The Ministry in Historical Perspectives by H. Richard Niebuhr and Daniel D. Williams (eds.)
H. Richard Niebuhr was Professor of Christian Theology at Yale University Divinity School. His most famous book is Christ and Culture. Assisting him in this project were Daniel Day Williams, Professor of Theology at Union Theological School, and James Gustafson, then on the staff of the Study of Theological Education in the U.S. and Canada. The Ministry in Historical Perspectives was published in 1956 by Harper & Brothers, New York. It was part of a survey of theological education in the United States and Canada, which led to the publishing of this book as well as H. Richard Niebuhr, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (1956) and H. Richard Niebuhr, Daniel D. Williams, and James M. Gustafson, The Advancement of Theological Education (1957). This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock
The Ministry in Historical Perspectives was published in 1956 by Harper & Brothers, New York. It was part of a survey of theological education in the United States and Canada, which led to the publishing of this book as well as H. Richard Niebuhr, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (1956) and H. Richard Niebuhr, Daniel D. Williams, and James M. Gustafson, The Advancement of Theological Education (1957). This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock
Chapter 9: The Protestant Ministry in America: 1850 to the Present, by Robert S. Michaelsen
[Robert S. Michaelsen, an ordained United Methodist minister, was Director and Dean of the School of Religion at Iowa University. He taught at the State University of Iowa, then in 1952 became professor of American Christianity at Yale University Divinity School. His books include: The American Search for Soul, and with Wade Clark Roof (ed) Liberal Protestantism: Realities and Possibilities.]
Henry Adams demonstrated his awareness of the revolutionary character of his age when he wrote:
My country in 1900 is something totally different from my own country of 1860. I am wholly a stranger in it. Neither I, nor anyone else, understands it. The turning of a nebula into a star may somewhat resemble the change. All I can see is that it is one of compression, concentration, and consequent development of terrific energy, represented not by souls, but by coal and iron and steam.1
Revolutionary change, compression, and concentration which prepared the way for even greater change, industrialization, urbanization, ascension in world power, tremendous growth in population -- these were the predominant characteristics of those forty years. And what was begun then has accelerated at an ever-increasing rate since 1900.
Adams was impressed by the industrial revolution that had occurred in America during his lifetime, but perhaps he experienced even greater awe in contemplating the intellectual revolution. In appraising his formal education after fifty years he came to the conclusion that
In essentials like religion, ethics, philosophy; in history, literature, art; in the concepts of all science, except perhaps mathematics, the American boy of 1854 stood nearer the year 1 than to the year 1900.2
Between 1850 and 1900 there had been a new Copernican revolution. Chief among the artificers of this revolution were Charles Darwin and Karl Marx. As Copernicus had initiated a fundamental change in the view of the place of the earth in the solar system so these men, and others, were helping to bring about a change in man's views of himself, his origin and ancestry, and his relations to his fellow men. They were aided by minor revolutionaries in such fields as astronomy, geology, physics, historical criticism and comparative religion.
The goal of millions of immigrants, America has become since 1850 the land of expanding geographic, economic, and scientific frontiers, under the influence of at least two revolutions with all the factors that caused, accompanied, and were produced by them. Adams was aware of both the change and the complexity, and in the early 1900's he realized that the pattern started in the nineteenth century would accelerate in the twentieth. "The child born in 1900," he recognized, "would . . . be born into a new world which would not be a unity but a multiple." 3
Protestantism, and the Protestant ministry, has been profoundly affected by the revolutions and the increasing complexity of the last century. Protestant thought suffered severe shocks under the impact of intellectual revolution. The essential unity of the evangelical orthodoxy of mid-century became a multiplicity under the influence of this impact and other factors. The changes which fostered, accompanied, and were produced by the industrial revolution -- such as urbanism and all that it implied -- put to stringent test the practices and institutional patterns of a Protestantism which had been closely identified with rural society and culture. The increase of the number of Americans with non-Protestant orientations created for the first time a condition in which Protestantism's domination of American culture could be challenged. Religious and cultural pluralism became a reality, and this affected the status of the Protestant minister in the American community.
Along with the nation Protestantism in America has become more complex in the course of the period. This is due in part to the nature of Protestantism, a movement which has been fissiparous from its beginnings. But this characteristic has been enhanced by those factors which have made American culture itself increasingly complex. Class, cultural, ethnic and intellectual differences brought on by such factors as industrialism, sectionalism and immigration, have had a marked influence on Protestantism.
One can, however, all too easily become caught up in change and complexity to the point where he loses sight of the elements of continuity between this century and former centuries, where he fails to realize that ministers today face essentially the same kinds of problems and deal essentially with the same types of people as their forebears did a century or two ago. Their basic questions remain: How can we best declare the Word of God's saving grace in Jesus Christ? How can we most adequately minister to the needs of His people? Men give differing answers as they vary in their interpretations of the Gospel and of the needs of their time. The questions are the constants, the answers the variants. Today as in the first century minister implies servant. How one serves will depend on his understanding of the will and way of the Master and his appraisal of the most effective approach to his age.
Protestantism in America has experienced the tension between gospel and world as acutely as most other forms of Christianity in other ages and other lands. The Protestant ministry in America has faced as difficult a challenge in communicating the gospel to the world and ministering to the needs of people as the Christian ministry has in most other situations. The contrast between world and gospel has not always been as clear-cut in America as it has sometimes been in the history of Christianity. Situations calling for the sacrifice of the martyr have not always been as obvious as in some other times and civilizations. If anything, the American world has been too attractive and seductive and Protestantism has had a constant struggle to keep from capitulating to it entirely. Separation of Church and State has compelled religious groups in America to rely on their own initiative. This has made especially strong the temptation to formulate and present the gospel almost entirely in terms of the language and practices of the world. On the other hand, competition between religious groups and life in a constantly changing and rapidly expanding new world have stimulated an extraordinary amount of ministerial resourcefulness in devising ways of communicating the gospel relevantly but without undue compromise.
Various types of ministry and ministers have emerged during the last hundred years, some more in continuity with earlier Protestantism than others, many reflecting clearly the influence of the events of the period, and all dealing in their own separate ways with the tension between gospel and world. Typology is always somewhat artificial; one cannot pour the volatile fluids of history into static molds. Yet it can help us see the large patterns -- especially if we are aware of the exceptions and of the frequent overlapping of types. This method is followed here in an effort to discern some pattern in exceedingly complex developments almost too close to the mind's eye to be viewed in proper focus.
The Ministry of Cultural Protestantism
One of the striking things about this period is the extent to which the Protestant ministry has reflected new cultural patterns and ideals. The culture-accommodating ministry is a common type.
John C. Calhoun observed in 1850 that one of the strongest of the ties holding the nation together, the spiritual and ecclesiastical, was the first to give way under the pressures of the slavery issue.4 The reactions of Protestantism to the sectionalism that precipitated the Civil War, to the War itself and to Reconstruction, tell us much about its nature in America. In the mid-nineteenth century (and continuing until recently) Protestantism was in a sense America's national religion. The nation's causes became its causes. It was a religion of the people, close to the people. As a result it became too closely identified with the causes of the moment, but at the same time it ministered valiantly to the needs of the people at times of great national peril.
The churches were intensely active on both sides during the Civil War. The words of one minister describe what was probably typical of many: "I . . . wrote, printed, stumped, talked, prayed and voted in favor of my government and . . . fought on the same side."5 President Lincoln pointed out that he had had "great cause of gratitude for the support so unanimously given by all Christian denominations of the country."6 Hundreds of chaplains from all major groups extended the ministry of the church to the opposing armies. A lay as well as an ordained ministry carried on extensive educational and humanitarian activities. Countless acts of mercy by both layman and minister gave comfort to those who suffered under the impact of the War.
Unfortunately many of the words and acts of churchmen during and after the Civil War were far from the spirit of a ministry of reconciliation. Instead hostility and resentment frequently motivated the ministry, especially in the denominations that had split over the slavery issue. Perhaps those who did most to heed the call to reconciliation were the great political leaders, Lincoln and Lee. They had the sense of tragedy and of the inscrutable majesty of providence lacking to many Protestant ministers.
Following the War clerical carpetbaggers preceded political carpetbaggers. Ministers of the North looked upon the South as mission territory, and regarded all Southerners -- including their ministerial brothers -- as unregenerated sinners who needed to be converted. In "that sinful and unrepentant region . . . the very conscience of the professedly religious portion . . . was debauched . . ." and the ministry was "guilty beyond the power of language to describe in that they were debauchers, and . . . both preachers and people were backslidden into a depth out of which even the mercy of God might fail to lift them."7 This spirit could not but provoke an equally strong reaction on the part of Southern ministers. As they had called on their religion to justify slavery before the War and to assure the righteousness of the "cause" during the War, so once again they summoned it to build up their defenses again the outrageous onslaught of the Yankee -- who became the "infidel Yankee."
The church was one of the few institutions in the South to which the defeated and despairing people could turn in an effort to recoup some sense of purpose and hope. During the period of Reconstruction the Protestant ministry played an important role in developing Southern defenses -- emotional and spiritual -- against Yankee encroachment. Gradually it helped paint a picture in which "Yankeeism" was portrayed as synonymous with infidelity and atheism, and the South as the true home of virtue and the Christian religion. Because the ministry was identified frequently with a supposedly happier and purer past, because it had lent strong theological sanction to slavery and the cultural patterns of the pre-Civil War period, and because it remained one of the few intact professions after the War, it was held in high esteem in Southern eyes and its power was great.8
Fanatical support of one side or the other during the War and clerical carpetbagging -- and its obverse -- after the War are examples of a type of ministerial activity that has plagued Protestantism in America periodically over the last one hundred -- and more -- years. Many times during this period large segments of the Protestant ministry committed themselves wholeheartedly to a single cause or movement, or to the mores of a segment of society, with the apparent certainty that this was what the ministry required of them. Henry F. May has called the period from 1861 to 1876 "The Summit of Complacency," and has shown how the majority of leading Protestant clergymen in the North supported the optimism of the "gilded age" while overlooking the easy morality or amorality of the "robber barons." The battle against "demon rum" became increasingly intense as the century progressed and many a Protestant minister came to believe that the chief test of a man's character was to be found in whether or not he drank spirituous liquors and that the cause of Christianity rose or fell with the fortunes of the temperance movement. With the coming of World War I many preachers "presented arms" in defense of nation, democracy, virtue, and God. They little doubted which side the Lord took. Protestant ministers were among the leading promoters of the crusading spirit which characterized America's approach to the War.9 Afterwards, as disillusionment set in many turned to pacifism (frequently tinged with isolationism) or to the social gospel or both as the best way toward realization of the Kingdom of God on earth. Today many a would-be popular preacher is being seduced by the attractive "cult of reassurance" which has been so successfully proclaimed as the way to happiness here and hereafter, and which has so many characteristics of a cultural religion.
