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The "Social Kingdom" and Marxism

Updated: Dec 23, 2022


Did you know that there are spiritual underpinnings to the conflicts we see in our nation? In a nation that has seemingly forgotten God, did you know that Theology is influencing people's minds and decisions today? Did you know that there is a spiritual battle raging all around us? This battle is manifesting itself in every aspect of our lives. It is even manifesting itself in politics.


POLITICS?


Yes! Politics.


As we all know, immigration is a hot-button political/social issue. This area in particular is where supposed underlying biblical philosophy can easily manifest itself.


Take for instance this article which frames the immigration crisis in spiritual terms:


"For generations, members of the Christian tradition have told stories of wayward travelers, refugees fleeing persecution and migrant peoples traversing country borders in pursuit of a better life. Mary and Joseph themselves fled to Egypt with the infant Jesus to protect him from King Herod, according to the Gospel of Matthew. Presumably they were not impeded by an 18-foot border wall on their trip from Bethlehem.

How we should act toward these travelers is laid out in passages such as Leviticus 19:34, Zechariah 7:9 and Jeremiah 22:3: It is our religious duty to treat immigrants with kindness. In his Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul tells us that we should ignore national boundaries: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female,” he writes, “for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

While we can’t expect the government to do the work our faith calls us to do, U.S. immigration policy is, to Christians, a religious issue. Our faith demands generous compassion for those in need — that we care for our neighbors as we care for ourselves. With a 250 million-strong Christian base, it’s a wonder that our country does not employ radical open-border policies."

https://religionnews.com/2021/08/27/most-americans-favor-welcoming-immigrants-why-dont-christians/



How do people come to these conclusions related to faith and public policy? We hear much today in America (especially politics) about faith. Most Americans are not anti-faith. Most Americans would even consider themselves "spiritual."



 

9 in 10 U.S. adults (89%) consider themselves spiritual, religious, or both.

Most (70%) say they are both religious and spiritual. Around 1 in 6 say they are spiritual, but not religious (16%). Close to 1 in 10 (11%) say they are neither. Few (3%) say they are only religious.

Almost 3 in 4 Americans (73%) consider themselves religious to some extent, while 86% say they are at least slightly spiritual.


https://research.lifeway.com/2020/09/24/most-americans-embrace-religion-spirituality-even-atheists/

 

When people reference their faith, religion, or spirituality as the foundation and motivation of their actions, it is wise to understand what faith, religion, or spirituality they are speaking of.



The topic I want us to consider today is the "Kingdom of God."


Confusion on this topic has produced untold havoc on society today.

The Kingdom of God is not always an easy topic to understand, but I want to give you a sliver of truth that I pray will help you...


Let's look back into history and discover where some of the (theological) roots of some of our current national problems come from.


The Kingdom of God has been variously understood, historically. Here are a few of the ways:


  1. The National Kingdom - This idea associates the Kingdom with the national identity of Israel

  2. The Millennial Kingdom - This understanding of the Kingdom includes the idea that a literal kingdom of God will be set up on this earth during the Millennium. This Kingdom will be set up at the Second Coming of Christ.

  3. The Celestial Kingdom - The reign of God in Heaven is the understanding behind this idea. This Kingdom is to be understood in both its present and future capacity, but only understood as God's reign in heaven.

  4. The Ecclesiastical Kingdom - The Kingdom of God is understood here as being identified with the church (either the Roman Catholic Church or the invisible church, which concept matured during the Reformation era). Contained within this idea is the church/state complex where the church is joined to and rules over the state.

  5. The Spiritual Kingdom - This Kingdom is found in the inner rule of God in the soul of believers.

  6. The Moral Kingdom - This concept appeals to those who struggle with the concept of the supernatural in the Bible, but also feel the need for an objective biblical basis for morality.

  7. The Liberal Social Kingdom - The idea of a progressive social organization and improvement of mankind in which society rather than the individual is given first place. The main task of the church in this philosophy is for the church to establish a Christian Social Order which in turn will make "bad men do good things."

  8. The Modern Eschatological Kingdom - There are two ideas contained within this framework and both of them reject the idea of an eschatological kingdom ahead on this earth. The two different schools of thought under this heading are centered on the teachings of Albert Schweitzer (The Delusion Theory) and also the teachings of Barth and Brunner (Supra-History). Eschatology to the crowd does not mean the last things in history. Eschatology deals with eternity.


