Fundamentalist's New Virtuous Activity: Swilling Beer

It truly is interesting how history tends to repeat itself. It is not the case that history somehow cycles through endless aeons, but that similar conditions of cause and effect repeat themselves over and over again as the right conditions reappear.

While reading a little bit about Shailer Mathews, the eminent Northern Baptist University of Chicago Divinity School modernist, that this comment should come out of Dorrien’s analysis:

Matthews debated history in beer halls and went to parties on Sunday afternoons. The churchly puritanical culture of Maine lost some of its authority for him after that experience. Mathews belonged to the transitionary generation of social gospel leaders, virtually all of whom were late-Victorians who employed the word “civilization” as a near God-term. The social gospelers fervently preached the overcoming of humankind’s lower nature with its higher qualities of spirit, but they also criticized the repressive legalism of the old evangelicalism. Mathews exemplified the type.

(Dorrien, Gary. The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism, & Modernity 1900-1950. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003. 183-84)


So, the current rebellion in conservative folds and service institutions is nothing really all that new. It seems to go hand in hand with the casting off of authority. The authority that Harper eschewed, Mathews lamented, and Foster overthrew.

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