Chapter 7 The Search for Holiness
The Reconstruction and Negro Education
and The Church
IV. Dwight L. Moody
The Preachers & Their Dilemma
VII The Social
X. The Turn of
The Revival of 1857 and the Civil War marked a watershed of
dramatic change in the American scene and the US church. It was
Frank Beardsley's opinion that the Great Revival prepared the
North for the Civil War, and that the revival in the Southern
armies during the war providentially prepared the South for the
defeat and the desolation.
Paul Kennedy stated in his Rise and Fall of Great Powers that
the Civil War was the catalyst to transform America's latent
national power into the greatest military nation on earth by 1865.
Also, the conflict produced the first real industrialized total
war effort along the prototype of the 20th Century wars. In his
final analyst the North won with superior finances, industrial
and agricultural production, and supply lines.
Moreover, the war gave impetus to the tremendous industrial
growth, the large flow of immigrants, and the rapid urbanization
during the last four decades of the 19th Century. The old ways
were dying and the changes brought unrest and bitterness to the
masses. The new economic and social order unveiled many ills, and
they demanded a solution from the government and the society, as
well as the church and it's lay people.
Several decisions by the Lincoln administration contributed to
this expansion. First, President Lincoln and Treasury Secretary
Chase decided to finance the war through taxes and printing
"greenbacks" rather than the money borrowing from
European bankers. Also, the postwar westward expansion was
encouraged by two Lincoln campaign promises: a trans-continental
railroad and the Homestead Act. In 1860 there were three
millionaires in the US, and by the end of the century there were
over four thousand of them. The prosperity was both a blessing
and a curse.
The industrialization brought colossal changes in
transportation, communication, agricultural and domestic life.
For some the labor, income, and machines meant tremendous
opportunities, but for others the work, sweat, and grind of daily
life only produced despair. The title of the Gilded Age has
endured, but the wrongdoing, immorality, luxury, extravagance,
speculation, and intemperance was called by the daily newspapers
the almost forgotten name "Carnival of Crime." An
industrial war resulted between labor and capital. The working
force used strikes, boycotts, and violence against the
management's low pay, long hours, lockouts, and blacklists.
Regardless, the owners could always contract immigrants for the
lowest pay on any job.
Furthermore, the immigration made a striking change in the US
church. The "old" immigrants came from Western Europe,
and they were mainly Protestant. The "new" immigrants
came from Southern and Central Europe, and they were Catholic,
Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, and unchurched in background. They came
by the millions and they made the US more diversified and
pluralistic than ever before. The traditional Protestant
philosophy no longer dominated the nation.
The factories and the immigrants swelled the urban population
centers. Urbanization meant that the rich and the middle-class
would move uptown, while the old downtown suffered from atrocious
tenements with disease and drunkenness and despair. Again the age
old issue faced the church on how to minister to the poor and the
The Noonday Prayer Revival had resulted in a huge increase in
the influence of the laity. Their volunteerism and philanthropy
continued throughout the war and afterwards. With an increase in
money and a force of willing workers the church searched for a
new direction to handle the new problems. Old evangelicalism
seemed like a weakened tune, and a new song rang out for personal
holiness, sanctification, and perfectionism. As the revival of
the laymen continued, even the voice of the women could be heard,
too. However, the greatest lay person of the age was Dwight L.
Moody, and he was, also, the strongest voice of the age.
The church, also, faced new challenges to their theology from
science and scholarship. In 1859 Charles Darwin published his
theories on natural selection or evolution. In 1878 Julius
Wellhausen introduced his theories on biblical criticism. He
rejected the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Although he was
not the first, he disputed the historical reliability of the
Isaiah, Daniel, and the Old Testament. The new thoughts on
science, technology, Marxism, sociology, psychology, and
comparative religion all questioned the established Western
In past ages the opposition always seemed to be a single or at
least a limited target. The church could always hope and pray for
a revival. But, by this era America's religion had become so
diverse and the social problems were compounded so much that
Ahlstrom called the post Civil War transition a period of "strange
formlessness." Moreover, when the church was forced to spend
its energies in so many directions, they at least had the wealth
and the lay people to meet the challenges.
While the revivals continued and personal spiritual growth was
still emphasized, Clifton Omstead said, that never before had
church membership been stronger, but their spiritual soundness
was weaker. The wealth enabled the churches to avoid the "crudities"
of the frontier age. Wooden churches with mourners benches and
spirited singing by the congregation with lay preachers gave way
to magnificent brick buildings with cushioned pews and robed
choirs as an intro to an eloquent seminary-trained minister.
Furthermore, most churches had a social stratification based on
economic similarities, education, and ethnic background.
During the final decades of the 19th Century the Christian
community responded to the social problems in many ways. The call
for concern for the plight of the less fortunate was aligned
under an all-encompassing term known as the "Social Gospel."
Many social and service organizations sprang up to meet the needs
of people. The institutional church had a gymnasium, handicraft
center, library, perhaps a parochial school, maybe medical and
even economic services. The church became concerned for not only
the spiritual well-being, but for every aspect of the
I. The Reconstruction and Negro Education:
As the armies returned home, the country set about the task of
reconstruction to restore the Union, and to bind up the nation's
wounds, and to give this nation under God a new birth of freedom.
However, the rift between the North and the South grew even
larger. Lincoln's plea for reconciliation died with him in too
many cases. In the South Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert
Lewis Dabney declared, "What! forgive those people, who have
invaded our country, burned our cities, destroyed our homes,
slain our young men, and spread desolation and ruin over our land!
No, I do not forgive them." In the North at New Haven
Theodore Thornton Munger exclaimed that the South was only being
punished "for its sins." Regretfully, retaliation ruled
and rather than restoration. As the federal government attempted
to arrange reconciliation, the rift between Congress and
President Johnson grew greater, too. While Southern governments
passed Black Codes, the President vetoed the Congressional
policies on re-admission to the Union, political and civil rights
for the Negro, and a freedmen's assistance bill. When the Radical
Republicans impeached the President, the Methodist Episcopal
general conference devoted an hour of prayer for his deliverance,
and the African Methodist Episcopal Church prayed for his
conviction at their general session. Meanwhile the federal troops
entrenched the carpetbag governments in the South.
For the freedmen they had little concept of freedom or the
reality of it. Their greatest interest was in religion and
education. Booker T. Washington said, "The great ambition of
the older people was to try to read the Bible before they died."
Without jobs they had time for religion and it was reported
"that baptizings among Negroes were as popular as were
operas among whites." The opportunities for jobs, land, or
private business were restricted by the other Southerners, who
were suffering some of the same postwar struggles. When the US
Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau and other Reconstruction
legislation, they hoped that Negro rights and economic openings
The Freedmen's Bureau was the first federal relief agency
aimed at aiding the distressed. It gave rations and medical
services to blacks and whites. Under the leadership of General O.O.
Howard they tried to establish labor contracts and resettle lands
especially for Negroes. Although it faced opposition from
Southerners and experienced the corruption and fraud like
everything else during this era, the Bureau was extremely
successful in the field of education. When the agency ceased in
1870, there were 4,329 schools with 247,333 students, and the
Bureau had spent $5 million dollars in educating the Negroes. In
1869 there were 9,503 teachers in the freedmen's schools in the
South. The Bureau claimed that schools had been set up even
"in the remotest counties of each of the Confederate States."
Booker T. Washington called it "the most striking example of
Christian brotherhood and benevolence in the annals of mankind."
White teachers and philanthropic aid came from the North. Many of
the teachers were women paid by the American Missionary
Association. George Peabody of Massachusetts set up a $3.5
million fund for Southern education and particularly for Negroes.
It was the first great philanthropic fund and it lasted 46 years.
