Purpose Driven

CFR and the Social Gospel

by Jewel van de Merwe
Discernment Ministries Inc.

"Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other. We do not expect all participants in the Summit discussion to agree with all of our Evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by Evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all " “ government, business, NGOs and the church. That is the purpose of this Summit " “ to marshal the policy of the government; the finances of business; the expertise of the health organizations; and the compassion, volunteerism and reach of the church in order to care for the sick and save lives."  [Statement by Saddleback Valley Community Church Regarding Senator Barack Obama as One of Nearly 60 Featured Speakers at the Second Annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church, Contact: Larry Ross. ]

The above press release "Statement"  pertaining to the recent controversial AIDS conference at Saddleback is indicative of the new Social Gospel rapidly gaining prominence in evangelical circles. This Social Gospel is a re-hash of the old mainline denomination Social Gospel of the past century but it includes more partners " “ e.g., the corporate (business), NGOs, parachurch and mission groups. The new Social Gospel also comes in the slick new package of a global AIDS crisis " “ and tragically so.

The Social Gospel was, in part, the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). And the CFR was chiefly behind the propagation and widespread dissemination of the Social Gospel. These historical facts are exceptionally well-documented in Dr. Erdmann’s groundbreaking book Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches’ Contribution to Marshall Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf and Stock, 2005). This fact gains new significance with Rick Warren’s recent revelation that he is a member of this internationalist organization.

The original CFR plan to create a Social Gospel was hatched as part of a massive operation to change public opinion favorably towards world government. The crisis at that time was World War I and its aftermath. Dr. Erdmann notes that as a consequence of the failures of the Versailles Peace Conference after WWI, John Foster Dulles, as one of the chief architects and propagators of this Social Gospel movement, "became convinced that the use of propaganda was essential in shifting public opinion in America from its traditional isolationist stance to a new policy of interdependence."  In the ensuing highly-orchestrated campaign to change public opinion, Dulles and other CFR moguls worked to transform the ideology of the churches.

What role does the CFR play in today's new Social Gospel push? What follows are some startling parallels between the public relations campaign for the original Social Gospel movement driven by John Foster Dulles and the current evangelical Social Gospel movement. [Quotations and excerpts are derived from Building the Kingdom of God on Earth, emphases added.]


"Peace"  became a central rallying cry. John Foster Dulles used "peace"  as a useful theme for furthering CFR objectives. The crises that ensued between the world wars, and then during WWII, were viewed as public relations opportunities. These crises would serve to underscore the "necessity"  of forming a world governing structure. Dulles authored an essay that was published in several key publications entitled "The Problem of Peace in a Dynamic World."  Commenting on this, Dr. Erdmann writes:

"Dulles outlined the basic concepts of peaceful change and attacked what he regarded to be an unhealthy and obsolete concept of national sovereignty." ¦ Human egotism could only be offset, he asserted, by superseding it with " ˜some sentiment more dominant and gripping which would contain it the elements of universality as against particularity.’ No other organization would be as uniquely qualified to accomplish this task as the Church" ¦. Dulles idealized the Christian Church as an exemplary community which had demonstrated the ability to transcend the limitations of the nation state" ¦. (p. 84-85)

"By using the ecumenical movement as the preferred vehicle to express his opinions, Dulles chose, as his primary target group, the Christian public in the English-speaking world. His goal was to motivate the churches to become actively involved in building a global society."  (p. 87)

[Note the similarity to comments made by Rick Warren [http://tinyurl.com/y4q7a8] :
"Churches constitute the largest distribution center in the world, says Warren. The vast network of churches is the only solution to " ˜universal distribution,’ a problem that's plagued global health initiatives." ]


Global missions strategies were particularly a way to further world government objectives. At the Oxford Conference on Church, Community and State held in 1937, several prominent members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British side of the CFR) were in attendance. A position paper authored by John Foster Dulles on "The Universal Church and the World of Nations"  credited the missionary movement as being a great catalyst for ecumenicity leading to a new world order, particularly through the doctrinal idea of the brotherhood of all mankind. The missionary outreach was also a primary vehicle to creating an international mindset among parishioners. (p. 103-104)

[Note that the five "giant"  crises and the solution (the 3-legged stoo)l are based on this same brotherhood of mankind ideal in Rick Warren’s comments below. In the name of "mission,"  social action will take precedence:

"There are five giant problems in the world... Spiritual emptiness is the No. 1 problem, egocentric or corrupt leadership is the second biggest problem. No. 3 is poverty. Half the world lives on less than US$2 a day, one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. Fourth is disease" ”all kinds of diseases. Five hundred million people will get malaria this year. And fifth is illiteracy" ”half the world cannot read or write! Even if we have the Internet and we have the world wired, if you cannot read or write, you’re left out. There is just no hope for you in the 21st century.

"These problems are so big, everybody has failed [to solve them]. The United States has failed, the United Nations has failed. Nobody has solved these five problems because [the solution needs] a three-legged stool. For the stability of a nation, you must have strong healthy government, strong healthy businesses, and strong healthy churches.

"A three-legged stool will have stability. So I’m going from country to country teaching business its role, teaching church its role, and teaching government leaders their role" ”you’ve got to work together! We cannot solve the problem in your country or in the world if we won’t work together."

