Given the contemporary renewal of evangelical social interest, the problem now confronting conservative Protestantism is the definition of a sound evangelical social thrust.
To answer “Not the social gospel,” is at once too simple and too full of risk. For one thing, while the old optimistic liberal theology is now dead, the optimistic ethic it generated in practice remains a very lively corpse. One need only consider government policy in the U. S. State Department. American foreign policy remains predominantly keyed to optimistic liberal assumptions about human nature and history. It is easy to detect still the lingering influence of liberal Protestant ministers whose sons and converts were attracted to government service as a form of Christian activity through the romantic vision of the social gospel. American strategy within the United Nations and her dealings with foreign powers often reflect the moralistic expectation (and naive trust in unregenerate human nature) that Christian principles must inevitably acquire self-evident compulsion in the thought and action of men everywhere. But naively to expect that just and durable peace can be spawned on purely natural foundations simply by the vision of righteousness (or simply to rely on the dread of mutual destruction, to add a mid-century modification based on an appeal to self-interest) is to underestimate the depth of depravity in human life and history and to disregard the indispensability of divine regeneration if the human heart is to grasp and pursue the course of righteousness.
Danger Of Liberal Inheritance
Ironically, fundamentalists, in their new eagerness to correct their past social neglect, at times themselves imbibe certain errors of the social gospel. ...1
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