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The Emergent Social Gospel

The CFR and the Social Gospel: Part 2

In a recent radio interview posted at www.familylife.com , “Seeing the AIDS Crisis Through God’s Eyes,” Rick Warren answered a question about the Social Gospel:

“Bob: Let me ask all three of you – there are some who would look at this emphasis and say, ‘You know, 50, 60 years ago, the church got distracted with what became known as the ‘social gospel,’ and forgot evangelism, forgot the spiritual needs of people. Are we in danger of doing that again?

“Rick: No, we’re not in danger of doing that, and I think that’s a great question, though. It was even earlier than that, at the beginning of the 20th century, Protestantism split into two wings, and there were certain theologians who came out that said, ‘We don’t have to worry about redemption anymore. We don’t have to worry about the cross and the atonement and personal salvation. What we need to do is redeem the social structures of society’ and, basically, all it was was Marxism in Christian clothing. That’s really what it was.

“Well, what happened is the liberals took the social justice issues – racism, injustice, poverty, things like that – and the conservatives, Bible believers, took the personal issues of morality – family, homosexuality, personal morality, and salvation.

“Well, who was right? I actually happen to believe they’re both right – that Jesus cared about both the body and society. He cared about the spirit. He wanted people saved, but He also wanted us to act different in society. And, honestly, I would love to see a new reformation that brings those two back together that says, ‘Jesus cares about the poor, the sick, the lame, the hurting’ – He clearly did – the orphans, the widows, without watering down the fact. And you know, in my heart, as an evangelist, everything I do has the motivation of sharing the good news.” [emphases added]

And in a BPNews follow-up interview to the Saddleback AIDS conference, where Senators Barack Obama and Sam Brownback were invited speakers, Warren reiterated:

“‘Right wing, left wing. I’m for the whole bird,’ said Warren, smiling, on the last day of the conference, which featured Obama and Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.

“‘You have to have two wings to fly.'”

The Original Social Gospel Movement

Evangelical leaders are hoping that the current generation of believers do not know the church history of the past century. If they did, they might recognize the regurgitated Social Gospel decked out in new clothing.

What is the Social Gospel? One simple definition on-line states:

“The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Social Gospel principles continue to inspire newer movements such as Christians Against Poverty. The movement applies Christian principles to social problems, especially poverty, liquor, drugs, crime, racial tensions, slums, bad hygiene, poor schools, and the danger of war. Theologically, the Social Gospel leaders were overwhelmingly post-millennialist. That is they believed the Second Coming could not happen until humankind rid itself of social evils by human effort. For the most part, they rejected pre-millennialist theology (which was predominant in the Southern United States), according to which the Second Coming of Christ was imminent, and Christians should devote their energies to preparing for it rather than addressing the issue of social evils. Their millennial views are very similar to those shared by Christian Reconstructionists. However Social Gospel leaders are predominently liberal politically and religiously, whereas Reconstructionists tend to hold politically liberatarian and religiously fundamentalist views.”

The original Social Gospel movement was characterized by the lack of a biblical Gospel message. It grew and flourished in the early 20th century when the Protestant churches had been overtaken by higher criticism. The denudated Gospel was supplanted by the idea of a “brotherhood of all mankind” ethos. Great waves of social action accompanied the Social Gospel, but it was truncated – it was human activity devoid of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

In the quotations above, Rick Warren is talking about a new Social Gospel message – a “new reformation that brings those two back together;” i.e., wedding the Social Gospel activism with the biblical Gospel. This is being marketed to the evangelical world as a more compassionate way. But it is, in reality, a new synthesis. And Synthesis is, by definition, a watering down of the Thesis by pulling in elements of Antithesis – thereby corrupting biblical TRUTH.

The new-and-improved Social Gospel bears all of the characteristics of your great-grandpa’s Social Gospel, but with a few interesting twists:

1. The same conductors, next generation. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) involvement in assisting the creation of the original Social Gospel movement is chronicled in Building the Kingdom of God on Earth by Dr. Martin Erdmann (Wipf & Stock, 2005). This fact is important because Rick Warren recently claimed that he was a member of the CFR.

