What is the Social Gospel?

The social gospel is a movement that started in the early 1900’s with the intent to bring heaven to earth, speaking somewhat figuratively. The movement has been reborn today as “social justice.” Karl Marx’s communism was an influential ideology that helped start the movement, being liberal from the very beginning. The social gospel has a strong desire to see earthly blessings far more so than spiritual blessing, and could be rightly considered one of the precursors to the modern health and wealth gospel. The main passage that would summarize the views of this movement would be when our Lord was teaching the disciples how to pray; saying “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” The social gospel’s desire is the make God’s kingdom manifested on earth; and taking political activism as the key to making this happen, instead of prayer and personal holiness in one’s life, coupled with the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

The social gospel believes that heaven should be here on earth. This is what has given rise to the post-millennial position of Revelation that has become moderately popular in America. It has also given rise to some good things perhaps, but this movement is concerned about what they believe are “social justice” issues. However, usually those who hold this ideology are holding a view that is contrary to the sacred Scriptures. For example, a sample list of “social justice” issues that the social gospel believes is worth fighting for, would be; racism, poverty, economic inequality (read- “it’s unfair God gave you more money”), “alcoholism” (opposed to what the Bible calls drunkenness), sexism (usually Gods idea of how to run things), slums and unclean environments, and the killing of whales and trees (that is, idolatry). These are “evils” and “social injustices” that this movement wishes to read into the Scriptures. Clearly God does have things to say about many of these issues, either directly or indirectly. However, because this movement does not base itself on God’s Word and God’s justice, but instead on human wisdom and human idea’s (read- wrong ideas) of justice, it proves to be very problematic for the Christian, particularly those who strive to be both biblical and rational.

The Problem

The problem with the movement, being a documented fact in history, is that they started with their own ideology, then went to Scriptures to find support. That is to say, they did not start with a biblical foundation; therefore, whatever they fight for that happens to be true and biblical is only by accident.

The other problem is that the social gospel diminishes the true gospel; that is the true good news. The good news is that we who have wronged an infinitely holy God and can now be forgiven, not that the poor can get money, or free healthcare. Though it is true that Christians are to stand for justice, the social gospel rarely, if ever, has a biblical understanding of justice and equality.