By: John A. Ryan Date: 1906 Source: Ryan, John A. A Living Wage: Its Ethical and Economic Aspects. New York: Macmillan, 1906. Reprint, New York: Macmillan, 1912, 324–326.
About the Author: John A. Ryan (1869–1945) was ordained a priest in 1898. He continued his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he was influenced by Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), which promoted the rights of labor. Ryan advocated social justice through his writings and his position in the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC). He composed the pamphlet "Social Reconstruction," which was adopted by the NCWC in 1919 and anticipated much of the legislation of the New Deal.
In his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII provided a Catholic response to the Industrial Revolution and began a new tradition in Catholic social teaching. He rejected Karl Marx's ideas of class conflict and defended the right to own private property. Leo critiqued capitalism as well, however, and advocated labor's right to organize unions and the worker's right to a living wage. He defined a living wage as enough money for a worker to support a family in reasonable comfort and, through hard work and...
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"The Church and the Labor Question"
By: Washington Gladden
Date: May 6, 1911
Source: Gladden, Washington. "The Church and the Labor Question." The Outlook 98, no. 1, May 6, 1911, 36.
About the Author: Washington Gladden (1836–1918), a Congregationalist clergyman, was born on February 11, 1836, in Pennsylvania. Gladden ministered to various congregations in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. Often called the father of the Social Gospel movement, he became an early advocate of connecting Christian principles to contemporary social problems. He died on July 2, 1918, in Columbus, Ohio, where he had been serving as pastor and pastor emeritus at First Congregationalist Church.
Washington Gladden, one of the founders of the Social Gospel movement, began working at the Owego Gazette and wrote local news. He resumed his education in 1855, graduated from Williams College in 1859, and was ordained a minister in the Congregationalist Church in 1860. He furthered his theological training by attending lectures at Union Theological Seminary and reading the works of the liberal theologian Horace Bushnell.
While serving as the pastor of the Congregational church in North Adams, Massachusetts, from 1866 to 1871, he returned...
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"Cardinal's Golden Jubilee"
By: James Cardinal Gibbons
Date: October 1, 1911
Source: Gibbons, James Cardinal. "Cardinal's Golden Jubilee." October 11, 1911. Reprinted in Gibbons, James Cardinal. A Retrospective of Fifty Years. Baltimore, Md.: Murphy,1916.
About the Author: James Gibbons (1834–1921) was the son of Irish immigrants and born in Baltimore, Maryland. An intelligent and industrious man, he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1861 and rapidly rose up the American Catholic hierarchy. Gibbons was ordained a bishop in 1868, became archbishop of Baltimore in 1877, and was made cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. A tolerant and gracious man, Gibbons was the most influential American Catholic leader of the early twentieth century.
James Gibbons was the eldest son of Thomas and Bridget Gibbons, who had emigrated from Ireland. As immigrants, the Gibbons family was part of a great transformation
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America in the Making
By: Lyman Abbott
Source: Abbott, Lyman. America in the Making. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1911, 195–201.
About the Author: Lyman Abbott (1835–1922) was a Congregationalist minister, author, and editor. He was born on December 18, 1835, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and relocated to New York City with his family at the age of eight. After first practicing law, Abbott was ordained in 1860 and eventually became a leader in liberal Protestantism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He died on October 22, 1922.
Lyman Abbott gave a series of lectures at Yale University on the responsibilities of American citizenship. These were published in 1911 in a book entitled America in the Making. One of Lyman's gifts, as demonstrated in this book, was the ability to promote liberal ideas while preserving core religious beliefs. As a religious liberal, he supported the separation of church and state and opposed any amendments to the Constitution that would incorporate any particular religious beliefs. Yet, he also believed that a religious spirit was necessary for the progressive development of the American people, as well as to define its role in world affairs....
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Acres of Diamonds
By: Russell H. Conwell
Source: Conwell, Russell H. Acres of Diamonds. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1915, 20–22.
About the Author: Russell H. Conwell (1843–1925), an American Baptist minister, lecturer, and founder of Temple University, was born in Worthington, Massachusetts. After first practicing law, he was ordained a minister in 1879 and moved to Philadelphia. There he founded Temple University in 1884 and served as its first president. Conwell was also a popular lecturer, with his most famous speech being "Acres of Diamonds."