The ministry becomes a cultural ministry or a ministry of cultural Protestantism whenever it tends to identify the gospel or the Kingdom of God with a culture or with a movement or cause in this world.
The Evangelical Minister
Other types of ministry have appeared in America in the interactions of gospel and world and in response to the challenge of the rapidly changing, complex American society. One which shows the greatest continuity with the period before 1850 and which has been a constant since then is what we may call the Evangelical type.
The greatest evangelist of the latter half of the nineteenth century, Dwight L. Moody, was little affected by the revolutions going on about him. He very successfully adapted revival techniques to the urban community, but made little attempt to speak directly to the problems created by burgeoning urbanism and industrialism or to examine their causes critically. The adaptation was accomplished in order to preach effectively in cities the same gospel early nineteenth-century revivalists had preached in the backwoods of Kentucky. Moody refused to become directly involved in the controversies created by the intellectual revolution of his day; he chose to ignore these as much as possible and to stand fast by the evangelical Protestantism of his forebears, yet his influence was as widespread as that of any Protestant in his time. In his period he was the outstanding representative of one type of evangelical ministry which has deep roots in America and which is still the norm for many Protestants.
Moody was never ordained, yet few who heard him ever doubted the validity of his "call." He had powers which enabled him to command the attention of millions and to sway the lives of thousands. But this power did not come from any ecclesiastical body, or through control of the sacraments, or by virtue of an academic degree or training, or by a majority vote of a church assembly. Those who came under his influence were convinced it came directly from God. Before and since Moody the chief standard of success as an evangelist (and a minister) in American Protestantism has been evidence of such charisma, of power not possessed by ordinary folk -- the ability to manifest in a convincing way that one represents more than himself, in short, that one is a man of God. Authenticity is not easily measured and there have been charlatans and border-line cases, but there has also been a host of sincere and effective ministers called of God, servants of the Lord.
Moody preached a gospel with but one center, God's saving act in Jesus Christ, and one goal, the conversion and salvation of the sinner. All other ends were secondary. His technique and his message were dominated by this interest. Public morality was to be improved through saving individuals. The church was a voluntary association of the saved.
Moody's orientation was substantially that of eighteenth and nineteenth-century evangelical or pietist Protestantism with its special emphases and interpretations of sin and judgment, conversion, salvation, redemption, heaven and hell, literalistic use of the Bible, its suspicion of the wisdom and ways of this world, its moralism and individualism. Essentially the same gospel was preached by thousands of evangelical ministers in Moody's time and has been followed by a multitude since.
The career of the present-day evangelist, Billy Graham, seems to indicate that the evangelical minister still occupies an important place in America Protestantism. There have been many changes in the last century, but if one symbol of the ministry stands out above all others it is that of the simple, unassuming "unadorned" man of God, standing with Bible in hand, expounding the gospel of salvation in and through Jesus Christ.
The Liberal Minister
There were others in Moody's time who could not avoid being caught up in the currents and crosscurrents of intellectual strife which blew across the period with such force that the whole structure of evangelical Protestantism was threatened with collapse. Some endeavored to strip the structure down to the "fundamentals" and presumed to plant the footings deeper so as to preserve the building intact no matter what took place around it. Others attempted to meet the crisis by adding modern, up-to-date features here and there, and rearranging floor plan and structural supports.
The Darwinian theory of evolution was the blast which appeared to threaten evangelical Protestantism most seriously. Together with other developments in the "new science" it caused a series of reactions among Protestants which by the early twentieth century had resulted in a sharp cleavage between liberalism and fundamentalism.
Henry Ward Beecher, an early liberal, introduced evolutionary thought into his sermons in the 1870's. He identified evolution with God's way of doing things, overlooking some of the less pleasant aspects of the theory. His example was followed by others until by the end of the century many Protestant ministers found little difficulty in adjusting to the theory which appeared radically unchristian to many others.
Beecher spent much of his energy in reaction against the doctrines and influence of his famous father. He was thoroughly grounded in the evangelical Protestantism of Lyman Beecher but it became evident very early in his ministry that he was not wedded to it. On the contrary, he developed a freedom which enabled him to embrace most of the ideas that were suggested by the advancing science of his time. Without scientific training, he embraced only the simplest ideas of the new science, those which could most easily be marketed in popular form. He showed an extraordinary ability to adjust and adapt the thought forms of a previous generation to the temper of his own. He displayed an unusual sensitivity to the currents and crosscurrents of his time and a remarkable ability to shift with the prevailing winds. He built on the foundations of evangelical Protestantism, but he looked to current ideas and needs for the material out of which to form the superstructure.
Beecher's outlook on the role of the ministry was clearly set forth in the first series of Lyman Beecher lectures delivered at Yale in 1871. "The providence of God is rolling forward a spirit of investigation that Christian ministers must meet and join," he asserted.
There is no class of people upon earth who can less afford to let the development of truth run ahead of them than they. You cannot wrap yourselves in professional mystery, for the glory of the Lord is such that it is preached with power throughout all the length and breadth of the world, by these investigators of his wondrous creation. You cannot go back and become apostles of the dead past, driveling after ceremonies, and letting the world do the thinking and studying. There must be a new spirit infused into the ministry.
To those afraid that such freedom might destroy the whole structure of Christianity Beecher recommended:
You take care of yourselves and of men, and learn the truth as God shows it to you all the time, and you need not be afraid of Christianity.... We must be more industrious in investigation, more honest in deduction, and more willing to take the truth in its new fullness....10
Openness to new discoveries of truth and willingness to adjust one's beliefs and practices to them -- this became the standard of the liberal minister. He was not a Biblical literalist. The Bible remained a source of authority but authority was also to be found in the discoveries of the scientist and the insights of the poet. If he was regarded by his congregation as speaking with authority it was because he spoke for a modem God or God in modern guise. He was not a creedalist; creeds restricted him too much. If he used one it was likely to be of his own making. He shied away from the use of the traditional theological language, preferring instead new words and often new concepts. He never became so free, however, as to discard entirely the concepts of historical Christianity but rather endeavored to reinterpret them. Usually welleducated, he could use the new terms of the intellectuals though he might not always have understood them fully. He was permissive in his attitude toward his congregation, allowing them a good deal of freedom in matters of belief and, to a lesser extent, in practice. In most instances he was identified with the middle or upper classes in American society.
The liberal minister has become a common figure in most of the major Protestant denominations. When, a short time ago, Life magazine chose twelve of America's "Great Preachers" nine of those selected were Protestants. The majority of these nine could be classified as liberals or as men whose early ministry at least was shaped by the patterns of liberalism.
The Fundamentalist Minister
The liberal minister attempted to adjust the essentials of evangelical Protestantism to the intellectual trends of the time; the fundamentalist minister attempted to maintain his version of evangelical Protestantism intact, to shut it off from "alien" influences and preserve it from change. The one was open to new discoveries in science, believing that more truth was to be disclosed; the other either closed his mind to all discoveries that seemed to contradict the truth that he knew, or sought to keep science and theology wholly separate. The liberal minister left some questions undecided and attempted to imbue a spirit of investigation in his congregation whereas the fundamentalist minister declared and expounded the truth he already possessed.
The fundamentalist minister possessed a clear-cut sense of call, usually defined in terms of a single identifiable experience. Education tended to be of little importance save for the purpose of a better understanding of Biblical revelation. Understanding of recent trends in learning was of little or no concern to him; it might even be a hindrance since all that was necessary for salvation had been once and for all revealed. Preaching was the most important way of communicating the truth. The preacher was God's messenger. His approach tended to be emotional and directed toward individual conversion. Pastoral work tended to follow a stereotyped pattern. The minister was expected, when he called at the home or on the sick and the bereaved, to offer prayers that followed a pattern -- though appearing to be impromptu -- and to bring assurances based on an otherworldly orientation. He was expected to inquire after the morality of his people and to denounce any irregularities. Religious education was not a particularly important aspect of his work since conversion was far more important than nurture.
Fundamentalism has been characterized by (1) vigorous resistance to developments in the world of science that appeared to contradict the Biblical text; (2) Biblical literalism; (3) individualism; (4) moralism; and (5) insistence on belief in certain "fundamentals" such as the inerrancy of the Scriptures, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and his second coming. It developed out of the evangelical Protestantism of the early nineteenth century, gaining a stronghold especially in the South where the majority of Protestants regarded themselves as the true defenders of the faith while the liberal Yankees were stultifying it. Fundamentalism is in many ways similar to evangelical Protestantism; the chief difference between them is one of mood and spirit. Fundamentalism is evangelical Protestantism on the defensive and thus in its more rigid and ossified form. To be sure, liberals could become dogmatic about their liberalism, and fundamentalists could be fair-minded about their convictions.
