Liberal Christianity and the Democratic Party in the USA

Here is an article from The Christian Science Monitor "Biden, Warnock and the Resurgence of the Liberal Christian." The publication provides access to three articles a month if you don't subscribe.

The CSM strikes me as a publication very keen to predict and foster a revival of Christianity focused on social service and justice in the face of the blaring triumph of Christian Nationalism over the past four years. More power to them.

We spend so much time on these forums analysing and bemoaning and weeping about Trump and conservative evangelicals. I spend so much time thinking about the GOP and trying to read into it signs that they are not really anti-democratic authoritarians. I found this article a refreshing corrective, and thought it might be nice to think about the possibilities for a revival of social justice focused Christianity in the US and elsewhere.

Here are some extracts from the article:
A progressive coalition of religious liberals, spearheaded especially by Black Protestant churches, has reemerged as a political force in Democratic politics, disrupting what had long been the party’s more secular ethos.

“It does seem to me that there has been this resurgence of people who interpret their Christian beliefs as a call to action on behalf of the most vulnerable,” says Margaret McGuinness, professor of religion and theology at La Salle University in Philadelphia. “And then, all of a sudden, here comes President Joe Biden, who wears his Catholic faith on his sleeve – and I mean that in a good way, in a way that a lot of people are noticing.”

I found this extract on Rev. Warnock and Black churches interesting, especially what it says about the liberal/conservative split.
But the historic election of the Rev. Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate in January only underscores how much Black Protestants have taken the lead in reviving the liberal traditions of Christianity. As the first African American senator from Georgia, Senator Warnock has maintained his role as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former congregation of Martin Luther King Jr.

“The amazing thing about Raphael Warnock’s movement into the U.S. Senate is that it fits perfectly into the trajectory of African American Christianity post slavery,” says Willie Jennings, professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

“It is a Christianity that aimed from the very beginning to call America to its better angels, its better light, and to try to draw the nation away from hypocrisy and toward living up to the Constitution and the nation’s founding documents.”

But the easy demarcations of “liberal” and “conservative” have never really captured the traditions of the Black church, he says. “The better word would be ‘biblicist’ than conservative, which has its strengths and weaknesses.”

“The central strength of our biblicist tradition is that certain very powerful stories about how life ought to be lived is what guides us,” Dr. Jennings continues. “So the life of Jesus, the story of healing the sick and feeding the poor and fighting for the orphan and widows and turning to the least of these, has always made us recognize that this is where God’s attention is turned. All of that is crucial to African American Christianity.”

“But on the other side, which is also problematic, there are certain ways in which the biblical narratives describe the role of women or describe the ideal household in ways that do align with a social conservative vision,” he says.

In December, a group of 25 Black pastors wrote an open letter to Senator Warnock urging him to oppose abortion. Many Catholic bishops have raised similar concerns about the abortion-rights stance of President Biden.

I imagine quite a few of you spend your lives in the thick of this stuff. I'd love to hear your perspectives.
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Comments

  • It would be nice, but AIUI it's never been a tradition in the Democratic Party.

    Mind you, I belong to a political party that is often proud if its Social Godoel roots.

    You can take the Social Gospel from my cold, dead hands.
  • You can take the Social Gospel from my cold, dead hands.

    beautiful!!
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited February 19
    It would be nice, but AIUI it's never been a tradition in the Democratic Party.

    In the African American community, as the article suggests, it's been fairly strong. But yeah, I'm not aware of it having much presence in the party as a whole, even confining our historical examination back to the New Deal.

    The thing is, you can't simply snap your fingers and wish a religious tradition into existence. I know the USA is considerably more religious than most other western countries, but I get the impression that for most liberal Democrats, belief in God pretty much just amounts to a commonsensical sort of deism, and their approach to politics owes little to what they might hear preached from the pulpit or the altar on Christmas and Easter.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Oh, and in regards to the Christian Science Monitor possibly wanting "to predict and foster a revival of Christianity focused on social service and justice...", that might be true, though possibly not moreso than any other centrist American publication.

