Institution and Church in the North American Situation


Within the scope of the present essay, several topics receive attention: noteworthy differences between the European and American situations, a sociological consideration of social institutions, the role of religious institutions among other social structures, and a recapitulative statement.

That differences do exist between the European and American situations is already common knowledge. Various scholars have treated the question. However, for the present discussion, let two important references suffice. Robin Williams1 distinguishes the American situation from the European by means of a protracted account detailing nineteen points. These can be summarized in a way which discloses the cogency of his analysis: no established church; no anticlerical movement; coexistence of diverse religious groupings; strong local autonomy in churches; voluntary financial support; religious aloofness from political struggles; approval of worldly success; perfectionism and optimism; and the existence of religious freedom. To this interesting catalogue, David O. Moberg2 adds four additional points: the heterogeneity of religious life; the stimulating cultural pluralism; the wide choice of

[73] 1. Robin Williams, American Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1951), pp. 315-318.
2. David O. Moberg, The Church as a Social Institution, Chapter 4.


accepted religious expression; and finally the more rapid growth of new cults and sects.

The foregoing observations arise out of a unique context wherein the social sciences have proliferated enormously at the university level and have attracted many competent scholars. In no other region of the world have the social sciences developed so rapidly. As in the case of the proverbial green bay tree, amazing growth has been the pattern. Yet, despite sensational development, distinction in scholarship has been an attractive concomitant. Since the turn of the century, substantive specialization in single disciplines (for example, sociology, psychology, anthropology) has emerged on a grand scale. Such narrow intellectual activity obtains in both teaching and research. In a less strident manner American theology has developed fields of specialization. Unfortunately an unbridged chasm has appeared, separating theology from the social sciences.3 In America, theology and social science go different ways, rejecting each other's methods and data. A few scholars are concerned about this hiatus which persists as a mocking embarrassment. This concern has manifested itself in the organization of the Religious Research Association and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

No doubt there exists a need for a principle of unity adequate to transcend the disparate cultural situations. Here is the problem. Millions of American Christians regard their life circumstances as normal. Likewise, with equal sincerity, millions of European Christians regard their life circumstances as normal. In view of the self-perpetuating realities, it probably is wise to recognize cultural and religious differences without allowing either the European or the American situation to become normative for the other.


A Sociological Consideration of Social Institutions

Among sociologists no single definition of institution commands wide acceptance at the present time. In the United States, there are at least four ways to approach a definition, depending upon the criteria chosen and the purposes of the investigator. An

[73] 3. Possibly psychology is the single exception here.


institution can be defined (a) as a complex of norms which regulate human activity, (b) as a unit of social organization, (c) as a system or complex of roles, and finally (d) as an eclectic combination of diverse referents into a single configuration or system.4 Though definitions vary greatly, they generally range within the hounds of these categories.

Moreover, the endemic pluralism can be illustrated in yet another manner. Definitions differ in complexity, ranging along a continuum from simply a concept and structure5 to a sophisticated sevenfold set of attributes6 (ideation, structure, purpose, relative permanence, authority, social control, and a specialized personnel). Most American definitions fall somewhere along the spectrum between these polar boundaries. What clearly dominate ire the culturally patterned behavioral aspects.

In short, a social institution is a significant formal organization which exercises authority and control over its members. It procures a relatively persistent pattern of action or relationship in human society. It fixes the boundaries of the activities of human beings with respect to an important sphere of life. It is a complex in and through which human relationships function toward given ends.7 Though definitions differ radically from one another, descriptions of American phenomena to which the word “institution” may be applied possess a remarkable similarity. The customary referents are family, education, government, economic order, religion, and so on. Descriptions usually contain culturally defined patterns of social structure, norms, and physical objects connected with the institution.


