“Socialism offered not only a radical critique of American political and economic institutions; it also offered the seal, symbols, and sense of participation in a world-transforming cause often associated with Christianity itself.” The Social Gospel and Socialism: A Comparison of the Thought of Francis Greenwood Peabody, Washington Gladden, and Walter Rauschenbusch, by Jacob H. Dorn (1)

Blackstone and the Dispensationalists

William Eugene Blackstone was a very well-known evangelical minister of his day, considered today a founder of Dispensationalism along with John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in the mid 1800’s. Other key names in the foundation of Dispensationalism in America are James Inglis, James Hall Brookes, C. I Scofield, and Dwight L. Moody. Christian Dispensationalists interpret the Bible literally, believing in an approaching cataclysmic event as described in the Book of Revelations.

From out of this group is where they popularized a fear of the future found in the biblical stories of the tribulation, the rapture, millennialism, otherwise known as the second coming of Christ. The movement has also greatly assisted in the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine in that it is primarily centered around the return of God’s chosen people to Israel.

These concepts much to our surprise weren’t established tens of thousands of years ago but a little more than one hundred years before I was born. These men were instrumental in spreading the gospel of a future end times where world wars and social upheavals would lead to a new world order, a new kingdom of God, a heaven on earth. 

Dwight Lyman Moody was the most popular evangelical of the day and is considered the predecessor to televangelism and the likes of Billy Graham, Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Joel Osteen, and Oral Roberts. The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago was the inspired model for many Bible Colleges around America forming a network and helping propagate faith in a literal translation of the Bible. These men all having one thing in common even today in that they all preach end times through a literal translation of the Bible and support the followers of Judaism as God’s chosen people and support emphatically their right to a homeland in Palestine.

John Nelson Darby is considered the father of dispensationalism, futurism, and pre-millennial tribulation rapture and was much older than the rest, born in 1800. Darby was a pioneer within the Plymouth Brethren and founder of the Exclusive Brethren. The Brethren a network of like-minded Protestant churches. Darby promoted sola scriptura, common to nearly all Protestant denominations, believing the word of the Bible as the one true infallible authority. Darby’s eschatology was then popularized through the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Today, thanks to Darby and C.I. Scofield we have well over one hundred million American Christians interpreting the Bible literally, fearing the future and believing it is all in God’s hands.

James H. Brookes studied briefly at the Princeton Seminary before moving to Miami University at Oxford Ohio. He was the driving force behind the Niagara Bible Conferences (1875-1897) that introduced Protestants from all over to the fundamental ideas of dispensationalism including the restoration of Israel and a distinction between the saved and the damned.

William Eugene Blackstone,

Dwight Lyman Moody.
John Nelson Darby
James Hall Brookes

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield was a Southern Presbyterian and very influential author of the first modern Bible with “chain references”, The Scofield Reference/Study Bible. Published in 1909, (the same year as Herbert Croly’s Promise of American Life), it was to be the first definitive, scientific interpretation of the word of God, complete with commentary and explanatory notes written in the margins, by Scofield and his team of Consulting Editors (Barrellet, Sayce and Maroliouth of Oxford, Weston, Gray, Erdman of Princeton, Pierson, Moorehead, Harris, Gaebelein, Pettingill). In 1917 it was revised by Scofield in an attempt to attribute exact dates to biblical verse.

“This edition of the Bible had its origin in the increasing conviction of the Editor through thirty years’ study and use of the Scriptures as pastor, teacher, writer, and lecturer upon biblical themes, that all of the many excellent and useful editions of the Word of God left much to be desired.” iii, Introduction

Scofield’s version, containing the entire text of the King James version originally published in 1611, becomes the modern day theological entering wedge, acting as the ultimate authority, impressing both a sense of fear of the future and a state of helplessness into its hundreds of millions of followers.  Scofield an early proponent of gap theory and progressive creationism, the belief in a gradual “unfolding” of life as determined by God, a recognition of intelligent design, and gap theory, a new beginning put between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Gap theory as advocated by Scofield expands Biblical history to millions of years rather than the previously taught thousands of years. A theistic evolution opening the door to Darwinism.

