Reading 5.2

The Social Interest and Concern of A.B. Simpson*

John V. Dahms

Albert Benjamin Simpson's foremost concern was to bring man to Christ. Evangelism was his primary interest. Closely bound up with this was his emphasis on the deeper life. He realized that the effectiveness of evangelistic effort was largely proportional to the quality of the spiritual life and experience of those who preached, laboured and prayed for the salvation of those men and women who needed to become members of God's kingdom.

Because he was so concerned with the calling of the lost to repentance and the redeemed to the deeper life, he could so express himself as to leave the impression that Christians should not be involved in social welfare activities. In 1897, he urged,

Philanthropic schemes and social reforms are absorbing the interest and enthusiasm of thousands of redeemed men and women who ought to be giving their strength and wealth to do the best things and not the second best. We admit there is something good in these enterprises. They have a place and a value, but let the world take care of them....There are...plenty of people to run social reform and temperance societies; plenty of people to fight the political battle. God wants you to give the gospel to the world, to rise to the highest calling, to do the best things.1

There is considerable evidence, however, that this was an overstatement. Though they are not numerous, there are occasions when Simpson expressed himself somewhat differently and implied that it was right and proper that Christians devote time, energy and financial support to philanthropic and welfare activities.

In 1882, he lauded the missionary efforts overseas of various churches, which had resulted not only in souls being saved, but also in "hundreds of Christian colleges and schools, hundreds of benevolent and charitable societies, disbursing millions to the suffering and the poor." And added that "the heart would be false to every Christian instinct if it did not bless and thank the Lord of Harvest."2

In 1886, he wrote,

We should give for the relief of God's poor and suffering children...allowing no true child of God to be in want or suffering....Nor should the unworthy poor be altogether neglected, but so aided as to prevent the abuse of our gifts for sinful indulgence, and so as to promote industry, independence and trust in God.3

It was probably the same year that he also stated,

He (Christ) wants His church to be complete in every department of work; He wants us to have not only the mere preaching of the Gospel, but work for the poor and lowly, work for the destitute and the sick; work for the rich and worldly. He wants us to be a people who will combine every department of Christian beneficence which is right for the church of God to sustain.4

In 1889, he affirmed that the Parable of the Good Samaritan "in its first to exemplify the duties of humanity and kindness to our neighbour,"5 a statement he repeated in a sermon preached on December 10, 1905.6 Also in 1889, he wrote that the Parable of the Great Supper in Luke 14 urges us to do "all that sympathy and consideration can do" for those suffering physical ills and material want, and, in this connection, promoted "the Christian philanthropies and blessed agencies of consecrated evangelism."7 It is reported further that in 1895, he interpreted that same parable to imply that Christians should be involved in meeting "the physical needs and material miseries" of mankind by providing "real help for human suffering as well as human sin."8

In 1896, Simpson stated, "The law of Christ is the bearing of others' burdens, the sharing of others' griefs, sacrificing yourself for another."9 Also in 1901, he interpreted the exhortation in James 2:15-16 as follows:

It is doing things to relieve and help the temporal needs of our suffering men....Our acts of love and help may be His links in bringing them to see the attraction of His love and listen to the Gospel of His Grace.10

In 1905, he encouraged "charitable relief for the orphans and the helpless."11

Perhaps Simpson's most significant statement relative to Christian social action was published in 1893:

We should aim to bring all the work of God within the sphere of the church of Christ....There is room not only for the worship of God, the teaching of sacred truth and the evangelization of the lost, but also for every phase of practical philanthropy and usefulness. There may be, in perfect keeping with the simple order and dignity of the church of God, the most aggressive work for the masses and the widest welcome for every class of sinful man; the ministry of healing for the sick and suffering administered in the name of Jesus; the most complete provision for charitable relief; industrial training and social elevation for the degraded classes, workshops for the unemployed, homes for the orphaned, shelter for the homeless, refuges for the inebriates, the fallen and the helpless; missions for the heathen; Christian literature for the instruction of the people, and every agency needed to make the church of God the light of the world and the mothering of the suffering and the lost. And there is no work that will be more glorifying to God than a church that will embrace just such features and completeness.12

Even more eloquent than such statements is the testimony of Simpson's activities. Three months after resigning as pastor of Thirteenth St. Presbyterian Church in New York City, he and thirty-five others met in February, 1882, and founded the Gospel Tabernacle Church "for the especial purpose of Gospel work, particularly among the neglected classes, both at home and abroad."13 That "the neglected classes" were especially in view is evidence of great social concern. Even if it was only the evangelization of such classes that was envisaged at that time--and we are not sure that it was--Simpson was well aware that there is nothing so powerful to effect social uplift, at least in the long term, as the experience of Christ's regenerating grace followed by walking in the Spirit. Indeed, he himself said, in elaborating on the Parable of the Great Supper recorded in Luke 14,

The provision of the Gospel for the temporal needs and physical in humanity is surely set forth in this picture....It (the Gospel) alleviates their physical condition. It is of infinite value even in improving the material condition of the poor, and leading to prosperity and success in temporal things.14

Worthy concern for the spiritual welfare of people cannot long be divorced from active concern for their physical, material and social deprivations, however much the spiritual concern may be primary, as it ought to be. Such proved to be the case in the early years of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, years in which A.B. Simpson was its guiding light and its towering inspiration.

