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Walter Rauschenbusch

1861-1918. Baptist minister and educator. Born in Rochester, New York, of German immigrant parents, he was early educated in Germany and graduated from Rochester University (1884) and Seminary (1886). His pastorate (1886-97) at the Second German Baptist Church in New York City led him to see the plight not only of immigrants but all classes of society who were socially and economically disadvantaged. He taught NT (1897-1902) and church history (1902-17) at his former seminary, and soon gained a national reputation for strong views on social change. He distinguished his brand of (Christian) socialism from the doctrinaire socialism of Marxism. Democracy to Rauschenbusch was both an economic and a political ideal, but he was not overly optimistic about the realization of these goals in history. There is a more sobering view of sin in his theology. His commitment to social Christianity gained him the title “Father of the Social Gospel in America.” His works include Prayers of the Social Awakening (1910), Christianizing the Social Order (1912), and A Theology for the Social Gospel (1917). He was ostracized for his German ancestry in the years preceding World War I.

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