[The] social gospel…still expects concurrence of circumstances in which men master history and build themselves a city of salvation. For such Protestants sacramental worship seems an indecisive, historically insignificant, and archaic exercise. And why shouldn’t it, if, from their vantage point, the saving work of God in Jesus Christ is incomplete and still contingent upon the work of men, and God is less than God? These are the Protestants who cannot, in other words, comprehend why the Gospel narrative does not end in the political triumph of Palm Sunday, not realizing that the event of Palm Sunday repeats in the life of Christ: His temptation by the Devil in the wilderness. Consequently, of course, they cannot come to terms with the treachery of Judas and the apostasy of the rest of the disciples, nor countenance the Crucifixion, nor consider the Resurrection from the dead anything but embarrassing hyperbole.

William Stringfellow, “A Private and Public Faith”, on the contradictions of the social gospel’s aim with the full power of the Gospel itself
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