Methodism as an initiator of social thought and action in the area of world peace (1900-1956)
Lisensky, Robert Paul
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STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The central aims of this study are to analyze the sociological significance of Methodism as an initiator of social thought and action in the area of world peace, and to find what effect the position held by Methodism has had on the changing attitude toward war in the twentieth century. PROCEDURE The method of the dissertation is empirical, with an appeal to rational coherence as the means of interrelating the data. The criteria of social thought and action developed in Chapter One serve as the tool for making a qualitative analysis of the social programs of the churches. Chapter Two briefly traces the historical setting. In Chapter Three attention is given to the role taken by The Methodist Church, while Chapter Four deals with the part that Methodism has played in relation to national and international ecclesiastical organizations involved in the struggle for world peace. Summary The criteria cover six areas: (1) Range of Emotional Tone; (2) Range of Content; (3) Range of Responsibility; (4) Range of Community; (5) Range of Relevance; and (6) Range of Involvement. Each area is developed along a continuum in order to determine the degree of accuracy. In the early 1900's there was a great interest in isolationism and peace sentiment. Both these movements went into hibernation during World War I, only to return in the 1920's. The peace sentiment of the 1920's brought with it a concern with international affairs, which enabled the churches to maintain a universal theme in World War II and to preserve the harmony of the pacifist/non-pacifist camps. Following World War II the American people displayed a new concern for world affairs. The churches served as one of the causes for this change. This interest in world affairs was the by-product of the sect type tendencies found within some of the agencies of the major denominations and of the denominations' attempt to support a universalist religion. The uncompromising appeal to ethical ideals is apparent in such agencies of The Methodist Church as the Commission on World Peace, the Woman's Society of Christian Service and the Methodist Federation for Social Action. The attempt to educate Methodists concerning international affairs is evident in the work of the two Methodist Crusades for World Order and of the Board of Education. This desire to be informed and involved in the decision-making policies is seen in the work of the Department of International Goodwill and Justice of the Federal Council of Churches in America. The World Council of Churches has also sought peace through its attempt to mold world opinion and to express the consensus of its constituents. Conclusions 1. Methodism has been an initiator of social thought and action in world peace: by creating the first Board among the major denominations with the specific purpose of the achievement of world peace; by being the only major denomination to serve on the National Board of Civilian Service; by leading the Crusade for a New World Order to win acceptance for the United Nations; by educating for international understanding in the programs of the Church; and by providing leadership and at times direction to national and international organizations working for peace. 2. There has been a decided shift on the part of the churches in their degree of involvement in war. 3. The emphasis of a universalist religion was maintained throughout World War II and the post-war years. 4. The churches have become deeply involved in the responsibility to move from guiding principles to political propositions and to bring a Christian influence to bear on international events.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University.