October 4, 1961.  Walter Rauschenbusch was born in Rochester, NY.  He is considered the father of the Christian social gospel.  From 1891-1892, Rauschenbusch studied economics and theology at the University of Berlin and industrial relations in England, Rauschenbusch’s work influenced, among others, Martin Luther King; Desmond Tutu; and his grandson, Richard Rorty. Rauschenbusch’s view of Christianity was that its purpose was to spread the Kingdom of God, not through a “fire and brimstone” style of preaching, but by the Christlike lives led by its members. Rauschenbusch did not understand Jesus’ death as an act of substitutionary atonement; rather, he came to believe that Jesus died “to substitute love for selfishness as the basis of human society.” Rauschenbusch wrote that “Christianity is in its nature revolutionary” and tried to remind society of that. He taught that the Kingdom of God “is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.” ABHS has a large collection of Rauschenbusch family papers, correspondence, photographs, and lectures.

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