The social gospel refers to the application of Christian principles to social problems. According to historian Carl Degler, “The acceptance of the social gospel spelled the transformation of American Protestantism.” More than a traditional religious movement, the social gospel was distinguished, as stepping out of the churches to traverse with political, social, and economic forces in the nation.
In the United States, social gospel was born in the post-Civil War America and matured towards the period of Progressivism. However, looking back to the early Christian church and how Christianity influenced human civilization as we know it, we can identify how the church always has had a hand in shaping the social landscape.
By the end of the progressive era, adherents of social gospel presented it as “the application of the teaching of Jesus and the total message of the Christian salvation to society, the economic life, and social institutions . . . as well as to individuals.” Throughout history, Christianity has exhibited its social facets, but in this period in the United States, social gospel became a movement as a significant background of American Protestantism. In the face of changing realities and problems in the more and more urbanized nation, social gospel was viewed as a crusade for justice and righteousness in all areas of everyday life.
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