2. A “War Against _____” (fill in the blank). The original Social Gospel flourished in the era between the two world wars. The “War to End All Wars” had not ended successfully with the creation of a League of Nations. John Foster Dulles and his CFR cohorts thereupon orchestrated a campaign for “peace” – using the Social Gospel as a maneuver to set up an institution for world government (the United Nations). Dr. Erdmann summarized Dulles’ endeavors:

“Convinced that the root case of war was the division of the world in numerous sovereign nation-states, [John Foster] Dulles and his associates proposed a new system in which the affairs of humankind would be directed by an international organisation endowed with sufficient authority to guarantee perpetual peace. In all his efforts, Dulles tried to persuade the churches to embrace this vision of a unified world. It was clear to him that such a proposition would be readily accepted by the general public, if it had first gripped the imagination of the Christian community in America.” (p. 308) [emphases added]

Likewise, Rick Warren’s Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan is set up as a War Against AIDS, etc., according to Senator Obama at a “Call to Renewal Keynote Address” on 6/28/06:

“Pastors, friends of mine like Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes are wielding their enormous influences to confront AIDS, Third World debt relief, and the genocide in Darfur. Religious thinkers and activists like our good friend Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo are lifting up the Biblical injunction to help the poor as a means of mobilizing Christians against budget cuts to social programs and growing inequality.”

3. Collectivism. According to Dr. Erdmann in Building the Kingdom of God on Earth,

“At the Indianapolis quadrennial in 1932 the Federal Council of Churches presented its revised version of the Social Creed of 1908. The new Creed outlined the Council’s program for transforming American society into a Christian collectivism. By applying the principles of socialism, as expounded by Walter Rauschenbusch, the kingdom of God on earth would be set up according to the ecumenical ideal. A unified Church would represent collectivist Protestantism modelled on a pattern of the medieval guild system.” (pp. 306-307) [emphasis added]

Spearheading this effort was CFR leader John Foster Dulles, who “predicted that the social structure of a just world society would be modelled on the prototypes of totalitarian countries like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.” (p. 88)

Similarly, the Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan is being accomplished via the small group (“collective”) structure, which facilitates the “social” nature of the Social Gospel.

4. Ecumenism & Unity. According to this ideal, due to the urgency of the hour and the crises in the world, the churches must unite. What Rick Warren refers to as the “Second Reformation” is not a new idea. According to Dr. Erdmann, in 1935 the Christian Century published two articles calling for a “comprehensive restructuring of Protestantism.” In one article, E. Stanley Jones “called upon the creedal churches… to surrender the heritage of the Reformation. Loyalty to biblical theology was to bow to loyalty to unity for the sake of unity” (p. 147-48). Jones’ plan was particularly relevant because it kept intact denominational structures while at the same time forging a new consensus.

A current example of this new Social Gospel call for unity is illustrated by a blog post by Jim Wallis giving a radio address on behalf of the Democratic Party. Wallis has been a leader of the evangelical Left for three decades and has recently been supporting Rick Warren:

“It is time to find common ground by moving to higher ground.

Because we have lost a commitment to the common good, politics is failing to solve the deepest crises of our time. Real solutions will require our best thinking and dialogue, but also call us to transformation and renewal.

“We need a new politics inspired by our deepest held values. We must summon the best in the American people, and unite to solve some of the moral issues of our time. Americans are much less concerned about what is liberal or conservative, what is Democrat or Republican. Rather, we care about what is right and what works.”

Read this address in its totality and compare it to the agenda of the Social Creeds of 1908 and 1932. The old worn-out Social Gospel is being refitted and retooled for this generation. The CFR evidently learned some lessons from the past. There is a kindness of heart that drives Christians to do social deeds of charity. But this “passion” for “compassion” can be harnessed and directed. The new Social Gospel will encounter less resistance if there is a veneer of “biblical” and “Gospel” pasted on top the new world order agenda.

To be continued…

The Truth:

“Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26)