Clergy Vs. Laity?

The Gathering Storm in the Churches, by Jeffrey K. Hadden (Doubleday, 1969, 257 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Addison H. Leitch, professor of theology, Gordon Divinity School, Wenham, Massachusetts.

What is in the realm of general awareness for most is given point and support by this serious and sympathetic study by Dr. Jeffrey K. Hadden, professor of sociology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. With great concern and yet with disciplined detachment he has attempted an analysis of what is happening as the clergy drift away from the laity, the clergy drift away from one another, and the laity drift away from the Church, or at least from commitment and involvement. The threat, as he sees it, is of a “gathering storm” that may well bring destruction to the Church not too many years hence.

One may approach the book in either of two ways: as a general reader or as a scholar who is able to handle the deeper sociological issues involved and to accept the implements and date of the trained sociologist. Hadden enlists the support of both types by an early recognition of the limitations of his study and of the possibilities and impossibilities in sociological findings, a constant and careful concern for what he aims to do and what he finds, and a clear understanding of what constitutes scientific fact, speculation, or inference. Despite his very evident enthusiasm for his subject he does not mislead; he does not try to say more than the evidence permits. And along the way are fed in topics of great interest, as for example the shift of more radical thinkers away from the pulpits of the local parishes to the non-parish duties of boards and agencies—and control centers!—of every denomination.

For the general ...

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