Social Ethics for Church Leaders

Charles Richmond Henderson
1900 The Biblical World  
THE editorial paragraphs in the BIBLICAL WORLD Of November introduced a subject which opens out a field of historical illustration and of application to the present-day duty and call. It has been shown that all that now legitimately goes under the name of "sociology" has been the object of profound study by representative leaders of the church in all ages, under other names. The seeds planted by Christ and his apostles in the soil of Hebrew life have grown into mighty trees, for in his words is
more » ... for in his words is the power of endless life. In a noble sermon by Dr. F. H. Wines, an authority of the first rank in social and statistical science, we find this thought: I do not deny that the Bible, apprehended by faith, sheds light upon the origin, nature, and destiny of the human race; nor that it contains a theology, the formulation of which has enlisted the energies of some of the greatest intellects that the world has known. But I hold that the Bible is also a book for this world, and that it contains a sociology or theory of human relations, equally worthy of systematic development and presentation. The fundamental principle of the biblical sociology is the ideal of Jesus, the universal reign on earth of love, in opposition to war, as war is generally understood, namely, to armed conflict between men upon the battlefield, and no less to other forms of mutually destructive conflict in trade and commerce and in other walks of social life. The pessimism of science, in relation to man, stands out in marked contrast with the optimism of religion on the same subject. This is the more remarkable because science has taught us that man can to a limited extent control and utilize the forces of nature by giving them a different direction, or by bringing one force to bear in a way to neutralize the operation of another. What science tells us we can do with nature, religion insists may also be done with human nature. The power which she has placed at our disposal for this purpose is love. In the New Testament, the original text-book for the Christian religion, we are told that evil can be overcome with good. .... Love is not weakness, it is power. The tradition of social study is unbroken through church history. Only a few hints and illustrations can be given. The 424 This content downloaded from on
doi:10.1086/472715 fatcat:fs5bcnf6ijbmrahqbntgj2if5u