‘We do not have to destroy America with missiles; America will destroy itself from within.’ — Nikita Khruschev
Many young Protestant seminarians and pastors are taking an increasingly political position towards the Gospel. This is not without its dangers.
Churchmouse Campanologist has already explored Communist infiltration in the Catholic Church, now it looks at the history of the social Gospel in the United States.
Many clergymen promoting the social Gospel might be surprised to find out that it came about at the same time that Pope St Pius X declared Modernism –elevating man above God through communism and moral relativism — a heresy. Believe it or not, this was already over a century ago. Whilst I don’t expect Protestants to acknowledge what a Pope says, it would be useful for them to do so on this occasion.
How it started
Walter Rauschenbusch (1861 – 1918), Professor of Church History at Rochester Theological Seminary, is known as the ‘Father of the Social Gospel’. You might be interested to know that John D Rockefeller funded this seminary, along with many others in the United States.
Dr Rauschenbusch grew up in a German Lutheran family but became a Baptist pastor prior to his professorship. His status as a professor gave him the platform to become an influential theologian. He wrote two books, Christianising the Social Order and A Theology for the Social Gospel. He considered himself steeped in ‘higher criticism’ and well-versed in socialism. He proposed a more relevant and compassionate Gospel designed to change the emphasis and direction of American Protestantism. He also introduced the idea of an earthly Kingdom achieved through socialism. He posited that Jesus didn’t come to save sinners but had a ‘social passion’ for society. Does that sound familiar? It’s surprising what our forebears thought of such a long time ago, isn’t it?
In 1907, he met with the Fabians (socialists) in England. Remember, Margaret Sanger also met with Fabians and had one heck of a time. As with Mrs Sanger, the Fabians advised a gentle, peaceful, sensible approach to this transformation. Also, as with Mrs Sanger, they proposed propaganda and infiltration to achieve their goals. In Rauschenbusch’s case the targets were to be universities, seminaries and churches.
A year later John D Rockefeller helped Rauschenbusch and the Fabian Revd Harry Ward — remember this name — to fund the establishment of the Federal Council of Churches. This would eventually become the National Council of Churches. We now have the World Council of Churches, which is very much aligned with the United Nations and global agendas. Jesus Christ doesn’t get a look in.
Don’t forget that Rockefeller also helped fund eugenics departments, propaganda and communitarian programmes. Many people think Rockefeller was a conservative Baptist businessman, but he was the daddy of all ‘change agents’ — the original and best.
The social Gospel movement picked up steam for the next several decades. Nowadays, it would be difficult to find a university, seminary or church that didn’t propose some form of moral relativism and social justice programme.
Committee on Un-American Activities — 1953
In 1953 the Revd Harry Ward’s name popped up in the McCarthy hearings on Un-American Activities. Here is what the transcripts from July 1953 said (emphasis in the original).
Manning Johnson, a former senior member of the Communist Party, answered questions from Robert Kunzig, Chief Counsel for the committee. What follows is part of his testimony:
- ‘Dr Harry F Ward, for many years, has been the chief architect for Communist infiltration and subversion in the religious field.’
- Harry Ward taught ‘Christian Ethics’ at the Rockefeller-funded Union Theological Seminary, presided over the Federal Council of Churches, chaired the American Civil Liberties Union. He also worked with the YMCA, YWCA and the Interchurch World Movement.
- William Z Foster, General Secretary of the Communist Party USA, said, ‘Communists must ever be keen to cultivate the democratic spirit of mutual tolerance among the religious sects … A still greater lesson for us to learn, however, is how to work freely with religious strata for the accomplishment of democratic mass objectives… A very serious mistake of the American left wing during many years … has been its attempt arbitrarily to wave aside religious sentiments among the masses. Reactionary forces [mainly concerned Christians] have already known how to work take advantage of this shortsighted sectarian error … In recent years, however, the Communist Party, with its policy of ‘the outstretched hand’ has done much to overcome the harmful left-wing narrowness of former years and to develop a more healthy cooperation with the religious masses.’
- Deceit was a major policy of Communist propaganda and activity: ‘They made fine gestures and honeyed words to the church people which could be well likened unto the song of the fabled sea nymphs luring millions to moral decay, spiritual death and spiritual slavery.’
- The Revd Harry F Ward also headed the Methodist Federation for Social Service, or the Methodist Federation for Social Action. He ‘was invaluable to the Communist Party … because through it the Party was able to get contacts with thousands of ministers all over the country … Quite a few ministers, for example, participated in the united front known as the American League Against War and Fascism … In fact, they were so deeply involved through Harry F. Ward that they became the spokesmen — the advocates, the builders and the leaders of this most important Communist front that engaged in everything from simple assault on a government to espionage, sabotage and the overthrow of the Government.’
- Exhibit No. 21 presented to the committee was The Daily Worker of May 7, 1953, which reported on a dinner held in Dr Ward’s honour: ‘New World Review, a progressive monthly devoted to circulating the truth about the Socialist and People’s Democracies abroad … brough out several hundred friends and former students of Dr Ward, and some of those who knew him well like Corliss Lamont [the Communist son of Thomas Lamont, chairman of the J P Morgan banking conglomerate] … told the others of how Dr Ward’s teachings enriched them personally and how his tremendous work for brotherhood, peace and justice has influenced the nation.’
- The Communists infiltrated and poisoned the religious organisations of America wherever possible: ‘Once the tactic of infiltrating religious organisations was set by the Kremlin, the actual mechanics of implementing the ‘new line’ was a question of following … the church movement in Russia, where the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the church by Communist agents operating within the church itself … The infiltration tactic in this country would have to adapt itself to American conditions … In the earliest stages it was determined that with only small forces available it would be necessary to concentrate Communist agents in the seminaries and divinity schools. The practical conclusion drawn by the Red leaders was that these institutions would make it possible for a small Communist minority to influence the ideology of future clergymen … The idea was to divert the emphasis of clerical thinking from the spiritual to the material … Instead of emphasis toards the spiritual matters of the soul, the new and heavy emphasis was to deal with those matters which, in the main, led toward the Communist program of ‘immediate demands’ [or ‘felt needs’].
Admittedly, this is a disturbing account to read. As with the aforementioned Catholic story, some people think that traditionalists sit around dreaming up these accounts. But, you have to ask yourself — Protestant or Catholic — whether the church services you attend now are the same ones your grandparents attended. Are the sermons you hear about Biblical truths? Or are they feel-good talks and calls to work for social justice?
The eternal Truth as revealed in the Holy Bible does not change. It’s the same yesterday, today and always. It has nothing to do with making Jesus out to be a social justice warrior. It has to do with faith and grace and repentance.
Many mainstream Protestant denominations are ruined almost beyond repair. Be careful about what you take to heart and what you preach. All is not what it seems.
‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6)
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