Salvation in the Slums
320 Pages

Salvation in the Slums


320 Pages


Did advocates of the social gospel carry the burden of humanitarian aid during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Were evangelicals content merely to maintain the status quo and avoid ameliorating the plight of the needy?
Focusing upon the period from the Civil War to about 1920, this study attempts to portray the sizeable body of Christians whose extensive welfare activities and concern sprang similarly from their passion for evangelism and personal holiness, writes the author. He meticulously traces the urban welfare activities of the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America, the Christian Missionary and Alliance, multiple rescue missions and homes, and the religious journal 'Christian Herald'.



Published by
Published 09 November 2004
Reads 0
EAN13 9781725212787
Language English
Document size 58 MB

Legal information: rental price per page €. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.


Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 W 8th Ave, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401 Salvation in the Slums Evangelical Social Work 1865-1920 By Magnuson, Norris Copyright©1977 by Magnuson, Norris ISBN: 1-59244-997-2 Publication date 11/9/2004 Clothbound edition published 1977 by The Scarecrow Press and The American Theological Library Association Paperback edition published 1990 by Baker Book House Company Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Magnuson, Norris A., 1932- Salvation in the Slums: evangelical social w3ork, 1865-1920/ Norris Magnuson.  p. cm.  Reprint. Originally published: Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1977. Originally published in series: ATLA monograph series; no. 10  Includes bibliographical references.  ISBN 0-8010-6261-6  1. Church work with the poor-United States-History.  2. Evangelistic work-United States-History. 3. Urban poor-- United States-History. 4. City missions-United States-History.  5. Evangelicalism-United States-History. 6. United States- Economic conditions-1865-1918.  I. Title.  (BV639.P6M34 1990)  261.8'32'0973-dc20  89-28714  CIP Printed in the United States of America
In his stirring address to the delegates of the Evangelical Alliance, gathered in the nation's capitol early in December of 1887, Adoniram Judson Gordon reminded his listeners of their enormous responsibility to the poor and needy of America's burgeoning cities. "Into our doors," he argued, the "populations of the Old World are pouring by the hundreds of thousands every year." Furthermore, he suggested, the church "is the one institution in which every man's wealth is under mortgage to every man's want." Consequently, he warned, "As surely as darkness follows sunset, will the alienation of the masses follow sanctimonious selfishness in the church. If a Christian's motto is, 'Look out for number one,' then let him look out for estrangement and coldness on the part of number two." It is not "an orthodox creed which repels the masses, but an orthodox greed."
A. J. Gordon had seen the problem firsthand. As pastor of the Clarendon Street Church, he had watched as literally thousands of immigrants poured into the heart of Boston. Unwilling to turn his back on their needs, he had mobilized his congregation in efforts to provide assistance—establishing, in the process, an amazing variety of programs to address such growing problems as unemployment, homelessness, and alcoholism.
A. J. Gordon was not alone, of course. As Norris Magnuson has skillfully demonstrated in his important study,Salvation in the Slums: Evangelical Social Work, 1865-1920, literally thousands of evangelical Christians, during the decades following America's Civil War, became actively involved in the battle against poverty, injustice, and greed. Building on the pioneering work of Timothy L. Smith, his doctoral advisor and the author ofRevivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War, Magnuson makes a persuasive case, as historian Joel Carpenter has suggested, that evangelical Christians "pursued major programs of vii
social welfare and reform during the Gilded Age and that they often out social gospelled the Social Gospellers in their attitudes toward the oppressed and in calls for social reconstruction."
With massive documentation, careful analysis, and clear prose—traits he learned from his mentor, Timothy L. Smith—Magnuson tells the story of that "large body of earnest evangelicals" who went to live in the slums and became active in social welfare precisely because of "their passion for evangelism and personal holiness." Focusing on the work of organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the Volunteers of America; on the remarkable efforts of urban pastors like A. J. Gordon; on the outspoken concerns of well-known evangelists such as D. L. Moody and Gipsy Smith; and on the good old-fashioned hard work of the rescue missions that had been established in virtually every major city throughout America, Magnuson provides the reader with a fascinating glimpse into a world that most of us have never seen.
That this world remains largely hidden, even for those who claim to be part of the evangelical tradition, is surprising. Since the basic thesis, undergirding the work of both Magnuson and Smith,is now widely accepted in the academy, it is quite remarkable that so few general readers seem to be aware of evangelicalism's long history of social reform.
Now, however, with the simultaneous republication of Norris Magnuson'sSalvation in the Slumsand Timothy Smith's Revivalism and Social Reform, such historical amnesia is no longer necessary. Indeed, the two volumes should be read together since they function very nicely as part of a single, longitudinal study. Revivalism and Social Reformbrings us up to the time of America's Civil War.Salvation in the Slumsbegins the story at the time of the Civil War and carries it about a half century further.
Together, the two volumes paint a fascinating picture of the literally tens of thousands of evangelical Christians who in seeking
to apply the teaching of the Bible to every arena of life found themselves enthusiastically engaged in providing food and clothing for the poor, in reforming the prisons, in cleaning up the hospitals, in protecting children from the brutal practices of the industrial workplace, in promoting Christian missions at home and abroad, and in distributing Bibles to a needy world.
The world in which we live is very different, of course, from the worlds about which Norris Magnuson and Timothy Smith have written. Yet, these fascinating men and women have much to teach those of us who must live and work at the beginning of the twenty-first century. To those of us who have abandoned the public square, they remind us of Christ's command to be salt and light in the world. To those of us who have given up on the political process, they remind us that genuine change is possible through wise and wholesome laws. To those of us who expect immediate results, they remind us of the need for hard work over many years. To those of us who think we can achieve great goals by ourselves, they remind us of the importance of Christian community. To those of us who have grown cynical and pessimistic, they remind us that the power of the Gospel is still gloriously able to transform individual lives, to renew decaying institutions, to motivate individuals for a lifetime of benevolence, and to provide hope in a world of despair.
Now that these companion volumes are back in print, one can only hope that they will inspire a whole new generation to take up the task of understanding more fully and addressing more adequately the social and intellectual challenges of our time.
Garth M. Rosell, Ph.D. Professor of Church History Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary 130 Essex Street So. Hamilton, MA 01982 978-646-4139 <> March 14, 2005