Labor History Seminar: Dave Burns, Northern Illinois University

Labor History Seminar
Friday, November 14, 2008

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

“Heretical Tendencies in the Kingdom of God: Radical Christian Intellectuals and the Ideological Boundaries of the Social Gospel”
Dave Burns, Northern Illinois University
During the Progressive Era, the ideals and ideas linked to dominant conceptions of civilization, science and citizenship often blunted the brotherhood and solidarity religious figures in America sought to impart to the world in Jesus’ name. This paper examines the lives and works of Cyrenus Osborne Ward and George Herron, two contrarians who rejected the evolutionary outlook of the social gospel that divided the human race into superior and inferior peoples and created their own radical and humanistic variants of Christianity to reach out to the workers of the world. Focusing on how each man used a working-class Jesus as the center of their ethical universe, it places Ward and Herron within a broader intellectual movement that challenged the authority of preachers and theologians to define the boundaries of religion.

Commentators: Kathryn Oberdeck. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Kate Masur, Northwestern University