The Minister as Social Reformer
The revolutionary social, economic, and intellectual developments in post-Civil War America stimulated within Protestantism attempts to develop a new prophetic ministry which would exercise critical judgment on the injustices which accompanied the radical changes of the period and would point the way to a new application of the gospel to the social needs of the time. A segment of the Protestant ministry became impressed with the need for a systematic approach to those factors which are most fundamental in bringing about social change for good or ill. Many men who had begun a conventional pastoral ministry sometime in the latter half of the century found themselves so deeply involved in the forces of social change that they felt compelled to alter radically their concept of the ministry. Involvement in the multitudinous problems of a rapidly expanding urban area or exposure to the increasingly bitter struggle between labor and management or entanglement in the luxuriant and rank growth so abundantly fostered by the new wealth of the "gilded age": these and other factors caused many men to re-examine their roles as ministers and to seek more effective ways of ministering to the needs of their time.11 Perhaps the most important thing that happened to such men was that they became aware of the many factors bearing on human welfare and thus of importance to the Christian gospel. As it was once put in homely fashion, they found out that the gospel had something to do with the plumbing.12
Seeing an urban slum, being exposed to the vice, crime, disease, and poverty of the city, becoming aware of the plight of an underpaid or unemployed worker, the wideawake minister felt that something was wrong and expressed his feeling in moral protest. He plunged into a renewed examination of the Bible in an effort to find there the foundation for a Christian approach to these evils. Many men turned to the literature of social protest and reform to find additional assistance in their search for an effective approach to the ills of their work. Societies were formed for "the advancement of the interests of labor," for the promotion of the ideals of the Kingdom, and for other such causes. Like-minded individuals banded together to make their protest more effective. Meetings were held, resolutions passed, journals published -- all in the interest of reform. A few ministers actively engaged in politics and a very small minority joined such essentially protest groups as the Socialist party.
Many ministerial reformers were concerned to be as scientific as possible in their reform activities. Hopkins says that "clergymen were among the leading diagnosticians of the industrial maladjustments of the late 'seventies,"13 and their work became more thorough in later decades. For assistance in diagnosis of social ills and in finding remedies, many clergymen turned avidly to the new field of social science. 'We are beginning to see that the divine methods are scientific," Josiah Strong asserted, "and that if we are to be effective 'laborers together with God,' our methods must also be scientific."14 Ministers were active in the founding and promoting of organizations formed to advance the study of society. Many ministers occupied early academic chairs in sociology and other related fields. Outstanding pioneer social scientists strongly urged the clergy to train themselves adequately in this new and promising field. John R. Commons requested them to study sociology and to "give one-half their pulpit time to expounding it...."15 Richard Ely "proposed that half of theological students' time be devoted to social science and that the divinity schools be the chief intellectual centers for sociology."16 Many seminaries took the advice seriously and instituted courses in Christian Sociology and Social Ethics.
Thus the concept of and approach to the ministry was definitely broadened under the impact of the Social Gospel Movement. In the minds of many a successful ministry now entailed a study of society and of the social forces involved in the shaping of the life of the individual, an awareness of social evils as well as personal sins, and some knowledge of the means of "social salvation" as well as of individual redemption. The minister was to identify himself with an advancing Kingdom of God which reached far beyond the confines of the church; he was to engage in service to the community as a whole and not to the church alone. He was to
become a vital factor in his city, a man to be reckoned with in every great movement, a man to be consulted upon all important questions affecting the life of the people, a dominant force in, the making and the molding of the democratic order.
In some way he was to become the minister of the great social order which was developing.l7
There were some who were apprehensive that the minister might go so far as a social reformer that he would neglect the other aspects of his ministry. Edward Judson declared:
Social problems are so difficult and so fascinating that they easily absorb all a minister's time and energy. He neglects his study and the care of his flock. He loses his priestly character and becomes a mere social functionary.18
Nevertheless, one of the most profound changes which has taken place among certain segments of the Protestant ministry in the last century has been the growth of concern for analysis of society and the reform of social ills. The trend which began with the Social Gospel Movement in the late nineteenth century has continued as an important aspect of Protestantism since. The minister as social reformer has most frequently also been a liberal. But not all liberal ministers have been concerned with social reform and not all ministerial social reformers have been liberals.
The Urban Minister
Urbanization, asserts H. Paul Douglass, has brought about in the church "the greatest inner revolution it has ever known....''19 This may be an exaggeration, but there is truth in it. Urbanization has brought a highly mobile population. It has created an increasingly complex-society in which the individual has found himself as part of a multiplicity rather than a unity, associated with many different groups and institutions of which the church is merely one. In America it has also involved an increased religious and cultural pluralism. These and other factors have created problems of adjustment for church and ministry.
Urbanization has called forth two types of reaction in Protestantism: first, the church and the ministry have devised numerous means of reaching out to all kinds of people and groups in the cities; and second, attempts have been made to strengthen the inner fellowship of the local church, to bring about a genuine community in which each individual has a sense of being a member of the one body. These two approaches have gone on simultaneously, but the extensive outreach was more characteristic of the late years of the nineteenth and the early years of the twentieth centuries whereas the intensive cultivation has become more common in recent years.
The chief methods of the church's outreach in the cities remained preaching and evangelism. Moody, Beecher, and Brooks made far greater impact on the cities of the late nineteenth century than any other three ministers of that period, and Moody was chiefly noted for his evangelistic techniques and abilities; Beecher and Brooks for their preaching. But these methods were supplemented by a host of activities and organizations of educational, humanitarian, and recreational nature. These included the Sunday School Movement, the Y. M. C. A., the Y. W. C. A., various other young people's organizations; the establishment of the parish house, the institutional church, the settlement house, and deaconess institutions of various types; the provision of athletics, public baths, savings banks, and trained nurses; the use of house-to-house visitation, and open-air services; and the support of special work with workingmen and recent immigrants; tenement-house reform, organized charity, fresh-air funds, holiday houses, et cetera.
One of the outstanding products of such efforts to meet the needs of the growing and changing city was the development of the institutional church. Many a church had been left stranded as the old residents moved out and was quite useless to the incoming tidal wave of new settlers. It faced the alternative of moving with the ebb or adjusting to the flow. If it did neither it died. The institutional church developed out of an effort to adjust to the incoming groups. As many of the old members as possible were held. But a new program was developed to appeal to the changing community, a program which went far beyond the traditional methods of ministration.
The ideal of the institutional church, as expressed by The Open or Institutional Church League, was one of "ministration to all men and to all of the man." It stood for "open church doors every day and all day, free seats, a plurality of Christian workers, the personal activity of all church members, [and] a ministry to all the community through educational, reformatory and philanthropic channels...."20
One minister presided over the multifarious activities of the institutional church. Success in this position required real administrative ability. The staff under his authority might include associate and assistant ministers, deaconesses, social workers, numerous lay volunteer workers, secretarial and custodial help. Each member of the staff had his own special duties and area of operation assigned to him by the chief or by staff consultation. The institutional church adopted techniques of efficiency and organization from the industrial and business world. It was one of Protestantism's most effective weapons in meeting the problems created by advancing urbanism.
Somewhat related to this type of institution but even more strictly organized and more specialized was the Salvation Army. The Army was founded in 1878 by William Booth as a result of his conviction that the churches were not doing their work adequately. Booth developed a strict plan of military discipline under which men and women devoted themselves to a ministry to the down and outers of industrial society. Dressed in quasi-military garb and under military command these ministers of the gospel attempted to appeal to the publicans and sinners by means of street-corner preaching, instrumental music, and hymns sung to catchy and popular tunes. Rather soon after coming to America the Army developed a system of social service. The "leaders began to realize that the pauper poor needed a thoroughgoing reformation in which physical, as well as spiritual and moral, improvement must play a part."21
Protestantism's struggle to minister adequately to the needs created by increasing urbanization continues. Much of the heart of the city has been lost to it, but constant efforts are being made to devise adequate ways of ministering to urban areas. In recent years frequently effective endeavors have been made through such means as group ministries in parishes in critical neighborhoods of large cities and various types of co-operative work in newly created housing areas.
Urbanization has also had the effect of causing Protestantism to seek methods of strengthening its inner life. Pastoral calling has assumed a new importance as the urban church has sought to develop a sense of community among its members. Henry Sloan Coffin is reported to have made as many as one thousand pastoral calls a year during his ministry at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. Activities have been developed to appeal to specific age and interest groups -- the young married couples, families, professional women, et cetera. Protestant churches have sought to build a sense of unity and wholeness among church members. This can prepare them to engage in the church's ministry to the world, to operate from a position of inner strength in appealing to those on the "outside."
The Rural Minister
With the increasing impact of urbanization and industrialization on America disintegration began to take place in rural communities. The rural ministry gradually became a stepping stone for young men on their way to more prosperous city churches or a final resting place for the man who had given his most vigorous years to urban centers. Rural churches were becoming poor country relations. Some religious leaders, being convinced that Protestantism had a special responsibility for rural communities and that it would benefit from a strong rural America, became concerned to develop a specialized rural ministry.
President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a special Commission on Country Life to investigate what was happening to the rural areas and determine what was needed to maintain their vitality. The report of this Commission, issued in 1911, had a great impact on the development of a specialized rural ministry. It called for the recruiting and training of country pastors who knew rural problems, loved the country, and had sympathy with rural ideals and aspirations. It pointed to the need for specialized training to be provided by "ministerial colleges and theological seminaries" in co-operation with the agricultural colleges of the nation.22 Many institutions responded to the needs pointed up by the Commission and by others, by developing such specialized training. Something approaching missionary zeal for the rural ministry has developed in this century as an increasing number of young men have decided to devote themselves to it.
The Lay Minister
Laymen were called on to help meet the challenges thrown before Protestantism by the industrialism and urbanism of the late nineteenth century. Graham Taylor, speaking in 1889 before the Evangelical Alliance's General Christian Conference in Boston, called attention to the need for "Arousing and Training the Activity of the Laity." Recalling Protestant emphasis on the "priesthood of the people," Taylor called for a lay ministry which would include: (1) a "Sunday-school army," (2) Christian associations, (3) the utilization of the "great multitude of women who publish the Word in home and school, mission-bands and temperance unions, and the thousand forms of woman's work for women and for the church," and (4) the use of the "600,000 youth from Christian Endeavor Societies."23 An empire of lay activity grew up among the organizations suggested by Taylor and many others. Many institutions for the training of lay workers sprang into existence.