    In my experience, the CSM is not particularly focused on religion in its news coverage, and enjoys no special prestige among, or connections with, American Christians in general. It basically just has that name because its owned by the Christian Science church, as a result of Mary Baker Eddy having a hissy fit after being roasted by several of the major dailies, and thinking she'd start her own paper to put them out of business.
  • stetson wrote: »
    The thing is, you can't simply snap your fingers and wish a religious tradition into existence. I know the USA is considerably more religious than most other western countries, but I get the impression that for most liberal Democrats, belief in God pretty much just amounts to a commonsensical sort of deism, and their approach to politics owes little to what they might hear preached from the pulpit or the altar on Christmas and Easter.

    Who'd you get that impression from? Conservatives?
  • stetson wrote: »
    It would be nice, but AIUI it's never been a tradition in the Democratic Party.

    In the African American community, as the article suggests, it's been fairly strong. But yeah, I'm not aware of it having much presence in the party as a whole, even confining our historical examination back to the New Deal.

    The thing is, you can't simply snap your fingers and wish a religious tradition into existence. I know the USA is considerably more religious than most other western countries, but I get the impression that for most liberal Democrats, belief in God pretty much just amounts to a commonsensical sort of deism, and their approach to politics owes little to what they might hear preached from the pulpit or the altar on Christmas and Easter.

    There may be a stronger emphasis of being humble and reserved about one's personal faith in a secular, pluralist republic in the Democratic Party than in the over-the-top religiosity of the Republican Party. But it would be a mistake to equate such reticence with a deistic perspective.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited February 19
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    The thing is, you can't simply snap your fingers and wish a religious tradition into existence. I know the USA is considerably more religious than most other western countries, but I get the impression that for most liberal Democrats, belief in God pretty much just amounts to a commonsensical sort of deism, and their approach to politics owes little to what they might hear preached from the pulpit or the altar on Christmas and Easter.

    Who'd you get that impression from? Conservatives?

    No. Basically just from reading things written by American progressives( as well as those in other countries) themselves. I don't get the impression that most of them are people for whom religion plays a major part in their lives, at least not in a way that they would be easily mobilized by specifically religious appeals.

    Which I don't think allies me with any right-wing demonization of the left, since conservatives say that progressives HATE Christianity and want to get rid of it. That's not what I'm saying at all. In fact, I suspect that what I'm characterizing as the typical outlook among progressives would also apply to a lot of other people as well. There's a reason why the phrase "Twice-a-year Christians" has entered the vocabulary.

    (And for the record, I am progressive and religious myself, so yes, I am aware that not everyone follows the general trend.)
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    edited February 19
    I think the first thing I note from the quote is that extreme-conservatives aren't as biblicest as they claim. (While I haven't looked I haven't seen any Texan evangelicals giving any recommendations for those with 2 coats)

    The second being that the groups are varied (I really liked the way the second time I came across the trad/ev/lib triangle it was the edges that were labeled not the corners). I watched service eberneezers online and it quite clearly not spongian (I'm not sure if spong was, as much as portrayed)

    The third would be that in interactions they often do (get forced to) play up to the 'bad bits' of the stereotype.
  • An impression I'm getting (possibly incorrectly) from the US seems to be reflecting changes I'm seeing here in the UK.

    It seems that for quite some time there have been three broad groups within Christians and churches - a small number of conservatives who are active supporters of right wing parties (often on the basis of right wing parties aligned to 'traditional family values' and similar issues), a small number of liberals who are active supporters of left wing parties (often on the basis of left wing parties aligned to social justice values and similar), and a vast majority of liberal, conservative and others who are largely a-political (they vote, but don't make significant connections on how they vote and their faith, and have concerns about someone saying how Christians should vote from the pulpit etc).