Theories About Institutions

Although various scholars8 have written perceptively upon the theory of American social institutions, the present discussion will he limited to several pertinent comments. Znaniecki finds at least three categories of theories deriving from (a) the concept of need, (b) the concept of interest, and (c) a philosophy of culture. The widely known need-theory ascribes the presence and

[73] 4. Robert C. Hanson, “Institutions,” Contemporary Sociology, Joseph S. Roucek, ed. (New York: Philosophical Library, 1958), pp. 64-86.
5. William G. Sumner, Folkways (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1906).
6. Lloyd V. Ballard, Social Institutions, Chapter 1.
7. Constantine Panunzio, Major Social Institutions, Chapter 1.
8. Gurvitch & Moore, eds., Twentieth Century Sociology (New York: Philosophical Library, 1945), Chapter VIII, “Social Organization and Institutions,” by Florian Znaniecki; Joseph S. Roucek, ed., op. cit.


persistence of social institutions to universal human needs. A biological emphasis dominates here. Institutions, therefore, come into existence as the products of human will and human experience. They are necessary for the maintenance of society. They satisfy man’s sexual, economic, and social needs. Through institutions, people learn to desire what they really need, and then to achieve fulfillment. Despite serious empirical and methodological inadequacies, this theory is widely accepted in America. For many people it forms a suitable basis for an understanding of institutions.

The interest theory explains the rise and development of institutions by the alleged presence and universality of man’s basic interests. A psychological emphasis is paramount here. Institutions, therefore, emerge to guarantee satisfaction of interests. Human interests are assumed to be general and permanent. Through human history, they achieved recognition and eventually were institutionalized in society. This outcome is considered organically and psychologically normal. The writings of Lester Ward and William G. Sumner are relevant here. Stress upon interests commends this theory to many Americans caught up in the process of urbanization.

The theory growing out of a philosophy of culture finds the concept of institution an intellectual instrument which conveniently synthesizes data from all the special sciences of culture. Hence integrated clusters or systems of human activities (familial, economic, educational, governmental, religious) are illustrations of the heuristic principles utilized. Here institution is a system in an ideational abstract sense rather than in the concrete sense in which one thinks of the sun and its planets, or a multicellular organism. Znaniecki observes that this theory of institutions is philosophic rather than scientific. Thus, with the steady proliferation of the social sciences, less reliance is likely to be placed upon this theory in the future. The trend is in the direction of emphasis on data and methodology indigenous to the social sciences.

Although one must acknowledge the existence of several theories, it should be noted that the American situation is currently


undergoing change. The evident disintegration of the bio-psychological theories has turned scholarly attention in a new direction. It is no longer tenable to regard the social organization of a particular people as consisting merely in the sum of its institutions. Society no longer serves as a center for the conceptual integration of institutions. Rather a new concept of society is emerging. Redefinition is sought with reference to associations or social groups rather than to a society. The concept of the social group is becoming increasingly the main intellectual instrument. The role of the person in the various groups becomes central. The concept of role as the principal theoretical tool is hailed as having great promise here.9 Across a lifetime or at any period of his life, the individual performs a number of different roles which yield institutional behavior.

Thus institutions come to be thought of as parts of the organization of social groups in general. This means that the collective functions and statuses are partly institutionalized by other social groups and institutions. The individual as role player naturally carries over ideas, attitudes, and action patterns from one institution to another. This concept opens the way to a new approach to institutional phenomena, permitting institutions to be seen as observable phenomena. The newer theory will make more use of empirical data. It will be more thoroughgoingly scientific in the inductive sense. And as such it raises some disturbing questions lor the Church and the ecumenical movement.


The Role of Institution in Culture

According to earlier discussion, the institution exists as an imperfect though essential agent of order and of purpose in a developing culture. It confronts the person with both the ideation and the practical implementation requisite to significant achievement in a designated sphere of activities or relationships. Within its domains, each institution sets a pattern of behavior and fixes a zone of tolerance for participation. Always the institution provides the context within which the individual social positions,

[73] 9. Charles P. and Zona K. Loomis, Modern Social Theories (Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1961), especially Chapter 8; Talcott Parsons, The Social System (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1951).


individual normative patterns, and individual culture traits gain meaning and significance. All these individual efforts and expressions are gathered into a meaningful unit for society. A phase of life is thereby afforded necessary coherence and focus.