An example of a laymen's movement which reflected the spirit of the period was The Men and Religion Forward Movement. Formed in 1911 primarily by businessmen, its object was declared to be
an effort to secure the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ by the individual manhood and boyhood of our times, and their permanent enlistment in the program of Jesus Christ as the world program of daily affairs.24
Displaying the enthusiasm of a time committed to the evangelization of the world in one generation the Movement engaged in a highly organized form of evangelism, carrying out a planned campaign by outstanding businessmen in several major cities. Effective during the period of initial enthusiasm, by 1914 the energy of the Movement had been spent.25
Probably the most effective laymen's organizations during the latter part of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries were the Y. M. C. A. and the Y. W. C. A. In their beginnings both regarded themselves as arms of the church, specialized organizations designed to carry on a ministry not provided by ordinary local churches nor by denominations. In its convention of 1856 the Y. M. C. A. declared:
We do not intend that this institution shall take the highest place in our affections, or the largest share of our labors, but, that we hold this organization as auxiliary to the divinely appointed means of grace, the CHURCH and the preaching of the Gospel.26
The Y's engaged in many activities including social service and humanitarian work, evangelism of an interdenominational sort, the training of laymen for such work, and activities designed to appeal especially to young men and women. They were among the first organizations to carry on an effective ministry in American universities and colleges.
Many of the lay organizations formed in the late nineteenth or the early twentieth centuries have now ceased to exist or their work has been greatly modified -- as in the case with the Y's, for example. Denominations have become increasingly conscious of the importance of making use of the energies of laymen and have established organizations of their own to do this. Possibly we are experiencing a renewed awareness of the nature of the church as a ministering institution, a body which ministers to the needs of the world through all its members. The minister may function as a leader, a source of inspiration, an organizer, an administrator, but he cannot single-handedly, or even with a staff, carry on the service which is the church's vocation. The complex and pressing demands made upon Protestantism by the rising industrial and urban society have brought with them a renewed awareness of the role of the church as a ministering body in which both lay and ordained ministers are called as servants of the gospel, not only in the church but also in the world.
The needs of the period prompted many denominations to give serious consideration -- some for the first time -- to the use of women in specialized ministries. Protestantism has never been fully clear in its own mind about the role of women in the ministry. Some denominations have granted the same ordination status to them as to men. Others have refused. In most denominations women have been commissioned to carry on special humanitarian and educational services. In the latter part of the nineteenth century the Protestant Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist denominations in particular called upon women in comparatively large numbers to serve as deaconesses. Abell reports that nearly "a hundred and fifty well-equipped deaconess institutions arose between 1885 and 1900. Under the circumstances," he continues, "this was amazing progress, reflecting as nothing else did the impact of the social crisis upon conventional modes of religious behavior."27
Social crisis or no social crisis, however, many denominations still refuse women ordination and even in those that grant it women do not play the same role as men. The issue has been a topic for debate in many ecclesiastical bodies. In 1947 the Presbyterian General Assembly refused ordination on the grounds that this privilege would likely "mean scandal in the church." The 1955 Assembly reversed this decision, perhaps because it was more scandalous not to allow ordination than to permit it. Seldom are ordained women placed in full charge of a local church, save in some small town and rural congregations that cannot afford or find a man. Any female minister must overcome a tremendous prejudice. The church is probably the most conservative of all institutions in this regard. Women have gained far more status in most other professions than in the ministry. Most women ministers find their places as directors of religious education or in other special capacities on the staffs of large city churches, or as ministers to students and directors of student work, or as wives of ordained men.
The Negro Minister
There would be little point in singling the Negro out for special attention were it not for the fact that following the Civil War and until recently the minister has occupied a unique role in the Negro community. His status in it was unsurpassed by any other profession and unsurpassed also by the status of ministers in any other Protestant group in America. The one institution which the Negro was able to run for himself after the Civil War was the church. This then became the institution through which the greatest personal prestige could be obtained, and we should add, through which the most immediate service to the people could be rendered. The one man in the Negro community who usually owed his position to no one outside that community was the minister. Because of this and because of his unique position of authority as a religious leader he could frequently do and say things that no one else in the community could do or say. In many cases during the post-War period he was the only man in the community with any semblance of an education. He performed many functions beyond the normal work of the ministry, being on occasion teacher, lawyer, doctor, and statesman. The social pattern of the Negro community in the post-War period might be described as theocratic with the minister occupying the role of chief, prophet, educator, and political leader. He was, Woodson says, "the walking encyclopedia, the counselor of the unwise, the friend of the unfortunate, the social welfare organizer, and the interpreter of the times." No man, continues Woodson, was "properly introduced to the Negro community unless he [came] through the minister, and no movement [could] expect success there unless it [had] his cooperation or endorsement."28
But more recently the status of the minister in the Negro community has been on the decline while other professions have grown in power. The ministry has become less and less attractive to vigorous and promising young men because of its identification with a rejected older order, the stereotypes which have developed, and probably most important of all because the "old time religion" no longer appeals to many of the young.
The educational level of the Negro minister has never been high nor even adequate in most instances. Fortunately, in recent times this level has risen slightly, but the gains are small. The Negro community continues to experience a serious, if not critical, shortage of well-trained ministers. This condition does not augur well for the future of Protestantism in the Negro communities. Efforts, however, are being made to correct it by encouraging the development of a kind of ministry which will overcome some of the common defects, by improving the caliber of professional education available to Negroes and by enrolling an increasing number of Negroes in interracial seminaries.29
The Immigrant Minister
For more than a century after the establishment of the United States immigrants poured on to American shores by the millions. Rarely has such a mass migration occurred or have so many religious groups been transplanted. The problems of effecting a satisfactory settlement were large. For the churches the fundamental problem was to distinguish between those cultural forms which were extraneous to the gospel, or mere vessels for its transmission, and those beliefs and practices which had to be preserved if the faith was to stand. The tension between gospel and world was as strong in the immigrant church as in any native group, if not stronger.
The immigrant minister faced the task of maintaining sufficient contact with the old ways so as to preserve the roots of faith while also adapting his ministry to the new environment. Frequently the church proved to be one of the strongest ties with the mother country and its ministers among the slowest to adapt themselves to the new culture. They clung tenaciously to the language and forms of the home church and all too often came to be -- especially for the young people -- a resented symbol of the peculiar ways of the "old country" which the young rejected in their consuming desire to identify themselves with the new world. On the other hand, many an immigrant pastor became an important leader in holding a people together during the difficult period of adjustment which these first-generation Americans faced. The position of the pastor in the immigrant community was similar to the place of the minister in the Negro community. He often played the role of community leader.
Such men frequently found it necessary to develop new methods of ministration and to occupy unaccustomed roles. A man trained to be a parish pastor in the established Church of Sweden and accustomed to the prerogatives of such a position was not too well prepared to carry on an effective ministry among struggling immigrants in a strange land and surrounded by an alien people. Nevertheless, many responded vigorously to the challenge and came to prefer the new country to the old.30
No immigrant minister could long remain entirely free from the influence of the ministerial patterns of the new world. The voluntaryism of American denominationalism forced new practices upon him. Laymen assumed an important role, and most immigrant churches tended toward congregationalism in America no matter what the form of church government had been in the native land. Sermons had to be made interesting and understandable if the congregation was to be held. Pastoral calling assumed a new importance in maintaining contact with the flock, many of whom were tempted to pursue the false gods of the new world or merely become indifferent toward the old faiths. The education of the young became crucial, for among the second generation the ties with the old ways were usually weak and the pressures to adjust to the new world were especially strong. If the young could not be held the cause was lost.
In his monumental A History of the Expansion of Christianity Kenneth Scott Latourette refers to the period between 1800 and 1914 as "The Great Century." He devotes three volumes of a seven-volume work to this period. During this time Christianity expanded on a far greater scale than during any preceding period and Protestantism played a greater role in this expansion than did the other branches of the Christian movement.31 From within Protestantism came a surge of missionary endeavor unparalleled in strength and magnitude of goal in previous Protestant history, and perhaps unparalleled in the history of Christianity. This movement had its origins chiefly in the Protestantism of the British Isles and the United States, whence also it derived its main support. It was "from the United States that the majority of the missionaries and more than half of the funds of the Protestant missionary enterprise eventually came."32 The end of the nineteenth century was to witness a Protestant people in America bent upon evangelizing the world in one generation and hurriedly devising the methods and providing the means by which this might be done.
Thus during our period the missionary calling was one of the most important types of the ministry within American Protestantism. It was somewhat distinct from those ministries carried on among a people the majority of whom already professed to be Christians. Furthermore, the missionary ministry came to imply a greater awareness of calling or a more urgent sense of need and purpose. It came to play a role somewhat similar to that of the monastic calling in Catholicism, demanding a special measure of singleness of purpose and devotion.
The missionary "call" led to more than one type of ministry. Techniques somewhat different from those in use among "Christian people" had to be developed. Chief among the ministries was that of evangelization, but ministries of teaching and healing also assumed an important role. Students and lay men and women entered the lists in unprecedented numbers. Missionary societies were formed locally and nationally to facilitate the church's ministry.
The call to missionary activity remains strong in Protestantism. Denominations have their recruiting agencies and seminaries provide specialized training which in many instances utilizes the techniques and knowledge supplied by relevant sciences. An interesting development is the program which sends recent college graduates to mission fields for periods of three years or more. This is both a recruiting device and a way of staffing mission stations. Its success demonstrates the dramatic appeal of the missionary call and the efficiency of denominational missionary organizations.
Ministry to Institutions
In the last century an increasing specialization of ministries has developed as the churches have continued to follow the historical practice of seeking people out wherever they are. As American society has become increasingly institutionalized, the churches have sent more and more ministers into institutions of various types.
Chaplains have served in the armed forces in ever-increasing numbers, many for a short period of time -- especially during war -- others for the entire length of their ministries. Men are also turning in greater numbers to ministries in hospitals, prisons, schools, and colleges, and other institutions. Some seminaries now provide a form of specialized training designed to prepare men for service in particular kinds of institutions. Professional organizations of institutional chaplains have come into existence on denominational and interdenominational levels. Standards of training have been established in certain cases by these organizations. In some instances special journals deal with the peculiar problems of such a ministry.
