A Social Gospel of Antiquity: Examining Walter Rauschenbusch's description of early Christianity through the life and works of Saint Basil of Caesarea
Walter Rauschenbusch, the father of the social gospel, criticized early Christianity’s rejection of property, the “ascetic tendency,” as antithetical to social reconstruction. Two contributing factors to this antithesis were, presumably, a dualism between the present world and material world, as well as a favoring of oneself over others. Saint Basil of Caesarea, however, challenges the view of early Christian ascetics, for he is known for his ascetic writings as well as his homilies and policies oriented toward what we today might call “social reconstruction.” In fact, Basil’s life and works suggest that the rejection of property might favor “social reconstruction” as Rauschenbusch describes. First, I show how Basil’s homilies suggest a conception of salvation consistent with that which might lead to something like “social reconstruction.” Second, I demonstrate how Basil’s famous hospital shows how property rejection can seek to reconstruct society through means not addressed by Rauschenbusch.
Andrea M. Owen is a member of the Class of 2016 of Washington and Lee University.Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]