The John Fox Slater fund for "colored education" would
be established to "confer upon them the blessings of a
Christian education." Eventually the two funds united.
General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the son of Christian
missionaries to Hawaii, founded Hampton Institute for manual
training of freed people. Booker T. Washington, the most famous
Hampton graduate, established Tuskegee Institute as a vocational
school with a purpose for the Negro to move "up from slavery."
Other institutions like Howard, Fisk, Atlanta and some twenty
other colleges blossomed. Schools were established at every level.
Booker T. Washington observed, " It was a whole race trying
to go to school." He, also, wrote that "the best forces
of the republic - the state, the Christian philanthropists and
the grateful beneficiary - are all working harmoniously together
to prepare the children of former slaves for the proper and high
duties of citizenship."
According to John Hope Franklin the second great relief agency
was the Negro church. While none of the pre-Civil War churches re-united
immediately after the war, the African Americans experienced
phenomenal growth in their own independent churches after the
emancipation. Kenneth Scott Latourette called the church growth
of the American Negro membership between 1815-1914 "one of
the greatest of all achievements of the Christian faith."
The African Methodist Episcopal and the Negro Baptist churches
reached 700,000 members by the end of the Reconstruction. In 1860
only 11.7 percent of the Negroes were church members, but by 1916
forty-four percent were church members which was exactly the same
as the whites.
The church was the first social institution in America fully
controlled by Blacks. It was during this period that religion and
politics blended into the Negro culture and the Black pulpit. W.E.B.
DuBois pointed out the minister's importance when he said, "The
Preacher is the most unique personality developed by the Negro on
American soil. A leader, a politician, a 'boss,' an intriguer, an
idealist." Even with a modest elementary education, it was
the only profession open to a Negro man. According to James
Weldon Johnson, a 20th Century secretary in the NAACP, the
preacher had "the greatest single influence among the
colored people of the United States,"
A unique fund raising idea was originated by the treasurer of
Fisk University George L. White. He borrowed money to send the
Jubilee Singers to Oberlin, Ohio in 1875. They sang Negro
spirituals and work songs at the National Council of
Congregational Church's meeting. Quickly, the all-Negro group
became an attraction and went on tour throughout the North and
Europe. Within seven years they raised $150,000 to finance the
building of Jubilee Hall on the campus of Fisk University.
Despite such advancements northern enthusiasm declined and
southern opposition became more zealous. The older Radical
leaders left office. Some Republicans became disenchanted with
the corruption during Grant's administration. Unfortunately, one
carpetbag politician even preached that Jesus Christ was a
Republican. Some of the church agencies lost interest and
abandoned the cause. When the Freedman's Bureau ended most of the
white teachers returned to the North.
In the South white supremacists increased the call for home
rule. Also, the rise in violence by the secret societies like the
Ku Klux Klan even wearied the best intentions and mildly won over
Southerners, who did not approve of the methods. When Congress
granted amnesty to ex-Confederates and passed laws against the
Klan, Northerners felt justified that they had put forth enough
effort toward the Reconstruction.
In the election of 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes was given the
Presidency in a Congressional compromise that returned the South
to their own rule. All the troops were removed, and the carpetbag
governments collapsed. The white majority voters returned to
power, and the Solid South Democrats called themselves "Redeemers."
Unfortunately, the Negroes were restricted from voting and ended
up mostly as sharecroppers.
The symbolic end to the era occurred when President Hayes
placed flowers on the Confederate graves in Chattanooga,
Tennessee on May 30, 1877. The practice had originated in
Charleston in 1865 when James Redpath and a some Negro children
put flowers on the graves of Union soldiers. The event became a
national holiday called "Decoration Day." It mark an
end to the era of "bloody shirt politics" and was
called a day of reconciliation.
Ironically with the close of American slavery, an American
newspaper story exposed the world's darkest story of slavery in
Africa. The 19th Century's most famous newspaper story in the New
York Herald the serial of Henry Morton Stanley's search for the
famous Scottish missionary-explorer David Livingstone circulated
an appeal to end Africa's slavery. It, also, served to recruit
missionaries. The enlistment was so successful that for the first
time in history a continent became a Christian majority in a
II. Education and The Church:
When the Civil War ended the nation renewed its drive for
universal education. However, only one state, Massachusetts, had
a compulsory attendance law and that was weak. The education
system had 7 million pupils, but only 3 percent got beyond the
eighth grade. Ninety percent of the Negroes were illiterate. The
old aristocratic attitude continued to oppose the school tax. The
upper class preferred private and church influenced schools that
were financed by private donations.
Education was under state control because of the 10th
Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The first attempt at federal aid
to education was the Morrill Act of 1862. It was aimed at
vocational education. This land grant act founded the A & M
colleges. It was, also, the beginning of federal aid to education.
The standard teaching methods were reflected in an 1847 book
by David P. Page. For a half century his opinion was typical,
when he wrote, "there would be no objection to teaching
generally accepted Christian doctrine in the public schools or
even directly teaching religion."
Methodist professor William Warren Sweet wrote that "the
most important single influence in organized religion by the end
of the 19th Century was the tremendous increase in wealth in the
nation." The wealth changed the buildings, the educational
institutions, and the congregations of the churches. They were
transformed into middle-class assemblies with prominent,
respected business families heading every church. Their charity
and philanthropy was an example for all to follow.
Education was the major beneficiary of their gifts and
endowments. The Methodist church was the most prodigious. The US
Commissioner of Education reported in 1903 that of the 464
universities in the nation 76 were Methodist institutions, and of
the 923 secondary schools under denominational control 109 were
The Sunday School was a major emphasis of the Protestant
church. In 1872 B.F. Jacobs instituted a plan for uniform Sunday
School lessons. An interdenominational committee wrote a
curriculum with a progressive system of scriptures for different
ages and levels of understanding. Jacobs and Dr. John Vincent
persuaded the Fifth National Sunday-School Convention to adopt
In 1874 John Heyl Vincent, a Methodist minister, began a
training program for Sunday School teachers at Lake Chautauqua in
New York. It expanded into a popular education assembly that
featured a variety of lectures, discussions, and even college
credits. The Daily Vacation Bible School originated as another
summertime Bible program in New York City in 1899.
The unchurched, the unaffiliated, and especially the young
were the main Sunday School targets of Protestant Christianity.
In many places in America the "Bible classes"
overshadowed the regular worship service. It was Sydney
Ahlstrom's opinion that the US Sunday Schools produced "the
most pious and knowledgeable laity in all of Christendom."
While all agreed that the religious education was the first the
responsibility of the home, most expected the church and the
school to supplement the family's efforts. The Roman Catholics
and Missouri Synod Lutheran developed a new innovation with the
parochial school system. The Catholics argued that the government
should contribute financial aid to their schools. However, the
Lutherans not only objected to government funds, but they refused
to take any of them. Another issue Bible reading in the public
schools was opposed by the Catholics.
As the nation was changing and becoming more diverse and
pluralistic, education was in transition, too. In ages past
schools were upper-class, private, classical and Christian based.
But now, with the new wave of immigrants and the emphasis was on
the common person. The American education system was an eclectic
training ground for citizenship, democracy, literacy in English,
some vocational skills, and the "three R's." As the
"modern" and "secular" ideas became more
influential, Christianity and the Bible were having less of an
influence on the curriculum.
III. The Holiness Movement:
Before the Civil War American Christianity was dominated by
the evangelical emphasis on salvation. After the war the emphasis
on the Christian life was the post conversion experience of a
changed life known as sanctification or separation from sin. Part
of this doctrine came from the Methodist teachings of John Wesley
on perfection and some came from Finney on "entire
sanctification." A potpourri of regeneration terms were used
to describe this "second blessing" or "second work
of grace." Officially, the general term became "holiness."