Moreover, institutions carry out various primary functions in culture. Taken together, the spheres encompassed cover the range of the fundamental aspects of human life. A preliminary list of functions includes the following: maintenance of social order; utilization of co-operative effort; inculcation of rules and moral education; conservation of the achievements of preceding generations; promotion of group goals, rather than those of the individual; and regulation of ways of meeting recurrent human situations — such as birth, death, marriage, acquisition of material goods, encounter with power relations, and training of the young. Institutions are tied into an operating social system. As such, they become bearers of culture.

With certain dimensions of the sociological structure now before us, attention can be turned fruitfully to an analysis of religious institutions. Consideration will be given to types, relationships, power structure, and church order.


Typologies of Religious Institutions

Far from being a single, undifferentiated social phenomenon, Christianity expresses itself in a variety of authentic forms. In the American situation, at least two well-known typologies of religious institutions have currency: Troeltsch’s church, sect, and mysticism; and Becker’s ecclesia, denomination, sect, and cult. The analyses are essentially heuristic and bear a strong resemblance at several points. Both delineate structured ways in which religion interacts with its milieu.

Troeltsch’s typology has attracted the attention of many competent scholars10 who have sought to relate the concepts of church and sect to the American scene. By common agreement, mysticism is omitted. Simply stated, the church type, recognizing the strength of the secular world, compromises in order to maximize

[73] 10. This includes H. Richard Niebuhr, J. Milton Yinger, Russell R. Dynes, Morton Rubin, and others. A critique of these materials is provided in Frederick A. Shippey, “Sociological Forms of Religious Expression in Western Christianity,” Religion in Life, Spring, 1958; and “Troeltsch and His Critics,” an unpublished manuscript, 1960.


the extent of its influence. In this posture it claims universality. Because the church type tends to be synonymous with society, it stresses mainly individual salvation. Its patterns of control are formal and traditional. Hence the priest is the typical leader rather than the prophet. By way of contrast, the sect type is usually identified with the poorer classes or the outgroup. Asceticism is stressed. The sect is either hostile or indifferent toward the state. It opposes the ecclesiastical order. It rejects compromise and stresses freedom from worldly authority. Troeltsch’s sect type, as understood in the American situation,11 embraces the urban poor as well as the disenfranchised rural resident.

What scholars stress is that the polar types of church and sect tend to flow into each other. The sect migrates along a continuum in the American situation pressing toward the position and outlook of the church type. In the pilgrimage it is likely to alter its theology, change its forms of worship, and modify requirements for membership. This possibility of transition introduces an important element into the American situation, which Muelder refers to as a flexibility in institutional expression. Since there is really no true equivalent of the established church here, more interest can be focused upon the range of institutional forms and its bearing upon the ecumenical movement.

Howard Becker’s interpretation12 of von Wiese for Americans was the occasion for the appearance of a fourfold typology of religious institutions: ecclesia, denomination, sect, and cult. Ecclesia is approximately equivalent to Troeltsch’s church type. It dominates the world and is dominated by it. People do not need to join; they are born into it. It is an inclusive social structure. Denominations can be either sects which have migrated upward along the socio-economic continuum into a higher institutional status, or former ecclesiae which have been forced to accept a different status as a condition of survival in newer societies such as the United States. Two noteworthy features of the denomination are its adaptability and its willingness to share the field with other religious groups. The denomination stresses practice rather than theological purity and hence has a propensity to embrace

[73] 11. H.R. Niebuhr, Social Sources of Denominationalism, Chapters II and III; L. Pope, Millhands and Preachers, Chapter VII; J.M. Yinger, Religion in the Struggle for Power, Chapter II; D.O. Moberg, The Church as a Social Institution, Chapters IV and V.
12. Howard Becker, Systematic Sociology (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1932), Chapter XLIV.


