Josiah Strong is a prominent Congregationalist clergyman who was one of the founders of the Social Gospel movement that sought to apply Protestant religious principles to solve the social ills brought on by industrialization, urbanization and immigration. He is best known for his work Our Country(1885), that intended to promote the domestic missionary activity in the West. His work may have encouraged support for imperialistic United States policy among American Protestants. He insisted on more missionary work in the nation’s cities, and for reconciliation to end racial conflict. He was one of the first to warn that Protestants, most of whom were living in rural areas were ignoring the problems of the cities and the working classes. Strong believed that all races could be improved and uplifted and thereby brought to Christ. In the Our Country, Strong argued that the Anglo-Saxon race had a responsibility to “civilize and Christianize” the world.
He was motivated to update the idea of manifest destiny since he believed that missionaries should also move westward. Being a leader in the Social Gospel movement, he had strong roots in evangelizing, as well as in sin and redemption. The mission of expansion was very important to him and so preaching the Gospel to the West would be something he sought to do. He says that Anglo-Saxons should spread their institutions and values to the “inferior races” throughout the world. He also insisted that the economy would benefit as well since one means of civilizing “savages” was to turn them into consumer of American goods.
1. How do you feel having contributed to influencing many American Protestants to expand through the United States?
2. Do you believe that preaching the Gospel will really save souls ?