The Genesis of the Social Gospel: The Meaning of the Ideals of Jesus in the Light of Their Antecedents

The Genesis of the Social Gospel: The Meaning of the Ideals of Jesus in the Light of Their Antecedents

The Genesis of the Social Gospel: The Meaning of the Ideals of Jesus in the Light of Their Antecedents

The Genesis of the Social Gospel: The Meaning of the Ideals of Jesus in the Light of Their Antecedents

Excerpt

The value of history is said to lie in its explanations of how things came to be as they are. Usually we can understand what is only when we know how it came to be what it is. One of the most influential factors in modern civilization is Christianity. What it is, and how it came to be what it is, must always be one of the most interesting and important questions of history. The study here presented is an attempt at a partial answer to this often discussed question. It essays to discover the origin and character of the social ideals which, as all will agree, have played a large part in the development of historical Christianity and of modern western civilization. It seeks to do so by applying to the study of Christian origins a method of approach that has been too little used.

The center and soul of Christianity are to be found in the life and teachings of Jesus. The significance of his attitudes on matters of morality and religion is widely acknowledged. In order to learn what the intention of Jesus was with regard to society, and, indeed, in order to discover whether he had a social purpose and outlook, it is necessary to consider, not so much his views on the relations of individuals within their groups, as his conceptions of the economic and political structure of the social organization in general--conceptions not directly stated, but implied in his recorded words and actions. This study has been restricted in the main to conceptions of justice and righteousness in the relations of the social classes, the rich and the poor, the rulers and the ruled. Otherwise the limits of the writer's endurance and the reader's patience would have been sadly exceeded. Ideals on these points, however, may legitimately be regarded as fundamental and characteristic.

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