Mass Psychology In Evangelism -- By: William L. McEwan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 090:359 (Jul 1933)
Article: Mass Psychology In Evangelism
Author: William L. McEwan


Mass Psychology In Evangelism

William L. McEwan

It will not be necessary to give an accurate and acceptable definition of either the word “psychology” or the word “evangelism”. Both words have been loosely used, and often missused. Some of the uses of the word psychology have no relation to its original meaning. The word evangelism has been associated with methods that are so commercial and sometimes vulgar that among many it has fallen into disrepute. It will be sufficiently adequate for us to use the phrase “mass psychology in Evangelism”, as meaning the mental attitude of a company of people assembled for religious services. Evangelism will include all the methods used for presenting the Gospel truth, and appealing to the individual to accept Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin, and the Lord and Master of his daily life.

Scientific Psychology is too new in the field to assure settled opinions that can be relied upon as fundamental laws. It is scarcely more than a single generation since it was born. The generation before this studied mental philosophy, sometimes called moral philosophy. “Psychology concerned itself almost exclusively with the mind of man conceived in an abstract fashion, apart from his social settings.” In 1890 William James published his “Psychology”. Since then Sociology and Biology have assumed immense prominence in the curricula of the schools.

Many books have flooded the land on the subject of “Social Psychology ‘. Professor F. L. Strickland, of the Boston University School of Theology, says in his Psychology of Religious Experience: “Psychology has been, and unfortunately still is, too much dominated by the viewpoints and methods of Biology. The result is that the effort has been more or less persistent to explain the whole range of human conduct and experience in terms of phys-

iological process and organic reaction. The illegitimacy of this is coming to be recognized more and more, with the result that psychology is beginning to cut loose from domination by Biology, just as it had to free itself from the dictations of philosophy a generation ago. There is no objection to biologists writing analyses and explanations of religious experience, if they wish; but there is considerable objection to accepting what they have written as if it were all that were worth saying. The implications of psychological analysis of religion in terms of mental structure, and biological [unction alone are pretty disastrous to religious faith itself. Under the formulas furnished by these students of the human organism and its behavior, the great convictions of religious experience tend to dissolve into deep seated doubt. God may dissolve into a merely subjec...

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