Due to the influence of the Alliance and its leadership, the ministry in "hospitals, almshouses and charitable institutions" in New York City was so considerable by 1894, that it was said that even A.B. Simpson would have been at a loss to tell "how much the Alliance was doing for all (such) agencies of Christian work in that city."15 At the turn of the century, the annual report of the Gospel Tabernacle in New York City, the "mother" congregation of the Christian and Missionary Alliance where Simpson was himself in charge, contained the statement that members of the congregation were involved in "much useful nearly all the missions and charitable institutions of the city."16 And in 1907, it was reported in The Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly that many of the charitable institutions "within the limits of New York City, and, indeed, for many miles around" had benefited from the influence of the Gospel Tabernacle, and that many of their leaders were adherents of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.17

Highly influential in this connection was the annual Rescue Day which grew out of the Gospel Tabernacle's monthly "all-night prayer meeting...for the city mission workers of New York." The Rescue Day program, which included reports and presentations concerning welfare agencies and institutions of various kinds, generated widespread interest and support.18 It must be added, moreover, that the sample and inspiration of the Gospel Tabernacle and its pastor spread with the Alliance throughout North America and overseas so that, along with a mighty evangelistic enterprise, there developed social enterprises of various kinds in many of the places where the representatives of the Alliance made their influence felt.

From such general statements concerning Simpson's impact of welfare work, we turn now to more specific material.

Rescue Homes for Women

Though the Alliance as such did not establish or maintain homes for fallen women, Alliance people closely connected with the movement did so.19 Indeed, there is a report of such a home as early as 1882, under the direction of a Mrs. Henry Naylor.20  It is also reported that the following year (1883), the ministry of the Gospel Tabernacle inspired a Miss Margaret Strachan to open a home for women in a section of New York City where there were many houses of ill fame.21

In 1889, the Alliance "'solemnly set [Mrs. Emma Whittemore] apart' for a special rescue ministry to girls," and on October 25, 1890, she established in New York City, the Door of Hope, "a refuge and a home for girls of the better class who have been tempted from home and right."22 Dr. Simpson's support of the venture is evidenced by the fact that he gave the address at its dedication. As a result of her efforts, by 1903, sixty-one Doors of Hope missions were established in various parts of the United States of America.23 One of these was opened in Fort Worth, Texas in 1891 by a Mrs. Delia Collins, a member of a family prominent in Alliance work in that city.24

Alliance support for such ventures is further evidenced by the fact that Henry Wilson, who became associate pastor at the Gospel Tabernacle in 1891, and field superintendent for Alliance work in the United States in 1901, an office he retained until his death in 1908, became chaplain of the Magdalene Home for Women in 1894, and thereafter promoted that home and other institutions of the kind at the annual Rescue Day described above.25 From 1893 to 1902, the Alliance gave its support to what was known as the Rescue Band, which provided temporary lodging for many girls, and, beginning in 1895, provided training for girls in an industrial department.26 Indeed, the relationship of Alliance branches and members with homes for "fallen" women in a number of cities is reported.27

Orphans and Orphanages

One of the welfare institutions most closely connected with the Alliance was the Berachah Orphanage,28 opened in 1886 at College Point on Long Island, New York, and later relocated in Nyack, New York. It provided a ministry to needy children beginning in 1888.29 In an 1897 article, apparently by Simpson, it is stated, "The work of caring for the little ones, and especially the orphaned ones, is a fully recognized and important department of our Alliance work."30

Other orphanages in the continental United States besides Berachah were later to receive "direct and indirect support" from the Christian and Missionary Alliance.31 In addition, famine in India in the 1890's led Alliance missionaries there to provide care for hundreds of children.

Articles by A.B. Simpson in The Christian Alliance and Foreign Missionary Weekly helped secure financial support for the "helpless children" in famine-stricken India.32 Henry Wilson, Simpson's associate, became especially known for his activities and accomplishments on behalf of needy children. For a number of years, the contributions he secured from U.S. children underwrote the care of one hundred of the orphans who were provided for by Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries in India.33

Rest Homes and Medical Missions

In 1883, "Mr. Simpson...felt impelled to open his own home for personal ministry to the afflicted," and on May 16, 1883, it was dedicated "as a Home for Faith and Physical Healing." It was said at the time that "any sufferer who is really willing to exercise and act in faith for healing will be received for a limited time for instruction and waiting upon God for temporal and spiritual blessing."34 But the need for separate facilities was evident, and a year later, on May 5, 1884, Berachah Home was dedicated in another part of New York City, an institution to which Simpson devoted a good deal of his time, and which he described as a "delightful 'place' of rest or spiritual blessing."35 Moreover, it was so fruitful a venture that it is reported that in its first fifteen years of ministry, 10,000 had been "transformed" through "rest, quickening, and Divine healing."36

With respect to this report, it is to be kept in mind that though Berachah Home was dedicated as a home for rest and healing, the healing in view was divine, not medical. Simpson believed that others should avail themselves of medical means, but he taught that Christians should rely on divine power alone for relief from physical ills.37 In this connection, it is instructive to note that he says concerning the physical ailments of children in the Berachah Orphanage, an institution separate from Berachah Home:

In the case of the children of our Orphanage, we would not feel justified in taking this responsibility [i.e., the responsibility of trusting solely in Christ for their healing], in view of the law of the state requiring the care of an attendant physician.