“The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth.” v, Introduction (emphasis not added)

On page 2 of the 100th Anniversary Edition of the 1917 Scofield Bible, Scofield states the Pentateuch (otherwise known as the Torah), tells “undeniably the order of the experience of the people of God in all ages”, a “revelation of the true history,” and such a history “we find in words of matchless grandeur, and in an order which, rightly understood, is absolutely scientific. In the Pentateuch, therefore, we have a true and logical introduction to the entire Bible.” (emphasis added)

One further note: Woodrow Wilson’s father created the Southern Presbyterian Church and served as its leader for nearly forty years. He was central in organizing the break up of the Presbyterian Church into a north and south.

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield

Also in 1909, Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot (author of the New Education), lectures to the Harvard Summer School of Theology speaking repeatedly of “a new Bible” … “resulting from historical study of its books in the light of recent researches and of new knowledge of the development of the world and mankind.” Eliot stating the importance of this “new religion” in outlining the intellectual progress of the last century.

“The religion of a multitude of humane persons in the twentieth century may, therefore, be called without inexcusable exaggeration a ‘new religion’ – not that a single one of its doctrines and practices is really new in essence, but only that the wider acceptance and better actual application of truths … on a large scale, are new.” pg. 430, The Congregationalist and Christian World, Event and Comment, President Eliot’s New Religion; see also, Harvard Theological Review October 1909.

Today dispensationalism has morphed into a Progressive version that differs slightly from the classic dispensationalists, although the main adherents are still widely shared including: a separation between the fates of the Christian Church and that of Israel, a future pre-tribulation rapture and an eventual kingdom of peace lasting for a thousand years. Sounding very much like the vision promised by utopian, ethical socialists, and almost verbatim to Marx’s own theory of our future and future perfect promised by the technocrats.

Blackstone wrote the very popular, Jesus is Coming: God’s Hope for a Restless World, in 1878 and it became a sort of manifesto for all dispensationalist thought. The book was the movements first bestseller, selling millions of copies over the next fifty years and has been translated into over 40 other languages.

Blackstone travelled to Palestine in 1890-1891 and witnessed Leon Pinsker’s new movement, a Rothschild sponsored development programme of agricultural communities in Rishon LeZion and Nahalat Yehudah. It was during this visit Blackstone had the idea of organizing the first conference between Christian and Jews. Historians regard the Conference of Christians and Jews on the Past, Present , and Future of Israel to be the first interfaith conference between Christians nad Jews held in the United States.

In 1891 Blackstone famously published the Blackstone Memorial Petition in response to what he witnessed in Palestine.  The petition was presented to US President Benjamin Harrison, in an effort to gain American support for the Jewish situation in central Europe and “to secure the holding, at an early date, of an international conference to consider the condition of the Israelites and their claims to Palestine as their ancient home”. (41)

This is a full five years before Theodore Herzl’s Der Judenstaat, and six years before Herzl is named president of the Zionist Organization at the First Zionist Congress in Basel. Harrison acknowledged Blackstone and the memorial but chose not to involve himself and there the petition remained until it was revived by Louis Brandeis in 1916.

Introduced to the petition through his personal confidente Nathan Strauss, Louis Brandeis would then formulate a plan to have the petition presented to Woodrow Wilson and was adamant that he wasn’t mentioned at all. By influencing Wilson strictly from the perspective of a fellow Christian, Brandeis hoped Blackstone’s appeal for Jewish aid would hold more wait with the devoutly Presbyterian Wilson.

Blackstone had sent letters to Wilson as early as November 4th 1914 asking for his assistance in “the coming redemption of Israel”.  He attached a copy of Jesus is Coming.

