Rauschenbusch, Walter (1861-1918)

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Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), an American Baptist theologian of great influence in the development of the "social gospel," Professor of Church History at the Rochester Baptist Theological Seminary, Rochester, New York, was born 4 October 1861 at Rochester, the son of August Rauschenbusch of the seminary faculty. Following his graduation from Rochester Seminary he served in 1886-97 as a pastor in a slum section of New York with a strongly pietistic spirit. He was gradually driven into a deep social concern by his experience in New York, and modified his theology in a liberal direction to include a strong social dimension in redemption. He served as Professor of New Testament Interpretation in the German department at the Rochester Seminary 1897-1902, thereafter until his death, as Professor of Church History in the English department. He now became the leading figure in what was known as the "social gospel" movement in America. His Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907) made him a national figure, and his later books increased his influence: Christianizing the Social Order (1912), The Social Principles of Jesus (1916), A Theology for the Social Gospel (1917).

Rauschenbusch was definitely interested in Anabaptism and made it a vital part of his lectures in church history. In 1905 he published in The American Journal of Theology IX (1905), 91-106, a translation of Conrad Grebel's letter of 1524 to Thomas Müntzer with an introduction and commentary, "The Zurich Anabaptists and Thomas Müntzer." Don. E. Smucker holds, in his 1957 doctoral dissertation on Rauschenbusch of the University of Chicago, that Anabaptism, communicated in part by his father August, in part the result of his own study, had an appreciable influence on the development of Walter Rauschenbusch's theology.


Dictionary of American Biography XV (1935): 392 f.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III: 432.

Hopkins,  C. H. The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism. 1865-1915 New Haven. 1940.

Smucker, Don. E. "Walter Rauschenbusch." Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1957.

Author(s) Ernst Crous
Harold S. Bender
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Crous, Ernst and Harold S. Bender. "Rauschenbusch, Walter (1861-1918)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 7 Aug 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Rauschenbusch,_Walter_(1861-1918)&oldid=146687.

APA style

Crous, Ernst and Harold S. Bender. (1959). Rauschenbusch, Walter (1861-1918). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 August 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Rauschenbusch,_Walter_(1861-1918)&oldid=146687.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 256-257. All rights reserved.

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