A Modest Proposal

Article by Dennis Smith

Introduction On Monday mornings, ten or twelve of us meet to reflect on our faith in light of the pastoral challenges we face here and now. We are women and men, lay people and ordained ministers, some with and some without university training. Recently we have worked on the pastoral tasks that derive from the …

Between Anarchy and Fanaticism: Religious Freedom’s Challenge

Article by Eugene B. Borowitz

Today’s American religious community is beset with tension. On the left, religious liberals fear that the various spiritual orthodoxies Will lead to extremism. Every act of spiritual zealotry — such as the bombing of abortion clinics — awakens in them the specter of religious fanatics controlling America. They believe that the slightest hint of an …

Building Communities From the Inside Out

Article by Robert Bachelder

According to articles in the New Yorker and Business Week, churches are leading an urban renaissance. The media have celebrated the churches’ role in prompting economic development in distressed areas as well as the social services that churches offer to low-income residents. Presidential candidates are supporting measures to increase charitable giving so that churches and …

Cadets for Christ

Article by Amy Johnson Frkyholm

Most of the 30 new staff members gathered at the United States Air Force Academy for orientation are in their 20s and 30s. Some are air force personnel and some are academy graduates. Some are veterans of the Gulf War, while others served in Iraq. A speaker is talking to them about leadership and character. …

Cats in a Wood Stove: Reflections on Building a New Social Gospel

Article by William Barnwell

In October 1975 Peter Marin, writing in Harper’s, created quite a stir when he described the human potential movement as “the new narcissism.” I fear that the church today leaves itself open to similar criticism. Disciples of the social gospel still write challenging articles in liberal magazines; national church staffs sponsor conferences on the liberation …

Chapter 5: The Necessity of a Redemptive Society  in  The Predicament of Modern Man

Book Chapter by Elton Trueblood

We believe that we can survive a civilization gone rotten and that the essential faith of Western man can be restored to this end. The moral decay of imperial Rome was overcome by the gospel for that day, and the moral decay of Western civilization will be likewise overcome by the gospel for our day. If modern man can be made to see and understand the predicament he is in, that very recognition may be amazingly salutary.

Faith-based Politics

Article by Arthur E. Farnsley II

Book Review: Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives. By Amy E. Black, Douglas L. Koopman, & David K Ryden. Georgetown University Press, 368 pp., $49.95; paperback, $26.95. A Revolution of Compassion: Faith-Based Groups as Full Partners in Fighting America’s Social Problems. By Dave Donaldson and Stanley Carlson-Thies. Baker, 208 pp., …

Faithful Citizens

Article by Gerald L. Sittser

Book Review: The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, by David L. Holmes. Oxford University Press, 240 pp. The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church, by Gregory A. Boyd. Zondervan, 208 pp. American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, by Jon Meacham. …

Introduction: The Question of the Church, by H. Richard Niebuhr  in  The Church Against the World

Book Chapter by H. Richard Niebuhr, Wilhelm Pauck and Francis P. Miller

A "new" crisis is facing the Christian Church. The Church is in peril not only from an "external" worldliness, but a worldliness that has established itself within the church. Each of the contributing theologians brings his own view of how the Christian community can define and take its position against this crisis.

New-time Religion

Article by Robert N. Bellah

Book Review: Varieties of Religion today: William James Revisited By Charles Taylor: Harvard University Press, 144 pp. Among widely influential philosophers today I can think of only two who are self-professed practicing Christians: Charles Taylor and Alasdair Maclntyre, both Roman Catholics. Like Maclntyre, Taylor is unusually knowledgeable about the social sciences (he has taught in …

Part II: American Protestantism and the Christian Faith, by Francis P. Miller  in  The Church Against the World

