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Friday, 21 August 2015

In His Steps

In the 1880s Charles Sheldon (1857-1946), a Congregationalist minister in Topeka, Kansas developed a series of sermons based around the question of "what would Jesus do" in certain situations. Ten years later in 1896 he wrote a novel In His Steps based on this same moral question. It became the best selling Christian book of all time (apart from the Bible) and it was translated into 24 languages.

Sheldon's moral theological outlook and his own socialist beliefs caused some to refer to him as the father of the Social Gospel, which was an application of Christian principles to social problems such as poverty, alcoholism and education particularly prominent in American Protestant Christianity in the early twentieth century.

The "What Would Jesus Do" industry became popular in the southern American states in the 1990s, spawning an entire industry of WWJD bracelets, car bumper stickers, clothes and self-help books. It was based on Charles Sheldon's book, In His Steps, written a hundred years earlier.

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