If those invisible rebel spirits of the lower world should suddenly reorganize as socialist legions, and if one materialistic demon then were specially assigned to our world and charged to subvert the Christian churches, what strategy would he use? What ideas and ideals, what particular goals, would best advance his collectivistic cause?

Should this query seem amusing, perhaps even ludicrous, it need not therefore be irrelevant. A bit of disciplined imagination, in fact, may prove highly instructive in appraising Protestant social welfare programs.

A SPECTACLE OF LOVE

Let us call this particular demon Erape (a hybrid of eros and agape—a double dash of “love” as it were). Since Erape arrives as a spirit of love, anyone who dares to dispute his claims would face an immediate handicap of seeming to scorn love or to condone lovelessness. (Strategically, the Erape-label would excel Agros as a mark of identification, since [being three-fifths agape] it implies honor for the biblical view, although giving priority really [Erape] to speculative traditions. Forwards or backwards, however, Erape spells socialism on the move.)

In courting Christians, Erape’s major obstacle would be their attachment to the notion that Christ’s Church has been commissioned for a specific world task, evangelism and missions (Matt. 28:19, 20). This Christian preoccupation would be weakened, of course, could one discredit the Gospel as the message of “supernatural redemption from sin.” With one eye on evolutionary theory, and the other closed to “salvation by atonement,” liberal theologians professed to find in Jesus’ teaching a “social” exposition of the kingdom of God. “Real core” Christianity was equated with the Master’s teaching about “sacrifice,” while ...

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