Understanding the Social Gospel

By David T. Myers - Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History:

December 15: L. Nelson Bell on the Social Gospel


It was in the old Southern Presbyterian Journal of December 15, 1947 that its editor, the Rev L. Nelson Bell, answered a letter from a reader on this matter of the social gospel. That reader had written a letter to the magazine which sought to chastise Christians for not engaging in the social gospel. Dr. Bell answered this letter with clarity and insight. Listen to his words:
“(The reader) is confusing the ‘social gospel’ (which is ‘another’ gospel) with the application of the social principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Christians. . . . The “social gospel” is a gospel of good works. It is making social reform an end in itself . . . It denies sin as the underlying cause of social injustice. It completely ignores the redeeming work of Jesus Christ as the only ultimate solution of world needs. 
“On the other hand, Christian participation in and the application of the social implications of the Gospel puts the redemption of the individual soul from sin through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as of first importance and all social efforts as but a means to that end.

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