In all cases of sickness in others where there is danger involved and you have the responsibility to meet the obligations of the law, it is a great matter, if possible, to have some regular physician who believes in Divine Healing within call, so as to be responsible if necessary.38

Though Berachah Home was the most important of the homes established by or connected with the Alliance, a variety of other homes came into existence39 and/or were supported in one way or another because of the influence of Simpson's ministry.40

Miss Kate White opened her home near the Gospel Tabernacle where she was a member and devoted herself to "caring for, feeding and clothing the poor and needy, worthy and unworthy."41 In her obituary (1898), it was stated that her home was "a shelter for the homeless and unfortunate....She often even denied herself a bed and food to be hospitable to others."42 Carrie Judd Montgomery, "a close friend of Simpson's from the early 1880's," established rest homes in Buffalo, New York, and in San Francisco, California. Though she and her husband joined the Salvation Army in 1892, they and their work continued to enjoy the appreciation and support of Simpson himself and of the Alliance, to which they also belonged.43

Typical of various other homes in North America bearing some connection with the Alliance was a home in Philadelphia directed by Mrs. Sarah Beck, which existed for the sake of people "weary or sick in body or mind."44

In the area of health ministries, mention must be made of the ministry of Berachah Mission in the section of New York City known as Hell's Kitchen. There "Dr. Dowkonut...held a free dispensary and gave medical attendance without charge to the poor of the neighborhood."45 No doubt, Alliance inspiration led to similar ministries elsewhere.46

Besides the Alliance-inspired efforts on behalf of physical needs in North America, Alliance missionaries overseas engaged in extensive medical programs in alleviation of physical distresses. As early as 1882, Simpson praised medical missions overseas47 and in that same year called for prayer and counsel concerning a proposed sanitarium on the Bosporus.48 In 1892, he not only defended medical missions but also invited volunteers for medical missionary service in Africa.49 It should be noted, however, that he frequently emphasized that medical missions are justified because they open people's hearts to the reception of the Gospel.50

Industrial Missions

The Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly, July 4, 1890, reported a sewing school at Catherine Mission in New York City. In 1891, a movement to provide work for men in Rescue Missions was sanctioned.51 As already noted, beginning in 1895, the Rescue Band lodged and trained girls, a ministry which enjoyed Alliance support until 1902. Beginning in the mid-1890s, William Raws of Germantown, PA, operated a plant employing 125 people on a "work-for-what-you-can-get plan." This provision, whereby the needs of otherwise unemployed people were met without undermining their self-respect, was featured in the annual Rescue Day program of the Alliance.52 Door of Hope establishments, mentioned above, provided training for their residents. In the New York City Door of Hope "homemaking, dressmaking and fancy serving" were taught. On the Door of Hope property at Tappan, New York, there was "training in gardening and poultry care as well." A Women's Industrial Center was part of the Door of Hope establishment in Fort Worth, Texas.53 In Buffalo, New York, there was an "Alliance-related 'Industrial School' for girls."54

In 1893, A.B. Simpson reported on a visit he had made to India. One of the things that excited his interest was an Industrial School and Workshop operated by Alliance people in Akola, India, for the teaching of "useful trades to the native boys." He considered it desirable that the operation be "considerably enlarged" and "two or three manufacturing departments added." Though he held that "The missionary society ought not to put its funds into this work," he encouraged readers to invest their lives and their money in the project.55

In the years which followed Simpson's visit to India, famine conditions in that sub-continent led Alliance workers to a greatly expanded program of aid. A major project in this respect was the operation of a 350-acre farm in Sanand, India, where orphans were settled and taught how to earn their own livelihood.56

Famine Relief

In 1891, relief was sent through the Alliance to flood victims in China.57 During a severe famine in South China in 1903, Alliance missionaries provided food for as many as 3,000 per day.58 With respect to this famine, Simpson wrote, "We cannot too strongly appeal for help in this hour of need and opportunity."59

As indicated earlier, famine relief was also provided for thousands in India at the turn of the century. A.B. Simpson wrote at length describing the desperate need and appealed to North American members of the Society to contribute generously. On one occasion he declared, "It would seem to be a duty of God's plan for systematic gifts...for the next few months...." He added that "enemies of the truth are not neglected" in Alliance relief efforts, though "special provision (was made) for the native converts and their families."60 Again in 1912, he appealed for famine relief in India.61

Such relief was not only provided overseas in places like China and India. Needy people in the United States were assisted as well. There is on record the appreciation of a Kansas family which had received eight barrels of clothing as well as a gift of money in 1896, meeting not only its desperate need but that of neighbours as well.62 A similar letter of gratitude for "food and clothing" assisting "the drought stricken in many districts" was received from Springfield, Montana, in 1903.63 In response to the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, A.B. Simpson immediately sent aid, and appealed in the Christian and Missionary Alliance for general contributions. Within a week the members of his Gospel Tabernacle alone contributed some $700 for the purpose.64 In 1913, he urged contributions for flood relief in the Central and Western districts of the C&MA.65


Alliance people were assisting immigrants from Germany as early as 1887.66  In 1890, the Alliance began mission work in the section of New York City known as "little Italy." By 1895, this effort included a home for girls. Students and faculty of Nyack College conducted services in Italian in surrounding communities and offered night school classes three times a week.67 It may be assumed that such efforts had the support of Simpson himself.

M. Nardi, "a lifelong friend of A.B. Simpson," aided Italians in hospitals, prisons and elsewhere. In one of the poorest areas of Chicago, he established a vocational school for children, a kindergarten, a Sunday School and a sewing school. In another part of the city he instituted evening classes in English. And in other places, he initiated similar programs for needy newcomers from Italy. That Simpson compiled a biographical volume honouring Nardi, indicates at least general appreciation of his work, if not outright support.68


Miss J.E. Dougall, a friend of Simpson, provided leadership for the Women's Christian Temperance Union in Montreal, and played a considerable part in its development across Canada, becoming the national vice-president in 1903. At her death in 1904, tribute was paid to her in the columns of The Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly.69 Mrs. Delia Collins of Fort Worth, Texas, and Mrs. John Best of Pittsburgh, PA, were prominent in WCTU work in their respective states as well as being strong supporters of the Alliance.70 Josephus Pulis, whose life and leadership in Alliance work inspired Simpson to write his biography, was on the staff of the Christian Home for Intemperate Men.71 In addition, Henry Wilson, Associate Pastor of the Gospel Tabernacle during Simpson's leadership there, was president of a mission which emphasized the pledging of total abstinence.72

