who served in the peace corps — hard to imagine a program like that getting started now. Was it perfect? No, but it said something about America’s self-understanding at the time it was founded.

    And yes, I know what happened in Guatemala. But I also know that American once thought we were responsible to offer the world some aid, and now even that tiny amount is under attack. We also signed on to the UN principles governing asylum, and are now walking away from that. I think there has often been a difference between our leaders and our people. And now I think we don’t even care about a fig leaf of compassion.

  • That is a load of crap. There is nothing within what you would call Judeo Christian that extols anything resembling morals, ethics or understanding of liberty. Some of the least moral, reprehensible behavior out there is somehow justified as expression Christian virtue. When one mistakes following arbitrary rules and authority for morals, anything is permitted. “God’s word” is used to excuse all sorts of mayhem.

    Our society is secular, our laws are secular. They must be in order to avoid oppression. To protect the liberties of all people. Not just those of your faith and sect. To attack the secular is to admit you have no respect for beliefs or people whose views you do most share

  • I believe the entire quandary sums up in a word – postmodernity. Ethicists are feeling the impact of a postmodern world, as is the political system, the economy, and so on. The challenge is to move beyond thinking in silos – moving beyond labels like Liberal, Conservative, Hauerwasian, or Liberationaist. Thanks, David, for speaking to the challenge of Christian ethics in our day.

  • True, you make some valid points. The people are different than the government and the corporations. I could tell you about my relatives as well, not only the Peace Corps, but the program which preceded it, Point Four. Did Obama revive the Peace Corps? A big fat no! There are some better programs these days such as Engineers Without Borders and self-help for small businesses which actually help others such as Envirofit with cook-stoves which take particulates out of the air for those who still cook indoors in a primitive fashion, causing high degrees of respiratory problems. Also, Waka Waka with their portable solar power which can bring light indoors and where you can also charge your cell-phone for countries still subject to low currents and planned and unplanned black-outs. Also, the Indian Menstrual Man who came up with a way for women’s groups in developing countries to make and manufacture their own pads as a substitute to the very expensive industrialized country’s pads which women would otherwise be unable to afford and still literally “be on the rag”. I think there is a YouTube Ted talk on this guy, but here’s a link to this story: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26260978 Of course, I’m sure you also know about groups providing medical help. The people still CAN, no matter the administration in power and no matter the agenda’s of government funded NGO’s and what the United Nations has turned into. To give just one example of creeping abuse, African pro-life groups who have demonstrated that Africa does not desire abortion services, but rather improved maternal health and pre-natal care call abortion “the new colonization”.

    Moreover, I decry adulation of Walter Rauschenbusch who supported eugenics and argued that with science “we can intelligently mold and guide the evolution in which we take part” and also, I do not agree with his theological view that it “is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.” While we are called as Christians to help alleviate the suffering of others, Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. Rauschenbusch threw out Jesus and his cross and resurrection in his espousal of the social gospel.

  • You make a fatal mistake (many do who don’t work in these systems) in imagining such a sharp distinction between public and private. Look around at the so-called private domestic programs. They are receiving public funds at every soup kitchen, homeless program, children’s charity and domestic violence program, whether under the umbrella of Catholic Charities or Lutheran Volunteers, or whatever. And since Obama didn’t control the purse strings (Congress does) exactly how did you expect him to increase the Peace Corps?

    “The Peace Corps’ annual budget is determined each year by the congressional budget and appropriations process. Funding for the Peace Corps is included in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill.”
    https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/leadership/ So, write your Republican Congressman if you think it should be bigger, and add you’d like it not to be cut entirely, which is the current threat. And also the threat for Americorps.

    And dig deeper. Engineers Without Borders have chapters on college campuses across America. Guess where the funding comes from, which pays the salaries of their faculty advisors, and who funds the research which leads to their projects? Like their first, at University of Colorado, Boulder. Their civil engineering department is funded by government grants in large part. There is simply no way private citizens and church groups are going to step up and care for the depths of the worlds’ needs — here and abroad, without help. Not-for-profits here and NGO’s abroad work beside and with government projects, all the time.

  • Again, you make valid points. However, Obama didn’t even try to revive the Peace Corps which, although Congress funds, he could have shown some leadership and made a speech promoting it. But, since you bring up Colorado, Obama promoted Michael Bennet over former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff who had Peace Corps and social justice roots, and Obama got his way (sure, the people voted, but it was very divisive at the caucus I hear). BTW, I am not a registered Republican and vote both sides of the aisle. Still, I am not a fan of government money to Christian charity organizations which comes with its own agendas and tying of hands restricting Freedom of Religion, one evidence of which is the self-shutting down of adoption agencies when they don’t wish to comply with government directives despite the good job they had been doing.

