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The Quality of Mercy, The Quality of Mercy, 0817308148, 0-8173-0814-8, 978-0-8173-0814-8, 9780817308148,

The Quality of Mercy
Southern Baptists and Social Christianity, 1890-1920

Quality Paper
1996. 184 pp.
Price:  $21.95 s

Contrary to popular perception, turn-of-the-century Southern Baptists had an identifiable social ethic that compelled them to minister to society's dispossessed. Although Southern Baptists never deviated from their primary goal of saving souls, they believed biblical stewardship had broader implications than wealth management. Baptists eagerly engaged in social ministries for which they found scriptural mandates, especially orphanages. The key to enlisting support for such expanded social ministries was missions. Baptist leaders synthesized evangelical concern with social compassion and convinced church members that the Bible sanctioned social ministries and that such endeavors were worthy of support. The effect was twofold: Baptists built institutions to relieve the needy, and they also used these institutions to propagate the Gospel and teach Baptist doctrine.



Keith Harper is Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi College.

"Many academics have assumed that southern evangelicals expressed little social conscience. Keith Harper demonstrates that Southern Baptists manifested a quickening sense of obligation and duty to the poor and powerless. His book is an important corrective and a welcome new addition to the increasingly rich literature on southern religion."
—Wayne Flynt, Auburn University

"This carefully researched study is an important addition to the historiography of southern religion. It gives new evidence that Southern Baptists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were more attentive to social concerns than once supposed. Particularly significant is Harper's account of mountain schools and orphanages. Although of value primarily to scholars, this work will be useful to anyone interested in southern culture."
—John W. Storey, Lamar University

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