A.B. Simpson himself delivered daily Bible lectures in the mid-1890's at the World's WCTU Evangelistic Training School.73 The weekly magazine he edited included a temperance column for a number of years.74 In 1907, he praised the temperance movement, and added, "All hail to every social, political and religious influence and effort that can further restrain this sinful curse."75 In subsequent years, however, he points out that despite social efforts, the consumption of alcoholic beverages had increased.76 He emphasized that without Christ, social and political effort is of no permanent help.77

General Education78

In his earlier writings, Simpson strongly favoured educational work on the part of Christian organizations. In 1882, he praised educational missions overseas.79 In 1885, we have reference to a "Chinese School" in connection with the Twenty-third St. Tabernacle in New York.80 In 1887, a kindergarten in connection with Simpson's church in New York City is reported.81

Beginning in 1891, Simpson repeatedly spoke of the desire to establish a "preparatory school for the eduction of the children connected with the Christian Alliance."82 The First Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 1897-98, pp. 13, 85, contains a recommendation urging the provision of schools for Alliance children in the United States. Such provision was said to be "one of the greatest needs" and of "great importance." In 1894, we read of a day school in Stockton, California, under Alliance auspices, the purpose there being "to bring the children, young and old, to Christ, and to prepare them for missionary work at home and abroad."83 However, it appears that Alliance-sponsored education of a general nature did not begin in the New York area until 1906. For a number of years thereafter, college courses and an academy initially for higher school grades were provided, but their existence was temporary.84 According to D.W. Cartmel, "the Academy had been justified on the grounds that it supplied an alternative to the state or local schools controlled by a philosophy not consistent with Alliance views of the Bible."85

Provision of a liberal education to white boys and girls of the southern U.S. mountains who could not afford to go to the regular schools was reported in 1908.86 Moreover, in the 1917-18 Report of the Alliance, schools in India and in South China were reported, including a school for blind girls in the latter area. The need for more schools in India was noted.87 No doubt many more Christian schools both in North America and overseas were sponsored and/or inspired by Alliance people who had been influenced directly or indirectly by A.B. Simpson.

Simpson's support of educational enterprises seems, however, to have been a response to practical needs as he perceived them, rather than being rooted in his fundamental convictions. In 1893 he declared, "We are not called to build up great educational institutions" overseas, though he conceded that in such areas as South China "a certain amount of educational work seems to be necessary, as the native schools compel their pupils to learn and practice heathenism."88 Indeed, in that same year he declared, his view is influenced by the conviction that the gospel could be quickly taken to all the world and then Christ would come.89 Perhaps one can discern how he would have harmonized his support of educational institutions with such a view in a statement he made in 1912:

Whereas educational work may be justified on the grounds of expediency, direct evangelism and Bible training work rest upon the distinct command of Christ, as well as His personal example and that of the apostles. The former may be a matter of opinion, the latter never. It is binding. Evangelism is the first and great business of the church, and must always remain so.90

Race Relations

In a day when racial prejudice was widespread, A.B. Simpson referred to the blacks who supported him as his "beloved coloured brethren."91 In 1896, Simpson's periodical published an article by an Alliance worker in the southern United States in which the living conditions of Negroes, and attitudes toward them, were strongly criticized.92 The Alliance constituency supported schools for coloured people, the most important, perhaps, being the Lovejoy Missionary Institute in North Carolina, which opened its doors to needy people of all colours in 1906.93 A variety of homes and institutions ministering chiefly to Negroes were either sponsored or heavily supported by Alliance people. Moreover, the columns of the Alliance Weekly publicized and commended such efforts, including Peter Robinson's rescue home for women established in 1904, the social work of Miss Joanne Moore of Nashville, Tennessee (Alliance responsibility of it beginning in 1906), and the Steele Home in Chattanooga, Tennessee.94

The attitude and efforts of A.B. Simpson and his co-labourers with respect to the racial situation in the United States is important evidence that they were people of noble Christian stature.

War and Peace

Simpson's views on war and peace seem to have been complex. On the one hand, he made clear that he supported international efforts which made for peace. In 1896, he criticized the policy of Britain and the United States with respect to Venezuela.95 In April, 1911, he indicated his support for President Taft's proposal of an Arbitration Treaty between Britain and the United States, and called upon the Alliance constituency to give hearty support to "Arbitration Sunday."96

It is true that early in 1914, Simpson declared that peace propaganda and effort are of little value. Only Christ brings peace. "The best peace the preaching of the Gospel of Grace to sinners of all nations."97 It may be that the clouds of war on the horizon were making him pessimistic about human peace efforts. It may be, however, that his earlier support for international peace efforts was always with the conviction that it was only a very little that they could accomplish.

Despite his concern for peace, Simpson voiced opposition to those who held that war is always wrong, declaring,

While the spirit of Christianity is preeminently for peace, yet God has also a providential purpose of dealing with sinful nations, and sometimes war is one of His scourges.98

It seems to be Simpson himself who states in 1896, "President Kruger showed an excellent spirit in offering troops to assist the English, if necessary in repelling the Matabele rising."99 Moreover, he supported the United States in its war with Spain, declaring that it was right for the American government "to interpose for the protection of the outraged Cuban people," and urging his readers to pray that "this war shall utterly and speedily accomplish God's highest purposes for the world and the coming of His Son."100 He opposed restoration of the Philippines to Spain after that war,101 and rejoiced when it was announced that this would not take place, because it would now be possible to "share with them (the Philippine people) the holy privileges of our Christian heritage as well as our liberty and civilization."102

In 1905, Simpson judged that Russia's defeat by Japan was "well deserved," and stated that "God...(was) compelling the proud oppressor (i.e. Russia) to stop a war which had been in defiance of every sentiment of justice and humanity."103 A few months later, he added that Japan was "manifestly used by Him (God) as the instrument of His providence."104

