House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent claim to be enacting the Word of God in her socialist legislative steamrolling is a rerun of the Social Gospel heresy that befell American Christianity around 1870.
Even before the 1917 Russian Revolution, leading universities in the United States had begun a transition from the Christian roots of our nation into atheistic, secular materialism in their teaching of the so-called social sciences.
Nominally-Christian theological seminaries were in the vanguard of the movement toward socialism. Rochester Theological Seminary's professor Walter Rauschenbusch, one of the best known socialist spokesmen of his era, was a founder of the Social Gospel movement late in the 19th century. Social Gospel was nothing more nor less than socialism masquerading as Christianity.
Social Gospel embraced the avowed aims of socialism, which sound similar to the results that flow from the Bible's commandment to love one's neighbor as he would wish to have his neighbor love him. The insurmountable problem is that socialism, and therefore Social Gospel, is atheistic and materialistic, i.e., the antithesis of Christianity and religious Judaism.
It does, however, conform to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's self-assessment, in that all varieties of socialism inherently tend toward tyranny, because collectivization of power in the central government is required to impose socialist measures such as Obamacare upon unwilling subjects.
To believe that Social Gospel is true Christianity is to believe that the Soviet dictatorship of the proletariat was truly democratic.
In "Christianizing the Social Order" (1912), Professor Rauschenbusch wrote:
"The Socialists found the Church against them and thought God was against them, too. They have had to do God's work without the sense of God's presence to hearten them.....Whatever the sins of individual Socialists, and whatever the shortcomings of Socialist organizations, they are tools in the hands of the Almighty.......Socialism is one of the chief powers of the coming age......God will raise up Socialism because the organized Church was too blind, or too slow, to realize God's ends."
Two other prominent seminaries, among many others, were active promoters of socialism. Their spokesmen also were nationally known figures: Dr. Harry F. Ward of Union Theological Seminary in New York and Dr. Bernard Iddings-Bell of St. Stephens College in Annandale, New York.
Dr. Ward wrote "The New Social Order," to express sympathy for Socialism and to laud the Bolshevik revolutionary movement in Russia, which he regarded as a desirable replacement for the Russian Orthodox Christian Church. Dr. Ward also was chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which actively defended the terrorist tactics of the radical IWW labor organization, whose members murdered more than a dozen employees and executives of industrial companies they sought to intimidate with demands for labor seizure of management control.
Dr. Iddings-Bell in "Right and Wrong After the War," in this case World War I, advocated Sigmund Freud's version of Marxian materialism, in which human life is controlled by hunger and the sex urge. From this theory of secular and materialistic human nature, he concluded that (1) private property should be abolished; (2) income earned from investments, savings accounts, and rental property is robbery; (3) the family as a social unit should be abandoned except as a temporary arrangement for purely sexual relations.
In his sermon delivered on May 23, 1920, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Dr. Iddings-Bell gave his support to revolutionary labor demands for abolishment of the wage system and control of industry by communistic labor unions.
He declared that the New Social Order had arrived and that people were obliged to accept it. Among other things, that meant that internationalism must replace American patriotism.
Needless to say, liberal-progressives will , in the main, find nothing in the Social Gospel with which to disagree.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776 http://www.thomasbrewton.com/
Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org