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Social-Welfare

"The social gospel is the old message of salvation, but enlarged and intensified. The individualistic gospel has taught us to see the sinfulness of every human heart and has inspired us with faith in the willingness and power of God to save every soul that comes to him. But it has not given us an adequate understanding of the sinfulness of the social order and its share in the sins of all individuals within it. It has not evoked faith in the will and power of God to redeem the permanent institutions of human society from their inherited guilt of oppression and extortion. Both our sense of sin and our faith in salvation have fallen short of the realities under its teaching. The social gospel seeks to bring humans under repentance for their collective sins and to create a more sensitive and more modern conscience. It calls on us for the faith of the old prophets who believed in the salvation of nations."    - Walter Rauschenbusch ; A Theology for the Social Gospel, p. 5-6


"These new ideas of martyrdom shifted the view of humanity from that of the oppressed and marginalized who refuse to see themselves as powerless to that of those in power. When goodness is no longer wisdom but is innocence, the powerful can be deemed good if they identify themselves with helpless victims and protect them. Benevolent paternalism requires inequality: powerful, kindly helpers and powerless, grateful victims. Denying the agency and power of victims enhances the potency and importance of the powerful and makes dismantling the hierarchical power of paternalism unnecessary. In effect, when weakness and innocence are valorized as holy, communities are absolved of the necessity to create the social conditions for all people to gain power and exercise it with freedom and dignity. In Christianity’s second millennium, Jesus as an abused and innocent victim, hanging dead on the cross, would become the image of holiness. But for a time—for nearly a thousand years—Christianity offered a different image of sanctity: the glory of God was humanity fully alive."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 200


"Theosis was a collective activity of the whole church community—embodied in love, which is always a social reality and never an individual achievement. Like the interactions of teaching and learning, theosis was a group process. Individual commitment and effort were required, but the divinization of humanity was realized in the common good, not in private salvation."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 178


"The earliest Christian movements attracted slaves, peasants, women, the disaffected, and other ordinary people. They joined communities that enabled them to be 'partakers in divinity,' which gave them a status greater than that of those who exploited them. The church expected them to share their goods in common so that every member of the community could have a decent life. Early Christian teachers condemned private wealth as a basis of exploitation. They insisted that material blessings were gifts of God and must be shared. Writing around 200 CE, Tertullian of Carthage said Christians created an alternative social order, which he called 'the Christian society,' that embraced people of every age and status. Contrary to the imperial taxes used for wars, building projects, and luxuries for the already privileged, Christians, he said, contributed 'to support the destitute, and to pay for their burial expenses; to supply the needs of boys and girls lacking money and power, and of old people confined to the home … we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another.'"    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 178


"The community’s work was to restore human life in paradise by healing the sick, instructing the ignorant, loving its neighbors, liberating the captives, resisting evil, practicing nonviolence, and appreciating the beauties of life. This understanding of salvation permeated many regions and branches of the first millennium of Christianity."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 170


"Instead of placing individual success, ownership, and power at its pinnacle, a society of ethical grace would measure itself by the well-being of its most vulnerable members, by its enhancements of human sociability and love, and by the creation of sustainable and decent life for all."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 129


"The attentive, personal care of a shepherd differed from the remote imperial model of military control and delegated political authority. Church leaders were expected to model themselves on the shepherd—the bishop’s staff is a shepherd’s crook. They saw to the care of the sick, ministered to those in prison, offered hospitality to strangers, managed commonly held resources and distributed them to the poor and elderly, and settled disputes and conflicts. In addition, they taught the basic ideas of the faith, explained the stories in the scriptures, prophesied, initiated converts, and organized community participation in the rituals. By the third century, these community practices of leadership and care created a Christian social welfare network in cities throughout the empire."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 63


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