Walter Rauschenbusch

Alan Wolfe “Mobilizing the Religious Left”

神学者Walter Rauschenbuschリヴァイヴァルの話。彼は「社会的福音(Social Gospel)」を掲げた ――”Rauschenbusch is today being rediscovered by those who, concerned about the success of the religious right, hope to make more visible the presence of a religious left in the United States.”

Walter Rauschenbusch, the leader of the Social Gospel movement of the early 20th century, did just that in “Christianity and the Social Crisis,” published 100 years ago this year. Although steeped in church history and riddled with obscure terminology like “Ebionitic” (a reference to Jewish followers of Jesus who, in sympathy with the Sermon on the Mount, chose lives of poverty), the book quickly became a best seller. The Federal Council of Churches (which later changed its name to the National Council of Churches), founded one year after its publication, spread Rauschenbusch’s message of social reform. It was one of two books — along with Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle,” published a year earlier — most responsible for tempering the rule of rapacious capitalism and helping Theodore Roosevelt to define a new progressive agenda. As late as the 1950s, one aspiring Baptist preacher read it and wrote that it “left an indelible imprint on my thinking.” His name was Martin Luther King Jr.

In a 100th-anniversary edition, published as “Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century: The Classic That Woke Up the Church” (HarperOne, $27.95), Paul Raushenbush, an associate dean of religious life at Princeton University and the author’s great-grandson, has reprinted the text with essays by Cornel West, the Rev. Jim Wallis and others who “represent the best of the Social Gospel tradition” to prove that one can be a dedicated Christian and a social reformer at the same time. Such claims, however, pay insufficient attention to Rauschenbusch’s flaws and to the dangers of mixing religion and politics, no matter who is doing the mixing.
Raushenbushは1861年にRochesterに生まれ、独逸留学、紐育での牧師活動を経て、事故のために聴力を失った後は、(父親が教授を務めていた)Rochester Theological Seminaryの教授となって、1918年の死に至る。主著である『基督教と社会的危機』以降の著作では、現代の米国主流派プロテスタントの「バックボーン」となっている「神学的自由主義」の基礎づけに専念した。
Wolfe氏によれば、『基督教と社会的危機』の前半では、耶蘇は「革命家」であり、「世界は根本的には善であるが、実際には悪である」、「神によって創造されたが、罪によってコントロールされている」、従って基督教徒にとって、この世に「耶蘇によって開示された高次の生の概念の名の下に」反抗するのは義務であるということが述べられている。後半部は「合衆国が直面する「現在の危機」」の分析に充てられている――”brutal realities of unregulated industrial capitalism”、「金によって汚染された」「民主主義」云々。
Wolfe氏にとって、Raushenbushの思想が現代的なレリヴァンスを欠いているのは、何よりもその他宗教、特にユダヤ教への偏見とカトリックへの敵意である。また、Cornel West は、RaushenbushをReinhold NiebuhrやKarl Barthと比較しているが、これも

This misses all the nuance. Barth’s attack on the Nazis was based on the premise that the German church had involved itself with politics far too much, and Niebuhr, while writing broadly within the Social Gospel tradition, adhered to a form of liberalism more premised on a realistic assessment of human nature than Rauschenbusch’s naïve progressivism was.
と批判される。さらに驚いたのは、Raushenbushが今年逝去した哲学者のRichard Rorty*1の祖父に当たるということである。Wolfe氏はローティとRaushenbushについて、

Rorty himself, a thoroughly secular philosopher and public intellectual, had more in common with Niebuhr than with Rauschenbusch. Both he and Niebuhr made the concept of irony central to their work. For the theologian, an ironic temperament should sensitize us to the fact that even if we long for the good, we may still commit the sin of pride, whereas for the philosopher, irony helps us understand that even if we want to be liberals, we cannot ground our liberal commitments on any firm foundations.

A century ago, the case for the inevitability of inequality was made by secular thinkers strongly influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution, while those who argued on behalf of social justice took their Bible reading seriously. Nowadays it is the reverse, and the republication of “Christianity and the Social Crisis” could help restore the balance. Rauschenbusch may have been too steeped in his own vision of Christianity and too unwary of the dangers of blending religion and politics, but he was right that society needs powerful and prophetic voices. It is just that we need to find sources of prophecy appropriate for our own times, rather than borrowing them from the earnest but limited thinkers and activists of 100 years ago.