The movement started before the Civil War and continued
afterwards. The teachings of Phoebe Palmer spearheaded the
perfectionist revival as early as the 1830's. She was the founder
of the ladies Tuesday prayer meetings for holiness in the
Methodist church. The first National Camp Meeting for the
Holiness movement was held in the summer of 1867 in Vineland, New
Jersey. For ten days over 10,000 followers listened to speeches
on Christian holiness. Before the camp closed they organized an
Association to Promote Holiness with Rev. John Swannell Inskip, a
young New York City Methodist pastor, as their President. Also,
Bishop Matthew Simpson, who was a circuit rider and a college
president of DePauw, surfaced as one of the better Methodist
While the movement emerged from the Methodist bodies, it
attracted followers from other Protestant groups. The next year
in Mannheim outside of Lancaster in the heart of Pennsylvania
Dutch country the Second National Holiness camp meeting drew 25,000
attenders and over 300 preachers. The crowd was an
interdenominational group from almost every state. It was one of
the largest of the century. It marked the renewal of the camp
meeting days. It, also, was characterized by the Methodist
emotion and enthusiasm of earlier times. The closing night
communion was usually the fervent high point for the campers. In
1869 they met at Round Lake, New York. In 1870 three national
meetings were held, and by 1872 it moved to the South.
When the "Shepherdess" Phoebe Palmer died in 1874,
the movement was in full bloom outside the Methodist Church and
even reaching Europe. The holiness emphasis on living a life void
of conscious or deliberate sin was attracting many disciples. It
did not result in any single new denomination, but splintered
into many loosely aligned and independently connected fellowships.
The conservative wing resulted in the Church of the Nazarene, the
Pilgrim Holiness Church, and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana).
Another branch of the movement led to a number of Holiness and
Wesleyan groups, and the Christian Missionary Alliance Church
which was founded by A.B. Simpson, a leader on holiness ideas.
When the holiness writers expanded on the term "entire
sanctification," they referred to it as a "baptism of
the Holy Spirit." This eventually spawned the Pentecostal
churches and the Assemblies of God denomination.
Those, who joined the movement, sought a higher Christian life
of holy living according to the Bible. They had a strong emphasis
on the Holy Spirit and a New Testament church like after
Pentecost in the Book of Acts. Although there was allot of talk
about unity, many went their separate ways. In the opinion of
Melvin Dieter the movement resulted in "the largest group of
new church organizations which America ever produced in so short
a time." Also, since the book of Acts was widely read, they
studied the prophesies of Joel and the latter days. They accepted
the popular premillennial views of the 19th Century.
Consequently, they were more interested in social improvements
and ushering in Christ's return than they were with evangelism.
Oswald Chambers born in Britain in 1874 observed, "The
holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of
the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that
needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious
atmosphere, prayer, and devotion." And "If you accept
this concept of the holiness movement, your life's determined
purpose will not be for God, but for what you call the evidence
of God in your life." Nevertheless, in an age of greed and
dishonesty where the mainline denominations were run like
businesses with wealthy businessmen leading the church boards,
the holiness movement tried to be a genuine Christian church like
Jerusalem in the days of Acts. Their hope of restoring the post-Pentecost
fellowship was along the lines of the best days of the Puritans
and the Pietists. They expected purity, and love, and good
koinonia, and a work of the Holy Spirit - now! (in the present
age). Unfortunately, their vitality is not strongly remembered in
the 20th Century. Perhaps part of the reason is that the movement
separated from the old main-line denominations.
IV. Dwight L. Moody:
A continuing impact of the 1858-59 revival was the growth in
ministries by laymen. Over the same period to the end of the
century the nation experienced a postwar boom in business and
industry. American Christianity reaped the benefits from both in
the work of D.L. Moody. He was a "babe in Christ"
during the awakening, a very advanced "babe," and a
salesman in the shoe business. He applied his business knowledge
to the successful big city campaigns in Britain and America.
William McLoughlin rated the 19th Century evangelists by saying,
"Charles Finney made revivalism a profession, but Dwight L.
Moody made it big business."
He was born in Northfield, Mass. in 1837. Shortly after his
father's death when Dwight was four, his widowed mother had the
entire family baptized at the Unitarian Church. It was Moody's
only baptism. His schooling ended in the seventh grade, so he was
never ordained to preach. At age seventeen he went to Boston to
work in his uncle's shoe store. He quickly became the leading
salesman in the store.
He attended the Mt. Vernon Congregational Church in Boston. He
was assigned to the Sunday School class of Edward Kimball, who
was instrumental in his conversion. It was undramatic. While
visiting the store and talking about Christ, Mr. Kimball just
placed his hand on D.L.'s shoulder, and Moody made a simple,
quiet, unemotional decision to trust in Christ. He recalled the
event by saying, "here is a man who never saw me till
lately, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear
for them." When he applied for church membership his
testimony seemed vague about how he "accepted Christ,"
so three persons were assigned to disciple him in the way of
salvation. Ten months later he was given membership, but by then
he was ready to leave Boston.
In 1856 he went to Chicago to earn his fortune in the shoe
business. His goal was $100,000. However, he joined the Plymouth
Congregational Church and served in many ways. He invited the
youngsters from the streets to his Sunday School class, and
founded his own North Market Sabbath classes which grew to
fifteen hundred members. President-elect Abraham Lincoln even
visited a Sunday School class. Moody soon gave up his job and
became a city missionary. He did home visitations and welfare
activities for the YMCA. He, also, became engaged to British-born
Emma Revells, whose brother was the famous publisher Fleming H.
Revells. They were married in 1862.
When the Civil War broke out, Moody served in the Christian
Commission and the YMCA by visiting the soldiers on both sides
and passing out Christian literature. He ministered from Fort
Douglass in Illinois to the battlefields of Tennessee and
eventually entered Richmond with General Grant. He witnessed to
the captor, the prisoner, and the wounded. Nine times we went to
the battlefield. General O.O. Howard said of Moody, "His
preaching was direct and effective, and multitudes responded with
a confession and promise to follow Christ."
After the war he became President of the YMCA (1865-69) and
proved to be a remarkable fund raiser among the wealthy
businessmen. The trustees of his stock company included B.F.
Jacobs, George Armour, Cyrus McCormick, and John V. Farwell. In
1867 Farwell Hall, the first YMCA building in the world, was
built at a cost of $159,000. The building was consumed in the
fire of 1868 and was rebuilt only to be destroyed in the great
Chicago fire of 1871.
In 1870 Moody made a decision that forever changed the methods
of American revivalism. At the YMCA convention in Indianapolis he
invited Ira D. Sankey to be his song leader. For almost 30 years
they co-labored to present the gospel. Their innovation set the
standard for future mass evangelists. They were models for Sunday
and Rodeheaver, Graham and Shea, and many lesser known pairs.
In 1872 while on YMCA business in Britain, an evangelical
leader named Henry Varley made this challenge, "Moody, the
world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully
consecrated to Him." When Moody and Sankey were invited to
substitute in a London pulpit, four hundred people responded
after the sermon. Moody decided that mass evangelism or
revivalism was his calling and he would return to Great Britain.
In 1873 Moody and Sankey began two years of evangelism in the
British Isles. They, also, adopted several successful changes in
revivalism. First, Moody used the British practice of inquiry
meetings or "after meetings" rather than the Finney
anxious bench. Eventually he used decision cards so pastors could
follow up those, who made decisions. Also, they had the Sankey
hymnbook published. It was 16 pages and it was sold for 12 cents
each. It immediately became a best seller and made a million
dollars, but neither Moody or Sankey took a penny of it. Moody re-introduced
the noon prayer meeting, but it was in preparation for the
evening meetings. As many as 6,000 attended the noonday meetings.