Calling, Education, and Ordination
What qualifies a man for the ministry? It has been generally characteristic of evangelical Protestantism in America to single out a special call as fundamental. This call has been conceived as a summons from God made known to the individual through an identifiable and distinctive personal experience. It has been assumed that usually prior to this experience the individual has responded positively to a similar call to become a Christian. After these experiences professional training might be added, although it has not always been regarded as necessary. Some denominations have engaged in family quarrels while weighing the relative merits of inner call and professional training.
Emphasis on the professional character of the ministry has increased during the last hundred years. Vigorous attempts have been made to raise the standards of ministerial education and training. An increasing number of seminaries has come into existence, and seminary education has become more professionalized -- by emphasizing more specialized and practical training than a minister received a century ago.
Nevertheless, most denominations still regard an authentic call -- usually understood as a personal experience or series of experiences -- as fundamental for entrance to the ministry. In some groups this inner call may be all that is necessary to ordination. In others in which summons by an ecclesiastical body is as important as an inner call the latter must be supplemented or tested by a period spent under the supervision of a bishop, a conference, a presbytery, or some other official body. The inner call must also be deepened and enlarged by a long process of education and training. Preaching is not permitted until after ordination by some denominations.
Methods and standards by which the authenticity of the call is determined vary widely. In the strictest form of congregationalism the local church is the sole judge. More frequently conferences, dioceses and associations of churches, bishops and other supervisors exercise the right.
Standards may be heavily doctrinal in character or more experiential. In many cases the test of authenticity is formulated in terms of certain theological statements and standards to which the individual is expected to give assent. In others he is closely questioned on the nature of his experience of an inner call, the manner in which he received it, and the effect it has had on his life. During the last century there has been some tendency in certain groups toward relaxation of doctrinal standards, while efforts have been made to raise the educational standards.
The trends in education and training described in the preceding chapter continued in the period after 1850. In many instances theological education was on the defensive against the increasing power and influence of secular education. For the most part, theological schools did not occupy a very important role in the educational world. Their denominational character tended to widen the breach between theological and other types of education and to isolate the seminary from the prevailing intellectual currents.
However, certain institutions did attempt to bridge the growing gap between the theology of evangelical Protestantism and the intellectual issues of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the teachers in these seminaries were trained in Germany, the center of advanced Protestant theology. Others received their training in one of the new sciences in an American university, and were thus better prepared to adjust theologically to trends in the world of science. Seminary administrations -- especially in the university schools -- were frequently motivated by a desire to bring theological education in line with the highest standards of secular education.33
The constant danger existed that these seminaries might go so far in adaptation to recent developments in theology and in other academic areas that they would lose touch with the churches. Churches oriented in evangelical theology were little prepared to cope with the findings of Biblical criticism and comparative religion, or to adjust their outlook to the recommendations of the social ethics professor. Sometimes a difficult situation was created for many graduates of these schools when they attempted to gain the approval of their denominations and to adjust to the theological orientation of their congregations.
The university schools such as Yale, Harvard, Chicago, and Union in New York, have frequently been at the growing edge of Protestantism in the last half century. Most of them have become interdenominational in character. They have influenced denominational seminaries toward a greater adjustment to intellectual trends, have offered advanced training for their graduates, and have been an important source of their teachers. They have prepared many college teachers, leaders of the ecumenical and other interdenominational enterprises, and have trained men and women for other special types of ministry which do not fit readily into the traditional pattern of theological education.
Meanwhile, the number of denominational seminaries has greatly increased during the past century. Such denominations as the Methodists, Baptists, and Disciples have shown an increasing interest in graduate theological education, and various denominational splits and new movements have apparently created the need for more institutions. Denominationalism has in some instances become intensified in theological education. Efforts to bring together seminaries of various denominations have met with difficulty, although they have been fairly successful in cases where great care was exercised. Many denominational schools have performed valuable service in aiding their churches both to maintain their traditional orientations and to adjust themselves enough to social and intellectual developments so as not to lose contact with the ongoing world. At this point the denominational seminary has certain advantages over the interdenominational because of its close contact with denominational practices and traditions.
The tendency for theological education to become increasingly pragmatic was noted in the previous chapter. This tendency has increased in our period. Ministerial education, like education in general, has moved away from the classical pattern toward a greater emphasis on practical arts and vocational training. An obvious evidence of this shift is seen in the gradual de-emphasis of classical language study. Some seminaries have dropped requirements in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Some still cling to one or two of these but many demand no great proficiency in any language except English and sometimes even that is lacking.
There has been an enormous increase in the number and variety of courses offered, an increasing provision of electives, increasing opportunity to prepare for various forms of specialized ministry, and an extension of the seminary's responsibility to include on-the-field operations. Certain trends in the content of courses are also evident. Robert L. Kelly in his study Theological Education in America, published in 1924, found in the seminary curricula of 1872 an emphasis on exegetical theology and the study of the original Biblical languages. By 1895 there was less emphasis on exegetical theology and more on historical and practical theology. New kinds of courses were being introduced into the curricula, including missions, sociology, and ethics, and more time was being allotted to elocution or "sacred oratory." By 1921 the curricula provided for more specialization and a more practical emphasis. Requirements in original languages had declined. The increase of courses in practical theology, sociology, religious education, psychology of religion, rural and urban church, demonstrated both the specialized and practical emphases. Kelly's summary of the trends in the curriculum of Oberlin Seminary applies to many others as well: "The program of study was changing from the dogmatic to the practical, from the ecclesiocentric to the socio-centric...."34 More recent examinations show the continuation of these emphases in our time though they also show a revival of interest in systematic and exegetical theology and in the Biblical languages.
A discussion of the education and training of the ministry would not be complete without some reference to the large number of ministers who have received little or no professional training. An analysis of the 1926 Religious Census figures for seventeen of the largest white Protestant denominations in the United States showed that over 40 per cent of all the ministers of these denominations were graduates neither of college nor of theological seminary, while only 33 per cent were graduates of both. Actually these figures are high since the census bureau was very liberal in its interpretation of the meaning of college or seminary.35
Reliable and comprehensive statistics are not available for the periods previous to or since 1926. On the basis of what evidence is at hand one can conclude that while there has been a gradual rise in the level of theological education in the last half century the training of a significant number of Protestant ministers is very inadequate, if adequacy is measured in terms of college and seminary training.
It is an extremely difficult and slow process to raise the educational level because of a lack of qualified candidates, a strong tradition of lay control, and suspicion of education in many quarters. It is the general impression that not enough men of first-class ability are being attracted to the ministry to meet the existing needs. Competition from other professions and occupations has become more acute over the last century. At one time the ministry was at the top of the professions in terms of status and prestige. This is no longer the case, and the churches face a difficult and constant task in recruiting and training men.
Protestantism in America, as indicated in the preceding chapter, has been almost from the first strongly lay-centered and lay-controlled. In many instances the tradition of a lay ministry has militated against ministerial education. If a conscientious and consecrated layman does the work of preaching the gospel why bother to send a man to college or seminary for training? This attitude is not as prevalent as it once was, but it still crops up -- especially in the form of lay apathy toward standards of training.
There has also been in certain branches of Protestantism a long-standing suspicion of education. Perry Miller once said that Protestantism has always had difficulty in preventing the doctrine of justification by faith from being interpreted as meaning justification by ignorance. This suspicion of learning became especially strong among some Protestants in the face of the intellectual revolution of the late nineteenth century. It ranged from a deliberate cultivation of an attitude of ignorance and an obscurantism that reveled in the "old time religion," to a mistrust of certain "modern" universities and seminaries. Many denominations went through a period of strenuous self-examination and discussion of the merits or lack of merits of a ministerial education and on the matter of what kind of education -- if any -- should be approved.
Typical of the attitude of many churchmen was the sentiment expressed by Bishop Pierce of the Southern Methodist Church in 1872 "The best preacher I ever heard," averred the Bishop, "had never been to college at all -- hardly to school." This statement was made in the course of a controversy over the establishment by the church of a university. The Bishop was especially suspicious of the theological training that might be offered. "It is my opinion," he affirmed, "that every dollar invested in a theological school will be a damage to Methodism. Had I a million, I would not give a dime for such an object."36
A very strong minority of the officials of the Southern Methodist Church sided with the Bishop in his suspicion of theological education. An attempt was made in the Conference of 1870 to secure a central theological school for the church. Although a majority of a special committee on theological education supported the proposal, the minority was able to rally Conference support to its position. The minority report gives a clear indication of an attitude which continued to play an important role in many church circles and is present even today. The history of theological schools, asserted the report,
has little that is favorable to Methodism, and much that is adverse. They have been fruitful sources of heresies innumerable, of a manner of preaching not generally desirable and rarely effectual among us, and of that formalism that never favors experiential religion....
The report called for the support of existing colleges and of local Bible schools which had sprung up in profusion.37
Such mistrust of any education tinged with "modern" influences resulted in the creation of scores of Bible colleges and training schools for ministers. In many instances the level of training in these institutions has been of rather doubtful quality. On the other hand leaders of the Bible school movement have been developing a theory of liberal arts education with the Bible at its center, and through an accrediting association have moved toward standardization and steady improvement of a program which seeks to synthesize conservative evangelical Christianity with a valid educational ideal.
In some groups the attempt to raise the level of theological education still goes on against strong opposition despite the rise in the level of general education in the nation. Successful efforts have been made to raise and maintain standards through the formation of the American Association of Theological Schools and its system of accreditation.
Social Sources and Status
After 1800, as has been pointed out, Protestant ministers in America came in increasing numbers from the lower social and economic strata. This trend continued throughout the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. Douglass and Brunner found that
responses to the call of the ministry are strongly skewed in favor of candidates from small communities, from relatively humble antecedents, both educationally and economically, and from the less well-established racial elements of the population.38
During the early part of the nineteenth century this fact of less privileged social and economic origin did not appear to affect adversely the status of the minister. His remained a privileged position. Whether there has been a decline in social status since 1850 is very difficult to judge. If such a decline has occurred it has probably taken place in two areas -- influence on the practical affairs of the community and standing in intellectual circles.
The famous observer of the American scene, Lord Bryce, testified that the position of minister carried with it a good deal of prestige. "It gives a man a certain advantage in the society . . . to which he naturally belongs in respect of his family connections, his means, and his education," he asserted.
