Khitruk Ekaterina

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..!”: christianity and social hope in the doctrine of Walter Rauschenbusch

Khitruk Ekaterina (2020) "“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..!”: christianity and social hope in the doctrine of Walter Rauschenbusch ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2020, vol. 91, pp. 109-125 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI202091.109-125


The article attempts to provide the most complete presentation of the views of Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918), the most prominent representative of the “Social Gospel” movement in American Protestantism, in Russian-language scientifi c literature. Particular attention is paid to the revision of the history of Christianity in the works of W. Rauschenbusch and, above all, his position as to the negative impact of the ascetic ideal on understanding the mission of the church in Medieval Christianity. The article also examines the idea of a “social hope” for approaching the “kingdom of heaven” on earth as the main conceptual element of the doctrine of the “Social Gospel”. It is shown that “social hope”, contrary to popular belief, is not utopian, but based on a restrained view of the real possibilities of man. Calling for an active transformation of society, W. Rauschenbusch himself does not experience any illusion about the “ease” of this task or the “sinlessness” of human nature. At the same time, the introduction of specific social reforms (accompanied by a constant humble prayerful appearance before God) is, from the point of view of W. Rauschenbusch, a direct duty of the Christian, aimed at alleviating the situation of the affl icted and oppressed groups of the population. The article also describes the main lines of critical refl ection on the ideas of Walter Rauschenbusch in the doctrines of Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Rorty. It shows the influence of the concept of “social Gospel” on the movement in defense of the rights of African-Americans in the second half of the 20th century. The conclusion is made about the relevance of the ideas of Walter Rauschenbusch at the beginning of the 21st century in connection with the formation of the trend of “post-metaphysical thinking” in the modern philosophical and religious-philosophical tradition, as well as in connection with the need for a careful and thoughtful rethinking of Christian history.


Walter Rauschenbusch, Social Gospel, Christian asceticism, social hope, history of Christianity, church, Christianity


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Information about the author

Khitruk Ekaterina

Academic Degree: Doctor of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: Tomsk State University; 36 Lenin Ave., Tomsk 634050, Russian Federation;
Post: Professor;
ORCID: 0000-0002-2522-3070;
Email: lubomudreg@gmail.com.

*According to ISCED 2011, a post-doctoral degree called Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) is given to reflect second advanced research qualifications or higher doctorates.