Again the secular press picked up on the religious frenzy like in
1859. The Earl of Shaftesbury said that Moody was " the
right man at the right hour."
Moody's message was a simple, clear presentation of eternal
life in the style of a layman, whose only text was the Bible. The
educated clergy criticized him for his lack of theological
principles. The erudite said that his speech had slurs and slang,
and some "ain'ts," and he didn't always use the King's
English. However, Moody's target was the unchurched and the poor,
and consequently the common audience identified with his message.
A surprising response came from young people, who had been raised
in the church by faithful parents, but they left the church as
adults. Also, a large number of church goers came to be revived
by Moody's preaching and Sankey's singing. Very few of the poor
attended the meetings. At times Moody criticized the Christians
for sitting up front and taking seats away from the poor,
unsaved, and unchurched. Nevertheless, capacity crowds followed
the American pair throughout the British Isles.
For two years Moody and Sankey traveled around England,
Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Moody preached Bible stories and
Sankey led easily memorized hymns which he played on a small,
portable organ. It was said that Sankey sang the gospel while
Moody preached it, and as many made decisions during the singing
as during the preaching. By the end of the campaign 3 to 4
million people had been reached. The London meetings lasted the
final twenty weeks and attracted 2,500,000 with some crowds
reaching 20,000 in the Agricultural Hall. The pair had become
world famous and America anticipated their return to their
They returned to the United States in the summer of 1875.
Moody was now a national religious folk hero. When he held small
revival meetings in his mother's hometown of Northfield, the
activities made the front page of the New York newspapers. After
the new reports of their British success invitations poured in
from the excited American church people. Delegations from New
York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago with offers for his
meetings. Moody's first requirement was interdenominational unity.
Philadelphia said that they had two hundred ministers in
agreement with the movement, and they had started on a tabernacle
for the location. However, he accepted the invitation by his good
friend Rev. Theodore Cuyler in Brooklyn first.
In Nov. 1876 the Philadelphia campaign was arranged through
the efforts of John Wanamaker, the Christian businessman of five
and dime fame. Wanamaker renovated the old Pennsylvania Railroad
Freight Depot at a cost of $20,000 out of his own pocket, and
purchased 10,960 chairs for the Moody evangelistic meetings. The
banner over the podium read "I bring you good tidings of
great joy which shall be to all people." For two great
months overflow crowds of over one million attended with an
estimated 4,000 converts. President Grant, the governor of
Pennsylvania, and senators and representatives were in the
In New York City P.T. Barnum's Hippodrome on Madison Avenue,
which is the present site of Madison Square Garden, was the
principal venue for the Moody meetings. By now the Moody methods
were familiar. Sankey soothed their hearts with congregational
singing. The message urged sinners to "come forward."
With the Bible in his hand he waved for them to come to the
"inquiry rooms." His homey homily simple said, "Until
the heart is made right all else will be wrong." Even the
New York Times agreed, "the work accomplished by Mr. Moody
in this city for private and public morals will live." The
attendance was one and a half million.
Finally in October of 1776 Moody and Sankey returned to
Chicago to a hometown hero's welcome. The city was practically
rebuilt from the great fire. An 8,000 seat tabernacle had been
built at a cost of $21,000. Overflow crowds warmed the winter
campaign which saw 5,000 people respond at the evangelistic
services. The city and its people were overjoyed with what they
called a "Pentecostal visitation."
Cities and committees lined up for the evangelist. Local
pastors and laymen followed a standard procedure outlined by the
Moody organization. Tabernacles were built for around $20,000 to
$30,000. Funds were raised to finance the campaigns. The average
weekly cost was $5,000. Famous businessmen and laymen gave money
in advance to a "Guaranty Fund" to cover the expenses.
Handbills were distributed and the meetings were always
advertised "No Collection" would be taken. After 1878
Moody decided not to use the tabernacle system because of the
expense. The meetings were held at churches, and he tried to stay
longer for up to six months.
Moody was a tireless worker always trying to reach the masses.
Each year he campaigned in big cities for several months and made
brief stops in smaller one. In 1877 he went to Boston and
received opposition from the Unitarians and the Roman Catholics.
The press even ridiculed his five foot six and 280 pound frame.
They criticized his diction because he said, "done" for
"did" and he mixed up some verbs. Nevertheless, Moody
methodically worked his plan. Nothing was spontaneous. Three
services a day: a morning inspirational meeting, a noonday prayer
time, and the evening evangelistic service. No hand clapping,
shouting, or gyrations occurred. Moody gave the message and
motioned with his Bible to come forward, while Sankey and a choir
of maybe a thousand sang invitation hymns. The seekers were led
to inquiry rooms. The coercion was gentle like the hand on his
shoulder when Dwight trusted Christ with Mr. Kimball. From Boston
in 1878 the pair continued throughout New England and Baltimore.
The next year to St. Louis and Cleveland, and then the Pacific
coast. In 1881 they returned for another two year campaign in
Great Britain. Back home in 1884 they made a tour of small
American cities. In 1887 Moody went to Palestine and preached on
Calvary on Easter Sunday. He made another tour of the British
Isles in 1891-92 and a return to Palestine. In 1893 at the
Chicago World's Fair, celebrating the anniversary of Columbus'
voyage, two million people heard D.L. Moody preach. J. Edwin Orr
called it "his greatest campaign." The next year Moody
went to Mexico City. His final campaign was held at the 15,000
seat Convention Hall, the largest site of his career, in Kansas
City in 1899. He became ill after several days and went home to
Northfield. He died Dec. 22, 1899.
Although his preaching was always for the saving of souls, his
secondary passion was the educating, the discipling, the
perfecting of the saints. He came to the conclusion that the
inquiry room was not enough training. He developed 15 suggestions
for growth through daily Bible studies. He always encouraged
every inquirer to join a church quickly. He criticized the habits
of "smoking, chewing, drinking, horse-racing, dancing, card-playing
Christian," but he still majored on the issue of their
His second great work, and perhaps his greatest legacy, was
training a corp of Christian workers. In 1879 he established
Northfield Seminary for Girls. In 1881 Mt. Herman School was
founded for boys. The Bible Institute of Chicago was born in 1886
and became the now famous Moody Bible Institute. In the early
days it was called the "West Point of Christian Service."
Throughout his life conferences were always an opportunity for
spiritual growth whether they were for Sunday School, the YMCA,
students, the Christian Workers, or the ones at Northfield. The
Student Volunteers Movement for world missions grew out of one of
the 1886 Northfield conference. It resulted in over 20,000
missionaries around the globe.
While the church leaders and theologians struggled to answer
the controversies of the day, Moody gave uncomplicated answers
from the Bible. On evolution Moody said, "It is easier to
believe that man was created in the image of God than to believe
his grandparents were monkeys." On "higher"
criticism he answered directly, "The Bible! I just believe
it." On the death of the famous atheist Robert Ingersoll in
1899 compassionately Moody advised, "We need to pray for the
Colonel's wife and daughters."
Although Dwight L. Moody was an itinerant evangelist in the
truest sense, it was estimated that he traveled over a million
miles in his lifetime, and he addressed over a 100 million people.
One eulogist pondered, "How many millions have been saved
through his life, no one can tell." This rural-born, common
layman received the financial blessing of the rich and famous of
his day, and he preached to every level of the social spectrum
from Presidents and world leaders to street urchins and the
unemployed poor. He laid the ground work for every mass
evangelist in the 20th Century, and his influence on Christianity
will continue into the 21st century. He remains an inspiration to
every layman of what can happen to a man with a Bible, a
concordance, and a topical study guide.