In the great cities the leading ministers . . . are among the first citizens, and exercise an influence often wider and more powerful than that of any layman.... In cities of the second order, the clergymen ... move in the best society of the place. Similarly in country places the pastor is better educated and more enlightened than the average members of his flock, and becomes a leader in works of beneficence.
Although he felt that the standing of clergymen remained high in the United States after the Civil War, Bryce did note a change in the character of ministerial influence on community affairs. Ministers no longer had as much political influence as in an earlier period. They "must not now interfere in politics."
It is only on platforms or in conventions where some moral cause is to be advocated, such as Abolitionism was before the war years . . . or temperance is now, that clergymen can with impunity appear.39
These observations would appear to continue to hold true for the later period. Ministers of the more established denominations do move in the higher social circles in most communities. But for the most part their influence is small in the organizations -- political parties, labor unions, manufacturers' associations, farm groups -- which are most effective in determining the direction of community affairs. The minister can be counted on for support of the obvious moral issues, but when the issues become complex and ambiguous his support probably will not be sought. Samuel Gompers expressed the trade unionist's lack of confidence in ministers accusing them of being apologists and defenders of the status quo and of using "their exalted positions to discourage and discountenance all practical efforts of the toilers to lift themselves out of the slough of despondency and despair." 40 Heywood Broun declared in 1929, "If I were promoting some cause which seemed to be right and true I would rather have the help of one able editor than of a dozen preachers." 41 Doubtless this was an extreme position but it was tacitly assented to by many.
It is quite possible that the depression years and after have seen a slight reversal of this tendency to undervalue the influence of ministers in the practical affairs of the community. At the same time there has developed in certain theological circles what appears to be a more realistic approach to politics and economics.
A clear indication of a change in intellectual status can be gained by a glance at the place of ministers in the world of education. Ninety per cent of the presidents of colleges before the Civil War were ordained ministers.42 In the post-War period these men were rapidly replaced, especially in the larger and more influential institutions, by members of other professions. Today it is extremely rare to find an ordained minister occupying the presidency of a large and influential state or private university.
Andrew White, one-time president of Cornell University, expressed one common sentiment in university circles of the late nineteenth century when he quoted with approval "an eminent member of the . . . British government" to the effect that "'a candidate for high university position is handicapped by holy orders."' White was careful to indicate that no one honored the "proper work" of the clergy more than he did. "My belief is," he affirmed, "that in the field left to them . . . the clergy will more and more . . . do work even nobler and more beautiful than anything they have heretofore done." It was clear to White that this field was not in the university.43 President Eliot of Harvard asserted that "multitudes of educated men" had come to be suspicious of the intellectual abilities of the clergy, and he saw this as a "potent cause of the decline of the ministry during the past forty years."44
As a profession the ministry was not attracting as large a number of graduates of the outstanding universities as it had before 1850. More and more seminary recruits came from small denominational colleges. "From 1850 to 1895 Yale's total number of graduates doubled, and in the same period the number of Yale graduates who entered the ministry decreased more than sixty per cent."45 Furthermore, the percentage of all college graduates entering the ministry has declined over the last century. 46
However, our generation may be witnessing a gradual reversal of these tendencies. There are indications that an increasing number of seminary students are coming from larger private and state institutions of higher learning and also that the ministry is attracting a growing number of high caliber students. Another important development may be seen in the entry into the ministry of a significant number of well-qualified men who had been training for, or actively engaged in, other professions or vocations.
If there were circles where anticlericalism was in vogue in the past century it was among certain sophisticated intellectuals, among whom Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry achieved a degree of popularity. Yet in the minds of perhaps the great majority of the people the minister remained a pillar in the community.
Protestants in America have looked to their ministers as the defenders of morality and the representatives of spirituality. They have expected them to stand out as examples of what people ought to be morally and spiritually, "It makes no difference what the minister wears," said Woodrow Wilson when he was president of Princeton. "But one thing matters supremely. He should never be in any company of men for a single instant without making them realize that they are in the company of a minister of religion."47
As one who fills this role in the community the minister has received many special privileges. Sometimes these have been granted out of genuine respect for the office; sometimes as a means of gaining the benefits that come from supporting a good thing. Clergy passes and special clergy rates have been granted by the nation's railroads. Many stores give clergy discounts; physicians and other professional men frequently have extended professional courtesy by refusing or reducing fees. Ministers' children have been granted special tuition rates or charged no tuition at all in many institutions of higher learning. Congregations continue to supplement salaries by provision of parsonages, sometimes cars, occasionally food.
Legally also the minister occupies a privileged position. The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized a clergyman as a professional man not "a laboring man," and as such "entitled to respect, veneration, and confidence." By statute clergymen have been exempted from such common public duties as jury and military service. The latter exemption has also applied to theological students.48
Salaries of ministers, however, have rarely reflected a privileged status in the American community. A survey of standing based on income alone would probably place the minister close to the public school teacher and the semiskilled wage earner. In 1928, for example, the average salary for all ministers was $1,407. In the same year the average for elementary school teachers was $1,788 and that for wage workers in iron and steel was $1,619.49 Of course ministerial status is determined by many other factors besides salary.
The minister's Roles in the Church
The pulpit has stood at the front and center of the Protestant church in America -- both in practice and in theory; preaching has been by all odds the most important aspect of the minister's work. Melville detected well the spirit of evangelical Protestantism when he wrote:
For the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is that the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.50
The post-Civil War period was the era of the reign of the great "princes of the pulpit." There had been popular preachers before 1865 but no one of them51 ever matched the national popularity of such men as Henry Ward Beecher, Phillips Brooks, T. DeWitt Talmadge, and Russell Conwell. The nation hung on their words and doted on their persons. Sermons "were not infrequently front-page news, and those of some of the more prominent of the clergy were regularly syndicated nationally in their entirety."52
The combination of disestablishment with the Protestant tradition of emphasis on preaching the Word created the right conditions in the churches for a major emphasis on the sermon and the personality of the preacher. Ministry meant pre-eminently preaching. As preacher the minister conveyed the word of the gospel; as preacher he built up his congregation; as preacher he educated his people; and as preacher he ministered to their needs. He was called to the pulpit and it was expected that in the pulpit he would put forth his greatest effort.
Post-Civil War conditions also favored the preacher. The population was growing rapidly and was becoming more concentrated in the cities. The spoken word was the chief means of entertainment and education. Any man who could speak well at the popular level was assured of an audience.
A marked characteristic of the preaching of the time was its awareness of the popular mind. "More humanity, less divinity" was the cry of the day. "Man was the thing," said Henry Ward Beecher.
Henceforth our business was to work upon man; to study him, to stimulate and educate him. A sermon was good that had power on the heart, and was good for nothing no matter how good that had no moral power on man.53
This sensitivity to man and his problems had a definite effect on both the content and the form of preaching. It came to be centered in human situations, concerned with problems that were agitating the congregation. Expository preaching on Biblical texts gave way to topical preaching on "living" issues. Beecher led the way in speaking on current topics in the language of the day. "It is the duty of the minister of the gospel," he asserted in 1862, "to preach on every side of political life." And thereafter, as Hudson points out,
the practice of relating religious truth to every "topic of the times" which involved "the welfare of men" was a characteristic feature of his ministry. In sermons and addresses he discussed the problems of emancipation, Reconstruction, immigration, the currency, taxes, a standing army, women's rights, Civil Service, reform, local party politics, municipal corruption, free trade, pacifism, presidential candidates....54
The effect of Beecher's preaching, says John Burroughs, "was to secularize the pulpit, yea, to secularize religion itself and make it as common and universal as the air we breathe." 55
Preaching became more informal. The extensive use of dramatic illustration; the change of pace from oratory to the chatty style; the minimizing of liturgical elements in the service; the use of architecture and furnishings to center attention on the preacher: these were characteristic of the late nineteenth century, and have continued into the twentieth. When Beecher accepted the call to Plymouth Church in Brooklyn his first step was to clear away the pulpit and to replace it with a platform which extended out into the midst of the congregation. He wanted to be free to move about, to dramatize, and above all to be as close to his congregation as possible.
The popular pulpit personality found a normal nonecclesiastical outlet for his oratorical talents on the public lecture platform. Preachers were the leaders among the desired Chatauqua and Lyceum speakers. Probably the most famous of these was the Baptist preacher Russell Conwell who, it is said, delivered his "Acres of Diamonds" over 6,000 times.
Because of his power in the pulpit the preacher was not only in demand as a popular lecturer but was also regarded as an authority on a wide variety of subjects. An interesting case in point is Joseph Cook, Congregational minister, who is most famous for his Boston Monday lectures. Lecturing on a wide variety of subjects -- "everything from Asia to biology"56 -- Cook reached an immense audience. Twice after beginning his regular lectures in 1875 he had to move to larger auditoriums. It has been estimated that in 1880 his lectures "published in newspapers both in America and in England, were reaching a million readers weekly." During the winter of 1877-78 Cook delivered outside of Boston "over one hundred and fifty addresses that involved more than ten thousand miles of travel...."57 Yet his popularity as a lecturer hardly matched that of such men as Talmadge, Conwell, and Beecher.