practical church co-operation which preserves the pluralistic character of its organizational life. The sect is a relatively small plurality pattern which stresses voluntary affiliation, adult membership, rigorous discipline, personal charisma, and withdrawal or aggressiveness respecting the world. The sect bears a noteworthy relationship to troublous times, to social change, and to the upsurge of the lower classes.13 Becker’s cult tends to specialize in an interest or a value that is not prominently enough featured in other religious organizations. Modern metropolitan conditions furnish fertile soil in which cults thrive. Leadership can be charismatic, informal, precarious, anonymous, or corrupt. The cult sometimes shades off into a kind of religious underworld.

Additional discussions14 of church typology emerge from the American Protestant survey movement. Based upon empirical data, these treatments describe rural and urban churches in their community settings.

It is the interaction of the American types of religious expression that engages our interest here. Discussions of typology reveal the pluralistic institutional manifestation of Christianity which is so widely acknowledged among scholars. The migrating ecclesiae of Europe become denominations in the United States. Mobile religious groups, indigenous to the American situation, change in form from cult to sect, from sect to denomination. Before, during, and after the period of transition, possibly some kind of relationship exists with co-operative Christianity. What is this relationship? The very existence of a typology of religious institutions raises the important question of differential response to ecumenical conversations and activities. At present, denominations make the most enthusiastic participants. On the other hand, to what extent is the American typology of religious institutions a stumbling block to ecumenical progress?


The Church Among Other Social Institutions

The church is included in every sociologist’s list of American institutions. It appears along with the family, state, and education.

[73] 13. Cf. J. Milton Yinger, “Religion and Social Change” in Review of Religious Research, Winter, 1963.
[74] 14. Consult the writings of H. Paul Douglass, Samuel C. Kincheloe, Murray H. Leiffer, Ross W. Sanderson, Arthur L. Swift, Jr., Joseph Van Vleck, Jr. Cf. Frederick A. Shippey, “The Variety of City Churches” in Review of Religious Research, Summer, 1960, pp. 8-19.


This grouping is variously referred to as “basic,” “primary,” and “regulative.” Evidently religion is accorded a place of high significance in the culture.

The church is defined both as a social institution and as a spiritual fellowship by many outstanding scholars: H. Paul Douglass, Robin Williams, J. Milton Yinger, H. Richard Niebuhr, David O. Moberg, James M. Gustafson, and others. The two-fold definition must not hinder adequate recognition that the institutionalization of religion is inevitable, necessary, dangerous, and yet manageable. Self-perpetuation involves the means of propaganda, education, and discipline. Yet these very ingredients lead to the formation of an institution. In the American situation, two contrasting viewpoints are in collision: the one accepts the institution with an uncritical naïveté; the other sees in it a kind of pollution.

A solution of the impasse is offered by Robin Williams.15 In carrying out a comparison of the church with other institutions, he urges that a distinction be made at the outset between religion as a system of ideas and value orientations, on the one hand, and i he formal structure of the religious community of participants, on the other. For analytical purposes, this distinction separates intrinsic religion as a cultural fact from the church as a visible institution in society. Systems of religious ideas and values are present in Western civilization. But there are also communities of people who seek to live by these ideas and values. According to Williams, the latter discloses how the church becomes visible and takes the form of an institution in the American situation. It is the formal structure of the community of believers which is observed by the social scientist. However, a caveat is germane here since functionalism has a strong influence upon indigenous sociology of religion.16

The church is a social institution in American society. It has a relationship to the family, state, education, and the economic order through the primary function assigned to religion by sociologists. The churches must share people, space, wealth, with other institutions. Williams, Moberg, and others point out that

[74] 15. Op. cit., pp. 337-338.
16. Cf. J. Milton Yinger, Religion, Society and the Individual; and Thomas F. Hoult, The Sociology of Religion (New York: Dryden Press, 1958).


the major institutions of society are affected by religion, although often indirectly. Religion relates to them by means of attack, withdrawal, tolerance, or support. The encounter can take many forms. A particular denomination or sect may change its relationship from time to time, depending upon the cruciality of current issues.

