“Doubtless the objection has arisen in our minds that it is not in the interest of the future of the race that religious pity shall coddle and multiply the weak, or put them in control of society” (The Social Principles of Jesus, p. 13).
To conclude his section on “The Value of Life,” Rauschenbusch raises the question above that he believes would be in the minds of his readers. And it is a concern that has been in the minds of countless individuals for nearly 2000 years.
One of the earliest criticisms of Christianity was that it was a religion for the weak — widows, old men, prostitutes, gullible women — according to Marcus Cornelius Fronto, a tutor for the Emperor Marcus Aurelius — a religion that consisted of the “dregs of society” (Late Ancient Christianity, Virginia Burrus, p. 216).
Rauschenbusch continues in his conclusion to this section by saying, “But did Jesus want the weak to way weak?” The implied answer is a resounding “NO!”
“[Jesus] was an emancipator, a creator of strong [individuals]…. [T]he spirit of Jesus is an awakening force.”
I fear that modern Christianity errs on either side of this biblical truth. It seems that Christianity has either become a bastion of earthly power with no room for the poor, the orphan, the refugee. Or Christianity has become a religion of “settling” with no expectation of awakening the good within each person with the transformational power of Jesus Christ.
Is there room within Christendom for a Faith that loves and reaches out to all regardless of race, gender, political party, sexual orientation, etc., but still calls each adherent to the Faith to the high life giving standard of Christ through His Spirit?
The point of the Social Gospel wasn’t to ignore personal piety but that Christ’s awakening force would transform the individual sinner into a saint and the broken social constructs into the Kingdom of God. It is impossible to have one without the other!
How does your faith welcome all?
How does your faith call each to an awakening force in Christ?