The rise of social awareness among Southern Baptists, 1910-1960



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Purpose: It was the purpose of this study (1) to determine the extent to which the Southern Baptists, as a denomination, expressed an awareness of various critical social conditions within the period 1910 – 1960; and (2) to reveal and evaluate the official attitudes assumed and the action taken by the denomination in facing those problems. Methods: The primary method of investigation of data used in this study was the examination of the reports of the old Social Service Commission, which later came to be known as the Christian Life Commission, to the annual meetings of the Southern Baptists Convention. Some reports of this Commission’s counterpart in various state Baptist Conventions were also examined. Various books, treaties, articles, and pamphlets were studied to shed light on the subject. Correspondence was carried on with men both in the working field of social action and those who have given thought to similar areas of study. Conversation with Southern Baptist leaders has also been employed in this investigation. Findings: From the evidence presented in this study the following conclusions appear to valid: 1. Southern Baptists have become more socially aware during the past fifty years. 2. They have learned that social issued fall under the judgement of the Christian gospel as do personal matters. 3. The changing cultural and social patterns of the South, coupled with the expansion of the Southern Baptist Convention, have worked to produce new social situations, to which Southern Baptists have responded in a progressively more favorable way. 4. The advance in social awareness among Southern Baptists has come primarily in the past twenty years. 5. Southern Baptists have become more socially aware without departing from their conservative theological position. 6. The Christian Life Commission, and its predecessor, the Social Service Commission, has usually taken on the character and personality of its leadership. Progressive leadership has produced wider social concern and action.



Church--Social conditions--Baptists., Social gospel--History., Race relations--Religious aspects--Southern Baptist Convention., Christian life--Baptist authors., Citizenship--Moral and ethical aspects.