Reformers/Puritans on Social Justice

Discussion in 'The Literary Forum' started by Puritan Sailor, Feb 8, 2007.

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  1. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm just curious if any of you know of any substantial references of Reformers and Puritans commenting on aspects of social justice. I'm looking for treatises, letters, even blurbs from commetnaries, any original sources. I'm thinking in particular of issues like oppression of the poor, racism, slavery, and other like issues. I know they didn't always speak of these issues in these modern categories nor did they apply their theology/ethics consistently in history (Southern slavery for example). But I know there must be nuggets or seed concepts of social justice in their writings, just as there were doctrinal concepts in the early church which the reformation brought into full bloom. Any one know of any original sources to plow through?

    VirginiaHuguenot you've gotta have some leads :)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I'm pretty sure that a lengthy list of primary and secondary sources could be compiled. Here are a few that came to my mind:

    The Poor Husbandman's Advocate to Rich Racking Landlords - written in compassion especially of their Souls and of the Land (1691) by Richard Baxter

    Poverty in the Theology of John Calvin (2006) by Bonnie L. Pattison

    Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man's Friend (2006) by Richard G. Williams, Jr.

    William Perkins on Mercy Ministry

    John Calvin: Theologian, Pastor, and Social Reformer

    Social Concern in Calvin's Geneva (1983) by William C. Innes

    Concern for Social Justice in the Puritan Revolution (1946) by Wilhelm Schenk

    Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (1991) by Leland Ryken (Chapter on Social Action)

    The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) by Max Weber

    "Social Welfare in Calvin's Geneva" by Robert M. Kingdon, The American Historical Review, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Feb., 1971), pp. 50-69

    Calvin and Social Welfare: Deacons and the Bourse Francaise (1989) by Jeannine E. Olson

    Calvin's Work in Geneva (1992) by Richard C. Gamble
  3. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Great! Know of any dealing specifically with racism or ethnic opression?
  4. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Richard Baxter has a discussion of slavery in the section on Christian Economics in A Christian Directory. :2cents:
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The Dread Lord wrote a book on the topic, Black and Tan. He takes both white supremacists and egalitarians to task. Some people may not like him, nor his work, but the ball is now in their court to come up with a consistent alternative.

    As to larger social justice issues: Nick Wolterstorff wrote a book on the topic, Until Justice and Peace Embrace. It is about $20 on amazon. I want to read it very badly. He willl challenge. For one, he is smart; 2) he makes the status quo feel uncomfortable (I have a few issues with him).

    You can find John Bolt's analysis on Kuyper, A Free Church, A Holy Nation, for about $5 on ABEbooks. He has relevant sections on there.
  6. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

  7. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    American Covenanter's were opponents of Negro slavery.

    Mcleod is the most famous for getting slave holders in Coldenham NY excommunicated.

    From the opposite side of the spectrum, the Dutch Reformed Africaaners opposed racial integration (not to imply Covies necessarily supported it).

    The most famous defense of "separateness" is A.B. Dupree's, Inside the South African Crucible.
  8. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks guys!
    I'm more interested in those writing against these evils than justifying it in some form. I know there are plenty who did tolerate them. The direction I'm going with this is that we have alot of modern questions about these issues that Reformed folks haven't done well at addressing from a Reformed perspective. I just wanted to see historically if there are examples of Reformed folks from the 16th-18th century confronting these evils from a solid Reformed worldview and hopefully learn something from them for our own day. Keep the references coming please :)
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Its usually slim pickings, Reformed people (and conservatives in general) don't like talking about "social justice." It sounds liberal and must be wrong. This might show the difficulty: "justice" (not merely social) is one of the paradigms of my worldview and I can't think of too many references.
  10. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, the trick is that the older writers didn't use that term like we do. So we have to look at those issues the way they talked about them. There are folks out there who will label Reformed theology as a "white" theology because they never deal with these social issues which concern modern minorities. I don't think we can deny the obvious mistakes of Reformed folks supporting slavery. But I know there were voices of dissent which may help minorites find the historic Reformed faith more appealing when they can find voices who were more consistent with the fundamental developments of Reformed theology as a whole.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I don't know how Reformed he is, but Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace is supposed to be heart-wrenching.
  12. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Author: Gouge, Thomas, 1605-1681.
    Title: The surest and safest way of thriving, or, A conviction of that grand mistake in many, that what is given to the poor is a loss to their estate which is directly contrary as to the experiences of the charitable, so to the testimony of Gods spirit in divers places of Scripture ... / by though. Gouge., London : Printed by S. and E.G. for Nevil Simmons, 1676.
    Date: 1676
    Bib Name / Number: Wing / G1378
    No. pages: 76 [i.e. 91] p.
    Copy from: Union Theological Seminary (New York, N. Y.) Library
  13. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Following up on this reference to Thomas Gouge, it is worth noting that he had a special place in his heart for the poor and uneducated in Wales. I alluded to the work cited above and his ministry in Wales (which was supported by Matthew Poole and others) here.

    Riches Increased by Giving
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2007
  14. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

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