Social Ethics in the Making: Interpreting an American Tradition

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November 2008



In the early 1880s, proponents of what came to be called "the social gospel" founded what came to be called "social ethics." This book describes the tradition of social ethics, a tradition that began with the distinctly modern idea that Christianity has a social-ethical mission to transform the structures of society in the direction of social justice. This book describes the founding and development of social ethics as a discourse in the realms of the academy, church, and general public. It analyzes the three major traditions of social ethics, explains revisions and offshoots of these traditions, interprets evangelical and neoconservative alternatives, and delineates the various confessional and cultural standpoints from which religious thinkers have construed the social meaning of Christianity, all in a narrative fashion. Nearly from the beginning "social ethics" named a specific academic field and a way of thinking about Christian ethics that transcended the academy. This book pays attention to both meanings, featuring prominent academic voices and important exponents of social Christianity who had little or no relation to the social ethics guild. In the latter category, pastors and movement activists are prominent; on the other hand, after the book enters the postmodern era, the academics prevail almost without exception. In contemporary social ethics, even self-described "public intellectuals" and "public theologians" are academics. The book is written engagingly, as befits the fascinating story that it has to tell, and is designed for students studying social ethics and Christian ethics.


1 Inventing Social Ethics: Francis Greenwood Peabody, William Jewett Tucker, and Graham Taylor.
2 The Social Gospel: Washington Gladden, Josiah Strong, Walter Rauschenbusch, and Harry F. Ward.
3 Lift Every Voice: Reverdy C. Ransom, Jane Addams, and John A. Ryan.
4 Christian Realism: Reinhold Niebuhr, H. Richard Niebuhr, John C. Bennett, and Paul Ramsey.
5 Social Christianity as Public Theology: Walter G. Muelder, James Luther Adams, John Courtney Murray, and Dorothy Day.
6 Liberationist Disruptions: Martin Luther King Jr., James H. Cone, Mary Daly, and Beverly W. Harrison.
7 Disputing and Expanding the Tradition: Carl F. H. Henry, John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Michael Novak, and Jim Wallis.
8 Dealing With Modernity and Postmodernity: Charles Curran, James M. Gustafson, Gibson Winter, Cornel West, Katie G. Cannon, and Victor Anderson.
9 Economy, Sexuality, Ecology, Difference: Max L. Stackhouse, Dennis P. McCann, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Marvin M. Ellison, 10 John B. Cobb, Jr., Larry Rasmussen, Daniel C. Maguire, Sharon Welch, Emilie M. Townes, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, María Pilar Aquino, and David Hollenbach.
11 Borders of Possibility: The Necessity of "Discredited" Social Gospel Ideas.


Gary Dorrien is the Reinhard Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. He is the author of 12 books and approximately 150 articles that range across the fields of ethics, social theory, theology, philosophy, politics, and history.


Social Ethics in the Making will soon be recognized as a classic. It is a captivating, expertly written and exhaustively researched pilgrimage through the changing landscape of Christian social ethics. ( Christian Century , October 2009) "This book is a skillful tour de force and an indispensable resource. With his encyclopedic knowledge of the field of social ethics and his seasoned and fair analysis of issues and authors, Gary Dorrien is uniquely qualified to gift us with this masterpiece." Daniel C. Maguire, Marquette University "This book amplifies the canon while also providing ethical understandings, regarding both content and method, through which to look at the classical texts in the field. Written in a spirited style, the book will be used by students and scholars for years to come." Dr Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Drew University "Gary Dorrien once again has produced a magisterial volume that deserves to define a field. Social Ethics in the Making begins in the late 19th century with thinkers who sought to understand the human condition in social terms employing the emerging discipline of scientific sociology, concerned to embrace cultural, if not biological, evolution and yet desperate to distinguish social ethics from social Darwinism's conservative congratulation of the dominance of the fittest. The pivotal figure in Dorrien's account is Reinhold Niebuhr, who triggered reactions, in different senses, from both liberationists such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary Daly, and Beverly W. Harrison, and conservatives and progressive-conservatives such as Carl Henry, Stanley Hauerwas, and Jim Wallis. Beginning primarily as a settlement-house/pro-labor movement, social ethics now is diversified into economic, sexual, ecological, and ethnic studies. Where many have seen the loss of power in social ethics' 'progressivism', Dorrien documents its increasing power in diversification of attention. This is a brilliant, nearly comprehensive, study of an important historical movement in American religion." Robert Neville, Boston University " Social Ethics in the Making is a masterly overview of a field with immense importance for today's North American intellectual and political scene. Dorrien sorts out the complex trajectories of over a century of Christian ethics. He skillfully places scholarly currents within the cultural and ecclesial trends so essential to their interpretation. Looking forward, the book reclaims the vitality of a distinctively American brand of Christianity, one that promises to be just as energetic, provocative, and practical in this century as in the last. The scope and coherence of Dorrien's achievement find no parallel among other treatments of the subject." Lisa Sowle Cahill, Boston College
EAN: 9781405186872
ISBN: 1405186879
Untertitel: Interpreting an American Tradition. 1. Auflage. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: November 2008
Seitenanzahl: 728 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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