God's Grace and Man's Hope

God's Grace and Man's Hope

God's Grace and Man's Hope

God's Grace and Man's Hope

Excerpt

Belief that a good society is possible on earth has been one of the powerful constructive forces in the life of modern man. Today when it is necessary to human survival itself that the nerve of hope for that better society be kept alive, there is widespread bewilderment and anxiety. Have we, in spite of all idealism, succeeded only in preparing our doom?

I have written this book to state and defend two convictions about that hope. The first is that there is solid ground in human experience for believing that the better world can be made. It is cynicism and nihilism which in the last resort are unrealistic about what human life can be. The second conviction is that any enduring hope must be based, not upon man alone, but upon the fact that God is present in human history, and is there creatively and redemptively at work. To try to establish the City of Man on anything other than faith in God is to build on quicksand. These two convictions, taken together, place my thought within the tradition of the Christian social gospel of which Walter Rauschenbusch was both prophet and pioneer. It is an honor indeed to have the lectures which are here set down and expanded bear his name.

There is widespread agreement, in which I share, that the social gospel was too optimistic about man and his progress. There is also a growing impression that the "neo-orthodox" reaction to the liberalism of the social gospel is too pessimistic. I concur in this judgment also. But the point is not to add a little more optimism to balance so much pessimism. The point is to find that truer Christian understanding of man and God which can be expressed in a structurally sound theology. We need an interpretation of the Christian faith which can guide moral effort and sustain the exercise . . .

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