Although public speaking and rhetoric were common subjects in the theological curriculum prior to this period, "homiletics" now received particular attention as a result of the outstanding place of the preacher. The world-famous Lyman Beecher lectures on preaching were started at Yale in 1871. Henry Ward Beecher, Lyman's son, delivered the first three series. He was followed by Phillips Brooks. An examination of the early lectures on this foundation discloses the centrality of preaching in the lecturers' conception of the ministry. It seems generally to have been accepted that, in the words of one of the lecturers, "the most critical and influential event in the religious week is the sermon," or, as another put it, that the minister "must focus his whole heart and life upon the pulpit...."58
The personality of the preacher was as important as his words, if not more so. In some cases the preacher became the idol of the crowd. Drummond reports that
When Thomas K. Beecher preached on one occasion at Plymouth Church there was an unseemly rush for the doors, on the part of the sight-seers, as he entered the pulpit instead of the popular idol. Raising his hand he announced: "All those who came here to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now withdraw -- all who came to worship God may remain!"59
"Truth through Personality is our description of real preaching," said Phillips Brooks.60 "The priest has no great demand for personality," writes Baxter in summarizing the Yale series; "with the preacher, however, such is not the case. More important than almost anything else is the man himself." William Jewett Tucker affirmed in 1898 that "the law is, the greater the personality of the preacher, the larger the use of his personality, the wider and deeper the response of men to truth.''61
Only one of the early Lyman Beecher lecturers objected to the common notion that preaching and personality are the most important elements in the minister's equipment. P. T. Forsyth, speaking in 1907, declared:
You hear it said, with a great air of religious common sense, that it is the man that the modern age demands in the pulpit, and not his doctrine. It is the man that counts, and not his creed. But this is one of those shallow and plausible half-truths which have the success that always follows when the easy, obvious underpart is blandly offered for the arduous whole. No man has any right in the pulpit in virtue of his personality or manhood in itself, but only in virtue of the sacramental value of his personality for his message. We have no business to worship the elements, which means, in this case, to idolise the preacher.... To be ready to accept any kind of message from a magnetic man is to lose the Gospel in mere impressionism. It is to sacrifice the moral in religion to the aesthetic. And it is fatal to the authority either of the pulpit or the Gospel. The Church does not live by its preachers, but by its Word.62
But many a local church in America since the Civil War has lived by its preacher. For many Protestants the ministry is very nearly the whole church, and the minister is the "preacher." Such an overemphasis on preaching and the personality of the preacher has frequently entailed neglect of other aspects of the ministry and other phases of the work of the church. Foreseeing in 1859 some of the dangers which were to overtake Protestantism in the latter part of the nineteenth century a conservative Unitarian, Henry W. Bellows, urged upon his fellows a rediscovery of the ecclesia of the Scriptures. Pointing out that the "Protestant principle" is the way to anarchy if it loses sight of the historic Church, he called for a
"new Catholic Church" to thunder into the deaf ear of humanity the saving lesson of the Gospel. "No lecture room can do this; no thin, ghostly individualism or meagre congregationalism can do this. It calls for the organic, instituted, ritualized, impersonal, steady, patient work of the Church."63
In this task some of the Protestantism of the latter half of the nineteenth century failed. And yet we should not overlook the fact that the "princes of the pulpit" unquestionably conveyed the gospel to very many people. Their preaching, and that of many others, played a central role in the life of Protestantism. Their influence continues to be felt. Although preaching may have been overemphasized in the Post-Civil War period still the "princes" did much to make vital this important part of the church's ministry. What they said and how they said it was a joy to hear in comparison with some of the dry doctrinal fare of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They also made it mandatory on later generations to preach relevantly.
Preaching has continued to be a central element in the Protestantism of the twentieth century. Possibly no individuals of this period can compare with the "princes" of the nineteenth century but America still has its noted and influential preachers. And many a young minister in the twentieth century has modeled his preaching after the great masters, Beecher and Brooks. Books on preaching continue to be popular, and the role of the preacher continues to be elevated. Writing in 1921 Arthur S. Hoyt, professor of homiletics and sociology in Auburn Seminary, claimed that "since Plymouth Rock, preaching has never been a greater element than now."64 And in 1930 Joseph Fort Newton stanchly maintained that "preaching . . . is the noblest vocation on earth."65 Presumably speaking of ministerial attitudes in the twentieth century, Bishop Gerald Kennedy once defined the sermon as something "a minister will not go across the street to hear but will go across the country to deliver."66
Yet a change of emphasis becomes apparent in the twentieth century. Preaching remains perhaps the most dramatic, most effective, and most used means of communicating the gospel in Protestantism and will always be central in a tradition that stresses the primacy of the Word of God. However, an increasing number of Protestant ministers in this century have complemented attention to the sermon with concern for meaningful worship, pastoral care, religious education, and other avenues of ministry.
An examination of such factors as church architecture, the organization of the service, the curricula of the seminaries, and the books read by the minister would indicate some of the changes taking place in the conception and practice of the Protestant ministry in this century. Very few churches are building mammoth auditoriums with pulpits at the center of the chancel. The chancel is likely to be divided with pulpit on one side, lectern on the other, and altar in the center. Sermons are shorter than they were a generation or two ago. More of the service is given over to prayers, confessions, responsive readings, Scripture readings, and singing. Efforts have been made to reconstruct a meaningful liturgy based on historical patterns and contemporary needs. The seminaries are giving increasing attention to preparing men to lead worship. Although few Protestant ministers would care to be assigned the role of priest, as this role is generally understood, still there are many indications of a growing seriousness about the minister's function as an instrument or vessel for the communication of God's grace through worship as well as in other ways.
The new church building is also likely to have a large area for Christian education. In many cases this may be the first wing put up by a church lacking sufficient funds to finance a complete structure at one time. This is an indication of the increasing emphasis placed on education as the church constantly prepares itself for its ministry to a stormy and complex world. The minister is expected to function as a religious educator. If he has had seminary training it will have included courses in religious education. He may not regard this role with the same seriousness he gives to preaching or pastoral care, but there are indications of an increasing sense of responsibility for this function. If he is fortunate and his church is rich enough he will be provided with a director of religious education -- usually a woman -- who has received a specialized seminary training.
Comfortable rooms are likely to be available in the new church building for the pastor's use in counseling. Protestant ministers have carried on a quietly effective work over the years as pastors, as comforters of the sick, the distressed and the bereaved, as counselors of the perplexed, as guides and guardians to those seeking spiritual light and moral rectitude. But we have seen in the last half century an increasing awareness of the importance of the role of the minister as pastor. Discoveries and advances in the field of mental hygiene have stimulated an increasing concern for proficiency in this work. Psychology of religion has encouraged in the church an increasing scientific concern for the individual. Developments in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and psychiatry have been followed closely by certain forward-looking men in Protestantism, and they have attempted to increase the skill of the pastor by exposing him to some of the elemental principles and practices of these fields.
Protestant seminaries have given in the twentieth century increasing attention to the development of a systematic training in pastoral care -- or pastoral theology or psychology as it is sometimes called. Courses in the area are frequently required. The practice of requiring students to spend some time in apprenticeship or clinical training in pastoral care of the sick is being extended.67 A new literature has sprung up in this field, and it is likely that an examination of the content of the reading of a group of representative ministers would disclose a high frequency of materials on pastoral care and related areas.
If the modern church is affluent enough ministerial specialists will be employed not only in religious education but also in pastoral care and other areas while the chief minister concerns himself primarily with preaching and the administration of the sizable institution and staff. The local church today is larger, more complex, and more highly organized than a century ago. The minister must have administrative ability. The danger exists that ministers become so specialized and so involved in administrative detail that they lose contact with the people. This is the experience of business, industry, and education as they become more complex. However, at the same time a counterbalance to this tendency is appearing in the increasing awareness of the reality of the church as a close-knit fellowship and in the growing concern for its role as a ministering institution.
Whether the minister has been leader or follower in this process is difficult to say. He has probably been both. At any rate he has been forced to become much more than a preacher addressing an audience. He is called upon to be the shepherd of the flock, the symbol of its unity in fellowship and purpose, and the leader in its ministry. He is called to show forth in all possible ways the grace of God in Jesus Christ, through his preaching, yes, but also through conducting a service of worship which directs attention beyond himself to God, through ministering to those in need, and through the intelligent use of the best-known techniques of education.
"The minister is nothing apart from the Church," declared Henry Sloane Coffin in his Lyman Beecher lectures in 1917. "It is not his ministry that is of first importance but the Church's ministry in which he leads,"68 Looking at this statement a generation after it was uttered one is impressed not only with its truth but also with the remarkable extent to which this truth has been taken seriously by recent Protestantism.
Who is the minister and what is he doing? In recent years many in the ministry have been put in a quandary as they have been confronted by these questions. But questioning has led to a seeking for answers, a deeper searching perhaps than that of any former period in American history. Two things appear to be taking place in this search. One is the desire to understand the gospel and the historic Christian tradition as fully as possible, to grasp the objective foundation of the ministry and the church. As there has developed in the past generation an increased awareness of the richness and depth of the church's ministry through the ages, the meaning of the ministry of today has been enhanced.
At the same time we are witnessing the emergence of an intensive desire to understand the contemporary world more fully so as to make the gospel relevant without compromising it. The social sciences which have developed so rapidly in the last fifty years have put new resources at the disposal of the alert and conscientious theological student and minister of the mid-twentieth century.
Both of these trends appear to augur for good. We reflect again upon the tension between gospel and world, a tension which is as strong as ever. The mood of the present is based on an awareness of this tension, perhaps more acute than for some time. The spirit in the ministry today appears to be to achieve as full a grasp of gospel and world as possible and to achieve the most effective available application of the one to the other.
For Further Reading
Ray Hamilton Abrams, Preachers Present Arms (New York, 1933). A study of ministerial attitudes toward World War I.
William Adams Brown, Mark A. May, and others, The Education of American Ministers, IV vols, (New York, 1934). Helpful more as a source than a secondary work. Reflects an approach to the ministry in the early 1930's.
Hunter Dickinson Farish, The Circuit Rider Dismounts; A Social History of Southern Methodism, 1865-1900 (Richmond, Va., 1938). Especially good for developments in the post-Civil War South.
Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Living of These Days (New York, 1956).
George Hodges and John Reichert, The Administration of an Institutional Church; A Detailed Account of the Operation of St. George's Parish in the City of New York, (New York, 1906).
Robert L. Kelly, Theological Education in America (New York, 1924). Helpful for some early developments in the seminaries.
Charles Stedman MacEarland, ed., The Christian Ministry and the Social Order; Lectures Delivered in the Course in Pastoral Functions at Yale Divinity School, 1908-1909 (New Haven, 1909).
H. Richard Niebuhr, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (New York, 1956).
Ernest Trice Thompson, Changing Emphases in American Preaching (Philadelphia, 1943).
George Huntston Williams, ed., The Harvard Divinity School: Its Place in Harvard University and in American Culture (Boston, 1954).
