Social Gospel Movement

Social Gospel

Social Gospel, liberal movement within American Protestantism that attempted to apply biblical teachings to problems associated with industrialization. It took form during the latter half of the 19th cent. under the leadership of Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch, who feared the isolation of religion from the working class. They believed in social progress and the essential goodness of humanity. The views of the Social Gospel movement were given formal expression in 1908 when the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America adopted what was later called "the social creed of the churches." Advocated in the creed were the abolition of child labor, better working conditions for women, one day off during the week, and the right of every worker to a living wage. With the rise of the organized labor movement in the early 20th cent. the Social Gospel movement lost much of its appeal as an independent force. However, many of its ideals were later embodied in the New Deal legislation of the 1930s.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865-1915
Charles Howard Hopkins.
Yale University Press, 1940
FREE! A Theology for the Social Gospel
Walter Rauschenbusch.
Abingdon Press, 1917
The Social Gospel in Black and White: American Racial Reform, 1885-1912
Ralph E. Luker.
University of North Carolina Press, 1991
The Genesis of the Social Gospel: The Meaning of the Ideals of Jesus in the Light of Their Antecedents
Chester Charlton McCown.
Alfred A. Knopf, 1929
The Protestant Search for Political Realism, 1919-1941
Donald Meyer.
Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1988 (2nd edition)
The Character of God: Recovering the Lost Literary Power of American Protestantism
Thomas E. Jenkins.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Nine "The Social Gospel and its Critics"
Critical Issues in American Religious History: A Reader
Robert R. Mathisen.
Baylor University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "American Protestantism at a Crossroads" begins on p. 362
Christian Ethics and Political Economy in North America: A Critical Analysis
P. Travis Kroeker.
McGill-Queens University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "the Cooperative Commonwealth and the Kingdom of God: The Social Gospel Quest for a Public Morality"
Christianity and the Problem of History
Roger Lincoln Shinn.
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953
Librarian’s tip: "The Social Gospel and Its Heirs" begins on p. 120
The Social Gospel, Ely, and Common's Initial Stage of Thought
Gonce, R. A.
Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 30, No. 3, September 1996
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