A New Gospel

In 1932 the Federal Council of Churches, closely interconnected with the CFR, issued a Social Creed which set the foundation for a Social Gospel for generations to come in the Protestant denominations. The radical ideas of this report called for a reorganization of wealth in society and widespread social planning controls. Note the marketing approach described:

"During the 1930s the Federal Council Bulletin urged its audience to propagate the social gospel. It exhorted its readers to reject any notion that there was a basic conflict between the preaching of the gospel as such and the need to make known the Social Creed of the FCC. The Federal Council knew that unless it could secure a deep dedication to the ethical principles of the Gospel, and a deep commitment to the Jesus who was presented as the living embodiment of these ethical ideals, there would be no motivating power for Christians to struggle for the realization of the kingdom of God in the national life. Without adhering to basic Scriptural concepts, therefore, the Council’s social appeals were couched in biblical terminology. Although mentioning the sin problem frequently, it was usually in the context of sins against society rather than sins against God. Regeneration was masterfully redefined as a new social awareness. The substitutionary atonement of Christ upon the cross was deemed insignificant and was rarely if ever mentioned. The Reformation dictum, that humankind can find peace with God only by being justified by faith, was simply ignored as without relevance."  (pp. 154-155)

[Compare this ideology to "Religious Leaders Stand Up for Rick Warren, Barack Obama: An open letter to pastors across the country"  from evangelical Social Gospel supporters of Rick Warren:

"AIDS has claimed the lives of 25 million people since 1981. Forty million people across the globe, including 2 million children, live with this wretched disease. And nearly 7 million people are now in desperate need of life-saving drugs, without which they will die. In the face of this crisis, it boggles our minds and offends our God-given sense of justice that these groups would choose to attack Senator Obama and Reverend Warren " “ Christians both " “ for working together to stamp out AIDS." 

"It is time for believers to unite under the banner of truth and work to address our society's most pressing problems. The time for scare tactics and divisiveness is over. As leaders in the Christian community, we will not stand silent in the face of these attacks, but will instead serve as voices for equality, fairness, and justice for all people." ]

Sickness and Human Misery

In 1940 John Foster Dulles was asked to chair a study committee "The Commission to Study the Bases of a Just and Durable Peace"  for the newly forming World Council of Churches. In this position, as one biographer observed, Dulles was able to align the purpose of the Federal Council’s Commission on a Just and Durable Peace with that of the Council on Foreign Relations. (p. 194-195)

In 1942 Dulles’s Commission convened a National Study Conference on the Churches and a Just and Durable Peace. Dulles submitted thirteen Guiding Principles for "peace"  that furthered progressive internationalism.

"The underlying premise of the peace settlement is the reality of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind. Principle One proclaims that there was, in fact, a " ˜ moral law’ that " ˜undergirds the world’. According to Principle Two, " ˜the sickness and suffering which afflict our present society are proof of indifference to, as well as direct violation of, the moral law.’ Furthermore, " ˜ all share in responsibility for the present evils. There is none who does not need forgiveness. A mood of genuine penitence is therefore demanded of us " “ individuals and nations alike.’"  (p. 243-244)

"After the conference, Dulles sent copies of the Guiding Principles to the White House, the State Department, and to numerous other government agencies. The Commission embarked on an " ˜evangelistic campaign’ " ¦ to educate local churches about world order issues."  (p. 245)

[Compare this to Kay Warren’s statement in an interview that the church has been "absent" :

"We believe the church has been the missing leg of a three-legged stool. Governments are doing things. Private sector businesses are doing things, trying to go after global giants, but the church has been absent. We have been trying to bring the church back to the table and say " ˜It’s going to take all three.’ The main reason is that the church has the widest distribution center. The church exists in places where there is nothing else. To utilize the distribution channels for care and compassion and teaching and training. It’s the way to go. It’s smart!" ]

Urgency and Ecumenicity

In October, 1942, in the midst of WWII, the Commission on a Just and Durable Peace published a booklet entitled A Righteous Faith for A Just and Durable Peace. The authors formulated general propositions of peace which were in line with the Social Gospel. Note especially point six, that the Church was to be used to further the aims of world government by proclaiming the Social Gospel tenet of "enduring moral principles":

"(1) The American people need now to be imbued with a righteous faith; (2) In time of war the spiritual task of the churches becomes one of peculiar urgency; (3) The ecumenical (world-wide) character of the Church enables it and its members to make a unique contribution toward world order; (4) Christian motivation supplies an essential prerequisite to effective action; (5) Christians must seek the cooperation of other faiths; (6) the churches do not have primary responsibility to devise the details of world order. But they must proclaim the enduring moral principles by which human plans are constantly to be tested."  (p. 24 7-248)

[Compare this to the current rhetoric of the AIDS crisis, particularly Senator Barack Obama’s comments about his controversial appearance at the Saddleback AIDS conference this past weekend:

"Obama declined an interview request. But in a statement, he said while he respects differing views on abortion, he hopes for unity " ˜to honor the entirety of Christ's teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met.’

"’It is that spirit which has allowed me to work together -- and pray together -- with some of my conservative colleagues in the Senate to make progress on a range of key issues facing America,’ Obama's said." ]


It is an interesting dialectic game that has gone on in evangelicaldom the past twenty years. The neoevangelical culture spawned the glitz, glitter and glamour prosperity excesses, the name-it-and-claim-it gospel, and the pomposity of televangelist and self-esteem empires. Self-centeredness and affluence ruled the day. Sins abounded with cheap grace and easy-believism.

The pendulum is now swinging back, but not back to the Gospel of the Bible. It is swinging WAY over to the 3-legged stool Social Gospel of purpose-driven works theology.

Is the global AIDS crisis just a cruel mechanism for the world powers-that-be to orchestrate yet another push for world governance by using the church as the world’s largest volunteer "army"  of "one billion foot soldiers"  to implement a global "peace"  plan?

[For more reading on this topic, see:






The Truth:

"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." (Col. 1:20)

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5:1)

posted by Discernment Research Group
12/04/2006 09:39:00 PM