  • “Try to?” Every budget was a knock down drag out fight. I believe in the Peace Corps too — but why a speech there, and not on every other program the Republicans sought to starve or kill which Obama would have thought otherwise.

    And i’m just not with you if you wanted the government to support lgbt discrimination with our tax money, or denial of women’s reproductive healthcare.

  • Only Judaeo Christian values promote true virtue. Is that why Christian Germany murdered 6 million Jews?

    That’s why there are no kiddy diddling priests, no bishops to cover it up. No divorce among Christians, no “the whole long list of so called Christians who are any bit remotely moral”.

  • Well, we certainly don’t agree on some issues, but thank you for the repartee. Now, the healthcare issue is a serious one, and I don’t have time to continue with you just now, but I’d like to leave you with a joke I thought was somewhat clever:

    The AMA has weighed in on the new proposed health care package:

    The Allergists were in favor of scratching it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it and the Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve. Meanwhile the Obstetricians felt certain everyone was laboring under a misconception while the Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. The Pathologists yelled “Over my dead body” and the Pediatricians said “Oh grow up”. The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness and the Radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons washed their hands of the whole thing and Plastic Surgeons decided that this would put a whole new face on medicine. The Podiatrists said “it was a step in the right direction” but the Urologists were p*ssed off at the whole idea. Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas and the lofty Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no. In the end, the Proctologists won out by leaving the entire decision to the ashholes in Washington.

  • I wish I could laugh, and I appreciate the effort, but I am simply too afraid today. Not having medical care would be personally devastating for my family.

  • Study the new plan. Sure, you can’t be discriminated against for pre-existing conditions, but you can lose insurance just the same if you can’t afford it. Look and see how the plan might affect you.

    Your employer may no longer be required to offer you care. The cost of your coverage will increase with age. Have a family member who needs mental health or addiction treatment? 1.3 million could lose that. Lifetime caps are back too, but most importantly, those tax breaks won’t help many people pay for increasingly expensive premiums.

  • Every good white Christian evangelist knows that Catlicks, Mormons, and JW’s are not RealChristians™. Except in the case of Mitt Romney, but he had a special dispensation from Billy Graham.

  • “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”

    The Social Gospel is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Adolf Hitler or his cronies were by no means Christian. In his definitive work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich author William L. Shirer documents the Party’s intent to supplant the Christian church in Germany with that of the old Norse gods and eventually to worshiping Der Furer as the supreme spiritual leader.

  • And yet, Germany was a Christian country before Hitler, the Nazi slogan for women was “Children, church, and kitchen”, the nazi motto on the Nazi belts was “God With Us”, and Germany was a Christian nation after the holocaust– and still is.
    We have statements from Hitler that his was a “Christian movement.”
    All of those Christians really weren’t Christians, and 1900 years of anti-Semitism, officially endorsed by Christianity, never happened. No ghettos, no Nuremberg laws, no Krystallnacht, no statements from luther. 6 million jews were never murdered for being Jewish.
    Go figure, eh?

  • BTW, exactly what Hitler and the Nazis thought about Christianity is riddled with contradictions. I refer you to Wikipedia for a good summary of them. What they thought about the Jews, however, was the product of 1900 years of officially sanctioned anti-semitism.

  • Germany by the early to mid thirties at the time of the rise of Adolf Hitler had long abandoned orthodox Christianity in favor of the Liberal theologians of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth century, who wanted to “rescue” Christianity from what they felt was a conflict with science. Germans had long ago become unmoored from orthodoxy and God of the Bible and were pretty ripe for a figure to come along and dupe them into thinking one way all the while they were being taken in a whole different direction.

  • Oh, I get it. The defense is they were not True Christians, not like you and your lot.

    Please. WHy is it that when Christians do evil, other Christians are quick to jump out in their defense by claiming they weren’t true Christians at all?

    You and your lot have a long history of this. the pope is evil. CAtholics are idol worshippers. PRotestants hate the one true church. 1900 years of antisemitism. 2000 years of gay bashing. The murders of Muslims and other Christians. Witch burning. Heretic burning. kiddy diddling. Religion wars, and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

    Why is it so difficult for Christians of a certain class to own their own history, and why are they always flinging theopoo at other Christians for not being the right sort of Christian? Why is the party of personal responsibility never willing to accept any?

    Why is it impossible to get Ben Affleck in a movie that doesn’t bore me to tears?

  • God will judge who is and who is not righteous in that matter. But what ever the Germans might have thought, the German leadership had an entirely different agenda planned and they had a masterful propaganda machine to do it with.

  • God will judge? You already did. neither of us require god for that.

