Social Or Individual Regeneration? -- By: A. v. C. P. Huizinga
BSac 69:273 (Jan 1912) p. 35
Social Or Individual Regeneration?
Recently Bernard Shaw declared: “Christ is a failure, and God has been kicked out of the back-window in our modern age.” This blasphemous utterance was designed to startle the audience, and perhaps did not fail of its effect. However, in recent ministerial conferences, it has become quite plain that the prevailing sentiment among the younger ministers tends to consider the ministry exclusively as a call to social service. We need to-day a social gospel. The ministry of the ‘Word ‘must be supplanted by a ministry to human needs and life. Whatever Christianity may have done in the past, it surely is not available for the needs of our present social conditions. Theology now must yield to sociology, even in parish and pulpit. Social democracy, Christian socialism, if you will, is the workingman’s religion, and rapidly coming to be recognized as the only kind of religion worth having. It ‘does ‘things, it struggles for the right of one’s fellowmen. It, indeed, beholds a brother when naked and hungry, to clothe and feed him. The ‘social gospel’ of to-day enlarges its scope into all the activities of life. The Y. M. C. A.’s, the social settlements, clubs, and philanthropic endeavors of all sorts figure as prominently as the church, and maintain the standing of the church. Preaching and teaching of Christian truth is futile under the adverse conditions of congested centers; nay, the proclamation of the old gospel is out of place in the hard, sordid struggles of ‘life as it is.’ Chris-
BSac 69:273 (Jan 1912) p. 36
tianity does not save under such conditions; and so the modern minister has come to see that he must strike at those ‘conditions.’ Improve conditions if you wish to improve society, for improved conditions will produce better men. The pet word of evolutionary teachings, ‘environment,’ has become the basis of the new philosophy, which is to displace—
“The old American Idee
To make a man a man, and let him be.”
It matters little that evolutionary philosophers subsequently affirmed that ‘environment’ should not be employed as a leading factor in the much-vaunted modern Weltanschauung. The movement which social reformers built on it is beyond their control. The declaration of the bankruptcy of Christianity, whether in the blasphemy of Bernard Shaw and his socialist confrères, or in the more sinister facts of a socialized gospel, as many modern pastors seem to understand their calling, leaves us to work upon society through social endeavors. Thus, instead of christianizing society with the gospel of Christ, Christianity is to be socialized, — secularized, if you will. External efforts in the betterment of ...
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