In considering the relationship of the church with other social institutions in the American situation, it is desirable to hold in mind two important aspects of the church — its rootage in culture17 and its claim to uniqueness. With reference to cultural indebtedness, it can be pointed out that the church is man-made, thereby inevitably reflecting the cultural values. The church reflects the social system. The church is a human institution with a natural history. The church changes slowly, usually lagging far behind other institutions. It determines individual belief and behavior often arbitrarily. It becomes overorganized. Altogether these sound a caveat respecting culture’s grip upon the religious institution. Clearly the church is subject to the play of social forces in its functions and in its operations. This explains in part why certain patterns of behavior which are clearly incompatible with the avowed norms of the church become institutionalized in society. Sometimes the church sanctions mundane interests of classes and special groups. This involvement with culture diverts the church from her true end. Certainly the more completely one understands the European and American cultural environments, the more adequate comprehension he will gain of the dominant features of European and American Christianity.

Finally let consideration be given to the uniqueness of the church in the American situation. The church’s own self-interpretation is crucial here. Among other scholars, Muelder18 proposes the idea of “self-institutionalization” as a means of solving the church’s cultural dilemma. Here the church enters willingly into a process of institutionalization, utilizing the values procured therefrom up to a point of necessary efficiency. Thereafter, unless brought under control, institutionalism takes over and eventually the “tail wags the dog.” Muelder’s mediating proposal recognizes

[74] 17. J.O. Hertzler, “Religious Institutions,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Vol. 256, March, 1948.
18. Walter G. Muelder, “Institutionalism in Relation to Unity and Disunity,” The Nature of the Unity We Seek, Paul S. Minear, ed. (St. Louis: The Bethany Press, 1958), pp. 90-102.


 the merits of limited institutionalization. The church differs from other institutions. Reliance upon God affects its character and its tasks in society. The church facilitates religious experience, elevates social standards, promotes social solidarity, serves as an agent of social control, influences other institutions, and functions as a therapeutic agent.19 It plays a unique role in society.


Power Structure in the Church

All institutions, including the church, generate power. Monographic studies20 by P.M. Harrison, J.M. Gustafson, and other scholars, disclose endemic power struggles and bureaucratic developments within American Christianity. Harrison observes21 that informal power in the American Free Church tradition often exceeds formal power lodged in episcopal polity. Yinger warns22 against secular power which remains hidden beneath religious symbols or garb. Moberg23 contends that the church appropriates power patterns analogous to those utilized by other social institutions. “Vested interests” and “entrenched groups” are phrases which help to delineate religion in the American situation. Power as religious influence wielded over men and their environment becomes inextricably entangled with egocentric secular force competing for personnel, time, funds, and status. Like business, government, and education, the church struggles for survival, position, dominance, and influence.

Bureaucracy is an inevitable concomitant of institutionalization. Evidently the pragmatic orientation and extensive proliferation of activities and subsidiary organizations so characteristic of American Protestantism invest the church with a dangerous vulnerability. Considered positively, bureaucracy performs administrative and promotional miracles in behalf of Christianity, procuring efficiency through the employment of specialists, continuity of leadership (attracted by incremental salaries, tenure, and pensions), and policy stability. Considered negatively, a list of problems which emerge from discussions of power structure in the American situation includes: an overemphasis upon the de facto

[74] 19. J.O. Hertzler, op. cit.
20. Paul M. Harrison, Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition; James M. Gustafson, “A Study in the Problems of Authority in the Congregational Church Order,” unpublished paper (Social Ethics Library. Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.).
21. Op. cit., Chapter XII, “Postscript for Baptists.”
22. Religion in the Struggle for Power, Chapter I.
23. Op. cit., Chapter 19; also Purnell H. Benson, Religion in Contemporary Culture (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), Chapter 14.