V. The Philanthropists
The national wealth of the United States grew from 16 billion
dollars in 1860 to 87 billion dollars by 1890. The development of
great business organizations and particularly those extending
from the railroad industry resulted in immense personal fortunes
for the leaders of these corporations. Many of these men, who
were called "Captains of Industry," were active church
leaders and generous contributors to charitable causes like
churches, schools, hospitals, and orphanages.
The philosophy of philanthropy was promoted by men like
Russell Conwell and Andrew Carnegie. The steel magnate called his
benevolent wisdom The Gospel of Wealth. He applied Social
Darwinism to business success and the "fittest"
individuals. He gave away over $350 million dollars to colleges,
research projects, the peace movement, and almost 3,000 libraries.
Carnegie was known as an agnostic. He had a standing offer of $10,000,
if anyone could prove to him the resurrection of Jesus Christ on
Easter Sunday. Nevertheless, he still gave millions of dollars
for church organs.
Dr. Conwell was a Baptist preacher. His Christian ideals were
expressed in his sermon "Acres of Diamonds." His first
lecture was in 1868 and after 6,000 lectures he had enough money
to start Temple University. He said, "Money is power, and
you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it. You ought
because you can do more good with it than you could without it.
Money printed your Bible, money builds your churches, money sends
your missionaries, and money pays your preachers...I say, then,
you ought to have money. If you can honestly attain unto to
riches in Philadelphia, it is your Christian and godly duty to do
John Wanamaker's Philadelphia department store was one of the
most successful businesses in the world. He was head of the YMCA
in Philadelphia, and superintendent of the largest Sunday School
in the world at Bethany Presbyterian Church. He, also, served as
Postmaster General of the US. When asked how he could hold so
many positions at once, he replied, "Early in my life I
read, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you,' The Sunday School
is my business, all the rest are things." At his store he
had a specially constructed sound proof room where he spent 30
minutes a day praying and mediating on God's Word. He, also,
conducted Bible studies for his employees, while he paid them on
company time. He was worth $25 million dollars.
John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Trust,
tithed every dollar he ever made and taught Sunday School in the
Baptist church for many years. He became a billionaire and looked
upon himself as a steward of The Lord and his wealth as "God's
Gold." After age 58 he devoted his retirement years to
philanthropy and playing golf. He gave away 550 million dollars.
As an avid golfer, he partnered with President Harding, Judge
Landis, Harvey Firestone, even evangelist Billy Sunday, and many
other famous people.
John Pierpont Morgan's banking business controlled the most
wealth of the era an estimated 22 billion dollars. He had power
in banks, railroads, steel, the nation's gold supply, and over
100 corporations. His art treasures started the New York
Metropolitan Museum. Yet for all his wealth and power, his 10,000
word will summed up his final dependence; he wrote, "I
commit my soul into the hands of my Savior, in full confidence
that, having redeemed and washed it in his most precious blood,
he will present it faultless before my heavenly Father; and I
entreat my children to maintain and defend, at all hazard and at
any cost of personal sacrifice, the blessed doctrine of complete
atonement for sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, once
offered, and through that alone."
Many of the great business leaders were active church and
parachurch leaders. The meat packers the Swifts (Methodists), and
the Armours along with Farwell & Marshall Field were YMCA and
Moody supporters. Cyrus McCormick of farm machinery was a devout
Presbyterian. Jay Cooke of the 1873 panic was a tither and an
Episcopalian. His investment associate Daniel Drew gave money for
a Methodist seminary. Railroad leaders Hill and Vanderbilt funded
educational institutions. A Baptist Seminary was donated for John
P. Crozer. John D. Rockefeller gave $78 million to University of
Chicago and its Baptist School of Divinity.
A lesser known Chicago businessman Horatio G. Spafford lost
everything in the Chicago fire. Nevertheless, his Christian faith
became even more famous, when his wife and all his children died
in a shipwreck. While shedding tears over the telegram, he wrote
the famous hymn "It is Well with My Soul."
Contrariwise to the good intentions and efforts of the givers,
the money was called "tainted." The ruthless business
practices negated the philanthropic images of some churchgoers
like Rockefeller, who was ridiculed with the nickname "Wreckafeller."
Even Dr. Conwell lamented their triumph by referring to it as
"that bitch goddess: success." A generation later their
Horatio Alger countenance was given the revised title of "robber
VI. The Preachers and their Dilemma:
At the time of Moody's death revival preaching teams and
philanthropic pursuits numbered in the hundreds. It was
anticipated that J. Wilbur Chapman, a Presbyterian pastor in
Philadelphia and New York, and Reuben Torrey, first President of
Moody Bible, would abide on the same path. Charlie Alexander, a
Moody Bible product from Tennessee, warmed up their audiences
with his joyful music and his humorous rapport with the crowds.
Although they never achieved the widespread appeal of Dwight L.
Moody, Chapman published valuable papers on how carry on the work
of evangelism. Torrey was, also, a significant author, and he
established the Bible Institute of Los Angeles or BIOLA.
Samuel Porter Jones, an itinerant, Methodist preacher from
Georgia, became known as the "Moody of the South." His
gospel singer was E. O. Excell. Jones was known for his sarcasm
and wit as he ridiculed everything from the evils of the city to
the theology of the educated preachers. His colorful, rural humor
was as effective as the professionals like Mark Twain. "Sam"
never failed to offer an opinion on the issues of his time.
During his evangelistic career in the South and the Midwest for
over thirty years, he claimed 500,000 converts from audiences
with 25 million listeners.
Benjamin Fay Mills developed his city-wide revivals into a
business organization, which was called the "District
Combination Plan." He had an Executive Committee to oversee
the committees on finance, canvassing, music, advertising, and
even the ushers which were assigned specific duties. His prayer
meetings were called the "midweek Sabbath." His
messages were thought to have a weak and liberal theology, so he
lost credibility with the evangelicals. Although he drifted into
a Unitarian ministry for a time, his administrative innovations
were still respected.
While revivals attracted the crowds, and the evangelists and
their gospel singers got the publicity, many congregations were
served by faithful pastors. William W. Sweet said, "Perhaps
at no period in the history of the American pulpit had there been
so many outstanding preachers as in the last two decades of the
19th Century." At the top of the list were Phillips Brooks
of Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston and Henry Ward Beecher of
the Brooklyn Plymouth Congregational Church. George A. Gordon of
Boston's Old South Church, T. DeWitt Talmadge at Central
Presbyterian in New York, and New Haven's Congregational
ministers Theodore Munger and Newman Smyth were classed as "princes
of the pulpit" by Sydney Ahlstrom. Other historians include
many over preachers and evangelists.
In spite of their reputations, it appeared that the preachers
and that evangelical "old-time religion" could not
answer the new encounters with the "modern" scientific
theories in the 19th Century. The "old" White Anglo-Saxon
Protestant principles no longer dominated the nation. Darwin's
evolutionary theory and "higher" biblical criticism put
the church on the defensive over the authority of the Holy
Scriptures and the traditional explanation of Creation.
Charles Hodge of Princeton Seminary in his 1874 repudiation
What is Darwinism? said that natural selection was a flat out
contradiction to the doctrine of an omnipotent, omniscient
Creator. His conclusion, which was accepted by Moody and his
backers, was that Darwinism was atheism. In 1882 H.W. Beecher
announced, "He was a Christian evolutionist." Lyman
Abbott espoused a theory that God was the "one Great Cause"
behind a "continuous development." Other compromise
renditions moved toward what became known as "liberal
Protestantism" or "modernism." Their
accommodations were labeled as heresy by the evangelicals, who
were now being called "Fundamentalists." The Christian
response during the "first generation" of these
theories on evolution, only resulted in a general acceptance of
Darwinism. By the turn of the century it was estimated that three-fourths
of the whites in America believed the theory. Some maintained
that evolution's "survival of the fittest" was a
justification for the idea of racial superiority. However, the
supporters of Biblical Christianity remained committed to the
Divine creation and the redemptive purpose of Christ for
Meanwhile, the evolutionists continued to search for the
missing link. All evidence showed that the major animal groups
remained in their own phylum. Crossbreeding was impossible. Also,
Darwin failed to explain the uniqueness of man's larger brain and
memory, his power of speech, and his use of the opposable thumb.
