Fundamental Evangelical Treatise Against Socialism, Part 1
“Fundamentalism” today is a dirty word, and the reason is socialist hatred against conservative Christians.
The original term “fundamentalism” was used for evangelical Christians who developed and followed “The Fundamentals,” a massive theological book, edited by R. A. Torrey and published between 1910 and 1915, to confront liberalism, ecumenism, Catholicism, socialism and heresies among Protestant churches in the early 20th century.
Because socialists did not like “The Fundamentals” and its conservative Christian stances, they worked for many decades to transform “fundamentalism” in a pejorative term. They were successful.
“The Fundamentals” reveals that, even before the birth of the Soviet Union, socialism was a strong influence in the U.S. society and churches.
The chapter on socialism in “The Fundamentals” was written by Rev. Charles R. Erdman (1866-1960), professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. Erdman was a Presbyterian minister, and he could not have visualized his seminary sending socialists to form socialists in other nations.
In 1952, the ecumenical Presbyterian missionary Richard Shaull (1919 -2002) was sent to the Southern Presbyterian Seminar, in Campinas, Brazil, where he taught until 1959. Shaull was a doctor in theology through Princeton Theological Seminary. The birth of the Theology of Integral Mission (TIM) in Brazil is traced and credited to him.
Even though TIM is labeled as the Protestant version of Liberation Theology, TIM was born before Liberation Theology. [For more information, download my free e-book]
TIM is the most widespread theological liberalism in Protestant churches in Latin America, especially in Brazil.
The fundamental evangelical testimony by Rev. Charles R. Erdman against socialism 100 years ago denounces the powerful inroads of socialism in the U.S. society and churches when there were no Soviet Union and KGB.
I am reprinting his testimony to help evangelicals in Brazil avoid TIM and its socialist pitfalls.
His denunciation against socialism will be published by me in 4 parts, and this is the first:
The Church and Socialism
By Professor Charles R. Erdman, D. D., Princeton Theological Seminary
The sudden rise of Socialism is the most surprising and significant movement of the age. A few years ago the term suggested a dream of fanatics; today it embodies the creed and the hope of intelligent millions.
For example, in America the Socialistic vote increased from 20,000, in 1892, to 900,000 in 1912. In France this vote numbers 1,104,000, and in Germany more than 3,000,000; and in these and other lands multitudes who are not openly allied with political Socialism are imbued with Socialistic principles and are advocates of Socialistic theories.
With this great movement the Christian Church is deeply concerned; first, because of the endeavor which many are making to identify Socialism with Christianity; and, secondly, because, on the other extreme, popular Socialism is suggested as a substitute for religion and is antagonistic to Christianity; and, thirdly, because the strength of Socialism consists largely in its protest against existing social wrongs to which the Church is likewise opposed but which can be finally righted only by the universal rule of Christ.
- Socialism, strictly defined, is an economic theory which proposes the abolition of private capital and the substitution of collective ownership in carrying on the industrial work of the world. This collective ownership is to extend to all the material instruments of production; these are to be publicly operated, and the products to be equitably distributed. The government is to be wholly in the hands of the people, and it is to assign to each individual his task and to determine his wage. Every citizen is to be actually a government employee.
It is evident that Socialism is to be distinguished from Communism with which it is often confused. The latter advocates a collective ownership of all wealth. Socialism does not deny the right of private property, but of private capital.
In a Socialistic state one might own a house, but he could not rent it to increase his income. He might own a yacht, but he could not use it to carry passengers for pay. Under Communism there would be no private ownership, but it would be literally true that “no man could call aught that he possessed his own.”
Socialism is still more easily distinguished from Anarchism. The latter seeks the abolition of all government; but Socialism advocates the extension of the functions of government to regulate the life and labor of every individual and even in the most minute details.
Anarchy means no government; Socialism proposes more government than any nation has ever known.
Quite as obviously Socialism should never be confused with that extreme form of Anarchy known as Nihilism. The latter advocates the violent abolition of all existing institutions, social and political. It is true that Socialists often propose revolution and violence; but an ever increasing number believe their ends will be attained by a gradual process of social evolution moving toward the goal of a collective ownership of capital. It is not right therefore to identify Socialism with assassination, lawlessness and outrage.
Published originally in 1910.
To be continued, in part 2.
Portuguese version of this article: Testemunho Evangélico Fundamental contra o Socialismo, Parte 1
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