What Does "Social Gospel" Mean?
Social Gospel, religious social-reform movement prominent in the United States from about 1870 to 1920. Advocates of the movement interpreted the Kingdom of God as requiring social as well as individual salvation and sought the betterment of industrialized society through application of the biblical principles of charity and justice. The Social Gospel was especially promulgated among liberal Protestant ministers, including Washington Gladden and Lyman Abbott, and was shaped by the persuasive works of Charles Monroe Sheldon (In His Steps; “What Would Jesus Do?”; 1897) and Walter Rauschenbusch (Christianity and the Social Crisis; 1907). Labor reforms—including abolition of child labor, a shorter workweek, a living wage, and factory regulation—constituted the Social Gospel’s most prominent concerns. During the 1930s many of these ideals were realized through the rise of organized labor and the legislation of the New Deal by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
So the Social Gospel is left-leaning Christianity as it was originally intended, but without all the politics, especially American politics. It also means Christianity without the dogma, which is based on Acts 2: 42-47 and Acts 4: 32-37. What good is our faith if we hoard all our money and material possessions while ignoring the poor, the elderly, the mentally ill, the homeless, and the newly released prisoner? What good is our faith if we vehemently oppose abortion while fanatically sending our sons and daughters off to wars that only benefit a few? Finally, what good is our faith when we condemn same sex marriage while having a divorce rate within Christianity that is only 3 points lower than the secular world? Jesus summarized it perfectly when he said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice". American society -- or any other for that matter -- can measure how just and fair it is by the way in which they treat their most vulnerable citizens. That's why it's vital as we live in these last days to help the helpless whenever possible. In so doing, we become ambassadors for Christ while living our lives in complete accordance with God's will.