Book Chapter by H. Richard Niebuhr, Wilhelm Pauck and Francis P. Miller

In every part of the world the Protestant movement finds itself beleaguered by the forces of militant nationalism -- a nationalism which represents for the most part an utter denial of the Christian faith. The precariousness of the position of the Protestant churches consists in the fact that the nature of nationalism is such that it can isolate sections of the Protestant community and destroy these sections in detail. Though the destruction of the universal elements in the Protestant faith has progressed further in certain sections of the German church than anywhere else this same process is actively present in American life. An environment favorable to this process has been created by some of our foremost educators, philosophers and theologians. It has been created by men who are quite unconscious of the indirect consequences of their intellectual assumptions, and who as individuals would energetically oppose the extension of the authority of national culture over the whole range of life. Yet such an extension is actually taking place as a result of the religious attitudes which these men have adopted, and as this extension takes place it carries with it a mortal threat to the integrity of the Christian faith. This situation obviously requires the immediate attention of those who have at heart the future of the American Protestant churches.

Part III: Toward the Independence of the Church, by H. Richard Niebuhr  in  The Church Against the World

Book Chapter by H. Richard Niebuhr, Wilhelm Pauck and Francis P. Miller

Capitalism, nationalism, and an "anthropocentric" faith have made the church captive to their systems of worldliness. This has led to a revolt against the church by some, and a revolt within the church by others. The revolt within the church can only be effective with a return of loyalty to God and to Jesus Christ. If the church contents itself with any lesser task it is doomed as the instrument of God -- even though it survive as a human institution.

Preface  in  The Predicament of Modern Man

Book Chapter by Elton Trueblood

Most of our talk about post-war reconstruction misses the point in that the treaties, political organizations, and economic arrangements, are only surface phenomena. It is heartening that a philosophy is emerging to which many are led who are more concerned with the problems at the center than they are with those at the periphery.

The Church Against the World

Book by H. Richard Niebuhr, Wilhelm Pauck and Francis P. Miller

(ENTIRE BOOK) The authors see Christianity threatened not only by the rival religions of capitalism and nationalism, but in America it is becoming a purely national religion, unintelligible to Christians of other lands, as their Protestantism is becoming unintelligible to us. This may be the beginning of a process, which in Germany resulted in a new national religion. The chapters speak about ways of dealing with this threat to the Christian religion.

The Free-Church Tradition and Social Ministry

Article by Max L. Stackhouse

Such a dynamic interaction of doctrine and life is one of the chief contributions Christianity has made to civilization wherever free churches have been faithful and active. Indeed, the free-church tradition has, over the centuries, created the social space in which it is possible to be faithful while retaining intellectual integrity and socially engaged without …

The Predicament of Modern Man

Book by Elton Trueblood

(ENTIRE BOOK) To say that no one solution is a panacea is not to deny that some approaches to a problem come nearer to the center of the difficulty than others do. To say that we shall not make a perfect society in the next century or the next millennium is no excuse for failure to do our best to create an order relatively better than the one in which we now live. It is the gospel that can save our decaying society and the gospel alone.

The Problem with "Under God"

Article by Rodney Clapp

The Supreme Court’s June ruling on whether "under God" should be part of the Pledge of Allegiance passed with relatively little notice, since the case was rejected on procedural grounds. For those who paid attention to the arguments, however, it conclusively exposed the incompatibility of American civil religion with any kind of robust Christianity. If …

The Secularist Prejudice

Article by Gary Wills

Michael Dukakis, well educated in other ways, was not prepared to deal with religious ardor. Asked which book most influenced him, Michael Dukakis instantly mentioned Henry Steele Commager’s The American Mind. He read it shortly after its appearance in 1950, when he was in high school. For a man whose preferred reading would, in later …

The Story of Liam Q

Article by Jens Soaring

In 1981, at the age of 17, my friend Liam Q. did what many adventurous Kansas farm boys do: he joined the U.S. Navy to see the world. His test scores marked him for further training in a technical specialty, but Liam wanted to steer an aircraft carrier, so the navy made him a helmsman. …

Theology and Civil Society: A Proposal for Ecumenical Inquiry

Article by Lewis S. Mudge

What roles should Christian churches now play in the dialogue about democratic participation, discursive civility, and moral responsibility now emerging in diverse political cultures across the globe? American students of religion in society, including growing numbers of “good society” researchers, are discovering that they have international colleagues who bring fresh historical experiences and philosophical assumptions …