Even Darwin admitted his inability to explain man's conscience,
and his concepts of God and the soul.
In 1854 the term thermodynamics appeared with an explanation
of the transformation of heat into energy. The fact was clear
that nothing in the universe was being created or destroyed; it
was only being transformed and shifted around. During the 20th
Century science caused more problems for evolution from the
studies of DNA, statistical probability, and the Big Bang theory.
Nevertheless, for some evolution became a scientific fact rather
than a theory.
The second major assault on Christianity was the authority of
the Holy Scriptures. In 1853 Hermann Hupfeld, a German theology
professor, claimed that Moses was not the only author of Genesis
and The Pentateuch. Others including Wellhausen and Graf joined
the parade of "higher" critics on Bible inerrancy.
Finally, in 1888 Nietzsche concluded that "God is dead."
The 1895 Niagara Bible Conference responded with a list of
fundamentals of the faith, and their cornerstone was "the
Bible is the inspired Word of God without error."
In another new field of science archeology the ancient cities
of Ninevah and Babylon were unearthed. Ironically, also in 1853,
Austen Layard and H. Rassam discovered the "Flood Tablets"
dating back to 2000 BC. The accounts were similar to the Bible.
In each succeeding generation the archeological evidence would
confirm the Bible's credibility and force the critics to admit
A major 19th Century response to "higher criticism"
was the Revised Version of the Bible in 1885. In 1844 a German
scholar Tischendorf found the Codex Sinaiticus, a 129-page
manuscript from Byzantine Emperor Constantine's fifty Bibles
during the 4th Century. The exciting find was in a waste paper
basket at a Norman monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Then, the
British Parliament ordered a "language" adaptation of
the King James Bible, and sixty-five English scholars spent four
years to complete a "revised" version.
In the USA an American edition was produced in 1885 under the
direction of William H. Green of Princeton Seminary. By 1901 it
was called the American Standard Version. At that time the
Presbyterian Church struggled over the inerrancy issue of the new
texts. The discussions resulted in several heresy trials and the
expulsion of several distinguished scholars from their
VII. The Social Gospel:
Sydney Ahlstrom, who devotes an entire chapter to the topic,
called the Social Gospel, "a movement which has been widely
hailed at home and abroad as the most distinctive contribution of
the American churches to world Christianity." The Social
Gospel was the Protestant Church's response to the social
problems which were created by the industrial and urban
environments of the 19th Century. Their primary focus came from
the post salvation responsibility for a moral and ethical attempt
to change and improve the society by the regenerate Christians.
The great church historian Ken Latourette explained that the
Social Gospel, "sought to inspire Christians to strive to
bring all society as well as the individual into conformity with
the teachings of Jesus."
The movement was nothing new among Christians. The call for
reform had happened in every revival period, and each generation
has been challenged to have an impact on its surrounding culture.
However in this age, the needs seemed greater, and the pleas came
from leaders in many fields. The workers hoped the labor unions
could win some protections, while bringing public attention to
the long hours, low wages, and poor working conditionings. The
greatest injustice was the child laborers. By 1900 one million
children under 16 years of age were working in factories and that
didn't include those in coal mines. The obvious solution was in
education with a mandatory attendance to a certain age.
In politics the third parties petitioned the government to end
the laissez-faire capitalism. They suggested that issues like the
tariff, free silver, a single tax, and even that government
control of private property might solve that social ills. While
communism and socialism were being considered in Europe, the
Populists and the Progressives in the US campaigned for at least
some government regulations.
By the 19th Century an optimistic view of man prevailed that
if you improved his environment man was perfectible. The new
beliefs on evolution supported the approach that biologically
mankind was making progress. The new social sciences of sociology
and psychology avowed that you needed to change the society to
get better individuals. They contended that the social problems
could be eliminated by changing the institutions. Meanwhile the
evangelical Christians insisted that the redemption of society
began with the salvation of individuals, and that the needed
change was a change of heart as spoken of by Moody. However, in
the churches the leaders and many of the members were from the
middle-class, who were employers, salaried people, farmers, and
workers in service vocations. They believed that the "blessed"
were the honest, thrifty, hard working, faithful church attenders.
They were not sympathetic to the workers demands, when they heard
of the violence of the Molly Maguires and the riots at the
Haymarket Square and the Homestead plant. Many maintained that
only a conversion experience by all would solve the evils in
society and the sins of materialism.
Nevertheless, the leading spokesmen for the Social Gospel came
from the liberal wing of Protestant Christianity not from the
evangelical segment. Washington Gladden was a Columbus, Ohio,
Congregational from 1882 to 1914. As an author and lecturer he
became one of the major awakeners of the church's social
conscience. He was well informed on the economic situation, the
unions, and the place of the government in the economy. He
advocated what he called "applied Christianity" or a
spirit of brotherhood and cooperation rather than conflict and
Josiah Strong, the Congregational minister at Central Church
in Cincinnati, wrote Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its
Present Crisis. The book was very popular among the expansionists.
He argued that "the Anglo-Saxon, as the great representative
of these two ideas..civil liberty..and pure spiritual
Christianity..is divinely commissioned to be, in a peculiar
sense, his brother's keeper." He organized a series of
successful Congresses between 1885 and the Chicago World's Fair
in which the nations leading social spokesmen spoke on their
views. His platform called the church's attention to America's
destiny and a need for urban evangelism. He revived the old
Evangelical Alliance, but was forced out. He then organized the
League of Social Service and championed the cause for social
Walter Rauschenbusch, a second generation American, was the
seventh successive generation in his family to be a clergyman. As
the pastor at the Second German Baptist Church in New York City
on the lower East Side, he saw first hand the worst slum in the
world at the end of the 19th Century. His church was located near
the notorious Hell's Kitchen. During his eleven year ministry he
worked with Henry George and Jacob Riis to ease the suffering and
despair in the poverty stricken area. He experienced an empathy
for those he saw "out of work, out of clothes, out of shoes,
and out of hope."
During his tenure at the Rochester Seminary (1897-1917) he
penned the most influential books which defined the Social Gospel.
With his first book in 1907 he eloquently showed Christians
"what to do" about their faith in Christ and the "Kingdom
of God on earth." His works earned him the title "Father
of the Social Gospel in America." However, the Great War
brought prejudice for his German ancestry and it, also,
diminished the hopes of others for perfecting society and the
By the 20th Century the movement had its critics. As Bernard
Weisberger judged, "It might be a new form of heresy that
Christianity should be more concerned with reforming society at
large than with converting individuals." William McLoughlin
wrote, "Social gospelers did not deny the importance of
saving men's souls, but they believed that first they must change
men's environment." Billy Sunday said, "Some people are
trying to make a religion out of social service with Jesus Christ
left out" and, "He sees the danger of magnifying it and
ignoring Christ and His salvation." In 1914 Sunday said,
"We've had enough of this godless social service nonsense."
With the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and the
legislation of the 63rd Congress many of the issues of the Social
Gospel and the Progressive Movement were satisfied by the federal
and state programs of the era. Even the leading social evil
alcohol was limited by the prohibition amendment. However, as
always happens future generations face new problems and the
perpetual demands for reform remain continuously.