    In more recent years, especially in the US, there has been a much greater alignment between conservative evangelicals and the political right, which has not only resulted in the Republicans pandering to the religious right to secure their vote, but has also resulted in some very significant theological shifts within many conservative churches stressing personal liberty and specific political theories, and the result is sermons that can sometimes come across as Republican political propaganda. This has lead to a backlash from more liberal churches, where social justice values of loving others have long been prominent within their preaching and beliefs, resulting in a greater level of political activity - rather than just doing great work running soup kitchens and other practical responses, many have got involved in direct political action (marches and demonstrations) and started to more explicitly linking their faith with how they vote. In US politics these new converts to political action from the more liberal churches are very often more active because they've seen the impact of Trumpian politics, though a few decades ago they might have been comfortable in the Republican Party they now have few options other than the Democrats (I have some non-Ship friends from the US, from more conservative churches than I'm comfortable with, who have expressed support for third parties - the Solidarity Party for those particular friends - and a breaking of the de-facto two-party system may be something that the US needs for various reasons).
  • At the height of the Catholic/Protestant Irish/English sectarian struggle in the 1950's, Catholics were very involved in the Union movement and the Labor Party in Australia. Like in the USA, Catholicism and its brand of family values became linked with anti-communism and eventually resulted in a split in the labour movement and the formation of a new political party, the Democratic Labour Party.

    With this history living in my head, I saw in the CSM article a suggestion that something similar was happening in the Democratic party, with the Black Churches in place of Australian style Irish Catholicism. I even make this sort of wild hope of a prediction:

    1. Rev Warnock is from Georgia and the most authoritative Black Christian voice in the country, as the inheritor of MLK's pulpit.
    2. Stacey Abrams is from Georgia.
    3. Those two must have worked hand in glove over quite a few years to flip Georgia and then get Warnock and Ossoff over the line in the run off.
    4. The church networks that I think exist all over the country (I am taking this from book's I've read - Powell and to a much lesser extent Charles Blow) are the perfect tools for organising Black America to start exercising its electoral power consistently in the South.
    5. This equals justice minded-Christians with a centre left bent exercising significant sway over the Party.

    What an amazingly inviting prospect.
  • stetson wrote: »
    The thing is, you can't simply snap your fingers and wish a religious tradition into existence. I know the USA is considerably more religious than most other western countries, but I get the impression that for most liberal Democrats, belief in God pretty much just amounts to a commonsensical sort of deism, and their approach to politics owes little to what they might hear preached from the pulpit or the altar on Christmas and Easter.
    stetson wrote: »
    No. Basically just from reading things written by American progressives( as well as those in other countries) themselves. I don't get the impression that most of them are people for whom religion plays a major part in their lives, at least not in a way that they would be easily mobilized by specifically religious appeals.
    There may be some truth to this in some instances, but based on my experience, it’s a pretty big generalization approaching a stereotype that could just as easily, and just as accurately (or inaccurately) be applied to conservatives as to liberals.

    It would be nice, but AIUI it's never been a tradition in the Democratic Party.
    It may never have been a tradition of the party per se, but it has certainly been a tradition within the party since at least the mid-twentieth century, if not sooner, particularly (as the article suggests) among African Americans, but also, particularly pre-Roe v. Wade, among Catholics.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited February 19
    @Nick Tamen

    Indeed. Among conservatives, as among liberals, there are almost certainly quite a few who are indifferent to religion, or at least don't base their politics on it.

    But what I'm saying is that in addition to the religiously indifferent and the Christian/Easters, there is also a sizable faction who CAN be mobilized by what they hear preached in their churches(aka the Religious Right). I'm just not convinced that there is the same potential for clerical-based mobilization on the US left.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Its too easy to stereotype parallels between particular churches and political parties. Within my own RC congregation there are Tories who support the present government and also Corbynite lefties who would nationalise every blade of grass. There are those who espouse traditional views of family, and those who are very comfortably gay. But we are a community where these differences are not turned into defining issues.
    You see the same among USA RC bishops. There are those who are focussed on Biden's views on abortion (and would deny him the eucharist for that alone) and there are those who take a wider view of the needs of society at the moment.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited February 19
    @Nick Tamen
    It would be nice, but AIUI it's never been a tradition in the Democratic Party.
    It may never have been a tradition of the party per se, but it has certainly been a tradition within the party since at least the mid-twentieth century, if not sooner, particularly (as the article suggests) among African Americans, but also, particularly pre-Roe v. Wade, among Catholics.

