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PRINTED AND BOUND BY GEORGF BANTA PUBLISHING CO. MANUFACTURING PUBLISHERS
Through the publication of several source collections, much has been done to assist the student of American political, social and economic history. But no corresponding assistance has been given to such as are interested in the more specifically religious history of our nation. It is true of course, that for the colonial period, political history to a considerable degree resolves itself into the religious and that, therefore, the source books already published contain much material that is serviceable to the church historian. For the national period, however, with its multiplication of church organization, its controversies and divisions, its nation-wide revivals, and its missionary extension at home and abroad, no source material has been assembled for convenient access. Hence the publication of this volume, which within the briefest possible space embodies the most significant documents for the entire field of American church history.
The compiler wishes to state that the viewpoint from which he has approached the subject is that of regarding the church, not as the custodian of some divinely-revealed deposit of truth, nor as supernaturally detached from an environment that is ever affecting her inner life and organization. In his selection of material he has been guided by the principle of choosing only such documents as most significantly set forth the contribution that the church has made to the progress of American society, and the manner in which from time to time she has adjusted herself to her new and changing environment. Denominationalism, therefore, has been relegated to the background. Ardent denominationalists will find their respective bodies recognized only in so far as these have played a strategic part in the development of American Christianity as a whole. The only exception is that in the case of some small but significant groups, material has been inserted to remove prevailing ignorance or misconception.
In the matter of bibliography, it has seemed wise to supplement the information set forth in the compilations of Samuel M. Jackson and the several volumes of the American Church History Series. Not to emphasize the denominational horizon within which most of this bibliographical work was done, it is now almost a quarter of a century since even the latest appeared. Much has been published
in the meantime which now calls for classification and appraisal. It will be noticed that the bibliographies are restricted to printed material, with a slight exception of a few dissertations inserted for the convenience of University of Chicago students, who may be pursuing historical work in the classes of the compiler. Newspaper material has had to be omitted. Its insertion, however valuable, would have made the volume far too bulky for convenient handling. graphical matter has been classified not alphabetically, nor in the order of importance, but chronologically. This method, while admittedly defective in some respects, has been adopted as the least objectionable. Painstaking labor has been taken to secure accuracy and comprehensiveness. It will not be surprising, however, if investigative experts in small sections of the field will find omissions. But it is hoped that the bibliographical apparatus will be of real service in speedily acquainting the student with the most significant literature bearing upon the subject under his investigation.
It only remains to express the hope that through its chapter analysis this work may prove suggestive to instructors in their class-room presentation of American religious history, and that its scientific spirit may have some part in stimulating the interdenominational co-operation that augurs so hopefully for the increasing efficiency of our American churches.
PETER G. MODE Divinity School, University of Chicago,
September 1st, 1920.