The Shaping of Ulster Presbyterian Belief and Practice, 1770-1840

The Shaping of Ulster Presbyterian Belief and Practice, 1770-1840

The Shaping of Ulster Presbyterian Belief and Practice, 1770-1840

The Shaping of Ulster Presbyterian Belief and Practice, 1770-1840

Synopsis

This is a historical study of the most influential and important Protestant group in Northern Ireland - the Ulster Presbyterians. Andrew R. Holmes argues that to understand Ulster Presbyterianism is to begin to understand the character of Ulster Protestantism more generally and the relationship between religion and identity in present-day Northern Ireland.

Excerpt

This book considers the religious beliefs and practices of Presbyterians in the north-eastern part of Ireland and how they developed over time in a period of religious, economic, social, and political upheaval. The historians who have written about Ulster Presbyterianism, the largest Protestant denomination in the north of Ireland, see the decades between 1770 and 1840 as crucial to the modern development of the denomination and of Ulster society in general. Hitherto the focus of academic historians in particular has been upon the political implications of Presbyterian theology as a way to explain the origins of the United Irish movement, the involvement of Presbyterians in the 1798 rebellion, and their swift conversion to support for the Union with Great Britain thereafter. Yet the changes associated with this period also provide a stimulating context in which to assess the changing character of Presbyterian religious life. The year 1770 marks the high point of New Light or moderate theological opinion within the Synod of Ulster, the largest Presbyterian grouping in Ireland. For once nineteenth-century conservative and liberal commentators were agreed in their assessment of the spiritual state of the Synod. According to the evangelical Thomas Witherow, Professor of Church History at Magee College, Derry, between 1865 and 1890, the spiritual temperature of Presbyterianism in the late eighteenth century approached freezing-point; ‘There was ice in the pulpit—there was snow in the pew.’ The most prominent Irish Unitarian of the period, Henry Montgomery, agreed that by 1780 there was ‘a nominal orthodoxy amidst a real indifference to all doctrinal opinions, or

T. Witherow, Three prophets of our own (Belfast, 1855), 19.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.