What are the compare and contrast views of fundamentalist vs a social gospel approach to christainity?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Christian fundamentalists believe that certain foundational principles are “fundamental” to the Christian faith. These principles include: the Bible is the inerrant word of God; the virgin birth of Christ; Jesus died on the cross to atone for the sins of mankind; Jesus bodily resurrected from the dead; Jesus will return and bring the believers to heaven with him. This term has taken on a pejorative connotation in recent years and some critics of fundamental Christianity have equated it with Christian legalism, which is not the same thing. Fundamentalists believe that the most important thing for them while they are on this earth is to preach the gospel of salvation to those that are not saved. Earth is not their home but a temporary abode in which they are commanded by God to be about his work. There are many social ills on earth, but the main focus is eternal life.

The social gospel approach to Christianity is not necessarily an opposing view to Christian fundamentalism but the social gospel Christians are very focused on improving life on earth. It is a misunderstanding to believe, however, that adherents to the social gospel believe this is more important than salvation. The social gospel Christians believe that the second coming of Christ will not occur until men rid themselves of the social evils that are on earth. They mostly have a post-millennial theology (Christ will return after the Great Tribulation during the millennial period).

Both of these groups are actively involved in dealing with social injustices. As with many things, there are extreme views within the basic views, fringe elements that make it seem that there is more opposition between these two approaches than really exist.