In 1915, the Alliance Weekly described the sinking of the steamer Ancona as "another shocking outrage" and "another drop in the full cup of Teuton iniquity," this at a time when the United States was not yet at war with Germany.105 After it had become involved, Simpson called for unreserved support of the war effort and described the Allied armies as "forces of liberty and righteousness."106

The Social Order

A subject which necessarily requires attention is Simpson's attitude to the social order. He drew attention to "the oppression of the poor" and to the

sweat shops of our manufacturing cities...women and children...toiling for a pittance in suffocating workrooms with long hours of half-remunerated toil... struggling girls that have been told...that they cannot expect to earn a living by honest toil, but must also expect to sell themselves as well.107

He declared that "the whole system is harsh and selfish to the core."108 However, there was no suggestion that the government should act to alleviate such circumstances. He only encouraged liberality by the wealthy.109 In fact, to the oppressed he said, "Do not go and fight your battle; do not get up a strike or a political party; leave your vindication to Him."110 In 1896, he described Labour Unions as "a step toward the universal democracy and lawlessness which is to be the condition of the last days, as symbolized in Rev. 17--by the kings without their crowns."111

Why was it that Simpson seems to have thought that the restructuring of society was not to be encouraged? Was it because of his expectation of the very imminent return of Christ? Was it because he believed that such effort would encourage people to fix their hopes on this world rather than on the world to come? Was it because of the laissez-faire spirit of the times? Was it because he shared the widespread optimism of the day concerning the American "way of life"? His positive view of "our liberty and civilization" quoted above may so indicate. One could legitimately conclude that all of these considerations, and perhaps others as well, may have had a part to play in shaping his view of the matter.

Simpson was not unaware that there were those who believed that social change was necessary. He was strongly opposed to socialism and repeatedly condemned it. In 1885 he declared, "Socialism has become a hideous war against civilization and humanity."112 In 1911, he called it "a substitute for the kingdom and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."113 Previously he had said, "God does not sweep away all differences and bring a hopeless socialism."114 Nor did he associate it solely with theological liberals.115 He criticized Frances Willard, renowned national president of the WCTU, for her socialist views, despite such a regard for her that he could speak of her as "our dear sister."116 Moreover, he criticized Salvation Army leaders in England for their view in this respect, making mention of William Booth's book, In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890), and of the reception given to General Booth's views in Paris, France. He commented, "The grand basis of spiritual regeneration is ignored, but the wedge is in and a failure on any other basis will open the eyes of leaders in the work."117 Nevertheless, the work of the Salvation Army in the United States could be featured in Simpson's periodical and high praise given to it for its "love for the lost."118

Simpson's view of efforts at improving the social order is evident when he urges us to "cease from wasting our lives on good but secondary things." Our purpose, he says, is "to gather out of the world a people for His name and then to prepare the way for His kingdom and His benignant reign."119


Whatever one may say about Simpson's views on world peace, and his lack of support for change in the structures of society, the social welfare impact of his movement was both enormous and magnificent. Moreover, it has been rightly described as "essentially a by-product of the deeper spiritual life Simpson and his co-workers sought to cultivate."120 As F.W. Farr wrote in The Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly in 1907, what was done of this nature was done "incidentally and immediately." It was the result of lives transformed by the power of the Gospel.121 It seems to this writer that it is fair to say that so much was accomplished because what was of foremost importance was kept foremost without forgetting that what is secondary must be accorded its proper significance.

Only one closing comment is necessary. Whatever the reasons, there seems to have been a decline in concern about social needs beginning in the last years of the first decade of the twentieth century. The pages of the official organ of the Alliance contain much less material having to do with the meeting of man's material and social needs. (Almost all of our quotations are from the earlier years.) There are intimations that Simpson was always somewhat ambivalent about the institutional and welfare aspects of Alliance work. In 1893 he wrote, "If we had a hundred million dollars, we would not spend one cent of it in establishing another school at home, or an institute abroad, unless it were simply for the purpose of training persons directly to preach the gospel."122

However, the first clear intimation of a tendency to reduce such involvement surfaces in relation to the work of the Alliance in India. There, a very large program of educational, industrial and relief activities had developed. The evidence shows that the Rev. M.B. Fuller came home on furlough in 1907-08 to the United States "to consult with the Board of the Christian and Missionary Alliance about 'practical questions of missionary policy.' Some of the items under discussion were orphanages, education and industrial work." As was to be expected, the consultation concluded with a reaffirmation of evangelism as the concern of the Alliance. It appears, however, that orphanage work, which had been very prominent in Alliance work in India, was only "conceded a temporary place" in the program.123 In accord with this decision, the Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1910, recommended the phasing out of orphanage work in India, a decision that seems to reverse the position commended in the first Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 1897-98, which recommended the establishment of schools and orphanages at home, and the recognition of "homes, orphanages and schools under proper part of the Alliance on the foreign field."124 Following the decision reported in 1910, efforts toward the alleviation of physical and welfare needs were still being reported. Industrial work flourished "as late as 1914."125 Schools in South China, including a school for blind girls at Kwai Ping, were reported in 1917-18.126 Other welfare efforts continued to have Alliance sponsorship as well, but such concerns had much less prominence and are given much less attention.

Priority must always be accorded to evangelism and any program or activity which threatens that priority must be pruned. On the other hand, evangelism which does not result in the fueling of social concern is a distortion of what Christian evangelism is meant to be. It needs to be asked in all seriousness whether the turn away from social action taken by the Alliance about 1908, a turn which Simpson apparently accepted, if he did not inspire it, was a needed pruning or a retrograde step.


