A Theology for the Social Gospel

By Walter Rauschenbusch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SIN

IT remains now to pass in review the doctrines which would be affected by the social gospel and which ought to give more adequate expression to it. On some of the more speculative doctrines the social gospel has no contribution to make. Its interests lie on earth, within the social relations of the life that now is. It is concerned with the eradication of sin and the fulfilment of the mission of redemption. The sections of theology which ought to express it effectively, therefore, are the doctrines of sin and redemption.

The Christian consciousness of sin is the basis of all doctrines about sin. A serious and humble sense of sinfulness is part of a religious view of life. Our consciousness of sin deepens as our moral insight matures and becomes religious. When we think on the level of law or public opinion, we speak of crime, vice, bad habits, or defective character. When our mind is in the attitude of religion, we pray: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." When a man is within the presence and consciousness of God, he sees himself and his past actions and present conditions in the most searching light and in eternal connections. To lack the consciousness of sin is a symptom of moral immatur-

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