The social upheavals of the twentieth century have elicited the gamut of responses from organized religion. The "social gospel" in northern Protestant circles was a response to ills from rapid industrialization, and its activism rested upon a liberal theology critical of conventional Protestantism. The "social Christianity" that developed in the more rural South, on the other hand, was deeply rooted in theological conservatism, and it justified its call for social action with the Bible. In Texas, the responses of Southern Baptists to social problems have ranged from an emphasis on individual sin to a growing awareness of the social imperatives of Christianity. Since 1950 Texas Baptists have led the Southern Baptists Convention in applying the "good news" to daily life. The personalities that brought social awareness to Texas Baptists--Joseph M. Dawson, T. B. Maston, Acker C. Miller, Foy Valentine, Jimmy Allen, James Dunn--saw no contradiction between evangelism and social Christianity. The influence of these men and others and their direct efforts were the force behind the Christian Life Commission. This highly readable history of the development of social thinking among Texas Baptists reflects the author's careful use of oral memoirs and personal interviews. It highlights one denomination's effect on history and its response to changing social conditions in the New South.
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