* From Birth of a Vision, ed. David Hartzfeld and Charles Nienkirchen (His Dominion Supplement No. 1, 1986), pp. 49-75.

1. The Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly (October 27, 1897); 417 (hereafter, CMAW.) Cf. The Christian Alliance & Foreign Missionary Weekly (October 2, 1896): 303 (Hereafter, CAFMW); The Heavenly Vision (1896): 88.

2. The Word, The Work & The World (January 1882): 23 (hereafter WWW). For reports of social welfare activities in the New York area published by A.B. Simpson during this period see, e.g. WWW (1882): 122; (October 1886) 241.

3. A.B. Simpson, The King's Business (New York: The Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1886), p. 134. In an article published in WWW (1885), W.S. Rainsford declared, "You cannot present the Gospel to a hungry man with any hope of success until you have ministered to his physical wants...Jesus Christ means His feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead, and, above all, preach the Gospel...." (p. 313) A.B. Simpson was the editor of WWW.

4. A.B. Simpson, The Fullness of Jesus (New York: The Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1886), p. 25.

5. A.B. Simpson, Christ in the Bible, Vol IX (New York: The Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1889), p. 227.

6. CMAW (December 23, 1905): 805.

7. Simpson, Christ in the Bible, Vol. IX, p. 237.

8. Norris Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1977), p. 44, apparently quoting CAFMW (November 27, 1895): 345, which has not been available to me.

9. CAFMW (September 25, 1896): 227. In 1899, P.W. Philpott, in an address to Alliance people, declared, "A good way to test your love to God is by the way you treat your brother...God is more concerned about my conduct toward my brother than by my prayers to Him." This address was reported in CMAW (August 19, 1899): 188.

10. A.B. Simpson, Practical Christianity (New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1901), p. 80. It is noteworthy that Simpson seems to have considered that the value of charitable and philanthropic activities lay in their power to make people more receptive to the Gospel of spiritual salvation.

11. CMAW (December 23, 1905): 806.

12. The Christian Alliance & Missionary Weekly (March 13, 1893): 165 (hereafter, CAMW), cf. CMAW (October 31, 1908): 78. It should be noted, however that in CMAW (July 14, 1897): 54, he objects to "humanitarian schemes and social reform movements to better the human and social condition of men without regard to the supreme spiritual and immortal needs." And his social interest seems to decline not long after the turn of the century.

13. G.P. Pardington, Twenty-five Wonderful Years, 1889-1914: A Popular Sketch of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1914), p. 26.

14. CMAW (December 23, 1905): 806. See CMAW (August 3, 1907): 51, for similar statement.

15. Report by Dr. S.E. Furry in CAFMW (August 17, 1894): 160.

16. CAMW (January 20, 1900): 41.

17. CMAW (March 9, 1907): 111-112.

18. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 17. See also CMAW (October 20, 1897): 404-406. CMAW (October 20, 1900): 225, reports on Rescue Day presentation with respect to Florence Crittenden Homes, Bowery Mission, Salvation Army, Dr. S.E. Furry's Midnight Mission on Doyer Street, New York, and Mr. Raws' Industrial Home in Germantown, PA.

19. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 83.

20. Pardington, Twenty-five Wonderful Years, p. 29.

21. A.E. Thompson, The Life of A.B. Simpson (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc, 1920), p. 100. WWW (1885): 307, contains a report of the Florence Mission which included, among its ministries, a temporary refuge for fallen women. The relationship of this mission to the Alliance is unclear to the present writer.

22. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 82, and E. Whittemore, Record of Modern Miracles, pp. 18-31.

23. See Year Book of the Christian Alliance and the International Missionary Alliance, 1893, p. 51; Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 82, in dependence on the Christian Herald (September 9, 1903): 750.

24. See CMAW (June 10, 1892): 370; CAFMW (March 30, 1894): 351; CMAW (January 22, 1897): 89; CMAW (October 20, 1897): 405; CMAW (September 2, 1899): 220.

25. M. Wilson and A.B. Simpson, Henry Wilson, One of God's Best (New York: The Alliance Press Co., 1908), p. 78, 112-113, 147; CAFMW (October 16 & 23, 1896): 346; CMAW (October 20, 1897): 405.

26. For a description of the work of the New York Rescue Band, see CAFMW, (May 8, 1896): 446-447.

27. Such a home in Denver, CO, CMAW (June 8, 1898): 544; and in Pittsburgh, PA, CMAW (July 2, 1904): 76-77. The Denver home was but one of the complex of social services making up the "Haymarket." Simpson encouraged financial support thereof.

28. There was also a Berachah Mission and Berachah Rest Home.

29. See Pardington, Twenty-five Wonderful Years, p. 96; CMAW (December 9, 1899): 445; CMAW (December 30, 1899): 492; CMAW (June 6, 1908): 157.

30. CMAW (October 6, 1897): 356. The First Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 1897-8, p. 84 contains the statement, "The Committee would recommend that the advisability of establishing orphanages in connection with our work to be taken up by the Board and commended to the liberality of our people...That the matter of homes, orphanages and schools under proper limitations be recognized as part of the Alliance on the foreign field."

31. For orphan work in Fort Worth, TX, see CMAW (January 22, 1897): 89; CMAW (October 20, 1897): 405; in Chattanooga, TN, CMAW (June 24, 1899): 61; in Richmond, VA, CMAW (August 12, 1899): 173; in Newbern, VA, CMAW (October 12, 1907): 185.