On November 10th, Wilson thanked Blackstone for his book through his personal secretary, Joseph Tumulty.

On April 5th, 1916, Blackstone sent Wilson his brochure, The Times of the Gentiles and the War in the Light of Prophecy, in which he predicted a return of the Jews to Palestine in 1917 or 1918. (78)

A letter from Nathan Straus to W. E. B. dated May 8, 1916 reads: “It would have done your heart good to have heard (Mr. Brandeis) assert what a valuable contribution to the cause your document is. In fact he agrees with me that you are the Father of Zionism, as your work antedates Herzl.”

Wilson was presented with the 1916 Blackstone Memorial on May 5, 1916, attached was the original Memorial with its 413 signatures. The petition is signed by John D. Rockefeller, William Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, Russell Sage (Skull and Bones), Chauncey Depew, and nearly four hundred others.

“The principles laid out by Blackstone were remarkably similar to those of the Balfour Declaration and League of Nation’s Mandate for Palestine three decades later. This is why Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, leader of the American Zionist Movement, asked William Blackstone to reissue his Memorial Petition in 1916, believing it incorporated the principles upon which a just and humanitarian Jewish homeland movement could be founded. Brandeis believed that Blackstone’s Petition, ‘ante-dating as it did Theodore Herzl’s own participation in the Zionist movement, [was] destined to become of historical significance’ and called Blackstone ‘the true founder of Zionism’.” (40)

Stephen S. Wise, one of Brandeis’ inner core lieutenants communicated often with Blackstone on several matters concerning the Jew. Wise the Rabbi of the Free Synagogue in New York was an original member and vice-chairman of Brandeis’, Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist.

“May 22, 1916 My Dear Mr. Blackstone: I am very glad to know from your letter of the 15th of the Memorial which you are preparing to present to President Wilson, reviving the Memorial which you presented to President Harrison twenty-five years ago. That document, ante-dating as it did Theodore Herzl’s own participation in the Zionist movement, is destined to become of historical significance: and I trust that you may be as successful in securing support for this new Memorial as you were a quarter of a century ago. In view of the work being directly undertaken by the Jewish Zionist organization, your memorial would presumably be most effective if it derives its support from non-Jews. I hope you will keep me fully informed of the progress that you are making, and will advise me in advance when you are purposing to present the Memorial, so that we may give such aid as may be possible in rendering it effective. With best wishes, Very cordially yours, Louis D. Brandeis.” (75)

Brandeis had Blackstone address the Zionist General Congress in Philadelphia (July 2nd – 5th, 1916). Blackstone spoke in front of four thousand at the Metropolitan Opera House. Brandeis introduced Blackstone as “the most important ally Zionism has outside of its own ranks.” (77)

“William Blackstone made a central contribution to American evangelical Judeo-centrism by offering a nationalist adaptation of Darby’s premillennial dispensationalism. Blackstone crafted a middle path between futurist and historicist prophecy interpretation. His efforts to shape political discourse generated a great deal of intra-Jewish debate.” (74)

There are within the Brandeis papers 47 pages of personal documents regarding the Blackstone Memorial Petition.

Today Blackstone, like the rest of the dispensationalists, occupy an obscure area of history seldom considered. Blackstone helped found Biola University in Los Angeles and was its very first Dean, yet in 2013, during a commemoration of another Biola founder, Reuben A. Torrey, where a bronze plaque was presented upon which it stated Torrey, and not Blackstone, was the first Dean of Biola. Blackstone seemingly erased from the history of the very university he helped found. As of 2015 they’ve named a students residence after him and on the website they do finally acknowledge Blackstone’s importance to the university as it’s first Dean.