One epilogue that may outlast all the other persuasions came
from Charles Sheldon. His sermon at the Topeka Central
Congregational Church became the timeless and popular book In His
Steps. The famous question on the dying lips of the fictitious
unemployed printer was "What would Jesus do?" The book
published in 1896 has sold millions, has never been out of print,
and has been made into two movies. It has remained a social
challenge to the lay people in the church to apply their faith on
a daily basis in their communities for more than a century.
Lately, the WWJD bracelet was brought to national attention when
golfer Payne Stewart, who was wearing the bracelet when he won
the 1999 US Open, died in a plane crash.
From the Civil War to the turn of the century the biggest
change in the face of America was urbanization. Between 1870 and
1900 thirteen million immigrants entered the nation. Also, a
steady stream of rural folks left their farms for the
opportunities in the big cities. By 1900 forty percent of the
population lived in metropolitan areas. The change brought huge
problems, and according to E.S. Gaustad, "neither revivals
nor reforms faced the problems of city and industry as squarely
as new agencies and institutions created for this purpose."
Before the Civil War the Sunday School, the Young Men's, and
the Young Women's Christian Associations had the best track
record for ministering to the poor, the jobless, and the homeless.
As early as the 1850's city rescue missions were founded to meet
the needs of the down-and-outers in the cities. The Water Street
Mission in the Bowery of New York City opened in 1872, and became
the most famous of the slum ministries. The founder was Jerry
MacAuley, who was saved from a wasted life at another New York
The institutional church was another agency to meet the
challenge of urban problems. It provided gymnasiums, libraries,
dispensaries, lecturer rooms, sewing rooms, auditoriums, and
other necessities to meet the physical, mental, social, and
spiritual needs of the community. Thomas K. Beecher's Park Church
in Elmira, New York was one of the earliest pioneers of the idea.
St. George's Episcopal Church in New York City started this
practice in 1882, and reached 4,000 communicants before the end
of the century. Russell Conwell's church in Philadelphia adopted
the same principles in 1891.
Historically, the Salvation Army has developed the best known
urban ministry agency. It originated in Great Britain in 1865 by
William and Catherine Booth, and it came to America in 1880.
Commissioner George Railton and seven women officers started the
American branch. Within ten years it was nationwide. They were
quickly recognized in their blue uniforms playing gospel hymns
with horns, cymbals, and brass drums on street corners. The
"hallelujah lasses" did street preaching and even
entered saloons. Starting in 1891 the Christmastime shoppers were
enticed by the bell ringers to throw their change into the red
kettles on a tripod.
The Salvation Army won respect for trying to rescue the lower
levels of society which others were either unable or unwilling to
reach. They provided food, clothing, and shelter, and in the
early days had a successful outreach to prostitutes. They
furnished services that no one else provided in those days like
legal advice, first aid, life insurance, even a missing persons
Social settlements attempted to operate like the institutional
churches, but they did not necessarily have a religious emphasis.
The most famous was Hull House in Chicago. In 1889 it was found
by Jane Addams, a devout Christian, who was raised in a Quaker
family. Hull House was the prototype with services for the
immigrants and minorities in the neighborhood. Miss Addams was
the first to setup a health clinic and playgrounds for the slum
dwellers. In 1931 she won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for
In Denver in 1887 four clergymen and a woman conceived the
idea of a citywide fund raising campaign to distribute money to
their local charities. Their vision spread to hundreds of other
cities and became the Community Chest which is now called the
There was, also, a marvelous growth of lay organizations for
the young within the churches. Each denomination had its youth
group. The Methodists had the Epworth League, the Presbyterians
had the Westminster League, the Lutherans had the Luther League,
the Episcopalians had St. Andrew's Brotherhood, and the Baptists
had the Young People's Union. The total membership of these young
disciples reached 2,820,540 by 1897.
The Roman Catholics, the fastest growing religious group and
largest immigrant group, grew from less than 3 million before the
Civil War to over 12 million by the turn of the century. Many
moved to urban ghettos. Most experienced prejudice and rejection
like the infamous sign "No Irish need apply." While
Catholicism and democracy seemed at odds, the American church
under the leadership of such conservatives as Father James
Gibbons, the second American Cardinal, became assimilated and
"Americanized." Even Pope Leo XIII supported the social
legislation and the unions in his 1891 letter to the church
The Catholics in America were more activists than their
European brethren, and they formed many social action groups. The
Jesuits (men) and The Ursulines (women) conducted mostly
educational work. The Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy
worked in education, hospitals, and social services. In 1875 the
Catholic Young Men's National Union offered recreation, evening,
and vocational education. The Knights of Columbus were founded in
1882 mainly as a group insurance endeavor, but developed social
and charitable concerns. By 1910 the Catholic Charities tried to
coordinate efforts on a national scale.
If American Protestants had to pick a single issue that upset
them about the Catholic, as well as the German customs, it was
the "continental Sunday" which featured sports, games,
merrymaking, and drinking. As the Puritan Sabbath was eroded,
some issues were gradually accepted, but the alcohol and the
temperance crusade expanded in animosity.
IX The Temperance Movement:
Before the Civil War the prohibition movement had won
victories in Maine and 13 other states. During the war interest
declined, and only Maine and Massachusetts remained dry after the
fighting. A Prohibition Party was launched in 1869 and several
other temperance organizations were born, but the WCTU or Women's
Christian Temperance Union made the biggest impact.
The movement was born in Hillsboro, Ohio 1873 after a lecture
stop by Dr. Dioclesian Lewis. On the day before Christmas a group
of seventy-five women had gather for prayer and singing at the
Presbyterian Church. Eliza Trimble Thompson, daughter of a former
Ohio governor, led a march on a local, alcohol-selling drugstore
for a pray-in. They did no violence. They prayed and sang and
plead with the proprietor to end the alcohol sales. Daily
hundreds of townspeople joined the march and widespread press
coverage made the activities front-page news. Within days twelve
other businesses succumbed to the pressure, and the Women's
Revolution was on.
During the next year similar pray-ins occurred in other Ohio
cities. Other states copied the methods and the crusade moved
nationwide. In November 1874 delegates from seventeen states met
in Cleveland to form the WCTU, which would become the most
powerful women's organization of the 19th Century, and their
banner was the white ribbon.
Frances Willard was elected the corresponding secretary. For
the next two decades she more than anyone else made the WCTU a
great organization. Sydney Ahlstrom called her "the single
most impressive reformer to have worked within the context of the
evangelical churches." She was a red-headed teacher, Dean of
Women at Northwestern University, and a speaking member on Dwight
L. Moody's platform team. She served as an officer for the
Methodist Church and made many speaking tours for the cause of
WCTU and other social causes. Although some tried to persuade her
to limit her efforts, like Moody told her to avoid the Unitarians
and stick to saving souls, her vigorous and talented leadership
called for a "Do Everything" agenda. At her funeral
someone observed, "the death of no other woman except Queen
Victoria could have so stirred the world." In Ahlstrom's
admiration he wrote, "Frances Willard had given American
womanhood a new place in society and in the churches." The
Congress of the United States after her death extolled her "the
first woman of the 19th Century, the most beloved character of
In 1893 the Anti-Saloon League was organized in Oberlin, Ohio.
It was called the "Church at work against the saloon."
Unlike previous organizations they maintained a single goal of
bringing political pressure to get dry laws passed. They quickly
became a national organization with a staff and offices in every
state. They were well financed and the League successfully
lobbied the politicians to pass dry laws and local options.
At the turn of the century Carrie Nation, a minister's wife,
began her hatch-swinging campaign in Kansas. She was
enthusiastically supported by the WCTU and most Protestant
clergymen. She led a life troubled with alcoholics around her.
