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All Things Human

All Things Human: Henry Codman Potter and the Social Gospel in the Episcopal Church

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    All Things Human
    Book Description:

    In addition to being the sixth bishop of the Diocese of New York, Henry Codman Potter (1835-1908) was a prominent voice in the Social Gospel movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book, the first in-depth study of Potter's life and work, examines his career in the Episcopal church as well as the origins and legacy of his progressive social views. _x000B__x000B_As industrialization and urbanization spread in the nineteenth century, the Social Gospel movement sought to apply Christian teachings to effect improvements in the lives of the less fortunate. Potter was firmly in this tradition, concerning himself especially with issues of race, the place of women in society, questions of labor and capital, and what he called "political righteousness." Placing Potter against the wider backdrop of nineteenth-century American Protestantism, Bourgeois explores the experiences and influences that led him to espouse these socially conscious beliefs, to work for social reform, and to write such works as Sermons of the City (1881) and The Citizen in His Relation to the Industrial Situation (1902). _x000B__x000B_In telling Potter's remarkable story, All Things Human stands as a valuable contribution to intellectual and religious history as well as an exploration of the ways in which religion and society interact.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09057-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    To the surprise of many contemporary observers, the Episcopal Church played a central role in the social awakening of white American Protestantism from the end of the Civil War to the start of World War I, an awakening now regarded as continuous with the earlier revivals and awakenings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and perhaps even as the ʺThird Great Awakening.ʺ¹ In his 1912Christianizing the Social Order, Walter Rauschenbusch looked back on the process by which the social awakening of the churches had occurred and paid tribute to three early ʺpioneers of Christian social thought in America,ʺ Washington...

  4. 1 A Many-Sided Mission
    (pp. 23-57)

    In 1857, twenty-three years old and the son of the Evangelical bishop of Pennsylvania and nephew of the High Church bishop of New York, Henry Potter began his ministry not in an established urban congregation in Philadelphia but at Christ Church, Greensburgh, a mission church in a small western Pennsylvania town.¹ After the American Revolution the Low Church and High Church parties had achieved a reasonable working relationship, upon which the survival of the beleaguered church depended. By the second decade of the nineteenth century the Evangelical movement in the Church of England and the dominant evangelicalism of American Protestantism,...

  5. 2 Brotherhood and Inequality
    (pp. 58-83)

    One critical set of issues facing American Christians in the nineteenth century was that encompassing slavery, emancipation, and postwar racial reform; rising immigration by people of other than northern European ancestry and other than Protestant religious affiliation; increased contact with non-European-American peoples as a result of territorial acquisitions; and (to a lesser extent in the consciousness of white social gospelers) ongoing interaction with aboriginal Americans. Henry Potter and his white contemporaries addressed these concerns with common assumptions and convictions, rooted in various aspects of American religious and social thought, about the ʺfatherhood of God and brotherhood of humanity,ʺ the inevitability...

  6. 3 The Work and Well-Being of Women
    (pp. 84-116)

    Women were instrumental in the social and ecclesiastical reform movements of the nineteenth century. In the first decades of the century, women were active in the antislavery, peace, and temperance movements; after emancipation they continued to work in these latter two crusades. Women also formed a major part of the workforce for the postwar ʺProtestant religio-social system.ʺ Laywomen, sisters, and deaconesses staffed the day nurseries and industrial schools of the institutional churches; formed and operated domestic and foreign mission societies; founded and administered settlement houses and womenʹs and girlsʹ clubs; and staffed rescue missions, hospitals, and orphanages. As Eleanor Flexner...

  7. 4 Political Righteousness
    (pp. 117-146)

    Writing in 1912, Walter Rauschenbusch argued that four major social institutions—family, church, education, and politics—had become Christianized because they had ʺpassed through constitutional changes which have made them to some degree part of the organism through which the spirit of Christ can do its work in humanity.ʺ He admitted that including political life among the redeemed institutions might seem ʺa staggering assertion, for of all corrupt things surely our politics is the corruptest,ʺ and acknowledged that ʺthe tattered clothes and questionable smells of the far country still cling to the prodigal.ʺ Because in this context his rhetorical intent...

  8. 5 Reconciling Labor and Capital
    (pp. 147-201)

    The industrial problem was foremost among the interrelated social issues of concern to Henry Codman Potter and his contemporaries. In his 1876 book,Working People and Their Employers, Washington Gladden observed: ʺNow that slavery is out of the way, the questions that concern the welfare of our free laborers are coming forward; and no intelligent man needs to be admonished of their urgency. They are not only questions of economy, they are in a large sense moral questions; nay, they touch the very marrow of that religion of good-will of which Christ was the founder.ʺ Some scholars have read Gladdenʹs...

  9. 6 A Work for a Whole Life
    (pp. 202-224)

    In his address to the 1908 New York diocesan convention, delivered four months after the death of Henry Codman Potter, Bishop David Hummel Greer noted that Potter ʺloved his Church and served it, but his sympathies reached beyond it.ʺ As a result, ʺwithout regard to creed or race he loved his fellow men, and was always ready to work with those of every name who, like himself, were working for the common human good.ʺ In exercising those sympathies, Potter ʺbelieved that the Christian faith was something more than a theory, something more than a doctrine for esoteric tenure; it was,...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 225-262)
    (pp. 263-276)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 277-288)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-292)