Christian Sociology. A review of Preface to a Christian Sociology, by Cyril E. Hudson
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346 ] Christian Sociology A review of Preface to a Christian Sociology, by Cyril E. Hudson1 London: Allen and Unwin, 1935. Pp. 136. The Teaching Church Review: A Journal for Students of Religion, 6 (Feb 1936) 22-23 Canon Hudson has called this book quite rightly a preface to Christian sociology. He has kept within the limitations of the title, and the book should serve his purpose admirably. It is comprehensive without being vague, and clear without being cut and dried, and may be offered as a primer to all Churchpeople who feel any stirring of social conscience. It not only provides a brief bibliography of further reading, but touches upon the main problems in such a way as to provoke further thought on the part of the reader.2 The Christian sociologist is exposed, owing to the general confusion of thought as to what his position ought to be, to one or the other of two objections, or even to both. His critics, echoing the popular demand at moments of crisis that the Church should do something, may consider that his proposals are too vague, or that they amount to a policy of abstention from secular affairs. Or, if they find that the Christian sociologist does make any definite proposal, they will find that he has arbitrarily committed the cause of Christianity to the success of some particular nostrum, which he may advocate in common with many who are not Christians. Canon Hudson cannot justly be accused of either of these errors. He understands quite clearly that any Christian intervention in the affairs of the world can only be valid if the theology behind it is sound; that it is dogmatic Christianity, not “liberal” Christianity, that we need; and that co-operation between Christians who have not studied the foundations of their own faith may be ineffective or positively harmful. I am glad to find also, that he is aware of the fact that any reorganisation of society on a secular basis can hardly offer, from the Christian point of view, anything more than a negative benefit: we expect it only to remove some of the material difficulties which stand in the way of the Christian life. Such reorganisation will, furthermore, bring about new problems. The following statement deserves to be pondered: [ 347 Christian Sociology With increased leisure, and the enlarged opportunities for individual self-satisfactions which it affords, will come, probably, an increasingly articulate and sustained attack upon the institution of the family and the sexual ethics of Christianity. (79) The phrase “reorganisation of society on a secular basis” may mean two quite different things. Communism, and its perhaps only temporary opponent Fascism, demand an emotional reorganisation as well as a material one; they demand a diversion of the thought and emotion which the Christian offers to God alone. They are faiths to which the Christian cannot possibly adhere. The kind of secular reorganisation in which the Christian must be interested is that of a purely rational kind; which, by appealing only to the reason, can appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike. The Christian, in co-operating with non-Christians to endeavour to bring about such enlightened change, has to keep in mind that there is, in most men, some capacity for the love of God, and that the love which is not given to God will be given to false gods. The love which does not find its proper Object will issue in fanatical devotion to a theory, or to power, or in excessive affection to created beings, which is humanitarianism.3 Probably, therefore, the Christian will find a fundamental difference of attitude between himself and the non-Christian with whom he co-operates, a difference which he cannot afford to forget. As for the corporate intervention of “the Church” in the affairs of this world, I incline to believe, so far at least as the Anglican Church is concerned , that for the present the most important field of activity for the Christian sociologist is within the Church itself. The first thing is, to make all thinking Churchpeople realise that about certain questions they should come to think alike, because to these questions there must be a Christian answer; and to make Christians come to a clear understanding of the matters about which they cannot think alike with non-Christians. It is only now and then that Christians realise their responsibility in public affairs, not merely as members of the public, but as Christians. And in the...


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