Sociology And Christian Missions -- By: George Mooar

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 040:160 (Oct 1883)
Article: Sociology And Christian Missions
Author: George Mooar

Sociology And Christian Missions

Rev. George Mooar

Those writers who either coined the mongrel word, sociology, or have made the most use of it, regard it as the science which unfolds the laws in accordance with which the changes occur in human society. They maintain that if we take any given society, it has come to be what it is by the interplay of certain factors, internal and external, which are presumed to have existed at its origin, and which have mutually and progressively modified each other. The claim is further set up that these modifications have uniformly followed the terms of a certain formula, now become almost too familiar — that is to say, the given society “has passed from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity.” That this is the order of changes is inferred from analogy. For society is an organism, and organisms all follow this order of evolution. The human individual has his genesis so. The original societies of primitive men therefore have been modified in this way. At first simple, rude, similar, the people composing the tribe, under the force of external circumstances, have been differentiated and fashioned

into more and more complex aggregates. This increasing complexity may be shown in a great variety of aspects, domestic, industrial, military, political. The process has been illustrated in Spencer’s Principles of Sociology by a vast array of facts.

One follows these illustrations with a good deal of consent, and with a certain rare pleasure. For an ingenious classification, which brings apparent order into a mass of bewildering details, gives the sense of relief and gratifies the rational instinct for comprehension and unity. To have the very universe itself marshalled under one recurrent formula, which never fails to subordinate every phenomenon, constitutes a philosophic fascination almost inconsistent with philosophic calm. But no fascination lasts forever. All calms, too, on the intellectual sea are temporary.

Every one who has a philosophic spirit will naturally arouse himself and inquire after the bearing of these discussions on certain great interests which he and his co-workers have at heart. For though we have been told that “as tannery is not chemistry, so measures for the mitigation of evil in society are not social science”; yet benevolent enterprises may be regarded as the arts which are dependent on the new science.1 Even the tanner may be instructed by the chemist. Especially since the illustrations in this field are derived very largely from the uncivilized races, it is not strange that one who is familiar with Christian missions should find hi...

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