“Unfortunately, the plaque included the statement “Biola’s first Dean.” At the time, many old-timers commented, “That’s not correct, William Blackstone was the first dean!” Written communication subsequently corrected this error, but the bronze plaque remains unaltered. Thus, nearly everyone today is unaware that William Blackstone, not R.A. Torrey, was Biola’s first dean.” (73)

The Social Gospel Movement

“The name of Walter Rauschenbusch is synonymous with the Social Gospel.”

“Socialism offered not only a radical critique of American political and economic institutions; it also offered the seal, symbols, and sense of participation in a world-transforming cause often associated with Christianity itself.” The Social Gospel and Socialism: A Comparison of the Thought of Francis Greenwood Peabody, Washington Gladden, and Walter Rauschenbusch, Jacob H. Dorn (1)

Walter Rauschenbusch was born in Rochester New York in 1861 to Karl Augustus Heinrich Rauschenbusch and Caroline Rump. Walter’s father a German Lutheran turned Baptist clergyman, arriving in the US in 1846 after studying at Berlin and Bonn universities. Once arriving in New York he entered the Baptist communion, and in 1858 was head of the German department of the Rochester Theological Seminary where he would remain for thirty years.

Following high school Walter travelled to Germany with his father where he studied for four years (1878-1883) at an Evangelical German prep school in Gutersloh and Berlin University, near where his father was born, and upon returning to the United States, would follow his father to the Rochester Theological Seminary, where he gained a doctorate in divinity in 1886. Walter, the sixth in a succession of ministers, began his pastorate at the Second German Baptist Church in Hell’s Kitchen New York. (3)

Rauschenbusch felt it the responsibility of the Church to improve the deplorable urban conditions in the tenements brought on by industrialization, and along with several others, founded the entire Social Gospel movement through the creation of The Brotherhood of the Kingdom. The Social Gospel movement “was an outgrowth of Christian Socialism” and Christian Socialism a “new religion” first put forth by utopian socialist Henri de Saint-Simon to serve as an authority over the realm of industry and trade.

The Brotherhood of the Kingdom movement started by Rauschenbusch representing to the Christian denominations, what Walter Lippmann proposed to the secular as the Great Society. Christian Socialism looking very much like the religious complement to Progressivism. Brandeis’ daughter Elizabeth married Rauschenbusch’s son Paul in 1925.

Walter Rauschenbusch

August Heinrich Rauschenbusch. One of the earliest Baptist leaders in North America. “No one man exerted a larger influence on the life of our churches than he did through his classroom, preaching, newspaper writing, and books.” (1)

Rauschenbusch’s own shortly lived periodical magazine, For the Right, was created “in the interests of the working people”. “For the Right set out the Declaration of Principles for the Christian Socialist Society of New York City.” Rauschenbusch’s stated goal was, “To apply the ethical principles of Jesus Christ so that our industrial relationships may be humanized, our economic system be moralized – we band together as Christian Socialists.” Pg. 91, Walter Rauschenbusch by Dores Robinson Sharpe.

Rauschenbusch much like Brandeis was bringing together capital and labour. The Social Gospel movement an extension of the efficiency movement Brandeis was spearheading at the same time. Just as the Taylor Society was preaching ‘scientific management’ of society, so too were the leaders of the Social Gospel.

“The Christian socialism that Rauschenbusch embraced stood aloof not only from Marxian doctrine, but also from any socialist party. We are concerned with principles, not with methods … We are evolutionists, not revolutionists … In this sense we are Socialist, Socialist in the spirit rather than the letter.” pg. 91, Walter Rauschenbusch, Dores Sharpe.

“The motivation for this distinctly religious movement was supplied chiefly by the ethical impulses flowing from a progressive theology. Of the many perplexing issues growing out of industrialism those that concerned the relations of labor and capital and their interpretation by socialism so largely dominated the interests of socially minded clergymen in this decade that the social gospel may without question be described historically as the response of Protestantism to those specific situations. The centrality of the labor problem in all realistic discussions of urban religious conditions adds further weight to this definition. The problems of an industrial civilization remained the central interest of social Christianity.” Pg. 117, Rise of Social Gospel Within American Protestantism.

