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

By Charles Howard Hopkins | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XV
PROBLEMS OF THE NEW CENTURY

. . . It is imperative that a point of friendly contact be established between organized Christianity and the millions who in the present crisis are severed from the Church chiefly through misunderstanding. This demand can be fully met by the fearless proclamation of the social teachings of Jesus and the scrupulous application of those doctrines to the problems which vex our social system.

GEORGE P. ECKMAN

WHEN socially minded clergymen analyzed the problems of American life in the early years of the twentieth century, their interests followed lines now familiar to the reader of this study but their attitudes and prescriptions were marked by a new realism. Again labor and the industrial situation received the most attention, with the cities following closely. Immigration, charity, the family, democracy and the socialized state, and the ethics of wealth were examined.1 This discussion was notable for a new use of sociological techniques and data, such as surveys, investigations, and statistics. Attempts to deal with problems were rendered more effective by the creation of denominational agencies and of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. The remainder of our study will be concerned with these aspects of a maturing movement; in the present chapter the representative literature devoted to specific problems will be examined.

The generalization that the social gospel was historically the reaction of liberal Protestantism to the industrial problem was amply demonstrated in this period. Not only was the literature of this subject larger than that of any other social concern, but the rights of labor and the question of social justice held a predominant position in the thinking of the denominations as they

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1
The country church, the race problem, and amusements were also noticeable features of this literature. For references see the writer's projected Bibliography of Social Christianity.

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