God and History: Aspects of British Theology, 1875-1914

God and History: Aspects of British Theology, 1875-1914

God and History: Aspects of British Theology, 1875-1914

God and History: Aspects of British Theology, 1875-1914

Synopsis

It is well known that the scientific discoveries of the nineteenth century posed problems for Christian theology. Less well known is the fact that the new understanding of history, developed in the same period, also created a number of difficulties. The realization that Christianity possessed a history of its own, and had changed and developed, raised numerous important questions for theologians and Christians alike. Newman's revised Essay on the Development of Doctrine provides the starting-point for this new and comprehensive survey, in which Hinchliff discusses the ideas of a wide range of theologians from the full spectrum of British Christianity--from Roman Catholics to theologians from the Churches of England and Scotland, and the Free Church--and their attempts to tackle these questions in the period leading up to the Great War. He proves that this hitherto little-studied period in the development of theology is in fact an area of considerable interest and pertinence to theologians and historians alike.

Excerpt

This book is not, of course, a complete account of British theology at the end of the nineteenth century. Such works already exist, notably B. M. G. Reardon Religious Thought in the Victorian Age. I have set myself a rather different task. One of the principal concerns, if not the principal concern, of many theologians in the period was the whole range of problems raised by new ways of understanding history and its relationship with faith. Concentrating on those who attempted to come to terms with these new ideas has enabled me to deal with the thought of the selected theologians in some detail. I have usually focused attention upon one particular work by each writer (except where--as happened surprisingly often--he changed his mind rather dramatically). This has enabled me to quote rather more lengthily than is usually possible and thus convey the real flavour of the style as well as the argument of the person quoted. I have also tried to sketch in the historical context by devoting some time and attention to the institutions within which the theologians worked, the universities as well as the churches of Britain.

Even as a survey of writings about the relationship between faith and history, what follows is not exhaustive. There were many who simply ignored the new ideas and continued to reassert conventional ones. I have not included them nor have I attempted to deal with those who believed that the new ideas could not be accommodated and who therefore abandoned belief. Indeed, I have not incorporated everyone who tried to grapple positively with the new understanding of history. Nor is this even a representative selection, in the sense that there is one person chosen from each school of thought: where ideas were particularly tenacious more than one exponent of them may be included. I cannot even claim that the thinkers who are dealt with were chosen because they were the most influential, most important, or most brilliant of all the possible candidates for inclusion. Indeed their thought was sometimes wrong-headed, untidy, or illogical; but they all seem to me, nevertheless, to have had interesting things to say.

This book, though it is about ideas, is not really a 'history of ideas'. No serious or sustained attempt is made to demonstrate or . . .

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