    END QUOTE

    Keep in mind that SPK is talking about the CCF/NDP, a political party that really did have the Social Gospel as one of its founding movements. A Who's Who of the early CCF grandees would read like a list of Canada's leading progressive clerics, and that tradition continued, though to a lesser degree, with the NDP(*).

    You can think of it this way...

    Consider the formative role that protestant ministers played in the US civil-rights movement. Now, imagine that the USCRM was a political party, not just a movement. That might give you some idea of the importance of the Social Gospel in the history of the CCF/NDP.

    (*) Based on what I have observed, I will say that these days, among the NDP rank and file, religious devotion is probably about as lukewarm as what I have attributed to American liberals. Those with a deeper knowledge of history would still tend to respect the Social Gospel tradition, however.



  • Yes, I’m aware that SPK was speaking from the perspective of the CCF/NDP, and I understand the very different history. But in what I quoted, he was speaking of the Democratic Party in the US. I understand he was making a comparison; I just don’t think the comparison is quite as cut-and-dry as suggested.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    @Nick Tamen

    re: pre-Roe v. Wade Catholics supporting Social Gospel-type politics within the Democratic party...

    But Catholic support for the Democrats pre-dates that party's identity as left-wing, in the way that we would understand the concept of "left-wing" today. In fact, it goes back to the 19th Century, with urban Catholics forming the northern flank of a political coalition whose other main faction was white, rural, Jim Crow-loving southerners.

    Alfred E. Smith, the Catholic Democrat par excellente, turned violently against Roosevelt when FDR's New Deal put the party on course to being the reformist liberal entity it's known as today. (Though the bulk of Catholics probably remained loyal for decades after FDR.)
  • Anglican BratAnglican Brat Shipmate
    edited February 19
    A very simplistic view of the history:

    Before the Sixties Revolution, the idea was that

    1) The Republican Party was the Party of mainline Protestants such that the Episcopal Church was, strangely considering how politically liberal TEC is now, considered the Republican Party at prayer.
    2) The Democratic Party was the Party of Roman Catholics, Jews, and African Americans.

    Evangelical Protestants were actually more inclined to vote Democratic.

    The analysis was that before the advent of social issues such as abortion and homosexuality become prominent, American politics were driven to some degree by class, the Republican Party was made up of mainline Protestants who were Republican because they were part of the wealthy establishment, not because of any sense that GOP policies were "Christian" in anyway shape or form.

    What happened due to the Sixties Revolution was that the advent of social issues divided Protestantism in the United States. The Republican Party became substantively more far to the right, driving many mainline Protestants away, (though I believe that among mainline Protestants in the pews, the GOP still has won a slight majority in recent years demonstrating a noticeable divide between the political liberalism of the clergy and establishment of mainline churches and the people in the pews). Thus social conservatives and evangelicals flocked to the GOP, while mainline protestants and liberals flocked to the Democrats.

    Jews and African Americans, even if the latter group generally are still generally very socially conservative, stayed reliably Democratic.

    The Roman Catholic vote has changed slightly, in that more RCs vote GOP than before, but still the Democrats usually win a slight majority of the Catholic vote in every election.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited February 19
    As I recall, the Democratic Party took a decidedly liberal turn after 1984 when the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi was able to unseat the old party machine delegates from Mississippi at the Democratic National Convention. The Freedom party was a coalition of black ministers and seminarians and liberal whites in Mississippi,

    If you can, watch The Black Church: This is Our Story, This Is Our Song which explains how Social Gospel developed in the African American Church. I would hope other international networks will pick up on this excellent four-hour documentary hosted by Harvard historian Bill Gates, Jr.

    I am reminded that Martin Luther King Jr. would always say: the long arch of history always bends toward justice.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    @Anglican Brat
    The Democratic Party was the Party of Roman Catholics, Jews, and African Americans

    Actually, African Americans joined the Democratic coalition considerably later than RCs and Jews. I believe that well into the 20th Century, the African American vote was solidly GOP, with a shift beginning in the late 1920s, continuing with the New Deal in the 1930s, and finally cementing the Black vote in the Democratic Party in the 60s with the Great Society.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    @Gramps49

    I think you mean 1964, not 1984, for the Democratic convention in question.

