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The Gospel and Our World by Georgia Harkness

Georgia Harkness was educated at Cornell University, Boston University School of Theology, studied at Harvard & Yale theological seminaries and at Union Theological Seminary of New York. She has taught at Elmira College, Mount Holyoke, and for twelve years was professor of applied theology at Garrett Biblical Institute. In 1950 she became professor of applied theology at the Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, California. Published by Abingdon Press, 1959. New York & Nashville. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

The churches of America, though far from decadent, are doing much less effective work than they might be doing with their resources, and the major cause of the difficulty lies in failure to present the meaning and claims of the Christian faith in terms that seem vital to the common man.

Chapter 1: Disease and Diagnosis
What are the diseases that infect our churches? Inadequate numbers, unhealthy divisions, meager financial support, unprophetic leadership, lethargic congregations -- but at the root of them all lies the fact that the very thing for which the Church exists -- the proclamation of the gospel -- is being in our time so feebly done.

Chapter 2: What Has the Church to Say?
The basic ground of democracy is the Christian conception of man as a child of God in the innate worth and dignity of every human creature, regardless of race, color, nation, economic status, language, creed, culture, or any other man-made line of cleavage. This is the chief meeting point of the Church with men of good will outside its ranks.

Chapter 3: The Gospel of the Churches
If the conservative churches are producing more personal religious vitality than the others perhaps the primary factors are: 1. The church going habit is earlier and more persistently associated with religion. 2. The emotional part of worship is more vivid and dramatic. 3. Greater demands are made on church members. 4. Concrete instruction in Christian doctrine is given. 5. In some matters, greater emphasis is put on the essential heart of the Christian gospel.

Chapter 4: The Minister and the Gospel
The minister’s theology in preaching must be brought to bear at every point on the human situation: on prayer; on the problem of evil; on sin and repentance; on the fact of death.

Chapter 5: The Layman and the Gospel
The vitality of the church upon the world is in the hands of the laymen. Their economic and political life must be guided primarily by the Christian gospel; the Christian faith must be communicated to them in language they can understand. Each layman must do something about this himself perhaps through channels of fellowship, study, action, prayer, and personal witness.

Chapter 6: Christian Faith and Ethical Action
The three great doctrines of Christian faith are examined: Creation -- The most elemental meeting place of the Christian with the secular mind is at the point of the doctrine of creation. Judgment -- At the point of doctrine of divine judgment the modern mind finds both easy corroboration and an almost insurmountable stumbling block. Redemption and the Kingdom -- The Christian doctrine of redemption, like the closely related concept of the Kingdom of God, is viewed in several polar relations, in which the omission of either aspect of a fundamental duality introduces distortion.

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