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Thursday, August 3, 2023

A Social Gospel Quotation

 John Fea at Current:

Every department of human life—the families, the schools, amusements, arts, business, politics, industry, national politics, international relations—will be governed by the Christian law and controlled by Christian influences. When we are bidden to seek first the kingdom of God, we are bidden to set our hearts on this great commission; to keep this always before us as the object of our endeavors; to be satisfied with nothing less than this. The complete Christianization of all life is what we pray and work for, when we work and pray for the coming of the kingdom of Heaven.

Who uttered these words?

Before you move your eyes down this page in search of an answer, I encourage you to take a guess. Allow me to offer some possibilities. Perhaps this call for the “Christianization of all life” comes from a Seven Mountain Dominionist such as charismatic prophet Lance Wallnau or pseudo-historian David Barton? Or maybe a member of the Christian Right—someone such as Robert Jeffress or Franklin Graham—uttered these words. What about a 2024 GOP presidential candidate such as Trump, DeSantis, Pence, or Scott? Missouri Senator Josh Hawley? Turning Point USA pundit Charlie Kirk? Radio host and author Eric Metaxas?

While statements about the Christian takeover of schools, entertainment, art, business, politics, and foreign affairs sound like the rantings of today’s so-called Christian nationalists, these words actually come from Washington Gladden’s 1894 address “The Church and the Kingdom.”

Washington Gladden was one of the early leaders of the Social Gospel movement in the United States. As the progressive pastor of the First Congregational Church of Columbus, Ohio, Gladden preached a biblical gospel that combined personal salvation through Christ and social justice for the poor and oppressed. He developed a national reputation as an advocate for working people in their ongoing battles with capitalists. He took on the monopolies, fought for shorter work weeks and higher wages, mediated labor strikes, and called upon corporations to share their profits with their workers. He championed the public ownership of railroads, gas and electric companies, mines, water suppliers, and telephone services. As the president of the American Missionary Association he refused a $100,000 gift to the organization from oil magnate John D. Rockefeller because, as he put it, the money was “tainted.”