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

By Charles Howard Hopkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
SOCIOLOGY IN THE SERVICE OF
RELIGION

As fast as social laws are "made known and obeyed, the life of society will become normal; and it can be demonstrated that the fundamental laws of society are identical with the fundamental laws laid down in the social teaching of Jesus."

JOSIAH STRONG

THE need for knowledge of social science and for the development of sociological techniques was a persistent and realistic social-gospel emphasis that came to practical fruition in the period now under consideration. After the turn of the century both program and philosophy utilized increasingly the expanding resources of sociology. Individuals and organizations systematically collated information of every conceivable sort that had any possible bearing upon community welfare. Social-gospel lessons for the Sunday School were founded upon the 'Bible and "references to various economics books as lesson helps." Open forums became less forensic and more dependent upon recognized authorities in the social disciplines. Prominent social scientists lent their influence, wrote books on social Christianity, and evangelized for reform in the name of religion and of science; some outlined the social character of religion and its institutions and attempted to evaluate its place in modern society in terms of valid sociological concepts. And in this period the churches developed the techniques of social service to such a degree that in the eyes of professional organizations they came to occupy a significant place among the nation's agencies of social welfare.


1. SOCIAL FACTS FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

In the 1890's sociology and reform were quite compatible partners and the social gospel was a happy ally of both. Its first attempt to meet a growing demand for easily available in-

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