32. See CAFMW (December 4, 1896): 517, ibid. (December 11, 1896): 529-532; ibid. (December 1900): 300.

33. A.B. Simpson in M. Wilson and A.B. Simpson, Henry Wilson: One of God's Best, p. 104-105.

34. See Thompson, Life of A.B. Simpson, p. 104-141. Was this the real beginning of Berachah Home?

35. Ibid., p. 142-143; CMAW, May 4, 1898): 420. For the "objects" of Berachah Home as officially set forth in 1893, see Year Book of the Christian Alliance and the International Missionary Alliance, 1893, p. 48-49. In this connection, see also CMAW (June 6, 1908): 157. In 1897, Berachah Home was relocated in Nyack, NY, where it carried on its ministry for twenty years. See Thompson, Life of A.B. Simpson, p. 142-143.

36. CMAW (April 23, 1897): 387; cf. WWW (May 1885): 158-159.

37. See A.B. Simpson, The Lord for the Body (New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1925), p. 129.

38. Ibid. (original text 1900?), p. 131-132.

39. A Berachah home in Bombay, India is mentioned in CMAW (November 25, 1899): 406.

40. In CMAW (January 23, 1891): 50, Simpson speaks of a home for invalids not yet ready to trust the Lord completely for healing.

41. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 200, n. 15; CMAW (March 1899).

42. CMAW (July 6, 1898): 17.

43. See Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 70; CMAW (April 22, 1892): 257.

44. See CMAW (1905): 700. For other Alliance homes, see CMAW (November 24, 1893): 334; CMAW (April 23, 1897): 393; CMAW (May 14, 1904): 362; Alliance Weekly (November 18, 1911): 110, (hereafter AW).

45. Pardington, Twenty-five Wonderful Years, p. 100.

46. From 1889 to 1891, Simpson repeatedly publicized the intention of opening a home for the insane. See The Christian Alliance (January 1889: 8 (hereafter CA); CMAW (November 21, 1890): 306; CMAW (January 1891): 6; CMAW (August 7, 1891): 82. We are not aware that the intention was ever fulfilled.

47. WWW (January 1882): 44.

48. WWW (June 1882): 218.

49. See CMAW (April 15, 1892): 242-243; CMAW (May 13, 1892): 306; CMAW (July 15, 1892): 40.

50. In WWW (March 1883): 61, he criticizes a medical missionary for saying medical missions is a part of the church's task, and affirms that our real task is to get people to trust in Christ as their healer.

51. CMAW (March 27, 1891): 194.

52. See description of this program in CMAW (April 16, 1897): 376.

53. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 98; CMAW (February 13, 1891): 108; CAFMW (March 30, 1894): 351-352.

54. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 236 n.33.

55. CMAW (April 28, 1893): 261. See also CMAW (December 22, 1893): 387; CMAW (February 3, 1900): 79; CMAW (March 3, 1900): 142; CMAW (May 3, 1902)L 241-242.

56. See CMAW (November 19, 1904): 392; Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p.99. When famine conditions in India eased, the Alliance phased out its homes for orphanages and its industrial programs. See CMAW (February 15, 1908): 332; cf. The Thirteenth Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, May 24, 1910, p. 11.

57. CMAW (March 6, 1891): 146.

58. CMAW (June 20, 1903): 37. See also CMAW (April 18, 1903): 221.

59. CMAW (June 13, 1903): 15.

60. See CMAW (November 25, 1899): 405-407; CMAW (February 3, 1900): 67, 73, 79; CMAW (March 10, 1900): 152; CMAW (March 31, 1900): 195-197; AW (April 6, 1912): 10. In 1918, Alliance personnel were released for relief work in Palestine. See AW (March 30, 1918): 401.

61. AW (April 6, 1912): 10.

62. CAFMW (April 24, 1896): 406.

63. CMAW (December 26, 1903): 53.

64. See CMAW (April 28, 1906): 249; CMAW (May 5, 1906): 265.

65. AW (April 5, 1913).

66. See Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 17

67. Christian and Missionary Alliance Annual Report, 1910 (for the year 1909), p. 117.

68. See A. B. Simpson, comp., Michele Nardi, the Italian Evangelist, His Life and Work (New York: Published by Mrs. B.P. Nardi, 1916), p. 3, 22, 24, 28-30, 33, 51, 143.

69. See CMAW (April 23, 1904): 313.

70. See CMAW (January 22, 1897): 89; and CMAW (April 11, 1903): 205 for tributes in Simpson's magazine when they died.

71. See A. B. Simpson, From the Uttermost to the Uttermost: The life Story of Josephus Pulis (New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1914) p. 11, 31, 55.

72. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 136.

73. CAFMW (April 24, 1896): 403.

74. See CAFMW (February 2, 1894): 137; CMAW (April 9, 1897): 353; CMAW (November 11, 1899): 382. In CAFMW (January 31, 1896): 110, A.B. Simpson commended the temperance work of the renowned WCTU leader, Frances Willard.

75. CMAW (November 9, 1907): 96.

76. AW (November 16, 1912): 97.

77. Ibid. (January 25, 1913): 247.

78. Education for Christian ministry does not concern us in this study, except as general education may be said to be for the purpose of training for ministry.

79. WWW (January 1882): 23, 44.

80. WWW (January 1885): 32

81. WWW "Report of the Christian Convention at Old Orchard, Inc., held July 31 to August 9, 1887": 84.

82. CMAW (August 7, 1891): 82; CMAW (September 25, 1891): 194; CAFMW (February 9, 1894): 144.

83. CAFMW (December 7, 1894): 542.

84. D.W. Cartmel, "Mission Policy and Program of A.B. Simpson" (unpublished M.A. thesis, Hartford Seminary Foundation, 1962), p. 156-157. For reference to High School and College work at Nyack, see AW (June 15, 1912): 165; AW (December 21, 1912): 187; AW (March 17, 1914): 354; The Thirteenth Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, May 24, 1910, p. 89.

