What Is Sociology -- By: Z. Swift Holbrook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:207 (Jul 1895)
Article: What Is Sociology
Author: Z. Swift Holbrook


What Is Sociology

Mr. Z. Swift Holbrook

The following letter, which explains itself, was sent to a large number of the leading thinkers in the United States. The replies which have been received speak for themselves: —

Oberlin, Ohio, Jan. 15, 1895.

Dear Sir;—Owing to the wide diversity of opinions upon the propriety of using the word “Christian” as applied to “Sociology” in the phrase “Christian Sociology,” we desire a concise statement of your views upon the question on the enclosed postal card with permission to publish the same in the Bibliotheca Sacra.

Thanking you in advance, we are,

Respectfully yours,

The Editors.

Rev. Lyman Abbott, D.D., Pastor of the Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, N. Y.:— While the phrase Christian Sociology is not strictly accurate, it seems to me to be on the whole not inapt to define a school of thought, namely, that of those who hold that Jesus Christ taught not merely principles of individual character, but also those of social order, and that on his teachings a true and scientific order of society can be based.

E. Benjamin Andrews, D. D., LL. D., President of Brown University, Providence, R. L :—If we mean sociology objectively considered, as the science of society,

the adjective “Christian “is clearly not in place. The use of this adjective indicates that we mean social science according to Christian ideas or as urged by Christian writers, in distinction from the science of society as held by those who deny the possibility of improving the race. This last distinction is very real, vital even, and I see no better brief way to signalize it than to use the word “Christian Sociology,” adding some title for the other sort of thinking (as “Devil’s Sociology”), a good deal of which gets itself aired.

James B. Angell, LL. D., President of Michigan University,

Ann Arbor; Mich.:—In a strictly scientific use of language I should question the use of the phrase “Christian Sociology.” One may say it as one may say Christian Political Economy, Christian Politics, etc. But it is in that popular and general use of terms that it would seem to me to be allowable.

W. J. Ashley, Professor in Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.:—I have grave objections— scientific and literary—to the current use...

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