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Christianity and Progress   By: (1878-1969)

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Harry Emerson Fosdick’s book, "Christianity and Progress," offers a thought-provoking examination of the relationship between the Christian faith and the evolution of society. With the backdrop of a rapidly changing world in the early 20th century, Fosdick sets out to explore how Christianity can adapt and flourish amidst progress.

One of the standout aspects of the book is Fosdick’s ability to craft a balanced argument. He does not shy away from acknowledging the tensions between traditional Christian beliefs and the advancements in science, technology, and societal norms. However, Fosdick’s primary aim is not to resolve these tensions entirely, but rather to emphasize the importance of a dynamic and open-minded faith. He believes that Christianity should embrace progress, noting that the Bible itself displays a narrative of transformation and growth.

Fosdick effortlessly weaves together biblical teachings, historical examples, and contemporary anecdotes to illustrate his points. Drawing upon his experiences as a respected preacher and theologian, he delivers compelling arguments that encourage readers to reexamine their own beliefs about Christianity and its role in society.

Additionally, Fosdick’s writing style is both accessible and engaging. He manages to tackle complex theological concepts and historical contexts with clarity, making the book accessible to a wide range of readers. Every chapter is well-structured and builds upon the previous one, creating a cohesive flow. Furthermore, Fosdick’s passion for his subject matter shines through, infusing the text with a sense of urgency and relevance.

While "Christianity and Progress" is undeniably a significant contribution to the discussion on faith and progress, it does have its limitations. Some readers might find Fosdick’s views too progressive or even controversial, particularly in relation to topics such as gender roles and morality. However, even if readers do not fully agree with Fosdick’s points, the book encourages conversations about the evolving nature of Christianity and its relevance in modern society.

In conclusion, "Christianity and Progress" is a captivating and intellectually stimulating read that challenges traditional views and advocates for a faith that embraces change. Fosdick’s ability to navigate the complexities of faith and progress in a rapidly evolving world is commendable. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his perspectives, the book offers valuable insights into Christianity’s potential to adapt and thrive amidst progress. For those seeking a thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between religion and societal evolution, Fosdick’s book is an excellent choice.

First Page:

The Cole Lectures for 1922 delivered before Vanderbilt University

Christianity and Progress



Professor of Practical Theology in the Union Theological Seminary; Preacher at the First Presbyterian Church, New York


Fleming H. Revell Company


Copyright, 1922, by


New York: 158 Fifth Avenue Chicago: 17 North Wabash Ave. London: 21 Paternoster Square Edinburgh: 75 Princes Street


The late Colonel E. W. Cole of Nashville, Tennessee, donated to Vanderbilt University the sum of five thousand dollars, afterwards increased by Mrs. E. W. Cole to ten thousand, the design and conditions of which gift are stated as follows:

"The Object of this fund is to establish a foundation for a perpetual Lectureship in connection with the School of Religion of the University, to be restricted in its scope to a defense and advocacy of the Christian religion. The lectures shall be delivered at such intervals, from time to time, as shall be deemed best by the Board of Trust; and the particular theme and lecturer will be determined by the Theological Faculty. Said lecture shall always be reduced to writing in full, and the manuscript of the same shall be the property of the University, to be published or disposed of by the Board of Trust at its discretion, the net proceeds arising therefrom to be added to the foundation fund, or otherwise used for the benefit of the School of Religion... Continue reading book >>

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