Christian Sociology -- By: Z. Swift Holbrook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:204 (Oct 1894)
Article: Christian Sociology
Author: Z. Swift Holbrook

Christian Sociology

Mr. Z. Swift Holbrook

The complicated facts of sociology narrow the possibilities of a magazine article to suggestions, rather than an attempt to treat any part of the subject exhaustively, or to compass the entire field even in outline. It would be idle for one to dogmatize in this sphere of thought; for sociology is more of a philosophy than a science. It takes deep root, to be sure, in social, civil, ethical, economic, and religious truths, which have themselves been systematized, but the combining of such infinite and complex data, and attempting to form safe generalizations, is the difficult task of the sociologist. We do know some things, however, about man and of his duties in this world. Since man is the integral unit and the concrete aggregate of many of these units is society, and we know that a perfect society must have perfect units, and the Christian religion has come to seek and to save that which was lost, we see at once the relation of Christianity to civilization.

Plato’s Republic, Cicero’s Commonwealth, More’s Utopia, assumed perfect units, and the practical attempts at socialism have failed for the want of them. The real difficulty in all theories about an ideal social condition has been that

an ideal society must be formed of persons who themselves are ideals of benevolence and wisdom. Society cannot be a perfect machine, working smoothly and accomplishing its purpose, so long as the individuals which compose that society are themselves imperfect. It has never been difficult to construct, in theory, an imaginary state out of imaginary citizens and have them all honest, industrious, and thrifty, and, therefore, contented and happy. The world has never lacked for theorists, transcendentalists, dreamers; but the Christian religion is practically the only force that has appeared yet to accomplish any ideal result, and Christian men and women so far have been the only agents for doing this work in this world. We define as “Christian “the doers of righteousness. It is the mission of the Christian religion to regenerate and perfect the individual. Sociology, therefore, leads at once to biblical theology, and its very first question is, “What shall I do with Jesus, which is called the Christ?” This can be evaded by sociology no more than by the individual conscience; and if the claims of Christ, to be the Messiah, be not admitted, he must be crucified. What the aged Simeon prophesied in the Temple has come to pass, at least in sociology, for we stumble upon that babe at the very threshold, and whether we rise or fall remains to be seen. The historical Christ must first have our intelligent consideration.

And the child grew in stature and wisd...

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