Russell H. Conwell earned his law degree at Albany Law School and went into practice. In 1879, he was consulted about the disposal of a run-down church in Boston. Rather than selling it, he advised the congregation to restore the building. Not only did he convince it to save the church, but after being ordained he became the congregation's minister. Soon, his reputation as a preacher led to his appointment in 1882 at Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
A man of great energy, Conwell founded Temple University in 1884 and served as its first president in addition to doing his ministerial duties. He authored forty books, wrote hymns, founded a...
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Prisoners of Hope and Other Sermons
By: Rev. Charles H. Brent
Source: Brent, Rev. Charles H. Prisoners of Hope and Other Sermons. New York: Longmans, Green, 1915, 35–41.
About the Author: Charles H. Brent (1862–1929) was a noted American Episcopalian clergyman and ecumenist. While serving as a bishop in the Philippines and New York State, Brent spent a great deal of his energy in the cause of Christian unity. He eventually became one of the major leaders in the establishment of the Faith and Order Conference in 1927, which helped lead to the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948.
Charles H. Brent was an Episcopalian clergyman who first worked in the slums of Boston. In 1901, he was appointed the first Protestant Episcopal missionary bishop of the Philippines, which had been acquired by the United States in the Spanish-American War (1898). It was in this work that Brent's abilities in interfaith cooperation and statesmanship became recognized.
Brent could have limited his efforts to simply serve the U.S. officials in Manila or to take advantage in the change of government to proselytize the local Roman Catholic population. He did not believe, however, in increasing one church at the expense of...
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"What the Bible Contains for the Believer"
By: Rev. George F. Pentecost
Source: Pentecost, Rev. George F. "What the Bible Contains for the Believer." In Amzi C. Dixon, Louis Meyer, and Reuben A. Torrey, eds., The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, vol. 10. Chicago: Testimony, 1914(?). Reprint in Marsden, George M. The Fundamentals. Vol. 4. Fundamentalism in American Religion, 1880–1950, ed. Joel A. Carpenter. New York: Garland, 1988, 97–99.
About the Author: George Frederick Pentecost (1842–1920) was an American clergyman and author who was recognized as a strong supporter of biblical authority and a compelling preacher whose sermons featured both deep feeling and unusual breadth. In addition to serving various congregations in Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, he undertook evangelistic campaigns to Europe and Asia and spent six years as pastor of a London church. His most popular writings included The Angel in the Marble (1875), In the Volume of the Book (1879), Out of Egypt (1884), and the twelve-volume set Bible Studies (1880–1889).
The teachings of liberal preachers and theologians such as Horace Bushnell, Washington Gladden, and Walter Rauschenbusch were unsettling...
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By: Walter Rauschenbusch
Source: Rauschenbusch, Walter. A Theology for the Social Gospel. Macmillan, 1917. Reprint, Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1981, 4–9.
About the Author: Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918) was a Baptist minister, a professor of church history, and a writer on the social responsibilities of Christianity. Born in Rochester, New York, he was the son of German immigrants who fled Germany in 1848. Rauschenbusch was an influential supporter of the Social Gospel movement and promoted this social view of Christianity in his many writings.
The American Civil War (1861–1865) commenced about the time of Walter Rauschenbusch's birth. The enormous demands of the Union war effort brought about a great surge in industrial production—so much so that, by the turn of the century, the United States had become an industrial giant. But this growth came at great human cost. The small workshops that had close contact between owners and workers were replaced by far larger plants that employed thousands and were controlled by distant management. While in the earlier system workers could negotiate with owners who were aware of the workers' skills and needs, individual workers were powerless in...
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The Churches of Christ in Time of War
By: Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America
Source: Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. The Churches of Christ in Time of War. Charles S. MacFarland, ed. New York: Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada, 1917, 6–9.
About the Organization: The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America (FCC) was founded in 1908. It originally consisted of thirty-three Protestant denominations representing eighteen million members. While there had been cooperation among churches on specific issues before, the founding of the FCC was a major step toward ecumenism (worldwide cooperation among different churches), as it was the first permanent interdenominational organization in the United States. It exists today as the National Council of Churches, which is itself a part of the World Council of Churches.
