Christianity in Canada: Historical Essays

Article excerpt

Canadian

Christianity in Canada: Historical Essays. By John S. Moir. Edited by Paul Laverdure. (Yorkton, Saskatchewan: Redeemer's Voice Press. 2002. Pp. xix, 187. $14.95 paperback.)

The seminal ideas of well-known Canadian historian John S. Moir are brought together in one volume by two of his former students. Paul Laverdure, the author of Redemption and Renewal: The Redemptorists of English Canada, 1834-1994, has edited Professor Moir's principal essays and speeches from his productive academic career spanning forty years. And Mark G. McGowan, author of the Waning of the Green: Catholics, the Irish, and Identity in Toronto, 1887-1922, has summarized in the foreword the importance of Moir's work in Canadian religious historiography. The essays of John S. Moir offer a rewarding reflection on the genesis of professionalization in Canadian religious history.

Christianity in Canada examines the major Protestant denominations which are found to be in the vanguard of Canadian indigenization and the formation of national churches. The Catholic tradition is recognized to be a stalwart historical force stabilizing the Canadian establishment.

In the first essays Moir isolates what he considers to be the main determinants in the search for a Christian Canada: the centrality of churches in the making of Canada, the sense of mission among both Protestants and Catholics, the gradual indigenization of Canadian churches, the general solidarity of the major denominations, and the social activism of both Catholics and Protestants. These determinants are immensely beneficial, but it would have been helpful if Moir had further explored the methodological implications of the Catholic Church as an international religion and the Protestant churches as national religions.

Moir singles out the importance of Canadianization for Protestam denominations. After Confederation in 1867, it became imperative that various congregations leave their parochialism behind to embody the vision of a national church. The Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists were more easily moved toward the goal of national churches than the smaller denominations of the Congregationalists, Lutherans, Mennonites, and Tunkers. …