85. Thirteenth Annual Report, p. 157.

86. CMAW (June 6, 1908): 157.

87. See p. 13, 19.

88. A.B. Simpson, Larger Outlooks on Missionary Lands (New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1893), p. 579, 356. In CAFMW (March 6, 1896): 229, he opposed the establishment of Christian Schools in Manitoba, Canada, on the basis that the public schools were not sectarian

89. Simpson, Larger Outlooks, p. 579.

90. AW (December 21, 1912): 178.

91. See Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 122. For reports of Alliance work among blacks in the United States, see CMAW (May 2, 1898): 228; CMAW (July 6, 1898): 13; CMAW (September 23, 1899): 265.

92. CAFMW (January 24, 1896): 86.

93. See CMAW (January 13, 1906): 35; CMAW ((October 27, 1906): 257; CMAW (May 2, 1908): 83-84; CMAW (June 6, 1908): 157.

94. See CMAW (March 27, 1891): 195; CMAW (June 24, 1899): 61; CMAW (July 2, 1904): 66-67; CMAW (June 9, 1906): 354.

95. CAFMW (January 3, 1896): 13.

96. CMAW (April 15, 1911): 40. He said, "With Great Britain and America united for peace, the world would have to behave itself!"

97. AW (March 7, 1914): 354.

98. CMAW (March 2, 1898): 204. cf. CMAW (April 27, 1898): 393 and CMAW (May 4, 1898) 411. He opposed the pacifist position of the Quakers. See CMAW (May 4, 1898): 420-421.

99. CAFMW (April 17, 1896): 373.

100. CMAW (May 4, 1898): 420-421. See also CMAW (April 27, 1898): 396. For a somewhat similar statement concerning the Japanese-Chinese War, see CAFMW (November 1894): 410-411. Earlier still, he had condemned France in regard to the Franco-Prussian War. See WWW (May 1885): 129.

101. CMAW (August 3, 1989) 108.

102. CMAW (November 12, 1898): 444. Simpson adds, "We are not pleading for war," but "it may be the day has come for the renewed chastening of France, as well as Spain, and the using of Great Britain as the instrument of God's judgment on another Roman Catholic country...."

103. CMAW (march 18, 1905): 161.

104. CMAW (September 9, 1905): 561. For his harsh words for Italy in the Italian-Turkish conflict, see CMAW (November 18, 1911): 98.

105. AW (November 20, 1915): 113. Earlier in 1915, it was stated in the same periodical that Belgium, England, Germany and Russia were "all suffering for national sins." See AW (August 28, 1915): 339.

106. AW (April 28, 1917): 49; AW (January 5, 1918): 209. Cf. AW (January 6, 1917)L 264; AW (April 17, 1917): 7; AW (April 28, 1917): 50-52; AW (May 25, 1918): 116.

107. Simpson, Practical Christianity, p. 135-136.

108. Ibid., 139.

109. Ibid., p. 132-134.

110. Ibid., cf. CAFMW (July 20, 1894): 51; CMAW (October 7, 1892): 248. CMAW (August 17, 1908): 332. In AW (October 7, 1911): 3, he declares that the solution to labour problems is the return of Christ. In A.B. Simpson, Christ in the Bible, Vol. XVII (New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1904), p. 240, he speaks of "letting them (i.e. the governments of the world) see that Christ's kingdom is not of this world, not in antagonism to any human authority." Simpson criticizes governments, and on at least one occasion, indicates that revolution is not necessarily wrong, AW (April 28, 1917): 50, but that is as far as he goes.

111. CAFMW (July 24, 1896): 94.

112. WWW (February 1885): 64.

113. A.B. Simpson, The Old Faith and the New Gospels (New York: Alliance Press Co., 1911), p. 7. Cf. AW (May 4, 1912): 65; AW (May 18, 1912): 98.

114. Simpson, Practical Christianity, p. 75. Cf. AW (November 25, 1911): 118.

115. He insisted that liberals were seldom effective with the "lowest classes" because they lacked both the message and the spiritual empowerment which were required. See AW (May 20, 1911): 120. For Simpson's endorsement of a negative review of C.M. Sheldon's book In His Steps, see CMAW (August 26, 1899): 201.

116. See Simpson, The Old Faith and the New Gospels, p. 127; CAFMW (May 22, 1896): 492; CMAW (March 2, 1898): 204.

117. CMAW (May 1, 1891): 283. For criticisms of the Salvation Army by Simpson on other grounds, see WWW (July 1882): 283; WWW (January 1883): 1.

118. CMAW (October 20, 1900: 225; CMAW (April 22, 1892): 257; AW (September 7, 1912): 369.

119. CMAW (June 25, 1897): 612. Cf. CMAW (November 10, 1897): 472.

120. Magnuson, Salvation in the Slums, p. 18.

121. CMAW (March 9, 1907): 111-112, 118.

122. CMAW (October 20, 1893): 243. Apparently in the same year, he did say, "A certain amount of educational work seems to be necessary (in south China), as the native schools compel their pupils to learn and practice heathenism." However, he wished such schools to become the responsibility of national Christians as swiftly as possible. See his Larger Outlooks on Missionary Lands, p. 356. Cf. p. 187, 578, 579.

123. D.W. Cartmel, "Mission Policy and Program," p. 154; CMAW (March 14, 1908): 400, tells of Fuller's coming to the U.S.A. to confer concerning the "orphanage, educational and industrial work." CMAW (February 15, 1908): 332, reports that "gradual discontinuance of regular orphanage work in India was authorized."

124. First Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 1897-98, p. 84, 85. On p. 13, it is stated, "We have not forgotten the claims of the fatherless and the orphan." See also The Fourteenth Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 1910, p. 99.

125. D.W. Cartmel, "Mission Policy and Program," p. 124.

126. See The Twenty-first Annual Report of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 1917, p. 19.