Francis Greenwood Peabody, professor of ethics and theology at Harvard from 1880 until his retirement in 1913, the Unitarian studied at Heidelberg, and then Leipzig and Halle universities.

Charles Richmond Henderson, Baptist minister, BA and MA, Bachelor of Divinity. In 1892, he was asked by William Rainey Harper, president of University of Chicago, a devout Baptist himself, to join the newly formed faculty of “social science” at the University of Chicago as a professor of sociology. This the first independent sociology department in the United States founded the same year Henderson arrived by Albion Woodbury Small. Small one of the very founders of sociology also studied at Leipzig and Berlin and then Johns Hopkins before moving to Chicago University, but more on him in Brandeis Part 6: The Science and Philosophy of Law. Henderson a member of the American Economic Association and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

William Rainey Harper also a Professor of Semitic Languages at Yale in 1886, and named Woolsey Professorship of Biblical Literature in 1889, “principal of the Chautauqua College of Liberal Arts and later of the entire Chautauqua movement.” He was a key member of the organizational committee that created the University of Chicago, and was elected its first president. The American Baptist Education Society donated $400,000 to the university’s founding, and John D. Rockefeller donated $600,000. The land was donated by Jekyll Island Club member Marshall Field.(2)

Washington Gladden, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Columbus, Ohio. Pragmatist.

William Newton Clark also an ordained Baptist minister (1856). He received a BA (1861) and BD (1863) at Colgate Seminary (Hamilton Theological Seminary), lectured at Johns Hopkins (1899), Oberlin (1901), Harvard (1903), and Yale (1905). He wrote, An Outline of Christian Theology: For the Use of Students in Hamilton Theological Seminary in 1894, which was then  published in 1898 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. In 1903 he wrote Huxley and Phillips Brooks.

Samuel Zane Batten wrote, The New Citizenship, and The New World Order. Established the Commission on Social Service of the American Baptist Association.

Francis Greenwood Peabody
Charles Richmond Henderson

Samuel Zane Batten

William Newton Clark
Thomas Nixon Carver

“Salvation was expressed in social-ethical terms by these leaders of Protestant social thought … A social salvation was really included within the broad universalism of the kingdom of heaven on earth, a conception now beginning to emerge definitely as the ideal of a perfected human society.” Pg. 109 Rise of Social Gospel Within the American Protestantism.

Thomas Nixon Carver studying under Richard T. Ely and John Bates Clark at Johns Hopkins. Making him a disciple of Knies and the German Historical School. Carver the treasurer secretary of the American Economic Association. Ely a world-renowned economist, founder and first secretary of the American Economic Association, and leader of the Progressive movement. Ely also just happens to be the founder of the Christian Social Union and wrote extensively on organized labour movements. His father a devout Presbyterian. Both Ely and Clark studying directly under Karl Knies at the University of Heidelberg. Ely also studying under Johann Kaspar Bluntschli, the man who created one of the first codes of international law and war and is a cofounder of the Institute of International Law. Bluntschli heavily influenced by Hegelian ethical social theory we see popularized in both Germany and the United States.

“Professor Ely, who was perhaps the leading spirit in the group, found generous support for his new historical school of economics among the clergy who as we know had joined the ‘revolt against laissez-faire theory’ – in which attitude the Association found its chief raison d’etre.” Pg. 116, The Rise of the Social Gospel Within American Protestantism, Hopkins.

“the expert, the social scientist in the middle, emerges in much of Henderson’s work as the arbiter of social life.” Pg. , Social Science History, Volume 34, No. 3, pg. 337-371, Pragmatic Sociology and the Public Sphere, The Case of Charles Richmond Henderson, Andrew Abbott.

