The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865-1915

By Charles Howard Hopkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE LIGHT
OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS

. . . Our present problems . . . are Christian because they have to do with character. . . . Sanitation, and the administration of the city, and politics, and rent, and wages, and the conditions generally under which men work and live between Sundays, are of direct concern to the Christian religion.

GEORGE HODGES

IF the critical note sounded by the social-gospel novel was an evidence of approaching maturity in the life of the movement we are following, further proof of the fact may be seen in the increasing number of ministers giving attention to social issues as the nineteenth century drew to a close. In 1895 The Dawn magazine published the names of seven hundred clergymen "who had shown their interest in the labor movement by some public utterance, or joining some society for the study of social problems."1 Two years later the Episcopal Christian Social Union counted one thousand members, and the American Institute of Christian Sociology claimed to be reaching as many more in all churches.2 Coming of age was also indicated by increasingly realistic attitudes that recognized the effects of environment and developed the new techniques of "institutional" church and religious social settlement. Organizations of various types sprang up, all devoting their energies to some phase of the social situation, notably labor. The perennial demand for the study of sociology began to bear fruit not only in the entrance of social science into the curricula of a significant number of theological schools, but by its inclusion in the programs of conferences, its popularity with societies organized for social education, and also in renewed attempts to formulate a "Christian sociology."

____________________
1
William D. P. Bliss, ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Reform ( New York, 1897), p. 258.
2
Op. cit., p. 275.

-149-

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