As Harnack saw it, the church of his day had become mired in unnecessary and even
damaging creeds, dogmas, and theological systems. In his major works, he sought
to return Christianity to its roots by tempering theology and tradition with historical
criticism. Instead of ideas and ideological systems, Harnack focused on actions. He
believed Christianity, rather than a list of beliefs to check off, was a way of life. In his
Essays on the Social Gospel, he encourages Christians not only to care for the
poor and the oppressed, but also to incorporate love and charity into every action.