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

By Charles Howard Hopkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
THE CHRISTIAN SOCIALIST FELLOWSHIP

In our Christian Socialist Fellowship the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, the Earth for all, and loyalty to the International Socialist Movement as the means of realizing the social ideal of Jesus, seem the essential points.

The Christian Socialist

IT has been repeatedly pointed out that the two foci of socialgospel interest during the fifty years covered by this study were socialism and the labor situation. Prior to 1890 socialism was rejected unanimously by the clergy, although the validity'iity of certain of its claims was admitted. The utopian Christian Socialism of the 'nineties proved in practical terms to be little more than a minority emphasis upon the social aspects of Christianity. However, with the advent of the new century left-wing Christian Socialism became both Marxist and political. The central feature of radical social Christianity during the prewar years of the twentieth century was a group of enterprising clergymen who organized the Christian Socialist Fellowship both to obtain the adherence of the churches to the principles of international socialism and to secure their allegiance to the Socialist party of America as the political means of accomplishing the Christian revolution.

Conservative ministers continued to reject socialism on grounds that are sufficiently familiar to need little repetition. The Reverend Edward R. Hartman declared socialism to be "anti-Christian and one of the greatest deceptions of the age" because it sought to establish brotherhood by force, because it eliminated the need for the sacrifice of Christ and proclaimed man's ability to save himself, and because it substituted "the fallible reasoning of human minds" for the plan of the Creator.1 Another student of the problem took Herron to task for

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1
Edward R. Hartman, Socialism versus Christianity ( New York, 1909), p. 243.

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