A significant proportion of the American population is of German descent. Many of the great American religious thinkers have been German American, such as Walter Rauschenbusch and Reinhold Niebuhr. In fact, for a full century before World War I (1914–1918), Germany profoundly influenced American intellectual life and educational institutions. Liberal...
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Cardinal Gibbons' Letter to the U.S. Archbishops
By: James Cardinal Gibbons
Date: May 1, 1919
Source: Gibbons, James Cardinal. Letter to the U.S. Archbishops, May 1, 1919. Reprinted in Ellis, John Tracy, ed. Documents of American Catholic History. 2nd ed. Milwaukee, Wis.: Bruce, 1962, 604–607.
About the Author: James Gibbons (1834–1921) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of Irish immigrants, Gibbons was ordained a Catholic priest in 1861. A bright and energetic clergyman, he was ordained bishop in 1868 and became archbishop of Baltimore in 1877. In 1886, he was made cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. A man of great charm and intelligence, Gibbons supported the rights of labor and encouraged immigrant Catholics to fit into American society.
James Gibbons was born on July 23, 1834, in Baltimore, the eldest son of Thomas and Bridget Gibbons. Initially, Gibbons did well in the field of business, but he felt a call to the Catholic priesthood. He excelled at his studies and was ordained in 1861. His intelligence and vigor were soon recognized. Becoming a priest at the age of thirty-two, he was eventually appointed bishop of Richmond in 1872. Five years later, he was appointed archbishop of Baltimore, and in 1886 he was named a cardinal by Leo XIII....
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"A Program for the Reconstruction of Judaism"
By: Mordecai M. Kaplan
Date: August 1920
Source: Kaplan, Mordecai M. "A Program for the Reconstruction of Judaism." The Menorah Journal 6, no. 4, August 1920, 183–184. Reprinted in Emanuel S. Goldsmith, and Mel Scult, eds. Dynamic Judaism: The Essential Writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan. New York: Fordham University Press/The Reconstructionist Press, 1985, 39–40.
About the Author: Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881–1983), founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, was born in Lithuania. In 1889, his family immigrated to the United States, where he earned a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York and a master's from Columbia University. After completing his education, Kaplan became a rabbi and taught at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary. He also authored numerous books, the most famous being Judaism as a Civilization (1934).
Mordecai M. Kaplan was one of the most significant figures in American Judaism in the twentieth century. He taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, a center for Conservative Judaism. Kaplan was active in promoting Jewish identity and believed that Jewish life meant more than just Judaism. He sought a means to create a sense of Jewish...
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"Interchurch World Movement Report"
By: Interchurch World Movement
Source: Interchurch World Movement. "Interchurch World Movement Report." In The Steel Strike of 1919, ed. Colston E. Warne. Boston: D.C. Heath, 1963, 90–97.
About the Organization: The Interchurch World Movement (IWM) was a Christian interfaith organization founded in 1918. It represented one of the most ambitious projects of American Protestantism, with its goals being to coordinate the resources of the American churches to evangelize the world and to tackle a variety of other religious and social objectives. Its goals were too varied, however, and discord over its objectives led members to begin leaving in 1920. Thereafter, it soon dissolved and the churches resumed their individual activities.
During World War I (1914–1918), Protestant denominations in the United States raised $200 million by working together in the United War Work Campaign. John R. Mott, a noted ecumenist and later Nobel Prize winner, called it "the Largest Voluntary Offering in History." In 1918, at the conclusion of the war, it was decided to use this experience to create a new organization that would harness the power of the churches to address the needs of the postwar world.
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Leaves From the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic
By: Reinhold Niebuhr
Source: Niebuhr, Reinhold. Leaves From the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. 1929. Reprint, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980, 14–16.
About the Author: Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971), an Evangelical Synod minister and theologian, was born in Wright City, Missouri. Niebuhr served as a pastor for thirteen years in Detroit and then taught social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was the author of numerous books, including Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) and the two-volume The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation (1941–1943).
Reinhold Niebuhr served as pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit from 1915 to 1928, during which time he learned much about human nature. These experiences were published in his diary Leaves From the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. Niebuhr wrote extensively on social issues, but he rejected liberal views regarding the perfectibility of humanity and human institutions. While an advocate of social reform, he nonetheless believed that the reality of human sin also needed to be taken into consideration.
Niebuhr was not yet twenty-five years old and had been a pastor only two...
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