She was called insane because of the madness which ran in her
family effecting her grandmother, mother, daughter, and several
other relatives. She was termed a religious fanatic and jailed
over 30 times for her protests. She died of "nervous trouble"
The ASL did not support Carrie Nation's efforts, but they did
lead the Prohibition movement into the 20th century. After World
War One the Prohibition (18th) Amendment was adopted throughout
the nation. Although the cause failed, no one can deny the
longtime under current and massive hope for some reform of the
X. The End of the Century:
Warren A. Candler, a Methodist bishop, who wrote Great
Revivals and the Great Republic at the end of the 19th century,
said of the future of mankind that "Evangelical Christianity
is not only the security of the republic, it is also the hope of
the world," and that "the Anglo Saxon nations..occupy
the position of supremacy in the family of nations....now
numbering 130 million....controlling one-fourth of the earth's
land surface, having authority over one-third the world's
population, owning one-half the world's wealth, and occupying
every strategic point on the planet." Also, he concluded,
"In view of the commanding position of the United States in
this family of Anglo-Saxon peoples, some have ventured to affirm
that as goes the United States so will go the world."
The World looked at America as the gateway to opportunity
where one could become a Carnegie, Rockefeller, a Horatio Alger,
or even President. Their reputation told of a growing middle-class
with such advantages as hot and cold running water, leasuretime
and the products for recreational shopping, and a commonness of
bicycles, bathtubs, and even pianos or a phonograph. The glories
in their cities like New York included a variety of cultural
pursuits, diversions like Central Park, and amusement places like
Coney Island. It was Kenneth Latourette's opinion in the 19th
Century that, "much of Christendom was more prosperous than
any large group of mankind had ever been."
However, the reality for the immigrants was more properly
called by Lincoln Steffans "the shame of the cities."
From 1892 to 1954 Ellis Island was seen as the "Golden Door,"
but, the unsuitable urban portal only offered slum housing with
health hazards, either no jobs or at best sweatshops, and crime
that was overlooked by politicians and police, who were
influenced by too much corruption. After a 4-year panic during
Cleveland's second administration and decades of deflated money,
it was hoped that the federal government might finally involve
itself in solving the problems rather than leaving them alone.
As they moved toward the new century, the United States view
of the World changed. For three centuries America had been mainly
concerned with their own continent. Their foreign policy had been
mostly isolationist since the Monroe Doctrine. The purchase of
Alaska was belittled as "Seward's Folly." Inclinations
of colonies, or to take up the "white man's burden," or
even the annexation of Hawaii were met with anti-imperialism
emotions. The debate and the prospect of world influence
converged on the Spanish-American War decision involving the
The exact reason how America got into the "splendid
little war" with inept Spain usually centers around the
Maine explosion or the yellow press journalism of Hearst. G.J.A.
O'Toole gave this closing summation in his last line, "there
seems to be but three answers to choose among: God, chance, or
the impatient hand of destiny." Needless to say Admiral
Dewey's quick victory in Manila Bay and the complete annihilation
of the Spanish fleet off Cuba forced the US to accept a mini-colonial
empire from the Caribbean to the Pacific or to give it back to
The final decision to annex the Philippines was in the hands
of President McKinley. In his fourth and final argument he
concluded, "there was nothing left for us to do but to take
them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize
and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we
could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died. And
then I went to bed, and went to sleep and slept soundly."
His choice forever changed America's course and the World's in
the 20th Century.
From the outset the "war sermons" had the normal
range from it was a crime to it was God's righteous cause. When
the decision was made to take Puerto Rico and the Philippines and
to manage Cuba, the Protestant churches joined forces in their
religious "open door." It was William W. Sweet's
opinion that, "No single factor has been more influential in
developing interdenominational understanding and cooperation than
the cause of missions."
The America churches were changed by this decision, too. In
those days the Sunday School movement had developed an
evangelistic work known as annual "Decision Days."
However, if the American churches had a hope of revival or a zeal
for evangelism at the turn of the century, it was directed toward
world missions and the new brand of American colonialism. As
someone said, "The cross will follow the flag."
No organization was better prepared than the Student Volunteer
Movement, which began at Moody's Mt. Hermon school in Northfield
at a conference for missions-minded students in 1886. This
interdenominational movement followed the leadership of John R.
Mott. He gave the clarion call in his 1900 book Evangelization of
the World in This Generation. Under his ecumenical ambassadorship
the organization sent out over 20,000 missionaries in the 20th
century. Eventually his vision became The World Council of
Churches, and he received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.
Throughout the 19th Century conferences and conventions for
world-wide missions continued to grow and expand. Each
organization and meeting seemed to attract delegates from more
and more denominations and countries. In 1895 the Foreign
Missions Conference of North America, including the United States
and Canada, met for the first time. By 1900 a New York gathering
included 162 missions board from the United States, the British
Isles, and the continent of Europe.
To close the 19th Century and to not mention the government
leaders would be careless and only trust the revisionist's
versions. Too many times the government corruption is over
scandalized and the meekness of the politicians is over played.
Not enough is said about the honor and Christian character of our
leaders. They were selected because of their standards and
Our Presidents were marvelous Christian men. President Hayes
and his wife, "Lemonade Lucy," were active Methodists,
who tried to keep alcohol out of the White House. President
Garfield was preacher in the Disciples of Christ denomination.
Presidents Arthur and Cleveland were both sons of clergymen, the
first a Baptist and the later a Presbyterian. Benjamin Harrison
was married to a Presbyterian minister's daughter, and he said
that, "leading a man to Christ once was more satisfying than
all the events of his Presidency."
President McKinley was a Sunday School Superintendent in the
Methodist Episcopalian church, and he was outspoken about his
faith in Christ. He, also, was a wonderfully devoted husband to
his epileptic wife sometimes refusing to travel by train because
of her health. Ohioans still praise his faithfulness because from
the Capitol steps he would tip his hat or wave his handkerchief
at his wife, who sat in her wheelchair at a Neil House window
just for a glimpse of her husband, the governor of Ohio. The
carnation became the State flower after his assassination.
Of the election of 1896 Sydney Ahlstrom said, "As in no
other election, both candidates personified American
Protestantism. Both William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley
were reared in pious homes, educated in denominational colleges,
and guided throughout their lives by the traditions and practices
of evangelicalism." President McKinley died in Buffalo of an
assassin's bullet, and Bryan, a Presbyterian layman, died after
the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925.
Still not mentioned are the Christians, who made an impact in
local government like "Golden Rule" Jones in Toledo and
Tom Johnson in Cleveland or the crusade by Charles H. Parkhurst,
a Presbyterian minister, whose preaching broke up Tammany Hall in
Also, it must be mentioned that the most famous newspaper
story of the 19th Century was the New York Herald's account of
Henry M. Stanley's find of the famous Scottish missionary David
Livingstone in Central Africa. Another great career of home
missionary Sheldon Jackson was not detailed or his 40 year
activities in the Rocky Mountains and Alaska.
All this and more led the great church historian Kenneth Scott
Latourette of Yale University Divinity School to call the 19th
century "The Christian Century," however no one could
anticipate the phenomenal events of the 20th century. Finally,
unforeseen to the World at the start of the 20th Century was the
coming of the most significant Bible prophecy since Pentecost. No
one could have imagined the regathering of the Jews to their own
land and the founding of the State of Israel. In 1900 there was
not a single Jewish village in Palestine and only about 60,000
Jews were scattered throughout their ancient lands. However, the
idea was planted by an Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl in his
book The Jewish State and his Zionist Congress in 1897 in Basil,
This monumental international drama involved the two most
evangelical Christian countries Great Britain and the United
States. The fulfillment of the prophecy and the dream would come
from support by Winston Churchill and Harry Truman. Even more far
reaching throughout the 20th Century would be for the Jew the
hope of "next year in Jerusalem" and for the Christian
the excitement over the "second coming of Jesus Christ."
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