Friday, May 11, 2007

The Legacy of Walter Rauschenbusch

Apparently it's my day to cite the Wall Street Journal. And that's a sentence I have never uttered before in my life!

My pastor emailed a link to an opinion piece in the WSJ online, one that I understandably found fascinating because it deals with the legacy of Walter Rauschenbusch and the Social Gospel.

I wrote my master's thesis in 2001 on Rauschenbusch's theology. So much has happened since then it feels like an age ago. Still, my academic/theological/church history juices still get jumping when I read reflections about Rauschenbusch and this whole era in American history.

The piece, by Joseph Loconte, can be found here. It's brief, but sound and worth reading. I was especially glad to be reminded that it's the 100th anniversary of Rauschenbusch's book Christianity and the Social Crisis, which will probably mean a small flurry of new scholarship. Apparently there is a new centennial edition of Rauschenbusch's book with introductory essays by Tony Campolo, Stanley Hauerwas and Jim Wallis (now there's a trio!). Loconte says it's "just published" by HarperSanFrancisco but the only thing I'm seeing that looks close is still a pre-order on Amazon with a release date of August 1.


Erin said...

Hmm, interesting. I'd never heard of Rauschenbusch, or of the three writers you mention. Time to brush up on my theologians!

Beth said...

Well, Rauschenbusch is kind of "old hat" (since they're celebrating the centennial of his work) but still influential, both for good and for ill. He was a mixed bag; said some important things, but a bit captive to his times. Maybe we all are, which is one reason I find him fascinating to think about.

You'd like the other three, I think. Campolo taught at my university and I took a class with him. He's always controversial and always interesting and passionate about Jesus. Wallis is very much a progressive evangelical and in the news a good bit these days, writing and speaking a lot. Hauerwas is probably the real "theologian" of the three, and worth reading!