Carter G. Woodson, The History of the Negro Church (Washington, D.C., 1921).
1The Letters of Henry Adams (1892-1918), Worthington Chaumcey Ford, ed., II (Boston and New York, 1938), 279-280.
2The Education of Henry Adams (Boston, 1927), 53.
4Speech "On the Slavery Question," in the Works of John C. Calhoun, IV (New York, 1888), 557-58.
5Words of a Methodist clergyman as quoted by Ralph B. Morrow in "Northern Methodism in the South during Reconstruction," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XLI, No. 2 (Sept., 1954), 197.
6Reply to a Baptist delegation (May 14, 1864), Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, John G. Nicolay and John Hay eds., X (New York, 1894).
7Words of Bishop Davis W. Clark of the Methodist Episcopal Church as reported by Hunter Dickinson Farish, The Circuit Rider Dismounts: A Social History of Southern Methodism, 1865-1900 (Richmond, 1938), 110. Clark's words appear to be typical of the views of many Northern Methodist leaders. Farish gives a detailed description of Northern Methodism's assault on the South.
8"There is no part of the world in which ministers of the Gospel are more respected than in the Southern States." A statement made in 1885 by "a distinguished Methodist minister and editor," as quoted by Farish, ibid., 105. I am also drawing heavily on the thesis of W. J. Cash in his The Mind of the South (New York, 1941). Cash holds that the Protestant ministry played a significant role in creating the illusion of the idyllic cotton plantation South of the pre-war period.
9See Ray H. Abrams, Preachers Present Arms: A Study of the War Time Attitudes and Activities of the Churches and the Clergy in the United States, 1914-1918 (Philadelphia, 1933).
10Yale Lectures on Preaching (New York, 1872), 88-90. (Italics added).
11This was essentially the experience of the two greatest leaders of the Social Gospel Movement, Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch.
12"Sanitation, and the administration of the city, and politics, and rent, and wages, and the conditions generally under which men work and live between Sundays, are of direct concern to the Christian religion," declared George Hodges. "Christianity has to do with the whole man, because all that enters into the life of man, all that affects his body or his mind, touches his soul, changes for 'better or worse the man himself, determines his character, and therefore his eternal destiny." (Faith and Social Service. Eight lectures delivered before the Lowell Institute, [New York, 1896], 8-9.)
13Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 186S-1915 (New Haven, 1940), 67.
14Religious Movements for Social Betterment (New York, 1900), 17. The urge to be scientific was in danger of being carried to an extreme. George B. Foster asserted, for example, that "the dream is of a scientific ministry instead of the old religious ministry.... The church is not a temple but 'plant."' The American Journal of Theology, XVI, 161.
15Henry F. May, Protestant Churches and Industrial America (New York, 1949), 139.
16Hopkins, op. cit., 108.
17This "philosophy" was clearly expressed in a series of lectures delivered in the course in pastoral functions at Yale Divinity School in 1908-1909. "Apparently the minister is not simply to be sent out to shepherd a particular flock," declared Charles S. Macfarland. "He is to serve his community, and human society at large, in any and every way by which his personality may be brought to bear. He goes out into the kingdom of God rather than solely into a church." The Christian Ministry and the Social Order, Charles S. Macfarland, ed. (New Haven, 1909), 5 et passim.
18As quoted by Winthrop S. Hudson, The Great Tradition of the American Churches (New York, 1953), 205.
19In America Now: An Inquiry into Civilization in the United States, Harold E. Stearns, ed. (New York, 1938), 514.
20As quoted in Aaron Ignatius Abel1, The Urban Impact on American Protestantism, 1865-1900 (Cambridge, 1943), 162.
22See the Report of the Commission on Country Life (New York, 1911).
23National Needs and Remedies (Boston, 1889), 264-65.
24Hopkins, op. cit., 296.
25Hudson, op. Cit., 217.
26As quoted by Charles Howard Hopkins, History of the YMCA in North America (New York, 1951), 48.
27Op. Cit., 194.
28Carter G. Woodson, The History of the Negro Church (Washington, D.C., 1921), 281. W. E. B. Dubois writes: "The preacher is the most unique personality developed by the Negro on American soil. A leader, a politician, an orator, a 'boss,' an intriguer, an idealist -- all these he is, and ever, too, the center of a group of men, now twenty, now a thousand in number." (The Souls of Black Folk, 190-91.) As quoted in Benjamin Elijah Mays and Joseph William Nicholson, The Negro's Church (New York, 1933), 38.
29On the Theological Education of Negro Ministers prepared by Theological Education in America. Bulletin #4. (Sept., 1955).
30See, e.g., George M. Stephenson's discussion of the "Augustana Pastor" in The Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration (Minneapolis, 1932).
31See A History of the Expansion of Christianity, IV (New York, 1941), chaps. 1 and 2.
33An extreme example was Harvard where President Eliot endeavored to put ministerial education in exactly the same category with education in other fields. Eliot believed that ministers, "as a class, and as a necessary consequence of the ordinary manner of their education . . ., are peculiarly liable to be deficient in intellectual candor.... No other profession is under such terrible stress of temptation to intellectual dishonesty...." (As quoted by Henry W. James, Charles W. Eliot, I [Boston and New York, 1930], 378.)
34New York, 1924, 76.
35See C. Luther Fry, The U.S. Looks at Its Churches, (New York, 1930), 63, 144.
36Farish, The Circuit Rider Dismounts, 272-73. The Bishop would have found himself in agreement with the sentiments expressed by Archdeacon Mackay-Smith: "A man mangled by a seminary is worse than one with no preparation, just as weeds in a neglected garden are ranker than those in the wilderness...." "The Ministry and The Times," Harper's New Magazine, Vol. 78 (Jan., 1889), 208-9.
38H. Paul Douglass and Edmund deS. Brunner, The Protestant Church as a Social Institution, (New York, 1935), 107. Cf. Kelly, op. cit., 152.
39James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, II (New York, 1919), 775-77.
40As quoted by H. Francis Perry, "The Workingman's Alienation from the Church," The American Journal of Sociology, IV (1898-99), 622.
41Quoted in The Churchman 139:2 (Jan. 12, 1929), 25.
42Cf. George P. Schmidt, The Old Time College President (New York, 1930), 184.
43Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, I (New York, 1897), xi-xii.
44These words were written in 1883. James, Charles W. Eliot, II, 378.
45Everett T. Tomlinson, "The Decline of the Ministry," World's Work, IX (Dec., 1904), 5635.
46Mark A. May estimated in 1933 that "since 1870 the number of college-graduate men entering the ministry relative to the needs as measured by increasing population, churches, and clergymen has declined at least forty per cent and possibly as much as seventy per cent." The Profession of the Ministry, Vol. II of "The Education of American Ministers" [New York, 1934], 25.) It is possible that Professor May's figures are more alarming than conditions actually warranted. No doubt the ministry has in a sense "suffered" as a result of competition with other professions and vocations over the last century. Thus the percentage of college graduates entering the ministry has declined. But whether the caliber of men entering this particular profession has declined is debatable.
47As quoted by W. A. Brown, The Minister: His World and His Work (Nashville, 1937), 26. One woman, responding to a survey conducted by Professor Muray Leiffer, gave a rather ingenuous argument for clerical dress. She supported it on the ground that "so many ministers don't look like anything in particular -- not hard enough for businessmen, not unworldly-looking enough for professors, not sharp enough for lawyers, not glamorous enough for actors . . ." that they need something to make them stand out. (The Layman Looks at the Minister (N. Y., 1947), 124.
48Carl Zollman, American Civil Church Law (New York, 1917), 341 et passim.
49May, The Education of American Ministers, II 103-09.
50Herman Melville, Moby Dick (New York, 1930), 57.
51A possible exception is George Whitefield.
52Hudson, op. cit., 158.
53In William C. Beecher and Samuel Scoville, A Biography of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, 188. As quoted by Ernest Trice Thompson, Changing Emphases in American Preaching (Philadelphia, 1943), 69. Bushnell set the mood with two addresses, one delivered before the Porter Rhetorical Society of Andover Seminary in 1866 and the other to the Theological School of Chicago in 1858. The first he called "Pulpit Talent" and the second, significantly enough, "Training for the Pulpit Manward." In Building Eras in Religion (New York, 1903), 182-220 and 22148.
54op. cit., 173.
55As quoted by Thompson, op, cit., 75.
56May, The Protestant Churches and Industrial America, 164.
57Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 40-41.
58The first quotation is from John Watson's lectures delivered in 1896 and the second from William M. Taylor's delivered in 1876. See Batsell Barrett Baxter, The Heart of the Yale Lectures (New York, 1947), 5, 123.
59Andrew Landale Drummond, Story of American Protestantism (Boston, 1950), 375. T. K. Beecher is reported to have remarked on one occasion: "Being a son of Lyman Beecher and a brother of Henry Ward Beecher has been the greatest misfortune of my life." (Ibid.)
60Lectures on Preaching (New York, 1877), 8.
61Baxter, op cit., 17-18. See his chapter on "Power of Personality" for many similar sentiments.
62. Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind (New York, 1907), 60.
63Sydney E. Ahlstrom, "The Middle Period, 1840-1880," in The Harvard Divinity School, George Huntston Williams, ed. (Boston, 1954), 120 ff. Bellows' address was called The Suspense of Faith: An Address to the Alumni of the Divinity School.
64The Pulpit and American Life (New York, 1921), 226.
65The New Preaching (Nashville, 1930), 61,
66Edwin L. Becker, "Role of the Minister in Contemporary Culture," The Drake University Bulletin on Religion, XVI (Nov., 1953), 3.
67Seward Hiltner reports that since 1923 "several thousand clergy and students have . . . had such training, and its direct influence has been to underscore the importance of a dynamic pastoral psychology as one of the foundations for all the pastoral operations." It in turn has influenced the formal theological curriculum. "Pastoral Theology and Psychology" in Protestant Thought in the Twentieth Century, Arnold S. Nash, ed. (New York, 1951), 195.
68In a Day of Social Rebuilding (New Haven, 1918), 192-93.
Viewed 177706 times.