What Is the Social Gospel?


Quick Answer

The social gospel was a Protestant movement to reform government in order to improve degraded social and economic conditions that resulted from the rise of industrialism. Originators of the movement focused on the idea that many of the leading men in society who had made their fortunes as industrialists had become greedy and no longer embraced Christian values, which was causing society to suffer.

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Full Answer

The social gospel movement originated in the late 19th century, but did not hit its stride until the early part of the 20th century. As conditions continued to worsen for low-level workers in America and journalists began focusing on the inequalities of the poor and the rich, people began to embrace the idea that removing sin from social settings would inspire and empower people to live godly lives.

The social gospel movement also grew in direct correlation to the rise of the social sciences at American universities. Interest in the fields of psychology, sociology and political science grew tremendously in the late 19th century. All of these fields focused on the conditions of society. The people involved with the social gospel movement attached themselves to these ideas and took action to raise awareness about them. This led to the formation of the Progressive party, of which Theodore Roosevelt eventually became a member. The social gospel movement was eventually supplanted by the Fundamentalist movement, which, though also based in Christianity, had significantly different aims.

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