“He [Charles Richmond Henderson] closed Citizens in Industry with a note that churches – like the great trusts – were amalgamating and that Protestant ecumenical was beginning to echo Roman Catholicism, which he called “an international trust of religious forces.” Pg. , Social Science History, Volume 34, No. 3, pg. 337-371, Pragmatic Sociology and the Public Sphere, The Case of Charles Richmond Henderson, Andrew Abbott.

“A ‘social policy’ implies and assumes a certain philosophy of life and … a certain religious faith. This faith proves its worth and reasonableness by its works. It is living and it is prophetic and creative. To us who believe in a progressive social policy, the world is not merely pushed forward by blind physical forces; it moves onward toward aims clearly set before the human will and realized gradually by concerted labours directed by science. This policy is, root and branch, ethical; it is morality organized, vivified, guided by growing knowledge, and inspired by faith.” Pg. 15, Programmes in Economic Facts and In Ideals.

 “in late nineteenth century America the new science of sociology … suddenly found itself the handmaiden and ready instrument of a somewhat distinct strain of ideas; ideas which, begin religious and to an extent liberally progressive, were acceptable to the entrenched powers of university governors and presidents.” Pg. 42, The Development of Sociology and the Social Gospel in America, J. Graham Morgan, Sociological Analysis Volume 30, No. 1 (Spring 1969). Pp. 42-53.

“it is virtually impossible to extricate sociology and the Social Gospel in many instances, and to a large extent sociology in America may be seen as an outgrowth of the Social Gospel.” Pg. 42, The Development of Sociology and the Social Gospel in America.

The fellowship’s wide range of interests was well exemplified in the program for the conference of 1898, at which three series of papers were presented. “The Prophets of Israel as Social Leaders,” “The Rural Population and the Social Movement,” trade unions in New York, the social work of the church, a review of Sidney and Beatrice Webb’s Industrial Democracy” pg. 7 Walter Rauschenbusch and the Brotherhood of the Kingdom, C. Howard Hopkins, Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, Mass.

“No aspect of the thought of social gospellers as a whole more effectively describes them as children of their age than does the word ‘progressive. Applied first to advancing theological views, … ‘progressive’ later became a political catch-word representative of a particular reform philosophy popularized by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. That the kingdom should be progressively realized – by evolution – indicates the close relation of social gospel thought to the intellectual and social ideology of the times.” Pg. 150, Church History, Vol. 7, No. 2 (June, 1938) pp. 138-156; see also pg. 13, Walter Rauschenbausch and the Brotherhood of the Kingdom; see also Batten, op. cit., pp. 129-130.

“But by all odds the most important writings by members of the Brotherhood were those of Walter Rauschenbusch, whose epochal book, Christianity and the Social Crisis, appearing in 1907, made its author at once the acknowledged leader of the American social Christianity and soon acquainted the Protestant world with the basic tenets for which the Brotherhood had long labored.” Pg. 153, Walter Rauschenbusch and the Brotherhood of the Kingdom.

A Theology for the Social Gospel, regarded by many as his greatest, set the doctrine of the kingdom of God at the heart of social Christianity.” Pg. 156, Walter Rauschenbusch and the Brotherhood of the Kingdom.

Walter’s son Paul Arthur Raushenbush would marry Louis D. Brandeis’ daughter Elizabeth in 1925 and boxes of correspondence between the three found at the Wisconsin Historical Society within the UW Madison digital archives indicate quite clearly that the same interests in labour, social justice, and reform that stirred Louis in the first third of the 20th century also stirred his daughter and son-in-law. The “husband and wife team of economists … best known for their work with Harold Groves … developing and securing the passage of Wisconsin’s unemployment compensation legislation, the first such legislation in the nation.” (4)

A rich collection of communication exists in those archives between Paul and Felix Frankfurter, Tom Corcoran, and Thomas H. Eliot and other federal officials that shows an important involvement within Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s brain trust. Brandeis and Frankfurter most influential here again, consulting and advising US presidents in the completion of much of the work started under Woodrow Wilson.