Last week, Le Monde‘s weekend magazine featured an article on ‘What would Jesus do?’ wristband bracelets with WWJD on them.

Apparently, they are all the rage among young French Evangelicals aged between 20 and 25. Evangelicals comprise nearly half — 300,000 — of the nation’s Protestants.

In addition to WWJD, one can also purchase wristbands with FROG (Fully rely on God) and PUSH (Pray until something happens) on them.

The article explains that WWJD came from an American novel from 1896, In His Steps. A pastor, Charles M Sheldon wrote it by assembling material from a series of tracts he had previously published and adding a good dose of Christian Socialism involving a homeless man who wonders why Christians are so tight with their money when it comes to charity.

In the book, the homeless man is the guest preacher one Sunday. He collapses of a heart attack afterward and dies. The fictional pastor is so moved by the event that he tells his congregation that they must ask themselves ‘What would Jesus do?’ before doing anything for the next 12 months.

Wikipedia has an entry on WWJD, which explains more about the Congregationalist pastor’s novel (emphases mine):

Charles Sheldon‘s 1896 book, In His Steps was subtitled “What Would Jesus Do?”[3] Sheldon’s novel grew out of a series of sermons he delivered in his Congregationalist church in Topeka, Kansas. Unlike the previous nuances mentioned above, Sheldon’s theology was shaped by a commitment to Christian Socialism. The ethos of Sheldon’s approach to the Christian life was expressed in this phrase “What Would Jesus Do”, with Jesus being a moral example as well as a Saviour figure.[4] Sheldon’s ideas coalesced with those that formed into the Social Gospel espoused by Walter Rauschenbusch. Indeed Rauschenbusch acknowledged that his Social Gospel owed its inspiration directly to Sheldon’s novel,[citation needed] and Sheldon himself identified his own theology with the Social Gospel.[citation needed]

My longstanding readers might recall the post on the history of the social gospel, a revealing and somewhat surprising one. An excerpt follows:

Walter Rauschenbusch (1861 – 1918), Professor of Church History at Rochester Theological Seminaryis 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 Wardremember this nameto 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. 

My post has much more. Briefly, Ward was the main player in furthering Communist penetration of churches in the United States. His involvement came to light during the McCarthy hearings in July 1953. A former Communist, Manning Johnson, testified:

Dr Harry F Ward, for many years, has been the chief architect for Communist infiltration and subversion in the religious field.

So, the WWJD slogan isn’t as innocent as it seems. Although there might not necessarily be a socio-political agenda attached to it today, there certainly was one in the beginning.

It is interesting to note that, by 1935, Sheldon’s In His Steps had been translated into 21 languages. I wonder who financed that.

The novel was updated in 1993 by his great-grandson Garrett W Sheldon.

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