Science in Christian Perspective




Raymond Herje

From: JASA 16 (June 1964): 35

1. The place of the Christian in the field of social work is little different from that of the Christian as he enters any vocation: He should enter his work with passion and reflection. He should strive to understand himself and his work in relation to his theology.

2. One area in contemporary social work which is in need of careful attention is the philosophy of social work. As might be expected of a professional whose history barely stretches three-score years, many of the more abstract and theoretical aspects of this field are yet in the formative stage. But it is imperative that the pressure of practical demand not detract from the important work of examining the philosophical foundations upon which such practical activity is predicated.

3. Without question most of the social work in this country is being done under public auspices. One authority poignantly stated that it seems very likely that social welfare will become almost exclusively a function of the state. Although I personally believe the private agency could make a very important contribution to the future of this field, I must realistically state that contributions of the private agency are mainly a concern for historians.

4. Upon careful scrutiny, I believe that the philosophy implicit in contemporary social work is in sharp apposition to that of the conservative Christian tradition. The philosophy of contemporary social work is that of Scientific Naturalism. By definition, this philosophy is opposed to any theological considerations.

5. Someone has said that contemporary social work is more concerned about professionalism than about people. There is some truth in this observation. Regardless, professional social work training in an accredited school of social work is an unquestioned prerequisite for anyone entering this field. However, because of the nature of contemporary social work thought, I feel that Christian higher education has an obligation to supplement this training. Graduate-level seminars dealing with the specific problem of social work and religion ought to be established. -Raymond Herje, Probation Officer, Hennepin County (Minn.) Dept. of Court Services.