    Later on, in 1972, the rules were changed to give some of the party's newer constituencies, eg. blacks, feminists, youth etc. more of a voice.
  • stetson wrote: »
    @Nick Tamen
    It would be nice, but AIUI it's never been a tradition in the Democratic Party.
    It may never have been a tradition of the party per se, but it has certainly been a tradition within the party since at least the mid-twentieth century, if not sooner, particularly (as the article suggests) among African Americans, but also, particularly pre-Roe v. Wade, among Catholics.

    END QUOTE

    Keep in mind that SPK is talking about the CCF/NDP, a political party that really did have the Social Gospel as one of its founding movements. A Who's Who of the early CCF grandees would read like a list of Canada's leading progressive clerics, and that tradition continued, though to a lesser degree, with the NDP(*).

    You can think of it this way...

    Consider the formative role that protestant ministers played in the US civil-rights movement. Now, imagine that the USCRM was a political party, not just a movement. That might give you some idea of the importance of the Social Gospel in the history of the CCF/NDP.

    (*) Based on what I have observed, I will say that these days, among the NDP rank and file, religious devotion is probably about as lukewarm as what I have attributed to American liberals. Those with a deeper knowledge of history would still tend to respect the Social Gospel tradition, however.



    What I meant, an in contrast to Anglican Brat's post above, is that African Americans weren't part of the Democratic coalition until the 1950's. Until the Civil Rights Act the Democratic Party still included the Southern "Redeemer" Democrats. The Republican Party was still the Party of Lincoln and routinely had a strong civil rights plank in its platform until 1964. The educated black elite in was routinely Republican until the 1960's. It's all part of the Grand Realignment of American politics since the 1960's.

    Reply to (*):

    There are, as ever, many current in the NDP. There is the Social Gospel current, still present in Cheri DiNovo and the Blaikie family. There is the New Left/Waffle stream which is prominent in the activist class and in my riding. They tend to be atheist and shy away from organized religion. And there are the union activists, which tend to be Old Left and irreligious.

    Jagmeet Singh has made it quite clear that he intends and is trying to bring in Sikhs as part of the Social Gospel wing of the party. I'm perfectly happy with that. When he was sworn in as an MP I gave him a photo I have of Tommy Douglas and Walter Pitman, New Party (not an error, look it up) MP for Peterborough West, taken at Murray Street Baptist Church here in Peterborough. I said he wasn't the first man of the faith to lead the NDP, nor even the third.

  • You are right. 1964. Thanks for the correction.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Reply to (*):

    There are, as ever, many current in the NDP. There is the Social Gospel current, still present in Cheri DiNovo and the Blaikie family. There is the New Left/Waffle stream which is prominent in the activist class and in my riding. They tend to be atheist and shy away from organized religion. And there are the union activists, which tend to be Old Left and irreligious.

    Jagmeet Singh has made it quite clear that he intends and is trying to bring in Sikhs as part of the Social Gospel wing of the party. I'm perfectly happy with that. When he was sworn in as an MP I gave him a photo I have of Tommy Douglas and Walter Pitman, New Party (not an error, look it up) MP for Peterborough West, taken at Murray Street Baptist Church here in Peterborough. I said he wasn't the first man of the faith to lead the NDP, nor even the third.

    Your assessment of the various currents sounds about right to me.

    Though I'm curious about your definition of "Social Gospel", as it apparently includes Sikhs and, I would assume, other non-Christians. Great to have all people of faith in the tent, though personally, I've always sort of assumed that "Social Gospel", strictly speaking, only referred to protestants, and I would even hesitate to apply it to, say, Fr. Bob Ogle, since he was of course Catholic.

    This might just be a question of semantics, and if "Social Gospel" is the term used to describe all people of faith in the NDP, that certainly works for me. (Might be viewed as a little christocentric, though?)


  • The Sikhs would use the term "Social Justice." Here is a good comparison to why Humanism is attracted to the Sikh concept of Social Justice: https://americanhumanist.org/paths/sikhism/
  • It may be christocentric but it's as good as I have come up with. It describes people if faith whose faith draws them to the NDP platform.

