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Walter Rauschenbusch, Kingdom of God, social gospel, Christianity, theology


Industrialization and the Gilded Age exacerbated the gap between the wealthy and the extremely poor who inhabited major American cities like New York. Walter Rauschenbusch, a German Baptist pastor who served a parish in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, began his ministry focusing on individual salvation and piety. After seeing the tangible effects of poverty, including the all-too-common deaths of young children, Rauschenbusch attempted to articulate the social ramifications of Christianity. The best-known example of his understanding of the Kingdom of God was Christianity and the Social Crisis, which became a seminal text in social gospel literature in the early twentieth century that drew upon the thinking of the German theologian Albrecht Ritschl. This paper analyzes the major arguments Rauschenbusch made in his attempt to alleviate poverty through the coming of the Kingdom of God. Rauschenbusch never abandoned essential orthodoxy, yet his beliefs and teachings raised concerns on the part of more conservative Christian thinkers.



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