church rather than upon the inner community of faith and belief; the propensity to regard the structure and process of society as normative for religion; the raising up of bureaucratic officials who perpetuate a sterotyped regime; the institutionalized theological justification of a particular form of church polity; the retention of vestigial forms which have lost their religious meaning; and the transformation of the relativities of American history into eternal patterns and principles. Because power is a prominent ingredient here, thoughtful churchmen discern danger in the growing institutionalization of American religion.


The Problem of Church Order

Order is the visible form of human community. The question of church order24 arises only because the Church on earth is of necessity a visible society. Though the divine rootage of the institution continues to be regarded as significant, visibility and historicity are also integral and essential to the life of the Church. What makes for such complexity in the American situation is the confusion which arises from varying approaches to the problem. Because no single set of terms has won wide acceptance among scholars, one encounters such contrasting expressions as these: primary and secondary; visible and invisible; esse and bene esse; permanent and temporary; instrumental and essential; function and embodiment; unity and diversity; enduring and transient; and finally, order and organization. All these terms grope in the direction of an adequate statement on church order. Unfortunately some Americans shape their approach in a pejorative mood. Hence, reference to social factors in the church is made as though their very presence furnished a mark of failure and called for a negative evaluation.

At least five approaches25 to the problem of church order in the American situation have been noted. Though all these answers can be regarded as inadequate, nevertheless the discussion can yield a new understanding of the problem. (1) The Church is a voluntaristic association of individual believers which exists to serve the

[74] 24. James M. Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels; Robert Lee, The Social Sources of Church Unity; Paul Minear, ed., The Nature of the Unity We Seek; J. Robert Nelson, ed., Christian Unity in North America; Claude Welch, The Reality of the Church.
25. Cf. C. Welch, The Reality of the Church, Chapter I.


individual members. God first calls the individuals and then they organize a church. (2) The Church is either a divinization of historical faith, forms, and structure — or the Church is a purely spiritual community. Here is asserted a radical distinction between true Church and institution, strongly depreciating the latter. (3) The Church is visible and invisible: the visible is earthly, partial, and defective; the invisible is transcendent and holy. This yields virtually a dualism or two distinct churches. (4) The Church is hidden from the eyes of the world but visible to the eyes of faith, while being one and the same Church. It possesses an incognito aspect. (5) The Church is both the Body of Christ and a religious institution. The inadequacy of these five approaches should suggest the need of a viable blend of both the sociological and the theological perspectives.

A prominent feature of the American situation is ambivalence.26 On the one hand, institutional expressions of Christianity are viewed as artificial and unhealthy. This low theoretical estimate accorded the visible Church is accompanied by the general opinion that the Church has failed both in proclaiming and living the gospel. Protestants fear institutional mechanics as an obstacle to the Holy Spirit. Hence, adherents criticize the visible institution while pleading for an inner community of faith and belief. On the other hand, despite the widespread willingness to make the institution a Protestant “whipping boy,” millions of members attend religious services, subscribe budgets, erect new edifices, support eleemosynary work, and patronize subsidiary church organizations. Many adherents participate in the visible Church, believing it to be the trustee of salvation. Many enter into its life convinced of its spiritual efficacy. The afore-mentioned ambivalence confuses some observers, but it cannot obscure the paradoxical context of hope and reality in which Americans discuss order. Christianity is regarded as much a movement as it is a church. Organization does not appear without order. These ambivalent perspectives comprise in part the thought and life patterns of indigenous churchmen.

