In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism

By James Hudnut-Beumler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Reinventing the Tithe
and Discovering Stewardship,
1870–1920

The years during the Civil War produced almost no literature concerning the finance of the Protestant churches in the United States. This is to be expected insofar as the nation's was clearly fixed on a colossal and bloody domestic conflict. By the time clergy began producing church-finance literature again in the 1870s, the United States was a different country with other concerns and revised modes of communication and travel. The next half century, through the end of World War I, was emphatically the age of steam locomotives, ships, manufacturing, the telegraph, the telephone, and electricity. The church fund-raising literature of these years bespeaks a great confidence in modernity, which is reflected in two overriding concerns. One was to deduce the correct biblical mode of supporting the church by reading the Bible more correctly than any readers had done before. The other preoccupation of fund-raising writers was creating the right modern system for attracting and collecting support. Along the way, nearly all church leaders would come to adopt the word stewardship to describe their aims and practice.

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