attempt to move society toward the Kingdom of God by applying Jesus'
message to social issues.
Before World War
I, the Social Gospel was the religious counterpart of U.S. "progressive"
politics, which sought to alleviate suffering and injustice by changing
society. Insofar as it responded to the urban poverty created by industrialism,
it paralleled Europe's Inner Mission.
The proponents of American Social Gospel for the most part embraced liberal
theology. It saw sin and salvation as social rather than individual;
hence the term Social Gospel. Proponents sought to practice Jesus' call
to love the neighbor and the prophets' call for justice in specific programs
such as the labor movement, settlement houses, and "program churches"
which offered job training, language skills, and recreation for immigrants.
Walter Rauschenbusch was a theologian
for the Social Gospel, and Washington Gladden (1836-1918) helped popularize
the movement through books, lectures, and hymns. The Salvation
Army may be described as an evangelical expression of the Social Gospel.