This volume, a survey of the Canadian scene that urged various reforms, appeared shortly after the First World War. It was considered to be extremely radical in its proposals and implications at that time and had the distinction of being one of that rare breed of attempts to survey Canadian developments in terms of large principles of analysis or historical development. In The New Christianity, Salem Bland tried to place the unrest of the times in a large historical perspective and brought social, political, and economic developments into conjunction with main trends of religion in recent decades. His central theme was that the processes of industrial and social consolidation, the growth of organized labour, and the spread of sociological ideas spelled the end of the old order of capitalism and Protestantism which had dominated most of western Christendom for three centuries. Specifically, the primary impediment to full realization of democracy and brotherhood, Bland argued, was modern capitalism based on private property rights in industry and motivated by a competitive individualism. The second impediment to a new social order embodying the Christian spirit was the strong attachment of Christians to their traditions. The chief hope of the future lay in a marriage of labour Christianity and American Christianity that would unite with all other traditions in a worldwide ecumenical movement.
Fifty years later, the reprinting of this book is important because it is an instructive study in how the highest traditions of Christianity came into radical conjunction with the currents of economic change, social reform, and political upheaval in Canada in the first decades of this century.
About the authors
Salem Bland was born in 1859 in Lachute, Quebec, and was ordained a minister first in the Methodist Church and subsequently in the United Church of Canada. He was considered to be one of the most powerful preachers and platform orators in his day. In the later part of his life he began a notable career as a wide-ranging journalist for the Toronto Daily Sat. He died, the grand old man of the Social Gospel and reform, in 1950.
Richard Allen (1929-2019) was adjunct professor of history at McMaster University, where he was senior professor of Canadian history from 1974 to 1988. Elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1982, he served as a cabinet minister from 1990 to 1995. Upon retirement, he became chair of the board of Wesley Urban Ministries in Hamilton, Ontario.
Other titles by Richard Allen
Beyond the Noise of Solemn Assemblies
The Protestant Ethic and the Quest for Social Justice in Canada
View From the Murney Tower
Salem Bland, the Late-Victorian Controversies, and the Search for a New Christianity, Volume 1
The social gospel in Canada
Papers of the Interdisciplinary Conference on the Social Gospel in Canada, March 21-24 1973, at the University of Regina