Sunday, July 25, 2010

Labor With All Zeal And Diligence

Walter Rauschenbusch

The essential purpose of Christianity is to transform human society into the Kingdom of God by regenerating *all* human relations and reconstituting them in accordance with the will of God. The religious spirit is a factor of incalculable power in the making of history. Unless the economic and intellectual factors are strongly reinforced by religious enthusiasm [the communitarian gospel] the whole social movement may prove abortive. The vastness and the free sweep of concentrated wealth on the one side, the independence, intelligence, moral vigor, and political power of the common people on the other side, promise a long-drawn grapple of contesting forces, but if God be for us who can be against us? It is the religious leaders of the people who give direction to the forces of religion, but most have been coopted by the system [prophets for profit; it is up to the common to be led by the Spirit of God, the common spirit granted to all who seek for the *perfecting* of humanity; Work out *your own* salvation with fear (respect, reverence for God) and trembling (Phil. 2:12)]. The conscience of Christendom is halting and groping, *perplexed by contradicting voices*, still poorly informed on essential questions, justly reluctant to part with the treasured maxims of the past, and yet conscious of the call of the future, the voice of our children.

Ascertaining what was the *original and fundamental purpose* of the great Christian movement - the *life and teachings* of Jesus, and the *dominant tendencies* of primitive Christianity, is imperative due to the impossibility of handling of questions so vital to the economic, the social, and the moral standing of great and antagonistic classes of men, without jarring precious interests and convictions, and without giving men the choice between the bitterness of social repentance and the bitterness of moral resentment. Men must overcome the temptations which made the wrong almost inevitable, and the points of view in which they entrench themselves to save their self-respect. Those who come after us will live in a world which our sins have blighted or which our love of right has redeemed. We must do our thinking on these great questions, not with our eyes fixed on our accounts [the entrenched fear, the blinders], but with a wise outlook on the fields of the future and with the consciousness that the spirit of the Eternal is seeking to distill from our lives some essence of righteousness before they pass away. [CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS BY WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH 1907, 1913 edition, [with additions]]

Orestes A. Brownson

The remedy is to be sought first in the destruction of the priest [the systemic priesthood: religious, governmental and business]; we are not mere destructives; we delight not in pulling down; but the bad must be removed before the good can be introduced; conviction and repentance precede regeneration; moreover we are Christians, and it is only by following out the Christian law, and the example of the early Christians, that we can hope to effect anything; Christianity is the sublimest protest against the priesthood ever uttered ... in the person of [Christ] Jesus both God and Man protested against the priesthood -- we may offend in what we say, but we cannot help that; we insist upon it, that the complete and final destruction of the priestly order, in every practical sense of the word priest, is the first step to be taken towards elevating the laboring classes ... He who redeemed man did not spring from the priestly class ... the chief priests were at the head of those who demanded his crucifixion ...

Let us have no class of men whose profession it is to minister at the altar [the altar of power and commerce]; let us leave this matter to Providence; when God raises up a prophet, let that prophet prophesy as God gives him utterance ... let us have none to prophesy for hire [prophets for profit] ... none of your hireling priests, your "dumb dogs" that will not bark ... what are the priests of Christendom as they now are?; miserable panderers to the prejudices of the age, loud in condemning sins nobody is guilty of, but silent as the grave when it concerns the crying sin of the times ... the next step in this work of elevating the working classes will be to resuscitate the Christianity of Christ; the Christianity of the Church has done its work; we have had enough of that Christianity ...

According to the Christianity of Christ no man can enter the kingdom of God who does not labor with all zeal and diligence to establish the kingdom of God on the earth; who does not labor to bring down the high and bring up the low; to break the fetters of the bound and set the captive free; to destroy all oppression, establish the reign of justice, which is the reign of equality, between man and man; to introduce new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, wherein all shall be as brothers, loving one another, and no one possessing what another lacketh - no man can be a Christian who does not labor to reform society ... no man can be a Christian who does not refrain from all practices by which the rich grow richer and the poor poorer [SYSTEMIC EXPATRIATION], and who does not do all in his power to elevate the laboring classes, so that one man shall not be doomed to toil while another enjoys the fruits; so that each man shall be free and independent ...

We grant the power of Christianity in working out the reform we demand; we agree that one of the most efficient means of elevating the working men is to Christianize the community, but you must Christianize it; it is the gospel of Jesus you must preach, and not the gospel of the priests ... let it be the genuine Gospel [the communitarian way] ... and not the pseudo-gospel, [the gospel of men; worshipping in vain; commandments of men] which lulls the conscience asleep, and permits men to feel that they may be servants of God while they are slaves to the world, the flesh and the devil ... we must preach no Gospel that permits men to feel that they are honorable men and good Christians, although rich and with eyes standing out with fatness, while the great mass of their brethren are suffering from iniquitous laws, from mischievous social arrangements, and pining away for the want of the refinements and even the necessaries of life -- we speak strongly and pointedly on this subject, because we are desirous of arresting attention ... the redemption of the world is understood to mean simply the restoration of mankind to the favor of God in the world to come; their redemption from the evils of inequality, of factitious distinctions, and iniquitous social institutions [in the present world] counts for nothing in the eyes of the Church and this is its condemnation [the systemic, the origins of the evil; band-aid solutions provide temporary relief but no cure; you cannot use evil (the systemic) to propagate the good, in doing so you negate the good]. -- [based on Orestes A. Brownson (1803-76), The Laboring Classes, 1840 [with additions]].


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