    The Social Gospel in its weekday form was secular and open to anyone. It's how you got different Protestant Churches to stop squabbling. One reason the Catholics didn't join was they stayed away, not that the Protestants pushed them away.

    Religion in Canada is essentially tribal, not class based. In politics the Social Gospel was about pragmatic measures, not theology. That was for churches on Sunday.

    It's the Modus Vivendi that keeps the coalition happy.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited February 19
    One reason the Catholics didn't join was they stayed away, not that the Protestants pushed them away.

    Well, FWIW, a movement calling itself "Social Gospel" in the early 20th Century does not exactly strike me as one that was aggressively courting the involvement of Catholics. Catholics would have been used to hearing the four accounts of Jesus' life called "the Gospels" at mass, but from my knowledge of the pre-V2 era, that sort of directly biblical language wasn't otherwise a big part of the Catholic sociopolitical milieu.

    Not that I think the original Social Gospel people were actively hostile to Catholics, just not particularly interested in bringing them in.

  • @stetson and @Sober Preacher's Kid, I’ve got no particular argument with the points y’all lay out, though I might quibble about some timeline specifics. My point was simply that it’s more complicated than the simple statement that social justice has “never been a tradition in the Democratic Party” might suggest. That’s all. If nothing else, the US has always had, for better or worse, a two-party system, which means there’s periodic realignment between parties and periodic reinvention of parties. At the least, then, it’s not unreasonable to ask which Democratic Party is being talked about.

  • Very fair. What I was aiming at was underlining how recently (comparatively) the changes occurred. Call me a pedant (on the Ship?) but the arrival of the Social Gospel in the Democratic Party is a recent thing.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Plus, as someone pointed out on the Ship a few months back, American political parties are like coalitions which form before elections. So, thinking about the Democrats as a coalition, the Social Gospel has probably been a major influence on some of its constituent factions, without manifesting itself at the party level.
  • Furtive GanderFurtive Gander Shipmate
    edited February 19
    To me the Social Gospel is the idea that you are fully accepted by God and get to heaven by being nice to people. No worries about sin separating you from God and needing to have it all washed away by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to make you fit for heaven.
  • To me the Social Gospel is the idea that you are fully accepted by God and get to heaven by being nice to people. No worries about sin separating you from God and needing to have it all washed away by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to make you fit for heaven.

    You should find out what it really is.
  • To me the Social Gospel is the idea that you are fully accepted by God and get to heaven by being nice to people. No worries about sin separating you from God and needing to have it all washed away by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to make you fit for heaven.

    If you hadn't noticed, we are discussing real political movements with religious inspirations which have had a profound and deeply meaningful impact on several nations' politics over the course of decades.

    We were not discussing trite descriptions of soteriology.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited February 19
    To me the Social Gospel is the idea that you are fully accepted by God and get to heaven by being nice to people. No worries about sin separating you from God and needing to have it all washed away by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to make you fit for heaven.

    That isn't the social gospel, but tangentially it does actually make more sense than the "gospel" often preached that starts "you're heading for Hell, whoever you are, because God has completely unreasonable and impossible standards"
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    To me the Social Gospel is the idea that you are fully accepted by God and get to heaven by being nice to people. No worries about sin separating you from God and needing to have it all washed away by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to make you fit for heaven.

    If you hadn't noticed, we are discussing real political movements with religious inspirations which have had a profound and deeply meaningful impact on several nations' politics over the course of decades.

    We were not discussing trite descriptions of soteriology.

    Or, in a nutshell, we are using the term "Social Gospel" to refer to political movements. To bring in another, totally separate definition just confuses things.

    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.
  • stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?

    None. Like I said, he was using a totally different meaning of the phrase. But SPK had commented on the quality of Furtive Gander's description, so I was kinda replying to that.
  • stetson wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?

    None. Like I said, he was using a totally different meaning of the phrase. But SPK had commented on the quality of Furtive Gander's description, so I was kinda replying to that.

    Wasn't blaming you; I was referring to the earlier definition by the Gander.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?

    None. Like I said, he was using a totally different meaning of the phrase. But SPK had commented on the quality of Furtive Gander's description, so I was kinda replying to that.

