Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Carey, Patrick W.

Second Advisor

Misner, Paul

Third Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.


Though this dissertation seeks to deal with the sermons of Walter Rauschenbusch from and academic perspective, my interest in them has a much more personal origin. When I was first introduced to Walter Rauschenbusch it was in terms of his influence as the prophet of the Social Gospel. I was struck by the radicality of his thought and his emphasis on the corporate nature and responsibility of Christianity. Some years later I became acquainted with the daughter of the house-mother for the German students at the Rochester Theological Seminary. In speaking of her own, as well as her mother's, recollections of this man, she spoke of his life as reflecting a warm, personal., individualistic orientation to his faith. There appeared to be a definite contrast between the two perspectives and I was unsure of how they related to each other. In seeking to understand this relationship I postulated that the difference was a result of the difference in the contexts of these two perspectives. The context of the first was that of his published works, through which he did seek to speak as a prophet. The context of the second was that of personal contact between individuals where Rauschenbusch related to those around him on a one-to-one basis. Here Walter Rauschenbusch was not the prophet, but a friend, confidant and mentor. In turning my attention to the sermons which Rauschenbusch preached as pastor of the Second German Baptist Church in New York, I discovered the confirmation for this assumption. In his sermons he also did not speak so much as a prophet, but as a friend, confidant and mentor--as a pastor. We find in the sermons the same emphasis on a warm, personal, individualistic faith which Rauschenbusch reflected in his personal relationships of which my acquaintance spoke. This study was undertaken to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between the radicality of his thought and the evangelical, conservative and pietistic orientation of his sermons. The later aspect has been lacking in the study of this man even though it was an integral aspect of his make-up.



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