I would like for us to focus on number seven above...the Liberal Social Kingdom.

From this point onward, I am quoting from the book,

The Greatness of the Kingdom, by Alva McClain (1).



Alva J. McClain (1888-1968) - Founder and first president of Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College. He was a charter member of the Evangelical Theological Society and served on the Scofield Reference Bible Revision Committee.


"According to this emphasis, the Kingdom of God is the progressive

social organization and improvement of mankind, in which society rather than the individual is given first place. The main task of the Church is, therefore, to establish a Christian Social Order which in turn will actually make "bad men do good things."(2)


As a modern movement, this notion began with the cult of "Christian Socialism"

under the leadership of two men: J.F.D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley.


1. J. F. D. Maurice - An Anglican Theologian and a prolific author.



John Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872)

By Acabashi - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10941036



2. Charles Kingsley - An Anglican preacher, historian, novelist, reformer and particularly associated with Christian socialism

File: Charles Kingsley (1819-1875). Photograph by Charles Watkins. Wellcome V0026646.jpg



Christian Socialism reached a position of tremendous influence during the first part of our own century with the enthusiastic propagation of liberal

scholars and preachers, such as:



1. Walter Rauschenbush of Rochester Seminary,

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/activists/walter-rauschenbusch.html?utm_medium=widgetsocial



2. R. J. Campbel of London CityTemple,

Reginald John Campbell (1867-1956)



3. Shailer Mathews of Chicago University,

Shailer Mathews (1863–1941) was an American liberal Christian theologian.



4. H. C. King of Oberlin College,

Henry Churchill King (1858-1934)



5. Harry F. Ward of Union Seminary of New York,



Harry Ward (1873-1966)


and...


1. Washington Gladden.

2. E. Stanley Jones and

3. J Bromley Oxnam


...became its minor, but popular prophets.


In the long history of special interpretations of the Kingdom of God, there has been none more one-sided or guilty of greater excesses than this Social-Kingdom conception. With fanatical zeal, some of its champions have been ready to scrap almost anything in the realm of Christian faith and morals if only the process of "social reconstruction" could be somehow advanced.


Gandhi, who never renounced the degraded religion of India, was lauded as the greatest "Christian" of his generation. Opportunist politicians of the worst kind were supported on the ground that they advocated "progressive social principles." Even Russian Communism, its hands bloody with mass murder, was held up as a beneficent forward step in the social progress of mankind.


These extreme opinions have shocked many thoughtful observers, yet their logic was inherent in the movement from the very beginning. For it is a fact, though not generally known, that the infamous and now widely publicized dictum about religion being "an opium dose for . .. the people" (Karl Marx) was originally written by the same Charles Kingsley mentioned above (3).




"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."


As the movement ran its course the Kingdom of God became a “democracy” in which man and God (if there is a God) struggled together for the social redemption of mankind. The Social Gospel thus developed may be traced back to a number of religious and philosophical tendencies:


First, an unwarranted belief in the inherent goodness of man who, it is assumed, will do right if only given the right kind of social environment.


Second, an almost exclusive emphasis on the immanence of God which, following Spinoza, proceeded to strip religion of supernatural elements, and more or less came to identify God with the “social consciousness” of humanity.


Third, a politically naive acceptance of Socialism as the best theory of government, with its inevitable regimentation of the individual by means of rigid social controls.


Fourth, a critical attitude toward the Bible, highly subjective, by which the material could be reduced to such areas as might more easily lend themselves to a strictly social interpretation.


Fifth, the diminishing of essential theology to an alleged universal Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.


Although today under attack from many directions, and in spite of its utter failure as an economic theory of government, this Social-Kingdom idea is not dead by any means. For its every failure, its proponents recommend simply a larger dose of the same thing."



(1) Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Moody Press, Chicago, 1959), pp. 11-12)


(2) Walter Rauschenbush, Christianizing the Social Order (New York: Macmillan Co.,1912), p. 127.


(3) "Christian Socialism," Encyclopedia Britannica (14th ed.; New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1929), Vol. V, p. 639.

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