In the first issue of the magazine named the Christian Century, in January 1900, the editors said that their special interest was in “the application of Christian principles to character and social problems.” They also spoke of their hope to make the kingdom of God “a divine reality in human society.” This, of course, was what we know today as the “social gospel”—the attempt to move beyond individual piety to address broad social problems. What relevance does that social gospel vision have today?
At first the editors of the Century, like most others who viewed the situation from afar, failed to appreciate the threat posed by the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. By May 1933, a few months after Hitler assumed the position of chancellor, editorials began to take the rise of fascism more seriously.
On the cusp of the 21st century, a strange thing is happening. Congregations—not all, but a noticeable number—are choosing to highlight their denominational particularities. While for some this might not seem so strange, for much of the 20th century highlighting denominational differences has been considered by many to be somewhat suspect. Early in the century, H.
With the terrorist attack that barely failed on a U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day and the opening of a new U.S. “front” against terrorist cells in Yemen, the year 2009 (and the decade of the “00s”) came to a somber conclusion. The struggle against radical Islamic terrorists remains a long, twilight struggle.
Nine days after announcing that he would send more troops to Afghanistan and set July 2011 as the start of a gradual withdrawal, President Barak Obama gave a similarly nuanced speech in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Obama condemned religious-inspired violence, so-called holy wars, but also offered a defense of the just-war tradition in the face of “evil” in the world.
Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian whose work Andrew Finstuen invokes in this issue, had an interesting relationship with the Christian Century. He started writing for the magazine in 1922 while he was a pastor in Detroit.
As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the U.S. finds itself in a mess of historic proportions. Our economic crisis was preceded by a near-universal collapse in judgment about the use of U.S. military force abroad. This mess is profoundly embarrassing because it is of our own making and therefore one that could have been avoided.
In Elisabeth Sifton’s The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War, the author describes how Reinhold Niebuhr, her father, moved away from the pacifism that prevailed among mainline religious leaders in the years after World War I.