Full-Orbed Christianity

Full-Orbed Christianity: The Protestant Churches and Social Welfare in Canada, 1900-1940

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 382
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Full-Orbed Christianity
    Book Description:

    Christie and Gauvreau look at the ways in which reformers expanded the churches' popular base through mass revivalism, established social work and sociology in Canadian universities and church colleges, and aggressively sought to take a leadership role in social reform by incorporating independent reform organizations into the church-sponsored Social Service Council of Canada. They also explore the instrumental role of Protestant clergymen in formulating social legislation and transforming the scope and responsibilities of the modern state.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6594-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    This book reinterprets the conventional view that social reform went through a period of decline between 1918, when pre-war urban progressivism foundered, and the early 1930s, when a mature movement of centralized state planning emerged spurred on by the energies of an élite cadre of experts in the social sciences.¹ Historians have perceived the 1920s as a wasteland of reform activism largely because, by concentrating on university social scientists, business groups, and labour organizations, they have defined social reform as a purely secular process. By contrast, we have shifted our attention in this book to the Protestant churches to argue...

  5. 1 The “Urgency of Evangelism”
    (pp. 3-36)

    Heralding the demise of the Victorian church and the emergence of a modern spirit of “social evangelism,” Hugh Dobson, the Methodist field secretary from Saskatchewan, proclaimed in 1920 that “An ‘Old Age’ has passed and a ‘New Day’ has dawned.” Far from greeting the twentieth century and such attendant social problems as urbanization, industrialization and class conflict, consumerism, and the rise of materialist ideologies with a sense of trepidation and defeatism, Dobson and a generation of young ministers saw in the challenges of modern life the beginning of an unprecedented spiritual awakening. Rather than decrying modernism, these critics of the...

  6. 2 Reviving the Religion of the Vernacular
    (pp. 37-74)

    Writing to the Rev. C.W. Gordon on 14 January 1912, E. de B. Ramsay, a young office clerk, confided to the celebrated Canadian author of the Ralph Connor novels how the reading of these popular literary works had brought him into close communion with God. For Ramsay, the message of “glad Christianity” expressed in the novels had not only relieved the tedium of office work, but also, in a consumer culture dominated by “material things,” renewed his flagging faith in the power of “spiritual intangible things.”¹ As this testimonial reveals, Gordon’s popular religious novels, far from hastening the secularism of...

  7. 3 To “Complete the Circle of Scientific Theology”
    (pp. 75-130)

    Beneath the reorientation of the Canadian Protestant churches to the imperatives of social service lay a pragmatic desire to secure and maintain their leadership in social reform. The ability of the churches to take the initiative in building a strong and dynamic national coalition out of disparate local reformist sentiment drew directly upon the authority they derived from the expertise and specialized knowledge provided by the new social sciences, especially sociology and social work. In contrast to the American social gospel movement, which found itself overwhelmed and marginalized by the coincident rise of the social sciences in the universities during...

  8. 4 A “Uniting Social Aim”: The Protestant Churches and Social Work in Equipoise
    (pp. 131-164)

    Writing in 1912 E.J. Urwick, later the head of the University of Toronto’s Department of Social Service, celebrated the “uniting social aim”¹ of professors and priests which he believed must animate modern social work. Urwick’s ideal of a harmonious reconciliation between science and religion in the common pursuit of a higher social good was nowhere more completely realized than in twentieth-century Canada, where the discipline of social work was founded and professionalized largely through the efforts of the Protestant churches. The fate of the McGill Department of Social Service, which was summarily closed on 4 August 1931 after the theological...

  9. 5 The Protestant Churches, the Social Survey, and “Rural Planning”
    (pp. 165-196)

    In 1919, in an article he wrote forSurvey,the leading American reform journal, J.A. Stevenson juxtaposed two divergent strands of Canadian social reform. One current was influenced by the urban interests of progressive businessmen and the other by those who “pin their faith in far-reaching rural reconstruction.”² The latter was dedicated to the creation of cooperative agriculture and to the betterment of agricultural communities through the means of rural social centres. One of the most important currents in Canadian historical writing during the last three decades has been the focus upon the rise of urban-centred business, labour, and reform...

  10. 6 The Social Service Council of Canada: “A Clearing-House” for the Modern State
    (pp. 197-223)

    Through their tradition of social investigation the Social Service Council of Canada and the Protestant churches established the empirical basis for the public discussion of social welfare legislation in the 1920s and 1930s. They were the crucial catalysts in creating a climate of opinion conducive to an increasingly interventionist state. The importance of the contribution of private bodies to the rise of the modern state has been generally neglected by Canadian historians who, by focusing their attention almost exclusively upon the spate of welfare legislation introduced in the late 1930s and 1940s, have conceived the arena of policymaking too narrowly...

  11. 7 The United Church and the “Revival of Personal Religion”
    (pp. 224-243)

    By the late 1930S an increasing number of Protestant leaders began to view the Great Depression as not only the result of a man-made international economic disequilibrium but also as a great spiritual crisis. They were responding to the powerful resurgence among a majority of ordinary Canadians of a desire to rediscover the well springs of individual Christian piety and inner faith. Like the social scientists H.M. Cassidy, who interpreted the worst ravage of the hard times as a psychological erosion of inner faith, and Gilbert Jackson, who in 1933 identified the root cause of the economic Depression in terms...

  12. Conclusion: Encompassing the Modern Age
    (pp. 244-250)

    J.S. Woodsworth’s passionate conviction that there was no distinction between the secular and the sacred, and that, in fact, all manner of social and cultural existence was penetrated by Christian feeling and purpose, was a powerful testament to the impressive authority of Protestantism in Canadian public life. It evoked the belief shared by a large majority of Canadians that all facets of everyday living fell under the guiding superintendence of God’s grace. Like so many other clergymen who responded to the increasing social distress and conflict of the early twentieth century by calling for the revitalization of evangelicalism so that...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 251-354)
  14. Manuscript Sources
    (pp. 355-358)
  15. Index
    (pp. 359-367)