    Wasn't blaming you; I was referring to the earlier definition by the Gander.

    Thanks for clarifying.
  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    You can take the Social Gospel from my cold, dead hands.

    beautiful!!

    A little late, but I need to put that on a button for NDP Convention. Along with:

    "Unions are a gateway drug to Socialism"
    "Class is back"
    "I will not check my Socialism at the door"
  • Furtive GanderFurtive Gander Shipmate
    edited February 20
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?
    (my italics)

    Well, to me the two phrases mean pretty much the same thing.
    To you, with a different useage of those SG words, the meanings seem unconnected.

    I've never heard the phrase in a political context. I first heard it from someone in my youth group as a teenager in the 70s about someone she considered 'not a real Christian' as this person she referred to believed good works could lead to salvation.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited February 21
    “Social Gospel” is a phrase with a specific meaning, a term of art as it were. With the usual caveats, The Wiki on the Social Gospel.

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    “Social Gospel” is a phrase with a specific meaning, a term of art as it were. With the usual caveats, The Wiki on the Social Gospel.

    Thank you.
  • @Furtive Gander

    Some of the most enjoyable threads on the Ship for me have been the ones learning about American political history from real people, not just history textbooks and newspaper editorials.

    It has been quite enlightening to learn about the intricate complexity of Anerican politics when you're not an American.

    Likewise, I enjoy explaining some of the intricacies of Canadian politics, history and culture. It's not the United States and religion is one area where we more markedly differ.

    Other publications may shy away from the intersection of faith and politics but here we embrace it. I find it makes politics more understandable generally.
  • @Furtive Gander

    Some of the most enjoyable threads on the Ship for me have been the ones learning about American political history from real people, not just history textbooks and newspaper editorials.

    It has been quite enlightening to learn about the intricate complexity of Anerican politics when you're not an American.

    Likewise, I enjoy explaining some of the intricacies of Canadian politics, history and culture. It's not the United States and religion is one area where we more markedly differ.

    Other publications may shy away from the intersection of faith and politics but here we embrace it. I find it makes politics more understandable generally.

    I can say the same about learning from Canadians, Australians, Scots, Irish, Welsh, and Brits too.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?
    (my italics)

    Well, to me the two phrases mean pretty much the same thing.
    To you, with a different useage of those SG words, the meanings seem unconnected.

    I've never heard the phrase in a political context. I first heard it from someone in my youth group as a teenager in the 70s about someone she considered 'not a real Christian' as this person she referred to believed good works could lead to salvation.

    This is just a semi-educated guess, but I suspect that woman was using the phrase to mean "salvation through good works" because she had originally heard it used, negatively, to mean the political movement, and was misapplying it to any tendency within Christianity that supposedly overstates the importance of interaction with others.

    So eg. maybe she once heard her dad say "Goddam left-wing hippies, think they're gonna be saved by giving free food to all those illegal Mexicans. Stupid goddam Social Gospel crap."

    And from there, it just became her catch-all phrase for a helping-based soteriology.
  • In my experience (UK) the phrase 'social gospel' has usually been linked to ideas of preaching the good news (gospel) to the poor. Yes, it's good news that if they accept Jesus they will be saved and go to heaven, but it's infinitely better news that they and their friends and family won't live the rest of their lives in grinding poverty. "Pie in the sky" is simply insufficiently good news. That means that preaching the gospel isn't just words, but practical action to help people in poverty. It's no more salvation by works than other forms of proclaiming the gospel - if you're going to accuse those who get their hands dirty trying to lift the poor out of poverty (whether that's working a soup kitchen or in the cess-pit of politics) of trying to earn salvation by good works then you would need to apply that argument to those who stand on street corners preaching, who hand out Chick Tracts or travel to Africa to be missionaries.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    It may be christocentric but it's as good as I have come up with. It describes people if faith whose faith draws them to the NDP platform.

    The Social Gospel in its weekday form was secular and open to anyone. It's how you got different Protestant Churches to stop squabbling. One reason the Catholics didn't join was they stayed away, not that the Protestants pushed them away.

    Religion in Canada is essentially tribal, not class based. In politics the Social Gospel was about pragmatic measures, not theology. That was for churches on Sunday.