    Whayever Germans might have thought? You already said they had been corrupted, well, unmoored from orthodoxy. And the German leadership relied on ordinary Germans to carry it all out. This was a national effort.

    Please. As my buddy spuddie says directly below:

    “There is nothing within what you would call Judeo Christian that extols anything resembling morals, ethics or understanding of liberty. Some of the least moral, reprehensible behavior out there is somehow justified as expression Christian virtue.”

    You just proved it.

  • Nazis didn’t invent ghettos, wearing yellow stars, organized riots to kill Jews and destroy their homes, or anti Semitic cultural tropes. Centuries of Christian culture did. The Catholic Church didn’t even disavow antisemitism as dogma until 20 years after the Holocaust.

    Nazis used specifically Christian appeals for recruiting collaborators especially in Belgium and Croatia. They were able to easily organize Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians to join them in committing genocide.

  • Since the end of World War II in 1945, Christianity has made a Herculean effort to distance itself from having any accountability in Germany’s extermination of the Jews. But the reality is that it was entirely rooted in nearly two thousand years of Christianity’s persecution of the Jewish people. And then this culturally entrenched hatred was skillfully exploited by Hitler and others. Given the fact that reality plays only a minuscule role in religion, the belief that Christianity had no accountability is just one more myth among all the other myths that comprise their sincerely held beliefs.

  • Now you as well as the other commentator are putting words in my mouth as I have not given any excuse for European anti-Semitism which history will attest to. I am saying that the Christianity that inhabited Europe and especially Germany of the time had long since divested it self of the Christ of the Bible and though the same words, bible, liturgy were used they instead as JG Machen said celebrated something else entirely. What was Christianity was reduced to a moralizing philosophy which without God society may shape morality to fit the current social norms which in the case of Europe’s long standing anti-Semitism was ripe for the rise of a strong man to sharply focus it. This isn’t to say that there was not a remnant (see Bonhoeffer ) of believers left in Germany who understood the ramifications of that rise, just that in addition to all of the other factors that played out in Germany the faithless German theologians of the previous centuries played a role in undermining what may have stopped Hitler’s rise.

  • That other commenter– i.e., me– issued some specific challenges to you, pointing out to you with your own words where you again try to divest Christianity of its responsibility for what has happened in the west under its watch.

    Here is what you JUST WROTE: “I have not given any excuse for European anti-Semitism which history will attest to. I am saying that the Christianity that inhabited Europe and especially Germany of the time had long since divested it self of the Christ of the Bible and though the same words…”

    Ummmm, do you notice how you used the word “European” and left out the word “Christian”, as in Christian Europeans? Great sleight of hand, I think. In all of the political maneuvering leading up to the Reichskonkordat, the indifference of the catholic Church to the plight of the jewish people was obvious. I wish I had kept those documents put out by the Lutheran Church in Germany to justify the holocaust; they weren’t just indifferent, they were positively enthusiastic.

    And that was Christianity. But, if you like, there is F. Bailey Smith, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention in the late ’70’s: “GAWD almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” That was in 1977 or ’78.

    Still going to claim that they’re not Christians, either?

    Official, church sponsored anti-Semitism permeated European society for nearly 1900 years. You should check out the marriage contract between Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. One of Their catholic Majesties’ conditions was the expulsion of the Jews from Catholic spain. They surely did that, and expelled all of their administrators and smart people in the process. Thast worked out really well for them.

    Read a history book, and accept responsibility for the disasters that your faith has inflicted on the world in the name of Jesus. Then maybe you’ll start having a faith worthy of his name.

  • The Catholic Church long ago abandoned its quest for justice in favor of the chance to regulate women’s bodies, which was far more important to them.

  • “Left” was considered sinister in old times, sometimes not so old as there are still some incredibly thick-headed parents who try to force their children to become right-handed. Also, “right” as used here means moral.

  • The gospel is the message that we can be saved from our sins by the grace of God through faith in Christ. The gospel is personal and individual “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” Eph 1:13.
    The social gospel is merely moralizing and hasn’t the power to justify. It like Liberal Christianity as J Gresham Machen said is something entirely different apart from Christianity. Good works is something that one is saved into, it is not the means to salvation.

  • This is just name calling and appeals to authoriteh which reveal the silliness of fundamentalism. James (Jesus’ Bro) said “faith without works is dead.” Fundamentalism is just the doctrine that those in power deserve it by appointment of deity, the same way those in power have justified their oppression since time immemorial. Machen lost the heavyweight championship to Harry Emerson Fosdick in 1927. He’s just a mouthpiece for the powerful.

  • I agree with James that faith without works is dead, but James example was given from Genesis 22, however, God counted Abrams faith as righteousness back in Genesis 15. Faith without works is dead, but true saving faith is never without works.

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