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Rauschenbusch, Walter (1861–1918)

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198963.2005.x


North American theologian and leader of the social gospel movement. Born into a German pastor's family in Rochester, NY, and educated at the University of Rochester and in Germany, he became a pastor of a German Baptist church in New York in 1886. From 1897 until his death he was a professor first of New Testament and then of church history at Rochester Theological Seminary. His first-hand experience in New York of the deprivation of the inner city influenced the development of his thought, and he aligned himself with the Christian socialists. With the publication of Christianity and the Social Crisis in 1907 he became a recognized leader of the social gospel movement; in it he expounded the Old Testament prophets as a model for a contemporary Christian response to the developing social and economic institutions in America. Influenced by, among others, F.D. Maurice, the concepts of the kingdom of God and the incarnation were crucial in his thought. The kingdom of God was for all people, and its reality in the world is progressively revealed as humanity moves towards its goal of perfection. In Christianity and the Social Order of 1912, he sets out this optimistic vision of progressive Christianization, which would be achieved by human solidarity and by forswearing the abuse of power inherent in competition and excessive profit. Other works include The Social Principles of Jesus ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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