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The Bible and Social Reform
Ernest R. Sandeen, Ernest Sandeen, editors
Publication Date
October 1982


Classic essays now back in print

This final volume in The Bible in American Culture series published to celebrate the Society of Biblical Literature's centennial focuses on the complexity of biblical influence upon social movements ranging from early American missions to the involvement of Black Churches in the quest for civil rights. Essays cover abolition and the Bible, the social gospel, and the position of women in the church.


  • Essays explore the role of the Bible as both a conservative and a progressive force in social reform
  • Seven articles examine the role of the Bible in American reform movements

Ernest R. Sandeen (1931–82) was the James Wallace Professor of History and co-director of the Living Historical Museum at Macalester College. He authored The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800-1930 (University of Chicago Press, 1970). The Bible and Social Reform was in press at the time of his death.

“This volume, edited by the late Ernest Sandeen of Macalester College, celebrates the centenary of the Society of Biblical Literature with an examination of the role of Holy Scripture in American reform movements. Prominent scholars of the American experience survey the relationship of the Bible to Indian missions, abolition, the Social Gospel, the women's movement, Peace, and Black churches. A final essay explores the use of the Bible by Dorothy Day, the Catholic social activist. … Students should find this a valuable survey of major reform movements in America. As a whole, the book illustrates the significance of hermeneutics in American religious history. The question is not whether American Christians believe the Bible, but how they choose to interpret it.”
— Bill J. Leonard, Review & Expositor