13 May, 2021

Regret for a Preacher Turned Sociologist

by | 5 March, 2020 | 0 comments

This editorial from 1910 is—more than anything else—a comparison and commentary on the career choices of Disciples of Christ minister turned sociologist James P. Lichtenberger. The editorial also shares a rather amusing anecdote.

Lichtenberger (1870—1953), a native of Illinois, preached in churches from 1896 to 1908 before earning a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University in 1909, according to the website of the American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org). Lichtenberger served as a professor with the University of Pennsylvania the balance of his career, and in 1922 was president of the American Sociological Society (later changed to Association).

Lichtenberger penned Divorce: A Study in Social Causation in 1909, which serves as the news “hook” for this Christian Standard editorial from 1910. The editorial also references Lichtenberger’s service with a church in Canton, Illinois, from 1896—99.

_ _ _

Then and Now

Editorial;
March 12, 1910; p. 11

Prof. James P. Lichtenberger has written a monograph on divorce, which appears as one of the publications of Columbia University. It bears the sub-title of “A Study in Social Causation.” Its appearance, and the brief review of its contents we have had opportunity to make, suggests what may be considered by some a curious comparison.

We knew a young preacher once, who, recognizing that his field, a thrifty but indifferent county-seat town in Illinois, needed a stirring up, announced three special sermons to be delivered on three successive Sunday evenings. The first, on “Rum, Rags and Ruin,” filled the little church from wall to wall. The next, on “The Popular Sins of Modern Society,” brought out twice as many people as could be housed. The third, on “The Sins of ?” (giving name of the place), was delivered in the largest hall obtainable, and the overflow gave every church in the city a record-breaking attendance. People came twelve miles to hear that sermon. It had been prepared with care, and submitted to the prosecuting attorney for criticism before delivery. The mayor was there, and all the city officials, with as many citizens prominent and otherwise, as could be packed in. There was a rattling of bones long dry. No great transformation resulted; in fact, the most evident effect of the series was that the preacher went to another field somewhat sooner than, otherwise, he might have done. But he had his innings, and the shoddy aristocracy of that calloused little city saw themselves in true perspective for once. The “gallon house” at the city limits, the illicit liquor and gambling joint, the card table, the dance, and all prevalent social evils, received each its portion in due season. And the young man had a “remedy” to propose. With all the force of his magnetic personality he urged the gospel of Jesus Christ and the clean life it makes possible as the better way. Twelve years have not sufficed to relegate the memory of that man who stood up and had his say even in the defiance of the “elders that rule well.” Men in that town still smile and chuckle with appreciation when the matter is mentioned.

But what we started out to say is that, though a dozen years of “social and economic evolution” have passed, bringing changes little dreamed of then, we some way have a conviction that the amateurish young preacher, bold and belligerent as he was, came closer to a solution of the problems before him than has the learned Doctor with his monograph. We could even find it in our heart to regret that one so well equipped to oppose the evils that prey upon our poor humanity should prefer to write brochures on “social causation,” “economic development” and “ethical culture.” Jim Lichtenberger, with a bold, blunt gospel message and implicit faith in its power, was a more potent factor in the world of real things than is Dr. James P. Lichtenberger, with no message but philosophic disquisition on economic evolution as a factor in social causation.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Stories

By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.

News Briefs for May 12

Briefs from Hickory Valley Christian Church in Chattanooga, Ozark Christian College, Visioneering Studios, Milligan University, and more.

Mary’s Testimony

Look through Mary’s eyes at the bread and the cup. Listen to Mary’s voice as you thank God for paying the price for our sins. This was Mary’s testimony about God’s Son: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Follow Us