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COLLEGE VOLUNTARY STUDY COURSES
“Christianizing Community Life" takes eighth place in a series of text-books known as College Voluntary Study Courses. The general outline for this curriculum has been prepared by the Committee on Voluntary. Study of the Council of North American Student Movements, representing the Student Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations and the Student Volunteer Movement, and the SubCommittee on College Courses of the Sunday School Council of Evangelical Denominations, representing twenty-nine communions. Therefore the text-books are planned for the use of student classes in the Sunday school, as well as for the supplementary groups on the campus. The present text-book has been written from detailed outline approved by these Committees.
The text-books are not suitable for use in the academic curriculum, as they have been definitely planned for voluntary study groups.
This series, covering four years, is designed to form a minimum curriculum for the voluntary study of the Bible, foreign missions, and North American problems. Daily Bible Readings are printed with each text-book. The student viewpoint is given first emphasis—what are the student interests? what are the student problems?
This book assumes that its readers have assimilated the previous book in the series, “The Social Principles of Jesus,” by Prof. Walter Rauschenbusch. It is an attempt to apply those principles concretely, to discover what imperative obligations, what actual tasks they impose upon present day Christians.
The book is mainly concerned with the local community, because that is the first place, and for most Christians the only place, where the social principles of Jesus must be worked out in social living. Naturally, however, and inevitably, the sphere of Christian social achievement widens into national policies, into international relationships. The book, therefore, has a worldwide touch and outlook. It points out that through innumerable efforts to Christianize all types of communities all over the world, the universal Christian social order will finally be established.
The book is neither a catalog of needs, nor a summary of methods. In its brief compass, only those outstanding needs that call for immediate action can be surveyed and only trunk lines of effort can be charted. Many questions concerning Christian social conduct are raised to which no definite answers can now be given. These answers can be found only in the experimental laboratory of local community life by those who are determined to find them. Here is a challenge to social action. It is an attempt to open up some of the trails that will lead to the civilization of God. It calls for men and women of the pioneer spirit to follow those trails to the end, that others may “follow after.” Those who hear and answer the challenge of the social principles of Jesus are confronted
1 Some of them will be answered if the “ Suggestions for Discussion and Action are followed out.
with the choice of general method. Shall we spend our time and energies in the propaganda of some general scheme of social reconstruction which embodies the principles of Jesus, or shall we engross ourselves in the immediate concrete measures which these principles plainly require? Shall we agitate for the abolition of poverty, or shall we find a way for the Italian widow with four children to live on her mother's pension of $7.50 a week? This book essays the difficult task of combining both methods.
This was the practice of Jesus. He proclaimed a great message of social reconstruction. He trusted those who would come after him to realize this program and find the methods that would express it for their need and time. For their enlightenment he also left a record of personal action. The immediate result of the application of his teaching to current conditions was that Nazareth attempted his life, and the end of it was that Jerusalem did him to death.
Still at work in the world, his task unfinished, he calls those. who follow him in thought to join with him in action, to embody his principles patiently in the daily round of community service, to carry them fearlessly to their ultimate conclusion in the great tasks of social reconstruction.
The authors have had the valuable cooperation of the SubCommittee on College Courses of the Sunday School Council and the Committee on Voluntary Study of the Council of North American Student Movements. Helpful suggestions have been received from others in touch with student work. Grateful acknowledgment is also made to Harrison S. Elliott and Charles H. Fahs for their invaluable aid.
THE WORLDWIDE COMMUNITY TASK
“There is nothing of that sort here," said the people of a prosperous church-going town to the speaker who had described some of the unchristian conditions that are common to community life. “We will be glad to help change things elsewhere, but this is a dry town and we have no poverty or vice.” Then the
young doctor called the speaker aside and told him of the big liquor bills at the drug store; of the undernourished, badly housed, tubercular colony on the outskirts of the town; of the girls who, to his knowledge, had been led astray. If such conditions obtain in the highest type of community that the world can show, what a task yet lies before Christianity!
Have our social studies ever yet shown us, even in America, a community in which family life is pure and strong throughout; where children are all protected from evil and developed to their full powers; where the spirit of brotherhood has so permeated industry that all the toilers are free to enrich their experience; where there are no assailants of the common good; where justice is measured out with even hand to all; where officials are “the ministers of God for good”? These are some of the things that must be accomplished if we are to Christianize community life.
This is a worldwide task. On every continent, in every nation, human life forms itself into communities. Next to the family it is the most universal social grouping. If the world life is to be transformed into a universal Christian order, the community life of the world must be Christianized.
FIRST DAY: The Word and the Deed
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?—Luke 6: 46.
Read the parable of the two builders.—Luke 6: 46-49.
To see the truth and venture nothing to carry it into community life is to invite paralysis of the will. Those who talk of social Christianity and do it not are in a perilous state. They are the most modern hypocrites. The social principles of Jesus have been made clear. They must now be translated into social action. They must be worked out everywhere in community deeds. "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which
y?" Does not Jesus say the same thing as he looks at our modern community life, which calls itself Christian? Would we be willing to have the whole world rise to the level of our community and stop there? This challenge of his comes to all who call themselves by his Name. They cannot avoid it. Naming his Name, are they united in doing his will, not merely as individuals, but collectively? Is their program community-wide-worldwide? The unchristian world home and abroad repeats his challenge—Why call ye him Lord, Lord, and do not the things which he says ?
SECOND Day: Seeing Community Needs
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.—Matt. 23: 37-39.
It was the mass needs of the city that brought this lament.