[74] 26. Relevant treatments of the topic include: H. Paul Douglass and Edmund deS. Brunner, The Protestant Church as a Social Institution; Winthrop S. Hudson, The Great Tradition of the American Churches; Paul M. Harrison, Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition; H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America; Liston Pope, Millhands and Preachers; Paul Ramsey, ed., Faith and Ethics; J.M. Smith and A.L. Jamison, eds., The Shaping of American Religion and Religious Perspectives in American Culture.


In conclusion, several major problems persist in American discussions of church order: (1) the terminological confusion — lack of agreement respecting nomenclature; (2) the pejorative posture — biased assumptions against either esse or bene esse; (3) the pluralistic context — recognition of inevitable ethnic and cultural differences; and (4) the social and theological “reductionisms”27 — how to combine the data of disparate disciplines. Thus an unsophisticated approach is neither warranted nor contributory to ecumenical understanding. The forms of the Church are signs pointing to the unrealized fullness of new life in the Kingdom.



The preceding pages furnish a brief perusal of materials which can yield a preliminary orientation to the North American situation. How it differs from the European setting, as noted by Williams and by Moberg, has been delineated under thirteen salient points. Moreover, definitions of institution which emerge from American cultural pluralism and from the theories of need, interest, and a philosophy of culture were examined also. A new approach, namely that of status-role analysis, was mentioned in order to highlight the context, provided by the institution, within which individual social positions, normative patterns, and culture traits gain significance. Thus individual efforts and expressions are regularized into a meaningful unit of society.

From an examination of religious institutions it was discovered that Christianity expresses itself in a variety of authentic forms. The typologies of Ernst Troeltsch and Howard Becker, as heuristic devices, bear a relevance to the American discussion. Evidently indigenous Protestantism is defined as both a social institution and a spiritual fellowship. Although some churchmen regard the former as a kind of pollution, nevertheless a limited institutionalization appears inevitable, necessary, and even desirable. Both the Church’s rootage in culture and its claim to spiritual unique¬ness are genuine. The power structure embedded in church life

[74] 27. See H.P. Douglass and E. deS. Brunner, The Protestant Church as a Social Institution; J.M. Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, Chapter 8; H.R. Niebuhr, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry; A. Outler, The Christian Tradition and the Unity We Seek.


bears a strong resemblance to that discerned within secular institutions. Bureaucracy is a constant threat to the inner community of faith and belief. The question of church order arises naturally because the Church is a visible society on earth. Out of the manifold approaches to this issue, a viable blend of sociological and theological perspectives appears to be gaining in favor. The acknowledged ambivalence of the American outlook may yet provoke a sufficiently sophisticated and spiritual approach which can lead ultimately to the unrealized fullness of new life in the Kingdom.



Bibliography for Essay 3


Ballard, Lloyd V., Social Institutions (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936).


Douglass, H. Paul and Brunner, Edmund deS., The Protestant Church as a Social Institution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1935).
Gustafson, James M., Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The Church as a Human Community (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961).
Harrison, Paul M., Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959).
Hudson, Winthrop S., The Great Tradition of the American Churches (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953).
Lee, Robert, The Social Sources of Church Unity (New York: Abingdon Press, 1960).
Leibrecht, Walter, ed., Religion and Culture (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959).
Lenski, Gerhard, The Religious Factor (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1961).
Minear, Paul S., ed., The Nature of the Unity We Seek (St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1958).
Moberg, David O., The Church as a Social Institution (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962).
Nelson, J. Robert, ed., Christian Unity in North America (St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1958).
Niebuhr, H. Richard, The Social Sources of Denominationalism (New York: Holt & Co., 1929).
—, The Kingdom of God in America (Chicago: Willett, Clark & Co., 1937).
—, Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951).
—, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956).
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Panunzio, Constantine, Major Social Institutions (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1946).
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Smith, James W., and Jamison, A. Leland, Religious Perspectives in American Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961).
Welch, Claude, The Reality of the Church (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958).
Yinger, J. Milton, Religion in the Struggle for Power (Durham: Duke University Press, 1946).
—, Religion, Society and the Individual (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1957).