    It's the Modus Vivendi that keeps the coalition happy.

    As far as I am aware Social Gospel stuff started in the CofE in the 19th century when parishes were opened in the new industrialised (and poverty ridden) towns. It was also there in non-conformist initiatives like Saltaire and especially Port Sunlight.
    At the same time (or a little later) The RC Church started to explore the societal implications of the Gospel which eventually led to Liberation Theology and base communities. Wiki has a pretty good overview https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_social_teaching
    I dont think it was stand-offishness that kept the Churches apart. I think it was that parallel developments were happening in the days before the Ecumenical Movement had got going.
  • stetson wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?
    (my italics)

    Well, to me the two phrases mean pretty much the same thing.
    To you, with a different useage of those SG words, the meanings seem unconnected.

    I've never heard the phrase in a political context. I first heard it from someone in my youth group as a teenager in the 70s about someone she considered 'not a real Christian' as this person she referred to believed good works could lead to salvation.

    This is just a semi-educated guess, but I suspect that woman was using the phrase to mean "salvation through good works" because she had originally heard it used, negatively, to mean the political movement, and was misapplying it to any tendency within Christianity that supposedly overstates the importance of interaction with others.

    So eg. maybe she once heard her dad say "Goddam left-wing hippies, think they're gonna be saved by giving free food to all those illegal Mexicans. Stupid goddam Social Gospel crap."

    And from there, it just became her catch-all phrase for a helping-based soteriology.

    Is the social gospel a soteriology? That is not my understanding, nor does it fit with the definitions/descriptions given on this thread.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?
    (my italics)

    Well, to me the two phrases mean pretty much the same thing.
    To you, with a different useage of those SG words, the meanings seem unconnected.

    I've never heard the phrase in a political context. I first heard it from someone in my youth group as a teenager in the 70s about someone she considered 'not a real Christian' as this person she referred to believed good works could lead to salvation.

    This is just a semi-educated guess, but I suspect that woman was using the phrase to mean "salvation through good works" because she had originally heard it used, negatively, to mean the political movement, and was misapplying it to any tendency within Christianity that supposedly overstates the importance of interaction with others.

    So eg. maybe she once heard her dad say "Goddam left-wing hippies, think they're gonna be saved by giving free food to all those illegal Mexicans. Stupid goddam Social Gospel crap."

    And from there, it just became her catch-all phrase for a helping-based soteriology.

    Is the social gospel a soteriology? That is not my understanding, nor does it fit with the definitions/descriptions given on this thread.
    No, it’s not a soteriology.

    That doesn’t mean, though, that some will misunderstand and misuse the term, trying to cast it in a soteriological framework. I think that’s what @stetson was suggesting—a misuse rather than a correct use of the term.

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    FWIW, Furtive Gander's soteriology just sorta sounds like "salvation through good works" in its purest form.

    Of course. But what evidence do we have linking "works salvation" with the social gospel?
    (my italics)

    Well, to me the two phrases mean pretty much the same thing.
    To you, with a different useage of those SG words, the meanings seem unconnected.

    I've never heard the phrase in a political context. I first heard it from someone in my youth group as a teenager in the 70s about someone she considered 'not a real Christian' as this person she referred to believed good works could lead to salvation.

    This is just a semi-educated guess, but I suspect that woman was using the phrase to mean "salvation through good works" because she had originally heard it used, negatively, to mean the political movement, and was misapplying it to any tendency within Christianity that supposedly overstates the importance of interaction with others.

    So eg. maybe she once heard her dad say "Goddam left-wing hippies, think they're gonna be saved by giving free food to all those illegal Mexicans. Stupid goddam Social Gospel crap."

    And from there, it just became her catch-all phrase for a helping-based soteriology.

    Is the social gospel a soteriology? That is not my understanding, nor does it fit with the definitions/descriptions given on this thread.
    No, it’s not a soteriology.

    That doesn’t mean, though, that some will misunderstand and misuse the term, trying to cast it in a soteriological framework. I think that’s what @stetson was suggesting—a misuse rather than a correct use of the term.

    Indeed that's what I have been suggesting all along.
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